To Read or Not to Read?

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

The description for One of Us Is Lying sounded like pure gold, a mix of the classic Breakfast Club all rolled together with a murder mystery. Here’s the setup:

Five very different kids walk into detention on a Monday afternoon and we quickly find that they are all there under suspicious circumstances. (Each got into trouble because they were caught with a cell phone in class. Only the phones that were confiscated weren’t any of their real phones.)

Brownwyn is the smart girl, Addy is the pretty popular one, Nate is the bad boy, and Cooper is the all-star baseball player. And then there’s Simon, the unpopular outcast who runs a gossip app.

Simon doesn’t make it out of detention alive. And then a Tumblr post comes out and makes everyone who had been in the detention room with Simon a suspect in his death.

That sounds kind of interesting, right? I thought so. I liked how there were several different points of view, one for each of the suspects, and that they actually had distinct voices (we even had a person of color and a character dealing with his/her sexuality!). And I liked how they were definitely unreliable narrators.

Then I reached the last 50 or so pages of the book and it all fell apart.

Up until that point there had been mystery and intrigue and I’d felt that pretty much any of the characters could have offed Simon. But one meeting changed all that when a side character solves it all in only two sentences of dialogue. After that there’s a brief confrontation, one character ends up trying to murder another character, and then we have an epilogue.

It was abrupt and all the loose ends were wound up far too easily after everything else that had went on. And the epilogue was all super cliche, every more so than the rest of it. It was so disappointing given how well it started and the abruptness completely ruined it for me.

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Literary Musings

Surprise!!

Writing a novel or a fanfiction for a blog post isn’t always easy because, if you’re not careful, the writing can take on a mind of its own. Case in point, the most recent fanfiction I started writing.

I think I’ve written about this before. That I have two different fanfiction accounts, one for my “regular” stories and one for my less tame ones. Not that I’m ashamed to have people know I write dirty things sometimes, I just feel as though it would be awkward if my family and coworker read them. (Honestly, I can’t imagine how weird it would be to be one of the well-known authors of the super smutty stuff. Imagine what a family holiday would be like if you’re mom/aunt/grandma had read the dirty, dirty things you’d written! So uncomfortable.)

Well, the most recent fanfiction I started writing was supposed to be one of those things that would fall under my pen name that isn’t linked to any of my other social media. It was supposed to be a one shot, smutty Hermione/Draco fic. And now, now it’s taken on a life of it’s own. It has a plot and it has heart and emotion and it’s not what I was planning on at all. It’s taken on a surprise life of it’s own. This would be why I’d feel the need to write an entire series before I started publishing them if I wanted to do a series…I’d be afraid the characters would take my novel and change the series in an entirely different direction than what my writing contract expected.

Literary Musings

Twelve

Twelve. It’s a number we deal with every day in regards to time and the date. And, after an evaluation of my writing, it’s also the number of novels that I’m apparently in the middle of writing. Maybe that’s why, when I started pondering what I’ll be working on in November for National Novel Writing Month, I drew a blank. So let’s see what I have going on, in no particular order.

  1. The fantasy novel that I started working on way back in middle school, nearly half my life ago. It’s the novel that I call “Lord of the Rings-like but with an all female cast.” It’s mostly done other than the fact that every time I pull it out to edit it I end up changing entire passages and giving up because there’s just so much to do.
  2. A novel about mermaids and high school. If I’m remembering correctly this one may technically be “finished” as well?
  3. A novel about werewolves because of course there are werewolves. I think this one is also finished.
  4. There’s also a novel about fairy godmothers that I think is mostly complete but, like entries 2 and 3 I’ve never actually went through to edit.
  5. The one with Greek statues and gods and goddesses and flashbacks to ancient Greece. Mostly finished, it not complete?
  6. The vampire one. Only there’s cruise ships and various time periods and I’m pretty sure I wrote the first third and the last third but never the middle section.
  7. The fairy tale retelling that I just started last year and made major headway but then ran out of steam after National Novel Writing Month.
  8. My first contemporary novel which was set in the Greek system at a university. Only “Greek” meant way more than just sororities and fraternities. I think I only got about 1/6 of the way done with this one.
  9. The first of what I was thinking would be a librarian themed cozy mystery series because I started working in libraries and was using the whole “write what you know” theory. Only got about five pages in but somehow also managed to outline a sequel?
  10. The murder mystery novel that was born because I read a similar novel and didn’t like how it rolled out/ended. This one has a four page outline but I’ve only written about five pages of it.
  11. And yet another fantasy, this one born out of reading a series and not liking how it ended so I just randomly invented my own world and a whole outline for all three novels. I know I have pages and pages of characters and plotlines but I don’t remember if I actually started writing it.
  12. Another start to a cozy mystery series, this one with murder and magic. There’s an outline floating around and the first page but nothing more.

I’m guessing that I should probably cheat a little on NaNo and work on one of these barely started novels, especially since I have no ideas for anything new but my trouble is…which one?!

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Reread. Book 4, Post 4.

My thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire pages 509-734.

  • Sirius shows up in Hogsmeade in dog form and meets up with Harry and company. This is kind of awesome because I love Sirius but then he adds that if they’re talking about him they should call him Snuffles. Um, shouldn’t they have also been using a code name for him when sending mail back and forth?
  • Nifflers during a Care of Magical Creatures class! Why couldn’t this scene have been in the movies?!
  • I really like how Hagrid and Hermione bond together again during this book which they also did back in Prisoner of Azkaban when Ron was upset about his rat. I think it’s just cute that Hagrid mainly took Harry under his wing but also ends up talking to all the misfits.
  • Oh Mrs. Weasley. At the beginning of the book the Weasleys are talking about how awful Rita Skeeter is, and Molly points it out again later, but when it comes to the rumors of Harry and Hermione she actually listens. Overprotective mother syndrome I’m guessing?
  • The whole scene with the insane Mr. Crouch is where everything really starts to go haywire. I can’t remember if I even had an inkling of what might be going on back the first time I read it?
  • The Pensieve scenes are super interesting and always have been but they are just uncomfortably invasive. I can’t imagine I’d be as calm as Dumbledore if I found someone walking around my memories. Also, this is when I really wanted to start seeing more of Neville Longbottom, after we learn what happened to his parents.
  • The Third Task. Like Harry you wonder if it’s so “easy” because they’re luring the champions into a false sense of security which actually probably would have been a good way to go. But then it goes unimaginably wrong.
  • Poor Cedric. Like I mentioned earlier we should have known something bad was going to happen to him since he became such a big part of the book so suddenly. And it was one of those cases where it all happened so fast and so much happened afterwards that it was hard to process. Just like if something like that were to happen in real life. (I just don’t like it when readers comment that characters didn’t take time to grieve or process a death. I mean, come on, they are worried about fighting for their lives. We’ll process later!)
  • All the Death Eaters and the Reverse Spell Effect. So emotional! And I love the big reveal of everything with Crouch/Moody. So creepy.
  • I like how quickly Dumbledore calls everyone together and we get to see the scope of the war effort.
  • Book four was when everything really started to get dark in this series which makes for some interesting, heart pounding reading.
Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Reread. Book 4, Post 3.

My thoughts on rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire pages 287-508.

  • In the last Harry Potter related post I mentioned that Ron never seems to learn from his mistakes. I suppose that’s nothing compared to Rita Skeeter who has to be one of the most frustrating characters. Until we read Order of the Phoenix of course.
  • Okay the fact that the kids get to tangle with dragons is fun to read about but honestly? The committee wanted there to be less of a chance for the champions to die during the competition and they decide the first task should involve dragons?! Well I guess it’s already a world where eleven year olds can fly around on brooms so safety already doesn’t seem like a top priority…
  • The whole House-Elf issue. I like that Hermione gets a plot line of her own and the fact that she’s fighting for equal rights is awesome but did she really have to be so annoying about it?
  • The Yule Ball. Beautiful imagery in the movies but that was just a mess all the way around. And Harry and Ron are the worst dates ever.
  • I really want to go to Hogwarts and become a Prefect so that I can use the bathrooms. A pool sized tub of warm water that fills really fast and you can add any number of colored bubbles?! Sounds amazing!
  • Harry is distracted and drops the Triwizard egg and the Marauder’s Map and finds himself in hot water. He literally just got through a challenge where his life depended on a Summoning Charm. Why the heck didn’t he Summon the egg and the map back to him? Idiot! A lot of the Crouch related stuff wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t lost the map…
  • The Second Task taking place in the Lake was a genius idea since we otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to see much there but I can’t imagine that was a fun event for spectators to witness? You’d think maybe they could have projected it somehow but clearly they didn’t or else Percy and Fleur wouldn’t have been so worried about their siblings. Also, come on Harry, you really thought they’d just let everyone die?
To Read or Not to Read?

This Is What a Librarian Looks Like… by Kyle Cassidy

As a librarian and book lover myself I was interested in a book which says it’s a “celebration of libraries, communities, and access to information” but honestly this wasn’t exactly a fun read through. With a title like “This Is What a Librarian Looks Like” I expected more diversity in the photographs. Sure there are men and women of various skin colors and with unique shirts, hair, and jewelry but all of the pictures are just more or less your basic school photo type picture. I think it would have been more interesting if the photographer had went to libraries and caught pictures of librarians in the act as opposed to just catching them at a conference and having them pose. That way people could have really seen the diversity in the jobs instead of hearing about it.

Another gripe, all of the statements from people and even little introspective pieces by authors were so similar. Perhaps we should have had everyone give more personal information instead of reading over and over again that libraries offer safe spaces, information, and services that towns/people might not otherwise get. How about you give us exact details on what you/your library offers? That’s why some of the essays were far more interesting because they got into the unique details of different libraries.

All in all it’s nice to see so many people loving and promoting libraries but I’m not sure it works in this format.

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Reread. Book 4, Post 2.

My thoughts on rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire pages 158-287.

  • Not only did we see the Diggorys at the World Cup but Amos Diggory shows up in the Weasley fire when the kids are getting ready to leave for Hogwarts. Honestly, even on my first read through I should have known something was going to happen to that family.
  • Ahh, the announcement of the Triwizard Tournament which was originally stopped because of all the deaths. Honestly, why didn’t the schools just have like a quiz bowl or something?
  • Mad-Eyed Moody who is not actually Moody at all. You know, just Voldemort’s most trusted servant transforming Slytherin’s into ferrets though I guess that may have just been payback for Lucius being one of those Death Eaters who got away? Either way, Moody was an interesting character. Even more so when we later meet the real Moody and he’s actual very much like the fake one personality wise…
  • But seriously though. Moody teaches the kids how to resist the Imperius Curse. Why do you want your enemies to know that!?
  • Beauxbatons and Durmstrang and all of the talk of keeping locations secret. But you know, everyone at Hogwarts has British/Scottish accents, Beauxbatons students have French accents and Durmstrang has Krum who everyone knows is from Bulgaria. Oh, I wonder where the schools are? Also, how is Krum a student and a famous international Quidditch star?!
  • The actual scenes with the Goblet of Fire bring on so many emotions. Fred and George growing their long white beards like they’re old which they’ll never see in real life. (Damn you, J.K.!) Also, Dumbledore “calmly” inquiring as to whether Harry put his name in. Come in movie how hard was that to incorporate?!
  • Honestly, after everything Harry has been through why would Ron possibly think Harry would want to partake in a magical competition he’s likely not prepared for? Stupid Ron. Now if only Ron had learned from this…