January 20, 2012

Friday Fives (or Holy Buckets This Girl Has Verbal Diarrhea)

Paper Hangover's Friday Fives today is The Five Books you're looking forward to in 2012, but I feel like I've done this topic already, so I'm skipping it this week. My Friday Fives are basically a conglomeration of what's rattling around in my skull today:

1)  On Books Dealing With Cancer
I mentioned this on Twitter and in the comment section on somebody's blog (in reference to TFIOS*), but I feel the need to mention it again - I choose not to read books where cancer plays a major role. Sure, I've read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult and even saw the book-bastardizing movie, but both left me feeling like a wrung out dishrag. Not a pleasant thing. Why exactly? My father is a cancer survivor. And while the fact that he survived is something to celebrate, I will always look back on that period in my life (three years) with a sick feeling in my stomach. My junior high years** were filled with a kind of stress and fear that I can't articulate in words. A little girl that I babysat during this span of time passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Hers is the only funeral I have ever attended. I choose not to revisit all of this in the books I'm reading. I suppose these kinds of books give those not personally acquainted with the big C a little glimpse into what it's like. I suppose this does raise awareness as well, which is a good thing. But as someone who has lived through it personally, I just wish this trend (I feel terrible even calling it that) would just go far, far away. And that's all I want to say about that.

2)  Gushing Over Books v. Reviewing Books
I've given this topic some further thought (since I wrote this post) and I think I've come to a conclusion. Rebecca Behrens left a helpful comment about deciding whether or not you as a blogger are online primarily as a writer or a reader. I hadn't considered this before, but I think there's a lot of wisdom in it. In light of the colossal brouhaha*** on Goodreads, the blogs, and Twitter over the nastiness of reviews and the nastiness of certain authors' responses to those reviews, I think I'd like to just avoid all the nonsense. Reviews are important and rants are rude, but I choose to stay out of it. As such, I will only talk about books that I really enjoyed or loved on this blog. I prefer to gush than rant in the end. Plus, I'd rather not have anything come back and bite me in the toches**** down the road. I'll still rate books on Goodreads, but I suddenly don't feel the need to say why I only gave a book 3 stars (which is still 'I liked it') or less as the case may be. 

3)  From One Book to the Next
This point's title has a double meaning. First, I'm kind of on a reading rampage these days for no other reason than I'm totally enjoying what I've picked up thus far in 2012. I've finished Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Legend by Marie Lu, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, and Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik. Some were better than others, but all were completely enjoyable. I'm currently reading A Million Suns by Beth Revis, the sequel to 2011's Across the Universe. Which brings me to the second meaning of this point's title. Reading a sequel to a book that came out a year or more ago is tricky business. I ran into this problem in the first pages of The Death Cure by James Dashner (3rd in the Maze Runner series) and ended up putting it down until I can refresh myself on Book 2. A Million Suns is not so much of a problem, but it's still challenging to recall what happened in the first book when you've read a crap ton of books in the interim. Somebody needs to come up with a really good YA book site that has complete summaries of books (with GIANT spoiler warnings, of course). Then I wouldn't have to reread entire series just to know what's going on in this book that I'm currently reading. So many books, so little time.

4)  The Power of the Subconscious
We all pick up little tidbits of things as we go about our day, some big and some small. Often this is why our dreams end up as bizarre mash-ups that we have difficulty making sense of. All of these bits influence us in some way and even sometimes creep into our writing whether we intend it or not. This becomes especially frustrating when we've unwittingly included something in our WiP that too closely resembles something we've read (been there, unfortunately - whoops!). This is one of the challenges of being both a reader and a writer. I was talking with my sister the other day, outlining a little snippet in my WiP and she pointed out that it was influenced by something that happened in my real life. Something really funny that I'd completely forgotten about. I had no idea that this is where it came from, but my subconscious must have spewed it onto the page without my knowing it. Kind of makes me think more carefully about the characters and events that I write (wouldn't want anybody seeing themselves in, let's say, a particularly awful character O_o).

5)  The Beauty of Blue Morphos
These are more accurately 'fluttering' around my brain than 'rattling'. My current WiP has blue morpho butterflies (the species Morpho menelaus) in it and lately I'm seeing them everywhere (not for real, but that would be freakin' awesome!). It's wonderful being surrounded by inspiration without even seeking it out. As is usually the case in nature, blue morpho males have more brilliant colouring than the females. To which I say: Boo. That's like dudes with prettier eyelashes than girls - So. Not. Fair. Their wingspan can grow up to 15cm (5.9in)! And they're just absolutely breath-takingly gorgeous, aren't they?

There's plenty more junk between my ears - some useful, most totally useless - but I've rambled long enough. So what's new with you? Care to share some of your brain vomit?

* The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - I'm happy that some of you enjoyed/are enjoying it.
**We didn't actually have junior high, but this is the appropriate age range (11-14 years).
***Cuddlebuggery outlines this mess in great detail and YA Highway has a number of links in their Field Trip Friday post today.
****A fun little Yiddish word for ass, bum, buttocks, behind, gluteus maximus, or tush. 


  1. Thanks for the mention! I am still struggling with my talking about books policy because I'm afraid of overgushing. It's always something!

    1. I would never accuse you of overgushing. Any book love you mention is totally appropriate and not all fangirly and OMG-ish. After everything that has been going down on Goodreads, etc. a little book love never hurt anybody :)

  2. I only gush about books. Anything I didn't particularly like I choose not to talk about. And I definitely understand where you're coming from on cancer books. My mom's a survivor, and I volunteer with cancer kids on Tuesdays (teaching them writing--basically just letting them tell me stories), and though it's the best thing I do all week, I can't deal with cancer TV shows or books.

    1. That's such a great thing that you do with the kids. I don't imagine that's very easy. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels this way about cancer in books/TV/movies.

  3. Blue Morphos are beautiful :D and I agree with you on the reviewing part. On my blog, I usually only gush over books I loved...I want to spread the love so to speak :D
    In regards to your stand on books dealing with cancer, I think it is very personal and you have all the rights in the world not wanting to dive into something which would bring you back to that time.

    1. There are just so many books to gush over, why take the time to rant about those books we aren't crazy over, right?:-) As for my views on books dealing with cancer - I should probably have qualified my opinion by saying that I know other people read these books and enjoy them, and I have nothing against that. Like you say, it's a personal thing. If it's a side thing in the story, like St. Clair's mom in ANNA and the FRENCH KISS, that's fine. That won't keep me from reading a book. But I have noticed lately (when I'm on Goodreads looking for more great contemporary reads) that there are an awful lot of books with cancer as the main issue. I guess it just starts to feel a little overdone.

  4. Re: #3. If I ever wind up publishing a series, my books will totally have a "Previously, in This Series" section like they do before TV shows. It's getting worse and worse as I try to stay on top of new releases, which means it will be AGES before the sequel comes out. Sorry, Christopher Paolini, I will not be picking up that last book in the Eragon cycle till the summer, because I have too many other books to read and share with my students, and I just don't have time to RE-READ like three thousand pages before I get to a new book. If it's a quick re-read, I'll do it (Crossed? Absolutely. Also I loved Matched a lot and then promptly forgot all but the barest plot outline. My brain worries me sometimes.) And that's why I haven't re-read Divergent yet--as much as I want to go back to it, I know I have to wait until closer to Insurgent.

    1. That's a great idea including recaps. For people who love reading and do it as often as they can, that means keeping track of all the details from one book to the next a year later can be quite difficult. Especially if the books if full of things you need to remember. I'm with you on the DIVERGENT reread thing. I'll be waiting until closer to May as well. :-)

  5. #1: I totally get where you're coming from. This is not my experience, but I understand. I guess I would feel the same way about novels that belittle religious faith (esp. my own). Thankfully, I've not read any (most authors--esp. YA-tend to tread carefully around the issue of religion), but I would be disinclined to read such books given how important my faith is to me.

    #2: I'd not really given this much thought until recently. I said I plan to do more book reviews on my blog, but if I review every book I read, my blog would become overwhelmed with reviews and little else--and I wouldn't get much other writing done! So, I think I'm going to adopt your policy of only reviewing books I'm also recommending.

    #3: Did you feel the same way with the Harry Potter series? Of course, we all re-re-re-read them anyway because we couldn't get enough, so by the time the next book came along, we knew "the story so far" inside out. But, if you recall, for at least the first three books, JKR managed to weave a brief recap of the story into the narrative, which was really cool. Other than making your book so good that people want to re-read it just to relive it, I don't know how else to overcome this problem. I too plan to re-read DIVERGENT before reading INSURGENT.

    #4: Letting stuff from other books seep into your work is troubling, but I have absolutely no problem with stealing from life--consciously or subconsciously. The fact that something like what your writing actually happened lends an air of authenticity to your writing. Names can always be changed to protect the innocent (or guilty). :)

    #5: The blue morpho does look good. Now, is he the studly jock-type of good looking butterfly, or the quiet-but-attractive butterfly? Does he strut around the trees showing off his colors, with girly butterflies hanging off his legs, or sit quietly among the daisies going about his business while the girl butterflies swoon as they go by? :)

    There's my brain vomit for you. :)

    1. #1 Yeah, books that overtly or even subtly slam my faith irk me too. #2 It's just easier to stick with the books we love and share them with others. #3 I totally felt the same way with the HP series, especially by the big monster-sized final ones. #4 I agree that pulling things from real life can add to your writing. #5 Hmmm, not sure about that one. I have seen pictures of these beautiful blue morphos in clusters on trees, so I think maybe he's a bit cliquey. :-)


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