T is for TimeRiders

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This is one of my favourite YA series. It’s got time travel, it’s got dinosaurs, steampunk, distopian futuristic NYC, monks, knights, loads of crazy sci-fi stuff and some pretty awesome characters. I’m only up to book 4, but doing this post about these books is making me want to get cracking! 

Each book is a different story, so essentially you don’t need to read from the start to enjoy these. There is a through running plot as well though which is really cool and worth starting from the start to experience.

My favourite TimeRiders book so far was Day of the Predator. Which was weird because time travel stories about dinosaurs usually just really suck, but this one was killer – RAAARRRR! T-rex style!

The only downer is that there is no love story. I know a lot of folks like a love story in their YA fiction, so sorry if you were expecting that.

It’s kind of like Dan Brown-ish but for kids/YA/adults who like time travel and dinosaurs. 

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double love #1

S is for Sweet Valley. This is my Sweet Valley High blog which I used to be really into. I kind of gave up on it after realising there were so many hundreds of SVH books still to read and I was basically signing my (reading) life away by reading them all, because I have like, a real life too. Haha! Enjoy. x

return to sweet valley

the first book in the sweet valley series like EVER! omg! it was like so weird to read this one after i’ve read like 20 others, but WOW it was like SO AMAZING! and i can kind of see now why some of the really annoying horrible things happened in sweet valley confidential even though i still think it was horrible to write those things down on paper. type those things down on paper. whatever!

SO jessica likes todd because he is the star basketball player and she is head cheerleader, makes sense that they should be together hello! todd likes liz because she’s not totally mental and self absorbed, but is still blonde and hot and even though she’s a writer and she’s like smart and stuff, she actually looks like a cheerleader – the PERFECT WOMAN y’all! LIZ likes todd because he’s hot pretty much, and because he’s…

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G is for Ghost and the Goth

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It’s been a while since I read these books, but I highly recommend.

If you’re looking for literary fiction John Green style you may be a little disappointed.

But if you’re into annoying dead cheerleaders and dark brooding teenage medium dudes you might like these books. Easy to read, easy to like, easy to love!

And I just realised that my theme for this A to Z theme has headed straight in the direction of my writing influences. Cool I have a theme! Woo! Yay!

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I should write chic-lit

I’ve been sitting at my desk (ha! it’s the dining table, I don’t have a desk!) all day editing my ‘manuscript’ after wanting to tear it into teeny tiny pieces last night. I got a headache from too much scowling about it.

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I’m busting my butt here. I could’ve spent my day off watching trashy TV or finishing Allegiant (why is it taking me sooooo loooong to finish?) or reading one of about a gazillion and six awesome books on my book shelf that keep on coming through the letter box from Amazon faster than I can finish reading Allegiant. I could’ve cleaned the bathroom. I could have had a really productive day on Pinterest. Or vacuumed.

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But instead I slaved away at my words. Trying to make this awesome story that lives in my head come out and live on the white glowing pages of my computer screen. Time travel, nuns, historical facts, gay kids, straight kids, 1983 kids, more historical facts, facts about deserts, it’s not easy you guys and it’s not like it’ll all be worth it because it’ll go mass production paperback. It’ll be a cult classic at best, or I’ll just post it on here for free. I’ll probably never make a dollar from it.

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I poured my heart and soul out of my body through my hands and into the computer all day long. Which was great, it was really fun. But then, while on an email break I look at an email from a literary agency, just a general mail out, what they’re up to, what books have been published etc. So I click on the latest book they’ve published. It’s a chic-lit. Not something I usually choose to read myself. It’s got that whole ‘you’ll never be complete without a man and the perfect pair of Jimmy Choos’ thing going on and that’s not really my scene. I’m more feminist in half price Converse. Chic-lit is so far away from anything I want to write. Ever. But I am going to write a chic-lit one day because I quite like the idea of writing a good one. Anyway, so I click on this book and it takes me to Amazon and so I read the first page and I was like – really?

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I don’t ever want to like, slam another author’s work, because hell I know how hard it is. And I totally get that everyone has different tastes and likes different books and for God’s sake I’m writing a teen fiction about time travelling to the 80’s! But this book could not have been worse. It was like reading paragraphs of all the stuff I’ve just edited out of my own writing because it was so meaningless, nothingness, extra words, bad dialogue, filler, just people talking about nothing, long descriptions about nothing.

I should seriously write chic-lit. I could have one done in about an hour.

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I shouldn’t blame publishers, I should blame the chics reading chic-lit. Put your chic-lit down ladies! If you want real romance and adventure pick up some YA.

DNF and LOVE!

I just came across this blog post on Bookmarked Pages about DNFing this afternoon while taking a break from being obsessed with young Axl Rose, eating cheese popcorn and working on my sequel. And I got to thinking about how the whole DNF thing is basically exactly the same as LOVE.

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What’s a DNF? In this context, it’s a book you Did Not Finish. As in, Outlander was so long and the sex scenes bugged me so I DNFed.

As I was reading this post I thought about my own reasons for doing a DNF. The main reason I DNF is if I’m just not enjoying myself that much, if there’s no spark, no connection. If the book isn’t making me want to pick it up and read it it’s looking like a DNF.

Do you know how many books there are in the world? I don’t. No one does! Now that we have self publishing on the internet pretty much every person on the planet is working a novel, which means that including all the books already written, there are a hell of a lot of them out there. So why are you reading a book you don’t love? Why are you reading anything less than a page turner?

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Some reasons I’ve done a DNF:

1. The plot is going nowhere. Nothing has happened for about 100 pages.

2. The characters suck, you don’t care about any of them.

3. It just annoys the hell out of you for some reason – bad sex scenes (my bugbear!), unrealistic dialogue, things that don’t make sense, people dressing badly, annoying characters, etc. etc.

4. It’s really badly written – I actually don’t mind a badly written book if it’s got a good story, The Ghost and the Goth books are a good example of this, not great literature, but a fast paced cute story with a crushable protagonist.

5. It’s not your style, you don’t connect, you don’t know why, it’s just not working.

6. You have a pile of books about a mile high of other books to read, including a John Green book.

7. Your life is too short for this.

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So why do you keep going when you should probably just DNF?

1. You think it’s going to get better. Hello, you’ve read more than half of this book, it’s had it’s chance to woo you!

2. You don’t want to seem like some kind of failure. Reading a whole book you don’t like is not a success people!

3. Everyone else read it and thought it was awesome. There must be something wrong with you. Don’t worry, I’m the only person I know who has liked The Ghost and the Goth books, who cares? You can DNF that book, I won’t change the way I think of you. If I did I would be a jerk. I also DNFed The Host even though I loved Twilight, so yeah. No judgement here.

4. You have nothing better to do. OMG, go to a book store or hit up Good Reads or Amazon or one of my fave sites, FYA and look at the book reports for inspiration because there are SO MANY GOOD BOOKS in the world. Or send me a message and I’ll send you some chapters of my current draft and you can give me some feedback. Or look at cats on the internet because that’s fun too.

So how does this relate to relationships? Argh, do I have to spell it out? This whole post has been a metaphor for your relationship!

I’m so lucky because my current relationship is like a John Green novel. But I’ve been there kids, I’ve been in a DNF, quite a few actually. And sometimes, you just have to put that book down, go out to Waterstones with a Starbucks in your hand and find the YA (or genre of your fancy) section and browse around a little because there are WAY too many good books out there to be reading something you don’t just love.

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Divergent dissected

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May the odds be ever in your… faction?

Dystopia is the new Vampire and I have to admit it, I’m so over dystopian YA novels even though everyone else seems to love them. So I really didn’t want to give in to the hype and read Divergent, it just looks soooooo Hunger Games. but when I saw on YouTube that John Green was reading it I was like, OK, if I want to be like John Green, I should do what John Green does.

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But guess what? I’m so glad I did, because it was AWESOME!

I’m going to rate Divergent today using the Twilight test*.

[*Disclaimer – Although I think Bella is lame and Edward is a little creepy I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Twilight. I even went to Forks on a vacation.]

The Bella Swan test (or the how lame is the protagonist and could they beat Bella in a fight? test)

I’m sad to say it, but Tris is a little lame. She kind of reminded me of Bella in that shell of a female character type of way. She is [SPOILER!] Divergent in a world of factions which is meant to be this really amazing crazy rare thing that can get you killed but I didn’t really think she was all that amazing. She has these super mind powers but not much personality. Just like Bella is Vampire heroin and ends up saving the world even though she’s boring as bat poo. I didn’t totally buy a lot of Tris’ Dauntlessness, she often came across more as an agnsty Abnegation than anything, even though she can jump off a building. Bella became a vamp but it didn’t make her any more fun either. Who would win in a fight? Tie probably.

The Edward Cullen test (or the how brooding is the romantic lead? test)

Four is a total book crush. The description of him in the book is kind of vague – ‘He has a spare upper lip (what does that even mean?) and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are a dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting colour.’ I like the bit about his eyes, but the rest is like huh? What about his hair? As we get to know him a little more I make up my own mind about how he looks anyway and  trying to avoid any images from the soon to be released movie as much as possible. For me he was kind of rock star slash emo slash skater boi, kind of like a young Jared Leto in eye liner but with more muscle. I had a bigger crush on him before we knew his real name [SPOILER] is Tobias. Tobias is just not a sexy name Veronica Roth. Having said that my sexy lead male is called Sammy. But he rocks it. Tobias rocks Four but not Tobias. Who would win in a fight? Four. He’d take down Edward Cullen by being too cool to even fight him. He wouldn’t waste his time on Edward Cullen, he’s too busy taking down the government getting a new tattoo.

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The Vampire Heroin test (or the sexual tension test)

Totally awesome at the start. So much build up between these two just made me go – OMG he touched her arm! Eeeeeeee! But then towards the end [SPOILER) it got a little like then they kissed, then they kissed again. Meh. Once they kiss for the first time the sexual tension is all down hill from there and so you better have a good plot from there on in, which this book does. Yay!

The Cullens test (or the meet the parents test)

Tris’ family are so cute, and her Mom is like – OMG. Something sinister is going on with Four’s Dad but we don’t totally know all about it just yet… Caleb, Tris’ bro seems pretty cool I guess, he seems like he has a lot of potential to be even more cool and do something pretty awesome over the course of the next two books (am I right?! I’ve only just started Insurgent!) so let me get back to you on that one.

The cafeteria test (or the who do you wanna eat lunch with? test)

Christina. She’s a pretty cool chic and a good friend, but Tris is always off snooping around or doing something without inviting her along and then later moping about how Christina did something without her. Not the greatest friendship, but it’s got potential. Well, maybe not…

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The Renesmee test (or the how stupid is the story line but did you keep reading anyway? test)

Pretty stupid, like how can you divide a society into five factions based on their responses to a test? I did the test and I got Amity. But I’m pretty sure I’m divergent because even though I picked the blue shoes (because I wanted to get Amity) I really liked the black Dauntless ones. So yeah, at times the metaphor was a bit too obvious, but I didn’t really care anyway, because I got totally sucked in and just allowed it. Even though it was a bit stupid, it was totally awesome. But then, isn’t that what YA novels are meant to be all about? Twilight sucked me in hardcore even though I hated parts of the story and most of the characters (I’m so team Jasper FYI). But at no point was anything in this book as stupid as Renesmee, because Renesmee was just like…

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The Wuthering Heights test (or the would you stay up all night reading it while waiting for your boyfriend to sneak in through the window test)

Yes, yes I totally would. The writing is super simple, which kind of left me feeling empty at times, like give me some more description, what the hell hair colour is Four meant to have?! But it made for a speedy read, and the faster I read it the faster I got to the book store to get Insurgent so yes. I would stay up all night reading it but maybe not past 11:45pm on a school night.

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I dream of John Green

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I am a huge fan of John Green. I can’t say I’ve read all his books, because Paper Towns is still sitting on my bedside table in the gigantor pile of books to read. But I kinda like that it’s there. It makes me feel like a little bit of John Green magic is still out there waiting for me if I ever finish Outlander/Cross Stitch. I’m on page 68 so I’m making pretty terrible progress. I was really getting into it until the sex scene a couple pages back. Is it just me or are sex scenes in books almost always really cringey and not that hot? I gave up on the Sookie Stackhouse books, although I do very much enjoy True Blood, because of the awful sex scenes. I mean really? Can’t we just elude to these things? I’m not a prude especially, but we’re already in the protagonist’s head and know their every thought, can we give them just a little privacy?

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Nice segue into my John Green Dream.

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No, it wasn’t that kind of dream.

So I’m somewhere in America, it’s very green (ha!) and there is a river. I go off to teach my writing class and I happen upon John Green. He’s like Hi. I’m like Hi, John Green. Then he says he’d love to give me some writing tips and I’m about to hear them and then my alarm goes off and wakes me the hell up. This is like my version of those dreams where you are about to make out with your celebrity crush or something and then…

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So when I got home from work I looked up a bunch of John Green memes and quotes on Pinterest, just to check if he’d left my message somewhere, but no. It was just the usual John Green quotes like this one:

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But I think I actually like the above pizza version better. You can totally write your own version of this that you can put in your YA novels so that people can make cool pictures for Pinterest based on your book later. Here’s an example of what I’m thinking…

“So she walked through time and space and collapsed onto the red leather couch, thinking that if people were drinks she was an old flat bottle of 7-up and he was a shot of vintage whiskey.”

Could I write my whole novel based on a John Green novel?!

And so I continue to live my life with no actual personal writing advice from John Green, but I live in hope that I will have the dream again tonight, or tomorrow night, or one night soon, and he will tell me all the secrets to the YA novel writing universe.

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

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While slaving away at my day job I often happen upon children’s books. To be completely honest I think most of them are rubbish and that I could write a better book in my lunch break, even in my coffee break. Some are so terrible I could do better on a loo break. How hard can it be? You think of a quirky character with a bit of alliteration in the name – Harry the Horse for example (I totally just made that up) and then you put this character in some magical land – e.g. Unicorn Land. Now give him a problem – he’s a horse and everyone else is a Unicorn. I mean, come on I just made that up as I wrote it in about ten seconds.

But sometimes a children’s book comes along that is just like – oh, wow. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is one of those books. It’s beautiful on so many levels. The illustrations are lovely and the story is so sweet and inspiring, I just wanted to run home and work on my novel after reading it. It’s rare that a “picture book” has any effect on me at all and I just loved the sentiment in this book so much I felt compelled to share it here even though it has nothing to do with time travel. Oooooh, or does it?!

Fantastic. Five stars. x

There goes that idea re: time travel + stone circles

How seriously annoying is it when you have an awesome book idea and then you find a book and it’s like, oh. I guess someone already had that awesome book idea?

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I’ve had this idea for ages about a time travel thing that happens in a stone circle. Fair enough, it’s not exactly the kind of idea only one person has, if you’ve ever been to a stone circle you’ve probably had the idea too. Like if you are going to time travel through some random space on the planet a stone circle is a pretty likely place for that to happen. I mean, what even are they?! They definitely have the potential to be a time machine. But anyway, so my idea has been taken so that sucks. This Diana Gabaldon person wrote it already. She sets it in 1945 and takes it back to Jacobite Scotland. I would’ve done more like a Stonehenge school trip modern day and taken it back to punk London in the early 80’s, but it would basically be the same story so I’ll leave that one for now and carry on with my time travel through a door trilogy, but if any agents/publishers are reading this, I will totally write that punk thing if you like the idea. 

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I read somewhere Warm Bodies was a short story floating about on the internet for ages and then some movie big wigs were like – hey Isaac Marion, write it into a novel and we’ll make it into a movie. OMG Punk-henge (working title) would make a pretty awesome movie. I’d pay £12 to see it in VIP seats. I only want to sit in VIP nowadays. When I went to see Mockingjay I had a regular ticket and some girl behind me kept kicking my seat and I had to sit next to a man that smelled funny and he kept doing heavy breathing in the quiet scenes,  he was probably doing heavy breathing in all the scenes, and no, he was not my date. 😐

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But Cross Stitch is 863 pages long and I’m only on page 21. It’s really well written and I’m loving it so far, but do I have time to read this whole brick of a book?  I mean Hollow City came out today! So many books so little time, and the worst part of life is finding time to both read time travel/YA fiction and write it. I also have a day job. But no social life, so that’s something.

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