My Search for Beta Readers Begins

So, good news, everyone. I finished that book I was writing. Here are some obligatory celebration gifs:

cheer hooray happy excited celebration

excited seinfeld happy dance exciting celebrate

FOX International Channels reaction dancing happy simpsons

celebration will ferrell paul rudd steve carell anchorman

Alright. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. What’s the book about, you ask? Well here’s a synopsis I wrote in ninety seconds:


Sixteen-year-old Rose is dead, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. She lives in an underground facility with the rest of the under-age mutants. It’s not so bad. Her family’s on the outside, and they’re perfectly safe. She’s made herself a favorite of Dr. Black, the man in charge, and hopes to take his place when he retires.

This plan falls apart when she finds out her brother’s dying of a terminal illness. Despite being the only known mutant in the world with healing powers, Rose isn’t allowed to save him. She’s not even allowed any contact with the outside world, and any attempt to escape would endanger not only her life, but those of all her friends still left inside.

One day a new kid enters the facility. He’s antisocial, unstable, and he has the power to manipulate gravity with his mind. Despite her better judgement, she escapes with his help, and finds herself on the run in an America with constant government surveillance and a strict national curfew, where the Iraq war never happened and the existence of mutants must never, ever, be revealed.

The Anomalies is an 83,000 word YA Sci-fi novel, filled with government cover-ups, shifting moralities, and super powers. It’s a standalone with series potential.


(I’m really trying to figure out another way to end that summary besides, “The results are world-changing.” I almost went with catastrophic, but that doesn’t quite apply.)

A few other things about the book:

  • The Anomalies,” is the current title.
  • It’s the beginning of a trilogy, and I’m afraid it feels like too much of a “part one.” I know you’re generally supposed to pitch a book like this as “a stand-alone with series potential,” but that sounds like a lie in my case. We’ll see how it goes.
  • I’m never really sure what genre to label it as. It’s Young Adult, sure, but I don’t know if it’s Sci-fi or Fantasy, or Urban Fantasy, or a combination of them both. Or if it would be classified as Dystopian. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out some time soon.
  • Of course, I should probably make sure the book’s actually, y’know, good, before I start worrying about trying to get published.
  • It’s currently clocked in at at 81,000 words, which would be about 324 pages in paperback form. 
  • I’m also concerned that my characters aren’t interesting enough. think they’re interesting, but I’m biased. 
  • There is a lesbian character in this novel who wasn’t quite important enough to be mentioned in that synopsis above, but is nevertheless very important. (And only gets more important in the next two books.) So if there’s any LGBTQ+ beta readers out there who’d like to help make sure I don’t mess anything up, that would be great.
  • Edit: in retrospect, I should warn that the level of violence and profanity is kinda pushing it a bit for the YA genre. It’s never gratuitous, (IMO, at least) but yeah, it is there.

As you may have noticed, I’m a bit nervous to start sending a whole manuscript out to people, even though I shouldn’t be. After all, I sent the first three chapters of this out to Destructive Readers, a subreddit designed to mercilessly critique samples of your writing. These people did not hold back, and not once were my feelings hurt or my dreams crushed. I know I can handle criticism. I’ve just never had to deal with it on this large of a scale.

Anyway, I’m looking for beta readers. I’ll plan on looking at other sites for them too, but I figured I’d start here. And if anyone wants to send me their own manuscript, I’d be willing to swap critiques with them, too. (As long as it’s a reasonable length.) If you’re interested, please either comment below, or message me at mboyle988@gmail.com.

(Also, what’s the deal with Wattpad?)

Ten Books I Plan to Read in 2017

My last post like this was all the way back in 2015, and it’s funny because I still haven’t read most of those books. But this year will be different, I say, for the fourth year in a row.

Image result for the winds of winter

1) The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin.

That’s right, I’m calling it. This book will be published this year. I know I said this last year and the the year before that, but I mean it this time. I mean, he has to finish it eventually, right?

Right?

Image result for perks of being a wallflower
What a boring cover

2) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

I pick this book because it’s short, it’s supposed to be great, as well as an easy read. That’s what I love about YA books: they’re all quick to read, even when they’re bad. Plus, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, and come to think of it, I haven’t seen her act in anything since Harry Potter, so I hope to watch it after finishing this. 

Image result for extremely loud and incredibly close3) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safran Foer

I remember seeing the trailer to this movie and thinking, “I don’t know what this is about, but I like it.” I never got to see to see the movie, but I heard the reviews for both it and the book were very divisive. It was either the most beautiful, heartwarming novel you’ve ever read, or a three hundred page piece of trash that belongs in the depths of hell.

I will get to decide which it is.

Image result for the kite runner

4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Fun fact, I actually read the first fifty pages or so, and found it fascinating. Sure, the main character was kind of a jerk to his friend, but I assume he’ll grow out of that. Plus I really want to learn more about the history of the middle east. The gist of what I know is this: Afghanistan got fucked over real bad in the 1970s, and I’m pretty sure the Russians were responsible, because the Russians are sort of awful like that. Although I’m sure the U.S. was also at fault in one way or another, because at one point in the novel Henry Kissinger was mentioned, and that guy’s famous for being a bit of a war criminal. Either way, I doubt this book has a happy ending.

Image result for the road book

5) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

I also read about 80 pages into this book, and I loved every moment of it. Although I do find it kind of arrogant of the author to just ignore the rules of punctuation. “Pff, I don’t need commas or quotation marks,” I can imagine him thinking. “My story is just that powerful.

Image result for doctor sleep

6) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

I know, I know. It’s been over three years and I still haven’t read this book. However, I recently started getting back into King’s Dark Tower series, after putting it aside for a long time, so I think I’m ready to go back into his work. 

Image result for The price of salt

7) The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith

It’s a romance novel about two lesbians in the fifties, which was recommended to me by Engie from Musings from Neville’s Navel. While I wasn’t a fan of The Maze Runner, I do tend to love most of the books she recommends me. Like A Game of Thrones, or Between the World and Me, or The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Or V for Vendetta.

So intend to get around to reading this book, and the pages will be soaked with my heart-shaped tears.

Image result for life the universe and everything

8) Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams

This is the third book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and if it’s half as funny as the first two, I will be in for a good time. 

Seriously, though. You know how rare it is for me to laugh out loud when reading a book? Usually I just smile, or exhale out of my nose, but Adams sends me into fits. And then I find myself thinking about scenes from the books months afterwards and I crack up again, and then I have to explain to people why I just started laughing for seemingly no reason.

Image result for i am legend book

9) I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.

I remember seeing the Will Smith movie adaptation for this, and thinking, “meh, seven out of ten.” But apparently the book is completely different? Also, the book is currently sitting on a shelf in my basement, and no one knows how it got there, which adds quite a bit to its mystique.

10) Maggie Stiefvater’s new book, whatever it is.

Stiefvater’s become one of those authors whose books I would immediately buy the moment they were released. Other authors include John Green, Markus Zusak, George R. R. Martin, and Suzanne Collins. If any of them publish a new book this year, I guarantee I’ll be buying it, no matter what the circumstances.


So what are you planning to read this year? And if you’ve read any of the novels above, feel free to share your (non-spoilery) thoughts. Oh, and Happy New Year!

I kind of want to run George R. R. Martin over with my car.

So I don’t usually do the daily prompt, but yesterday’s prompt looked like a nice little goldmine of possible humor, so I decided to go ahead and do it anyway. The prompt is:

Kick It

What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?

 

Of course, in order for my eleventh item to gain any significance, I should probably tell you my first ten, which are the following:

1) To save someone’s life

2) To take someone’s life. (Preferably Jeb Bush, but I’ll settle for his loved ones.)

3) To get thrown in jail for a joke I made on the Internet. (#2 should get this done.)

4) To get a book published.

5) To somehow join the cast of Orange is New Black.

6) To work a night shift as a paramedic. (I have no idea why, but this really appeals to me.)

7) To become old and overweight enough so that I could get a job as Santa Clause at the mall.

8) To Kill a Mockingbird.

9) To become fluent in another language. (Could it be dothraki? I wanna learn dothraki.)

10) To sign up for sky-diving, only to back out at the last moment. 

And number eleven is . . .

. . .

. . .

To meet one of my favorite authors in real life. 

Ha! Didn’t see that coming, did ya? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met a famous author in real life. Well, maybe I did and I just didn’t recognize them at the time. I’m reasonably sure that both John Green and Stephen King were within thirty miles of my house at one point, because 1) Stephen King totally name-dropped my hometown in one of his short stories, and 2) A major plot point of John Green’s Paper Towns has to do with the sort-of town of Agloe, New York, which (fun fact!) is also sort of close to where I live.

Unfortunately, both of these stories were written before I became a fan of their work, so if I had bumped into them at one point while their doing research, I don’t think I would’ve known. 

That being said, if I had to pick the author I’d most want to meet, it would be either Maggie Stiefvater or George R. R. Martin. For completely different reasons.

I want to meet Maggie because there’s a whole bunch of questions I’m dying to ask her, mainly:

  1. “The check engine light in my car is back on, and I just got it back from the repair shop yesterday. What’s up with that?”
  2. “Also, my car makes squeaking sounds whenever it’s really cold out. Is that normal?” And:
  3. “How do you pronounce your last name?”
You can’t deny Martin’s sense of fashion.

If I ever met up with George R. R. Martin, I’m not sure what I’d say. I’d ask him about his books, although somehow I don’t think he’d want to talk about it, considering that rather unfortunate case of writer’s block he’s had on and off for the last, oh, fifteen years or so. (The poor guy.)

Instead I’d ask him, “Hey, would you mind if I ran you over with my car? Because Stephen King had a similar problem as you with his Dark Tower series. I don’t know what exactly was his issue with that story, but it was only until after he was hit by a car that he started to write them at a fast pace.”

He’d probably say no, or maybe he’s become so desperate at this point that he’d actually consider it. Either way, I’m running that fucker over. I’ll slam on my gas pedal so hard he won’t even see me coming. Hopefully I’ll get to meet Maggie before I meet him, so she could give me advice on how do this with the least likelihood of killing the guy. 

Please don’t judge me. I love Martin’s books. I’ll just do whatever it takes to get more of them. 

The Rainbow Book Tag

So I’ve recently been tagged in Nevillegirl’s post, “The Rainbow Book Tag,” (Hey look, we both used the same title!) and I was very excited to do it. The subject is LGBTQ+ YA books, a topic I’m not too savvy about, but I’m going to write about it anyway because I don’t think I’ve ever had. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve never written an LGBTQ+ related post on this blog. If someone were to only gain all their knowledge from this blog and this blog only, they’d probably think a homosexual was some sort of exotic fruit, or something.

look at all these homosexuals

But that’s not right. LGTBQ+ rights is an important issue, one that I have very strong investment in, so I should probably mention the subject every once in a while. Hence, this post:

RED
The color of passion and desire

If you could own only one LGBTQ+ YA story for the rest of your life, which book would you choose and why? What makes you desire that particular book so much that you just have to have it on your shelf – characters, plot, author, cover, et cetera?

Well this one’s obvious. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily M. Danforth, and not just because it’s one of the few LGTBQ+ YA books I’ve read.

If I had to pick my top ten books of all time, this one would be on it, somewhere. And if I had to make a list of top ten books everyone should read, no matter who they are or where they live, this book would be number one. Because the world would be a much better place if that happened.

ORANGE
The color of creativity

If you were to create your perfect LGBTQ+ YA book in your mind, what would it look like? Romance? Non-romance? Fantasy? Sci fi? Contemporary? Historical fiction? Some other genre/genre mix? Novel? Short story? What about the characters – lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual? Who would you want to write this novel? Would it have a happy or sad ending? Where would it be set? Is it a series or a standalone?

It would be an urban fantasy/thriller written by Maggie Stiefvater. The main character is a lesbian drag car racer with a sentient car. I say this because according this one post I read months ago on Stiefvater’s’ tumblr, she’s apparently planning to write a book featuring a female drag racer of some sort, so if anyone were to write this book, she’d be the best one for the job.

YELLOW
The color of sunshine and sand

Let’s talk beach books! Imagine you are going to the beach with a friend, who is looking for some YA LGBTQ+ books to read there. Which book(s) would you recommend?

Does The Dream Thieves count as an LGTBQ+ book? I hope so, because I’m picking it. It takes place during the summer, it’s a quick read and it’s surprisingly violent, compared to the books preceding it. (Oh yeah, forgot to mention. This is the second book in a four part series, “The Raven Cycle.” It’s one of those rare book series where each book is more gripping than the last.

GREEN
The color of money

If you could get any five YA LGBTQ+ books for free,
which five would you choose?

Well, the first would be Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, because I’ve heard good things about it, and the synopsis is lit.*

The second would be The Miseducation of Cameron Post, because I’d like to read that again.

Then there’s Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, because who could say no to a retelling of Cinderella that features Cyborgs?

[Edit: I’ve been informed via helpful commenters that Cinder doesn’t actually have any LGTBQ+ themes, and that I had mistaken it for Ash, by Malindo Lo. Twas an honest mistake, I swear!]

Four would be Fans of the Impossible Life, by Kate Scelsa: “the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.” Well that can’t possibly end well. I’m intrigued.

And the last would be The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. I have no idea what its about, but I recognize the author’s name and it’s tagged under LGBTQ+ on Goodreads. So Oscar Wilde wrote a book featuring homosexuality in the slightly homophobic nineteenth century?  That’s pretty ballsy, I gotta say.

Indigo
The color of intuition

An LGBTQ+ YA book that you haven’t had the chance to read (yet) but have a really good feeling about.

Uh. . . Cinder, probably, because I haven’t heard a bad thing about it yet.

VIOLET
The color of dreams

You are hosting a tea party and can invite one LGBTQ+ YA author, two LGBTQ+ YA characters, and three non-LGBTQ+ characters (from any YA book) to any restaurant/place – real or fictional – you like. Who would you invite? Where would your party take place?

I’d pick Loras Tyrell from ASOIAF and Ronan Lynch from The Dream Thieves as my two LGBTQ+ characters, if only because I have literally no idea what would happen if they found themselves in the same room together. I can see their first meeting being either a) a complete disaster or b) the start of something wonderful.

For the straight characters, I’d pick Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, and Jon Snow, if only because I want at least three of the Starks to reunite at some point and I’m beginning to lose hope of that ever happening. It’ll be a tearjerker, I’m sure.

As for the LGBTQ+ YA author, I’d choose Emily M. Danforth, so I can ask her some questions I have about what happens to Cam after that final chapter of TMoCP. I need to know!

And, that’s all for today! Feel free to do your own post with this tag, if you want. Or you could answer the questions in the comments below. Or you could go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, unless of course you live in a place whether the weather isn’t so great right now, but based off the map on my stats page, I’d say there’s a good chance you don’t. That’s right, I did my research.

*I’m using the tem “lit” now. Get used to it.

Game of Thrones: Season 5: To Watch or Not to Watch?

I am a hardcore fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, which may surprise some of you, considering how I never talk about it. Ever. Like, not even a little bit. So like many people across the globe, I am struggling with a bit of a dilemma. A conundrum, if you will. 

Thanks to George R. R. Martin’s notoriously slow writing pace (which isn’t even that slow, when you consider the sheer length and complexity of his books), the show has now reached the point where the show is going to finish before the books do, and it’s probably going to happen in this season. And now I’m stuck with the decision: do I continue watching the show and having the books spoiled, or I do I try to ignore the show and wait God knows how long for the next book to come out?

I started off by watching the show. I watched the full first season and loved every moment. Then my HBO subscription canceled at the worst possible time, and instead of just enjoying watching gratuitous nudity and people dying horrible, I was forced to read about it instead. And I know this may annoy some of you hardcore show fans when I say this, but the books are just so much better.

Don’t get me wrong, the show is brilliant and for the most part did a great job, particularly with characters like Cersei, Arya and Sam. (Stannis? Not so much.) And even when the show went off course, I didn’t care because I understood the reasoning behind most of the changes and I liked how it turned out. 

It’s understandable though, that with only ten episodes of time a season, the show’s not able to go into the depth that the books do, and certain characters pay the price. Such as Sansa, whose character development and storyline in the books is much more realistic and well done. (As in, she doesn’t suddenly turn into a master manipulator within the course of a single episode.) Then there’s Tyrion, who may be much nicer than his book counterpart, but comes not even close to his level of complexity. And then there’s Margaery, who— okay, I have nothing bad to say about TV Margaery. The show handled her perfectly.

(Side note: I really feel bad for the fans who started reading the series back in 1996. Imagine waiting almost twenty years for an ending only to have it spoiled by the TV adaptation. Just to put in perspective as to how much of a wait that is: Hell, I wasn’t even alive back in 1996. This may seem weird, considering I’ve been told I give off the impression of an ageless, all-knowing god, but alas it is true. There are poor unfortunate fans out there who’ve waited longer than my entire lifetime for the end of this series, and there’s still at least two more installments to go.)

What I’m trying to say is, I’d rather experience the ending by the books than the TV show. But because the series probably won’t be ending for at least another four years. I know that won’t be possible, because there will be spoilers. Spoilers everywhere. And because there’s no chance in hell The Winds of Winter will come before the end of season 5, I’m just going to watch this season and hope TWoW comes out before season 6.

So for anyone reading for the sole purpose of finding out whether I’m going to be reviewing this season’s episodes or not, the answer is yes, I will.

Better brace yourselves, readers, because my reviewing skills have improved tenfold since last summer. I’m like a reviewing wizard at this point. Zap! Zap!

That was the sound of my wizard curses, by the way.

Zap zap!

Why Splitting Mockingjay was for the Best

(Caution: spoilers galore for the events of Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins)

So I just recently watched Mockingjay: Part One, and I’ve come to two conclusions:

1) I don’t usually condone murder, but someone needs to kill that guy behind me who kept clapping every ten minutes. Yes, Katniss shooting down a plane with a bow and arrow is cool and all, but it is not cool enough to warrant an obnoxious clap while people are sitting right in front of you. What is the point of “clapping” anyway? Who exactly thought that smacking your hands together loudly should be a good way of expressing your approval? Oh, and also:

2) While splitting Mockingjay was almost definitely a decision motivated by greed, that doesn’t matter much because it all worked out perfectly.

I liked the book and all, but the last third of it was a tiny bit rushed and confusing. If Mockingjay was made into one single installment, it would’ve made an even more rushed and even more confusing movie. Katniss’s PTSD would not have been explored to nearly as much an extent, every single one of Effie’s scenes would’ve been cut, and that whole Hanging Tree segment probably never would’ve happened, which would suck because that song was quite possibly the best scene in the whole series, if measured in the amount of chills it gave me. I mean seriously, I’m listening to it right now, and I just shed a mockingjay-shaped tear.

If Mockingjay was made into one two and a half hour movie, at least half of Part 1 would’ve had to be cut. I can only think of two, maybe three scenes from that Part 1 I’d be willing to get rid of, let alone an entire hour’s worth. Not to mention the sheer amount of character development we’d lose in a single adaptation. Prim, Finnick, and Johanna barely get enough screentime as it is. Their deaths would be utterly meaningless* to those who haven’t read the books, and disappointing to those who have, if their screentime was limited to a single movie.

But really, the one thing everyone on the internet seem to be forgetting is that the book itself is split into two very distinctive parts. Katniss’s entire motivation in the first half is to do what she can to save Peeta, while she spends the second half getting to grips with his condition as Peeta slowly heals. And the first half focuses on the use of war propaganda as both sides try to manipulate the districts into joining their cause, while the second half focuses on the war that results. In the words of producer Nina Jacobsen, “Mockingjay 1 is about the propaganda war, Mockingjay 2 is about war.”

Not to mention, if Mockingjay was only made into one movie, Natalie Dormer never would’ve been casted. And that would be a tragedy.

*Prim and Finnick’s deaths, I mean. Not Johanna’s.

Books I Plan to Read in 2015 (And a Look Back at Those Read Last Year)

So it’s becoming sort of a tradition on this blog to make a list of ten books I plan to read the following year. This time I’ll be doing something slightly different. In addition to listing ten books, I will also be reviewing the books I planned to read in 2014.

Now, for last year’s books:

1) Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. [Haven’t finished yet]

I’m about three hundred fifty pages into this novel, and I’m not entirely sure what to feel about it. It hasn’t quite hooked me in like my first Sanderson book, The Way of Kings, has, and besides Vin and Elend, I don’t really care about any of the characters. But then again, the last three hundred pages of TWoK were easily its best pages, so hopefully the next three hundred pages of Mistborn will be just as great. Hey, you never know.

2) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King [Didn’t read.]

I can’t believe I still haven’t read this book. I don’t have an excuse; this book’s been on my kindle since last Christmas, and I’ve wanted to read it since 2012.

I’ll get around to it eventually.

3) A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin [Read.]

This book was easily the best in the series so far. It was simply stunning. The last five hundred pages were basically just one huge, groundbreaking event after another, yet it never felt tired or excessive, because all these events had been built up to for literally thousands of pages. Not to mention it was the most satisfying of the novels. If George R. R. Martin just decided to stop writing and become a lumberjack right after writing this, I wouldn’t have been that upset.

4) World War Z, by Max Brooks [Didn’t read.]

I haven’t read this either, which can probably be attributed to my declining interest in zombie stories over the last twelve months. What? They’re overdone.

(An exception: The Last of Us, a videogame I got for Christmas, and ended up beating today. Greatest. Video game. Ever. If anyone has this on the ps4, please comment immediately with your psn username so I could shoot you with my crossbow in the multiplayer mode.)

5) Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman [Read]

This was the book where I realized just how funny Neil Gaiman could be. This was hilarious, and deeply moving at the same time. Plus it had some scary parts, which I didn’t expect.

Also, can I also just point out that this might just be the only book I’ve read that centers around an almost entirely black cast and yet isn’t about racism? Why is this so rare?

6) The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. [Didn’t read.]

I can’t seem to find this book anywhere.

7) The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K Rowling. [Didn’t read either]

Heh, I didn’t either of these books. I will one day, though. I swear.

8) The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater [Read]

I must admit, the first book didn’t really grab me. It was good and all, but the characters didn’t seem nearly as well-defined and interesting as they’d become later on. Except for Blue and Noah . (They are perfect.) It wasn’t until reading its sequel, The Dream Thieves, that it became clear just how great this series was.

9) Any Book, by Agatha Christie. [Read]

I read two of her books: And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The first book was amazing, and completely took me by surprise. The second one wasn’t quite as good. It wasn’t as tense and I managed to guess the killer about fifteen pages before it was revealed. #skillsofdeduction

10) Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo [Didn’t finish yet]

I’m almost six hundred pages into this beast of a novel, and I’m not even halfway through. That being said, I loved the first four hundred pages or so, but after that the story’s started to drag, and I’m growing restless. I still want to see what happens to Cossette and Jean Valjean, though, so I plan on continuing the read.

And, now onto the books I plan to read in 2015:

1) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

That’s right. I put this on the list twice. I also need to (finally) finish up the rest of his Dark Tower series. The first three books were amazing and I finished through them all within a month. And then I got to the flashback portions of Wizard and Glass and I just grew bored and stopped reading. But the thing is, I still want to know if Roland finds the Dark Tower or not, and if so, what exactly is up with that Dark Tower anyway?

Also, I’m told that King wrote himself into the series (as a character!) which is a sign of either genius or complete insanity. Possibly both. Either way, he has piqued my interest.

2) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

You know that video game I was talking about earlier, The Last of Us? Well apparently, that was partially based off this book, so I assume the book will be scary, funny, poignant, dark and cynical all at the same time. And they’ll be a badass teenage girl named Ellie. (I hope.)

3) The Great Gatsby, by Scott F. Fitzgerald

I’ve heard this book is overrated so many times that I’m beginning to think it’s actually underrated. Does that make sense? I think it does.

4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Why? Because I see this book everywhere, that’s why.

5) Jonathon Strange and Mrs. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

I have no idea what this is about. But judging from the title, I’m going to guess and say: it’s kind of like a Harry Potter-esque story, but with like, sex and stuff. Oh, and it takes place in Victorian London.

6) Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Because with the exception of Nightmare in Silver, Neil Gaiman hasn’t let me down once. Not to mention, this book features characters with beads for eyes, and that sounds terrifying.

7) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

How have I not read this book yet? Supposedly it deals with topics such as depression, sexual abuse, drugs, mental illness, homophobia and a bunch of other terrible things in only two hundred or so pages, and I kind of want to see how it pulls that all off without feeling like a soap opera.

(I don’t actually watch soap operas, so for all I know that last sentence was completely inaccurate.)

Also, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, so that’s always a plus.

8) Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve only read one book by good ol’ Kurt, and it was Mother Night, a story about a Nazi war criminal who was actually an American spy, and it was amazing, in every sense of the word. I finished it in one day.

But when you ask someone what their favorite Vonnegut novel is, they almost never say Mother Night, which leads me to believe that perhaps there are even better Vonnegut novels out there in the world, such as this one.

9) Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

I know absolutely nothing about this book, except that apparently it was important enough to have a commonly known phrase created because of it.

10) Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Because my blog friends like it, for some reason, and I’ve decided to give it a try. Apparently it’s a retelling of Cinderella, but with cyborgs. . . Sounds interesting.

So, what do you think of my to-read list? What books do you plan on reading this year? And most importantly, do you have The Last of Us on the playstation 4? Because that game’s rad.

TCWT Blog Chain: Books that Taught Me by Example

That’s right, it’s time for this month’s TCWT blog chain! The prompt is:

What works of fiction have taught you by example, and what did they teach you?

This is totes a tough question, but I will go ahead and answer it anyway.

(I apologize for using the word ‘totes.’ I also apologize for publishing this late, though in my defense, my leg was bitten off by a crocodile and it took me exactly three days to get over it.)

First off: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. (Along with all her other books that I know of.)

Say what you want about the Hunger Games trilogy, but you can’t say they’re not well-structured. Well, you can, I guess, but I’d have to disagree with you. Well, I wouldn’t completely disagree with you on Mockingjay and Catching Fire, because they were a bit messy, but the first book was mahvelous*, and that statement is not up for debate.

The books are divided into three parts. Part one: the introduction, full of world-building and set-up and all that jazz. Part two: the rising action, where some stuff happens, and there’s usually a twist at the end. And then Part three, where all hell breaks loose. Most books and stories and TV sitcoms (especially TV sitcoms) use this structure, but it never really became apparent to me until I read these books.

Now whenever I write a story, I write it with the three part structure in mind. And it’s worked out perfectly for me so far, with my books becoming New York Times’ bestsellers.

(Forgot to mention: I go by the pseudonym Stephen King.)

Second off is a series that I seemingly mention in every other post of mine: A Song of Ice and Fire.

This is the series that made me a fan of stories with multiple point of view characters and different storylines that are all interconnected, which is the type of story I try to write all the time now, despite the fact that it is very, very hard to do. (I have the upmost respect for epic fantasy writers now, by the way.)

And one of the advantages of having multiple POV characters is that it allows you to be more flexible killing them off. For instance, in my most recent WIP I am honestly considering killing my “main character” a third of the way through the book, because I have three other characters who are a lot more interesting and, with a little tweaking of the plot, can probably easily take charge of the story. I’d never even be considering this option if it weren’t for ASoIaF.

(You could argue that if I could just spontaneously kill off my main character, then he wasn’t very well-written or important to begin with. But. . . shuddup.)

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: George R. R. Martin has inspired me to write a scene in which multiple key characters are killed off with a large portion of the story still to go. You know, just to make those readers suffer.

John Green’s Looking for Alaska taught me that it’s allowed to include swearing in a young adult novel. Don’t get me wrong; I had read books with profanity before, but those were adult books, most of them by Stephen King. Looking for Alaska was in the YA category, and up until that point I didn’t even realize that swearing was allowed at all in books aimed towards teens, and especially not to the extent that it was. (This is probably because most of young adult books I’ve read was stuff like Percy Jackson and the Olympians, a series set in a world where “pinehead” and “seaweed brain” are actually offensive to a sixteen year old.”)

Thirteen year old me’s reaction to this was something along the lines of, “Cool. Whatever.” (I was in my angsty rebellious phase at the time.) And then I went ahead and did the same thing in my story, except I went a bit overboard, to the point where there’d be dialogue like this:

“Hey, pass me the *#&$ing bread, you *@$!ing ^&*@.”

“Okay $%&#, just $^^%$#& let me &#*@* and &#^$@, #&$#*@^$^&)(&%# !@!@#$%.”

That’s right: my characters just randomly shouted out symbols. Sometimes they’d even swear.

Anywho, the main reason this post took so long for me to write (you know, beside me losing my leg in a freak crocodile accident) is because I don’t finish most books with a specific lesson learned that I will apply to my own writing. I usually just learn a lot of minor things that is tough to describe, and anyway aren’t important enough to warrant an entire post. To be honest I’ve learned something from every book I’ve read, even the terrible ones. Especially the terrible ones, actually.

So it looks like the moral of this post is: read bad books.

(EDIT: I realize now that I could have easily written a post about books that were so bad, they taught me a valuable lesson in what not to do when writing a novel, and the post probably would’ve been awesome. Well, it’s too late now. But I guess you can expect a post like this in the future. *fingers crossed.*)

And now for the other participants of the blog chain:

5thhttps://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

6thhttp://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

7thhttps://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

8thhttp://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/

9thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

10thhttp://kirabudge.weebly.com/

11thhttp://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/

12thhttp://randomosityofeden.wordpress.com/

13thhttp://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

14thhttp://www.alwaysopinionatedgirl.wordpress.com/

15thhttp://www.juliathewritergirl.wordpress.com/

16thhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/

17thhttp://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/

18thhttp://unironicallyexcited.wordpress.com/

19thhttp://theboardingblogger.wordpress.com/

20thhttp://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/

21sthttp://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

22ndhttp://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

23rdhttp://lilyjenness.blogspot.com/

24thhttp://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/

25th – [off-day]

26thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

27thhttp://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

28thhttp://www.pamelanicolewrites.com

29thhttp://jasperlindell.blogspot.com.au/

30thhttp://maralaurey.wordpress.com/ and http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

31st – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

*I spelled it this way on purpose, by the way.

Characters Who Deserve Their Own Books

So, I discovered this prompt from Engie, who found it on The Broke and the Bookish, which appears to be a pretty great blog. So I’m going to try out the tag, for what I’m pretty sure is the first time. You can join the tag too, right here.

Now, to get straight to it:

Not his most flattering picture, I admit.

Hot Pie from A Song of Ice and Fire

An orphaned baker boy originally headed towards the wall, I’ve loved Hot Pie from the start. Well, maybe not immediately, when he was pretending to be all tough and hardcore to Arya. But through the course of the series you see this angry bully facade of his quickly disappear, replaced with a scared and innocent child who has to survive the giant clusterfuck that is the war-torn Riverlands of Westeros. Seriously, this kid goes through just as much hell as Arya, and yet his attitude towards life actually seems to improve because of it, so, um, good for him.

I’d also like to have a small book dedicated towards Gendry, The Hound, Yoren, or pretty much anyone that has interacted with Arya from seasons 2-4 of Game of Thrones.

Isaac, from The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Recently I’ve really wanted to reread this book, and not because of all the phrases that aren’t das deep as people seem to think they are (“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”), but because of Isaac, and his whole storyline.

Isaac was diagnosed with a type of cancer that required him to have one of his eyes surgically removed when he was a child. “No biggie,” you may say. “He still has the other eye, right?”

Nope. He later had to get his other eye surgically removed, making him permanently blind. As someone who likes to read, write, and juggle, I would be a complete wreck if this happened to me. And so is Isaac. He is a complete wreck. Very pissed off at the world for a while, and yet he still manages to keep going, and even have a good sense of humor about it. “Come over here so I can examine your face with my hands and see deeper into your soul than a sighted person ever could,” he says to Hazel, shortly after getting his final eye taken out.

Isaac is easily the most interesting character in this whole book, and yet he gets sidelined by Hazel and Gus’s “okays,” even more so in the second half. *tears up*

Speaking of which, does Isaac have a stated last name? Because if so, I am drawing a huge blank on it.

Sam Black Crow, from American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

Yeah, Sam is awesome. I can’t wait to see her in the TV adaptation. (Yep, that’s happening.)

I know this is only three characters, but I’m very, very tired, and besides, I’m setting myself up for a possible sequel to this post. Keep your eyes on the horizon, readers. The blogging horizon, that is.

Stuff that Happened, Announcements, and Other Things that Should Hopefully Interest You

So you may have noticed, I’ve been absent lately. I hope it didn’t bother you.

Oh, who am I kidding. I hope you panicked and spent every single minute of every single day refreshing my blog’s homepage, because that shows that you care and I love it when people care about me, especially if they do so in an unhealthy obsessive way.

As to why I’ve been absent? Well, it’s a funny story, really. It wasn’t funny at the time, but now that it’s all over I can let you in on it, and hopefully we’ll all laugh at it whilst sharing a nice cup of coffee together, just us.

So, you know that AP English class I signed up for back in June? Well, last week my teacher had us all do eight minute presentations in front of the class, talking about a theme shown in the non-fiction books we read over the summer.

Well, after several recommendations from wonderful commenters, I chose Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama. (You may have heard of him.) And I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, but before I tell you it, I’m going to need you to lean in close to the screen so no one else hears.

A little closer…

Just a bit more…

Good. Well, here it goes:

I didn’t actually read the book.

Wait! Please don’t click the unfollow button! At least let me explain first. You see, I am a very lazy individual, who isn’t great at managing his time. I only started reading Dreams From My Father two days before the school year started, read six chapters, and realized there was no way I was going to finish the book in time before school started. So I only did the assignment, where I just had to select twelve quotes from the novel and write about why I liked them, which was so much easier than actually finishing the book. I told myself I was going to finish the book as soon as possible, but never got around to it. When an entire month went by and my teacher still hadn’t even mentioned the nonfiction books, I figured we would never have to do anything involving them anyway.

I figured wrong.

But that’s not the worst part. You see, the teacher allowed the students to pair up with anyone else who happened to have read the same book, yet out of all the kids in my class and the limited amount of books to choose from, I was the only one who picked Dreams from my Father, which meant I’d have to do the entire presentation instead of just a part of it.

So basically, I was all alone, having to give an eight minute presentation on a book I never actually read.

Thanks, Obama.

So now that I was involuntarily a lone wolf, I took matters into my own hands and spent the next few days reading the entire book, even staying home sick, just to catch up. And I was sick, by the way. With a, um, a headache. A really bad headache, that lasted two days and only went away when I was at work.

*wink*

The good news: I got it done, was able to give an awkward presentation in class, and ended up getting a decent grade.

The bad news: I fell behind in all my other classes. I missed three tests, a physics lab, and worst of all, a game of school jeopardy where the winners were awarded candy.

Anyhoo, I stayed after school for today and last Friday in order to make up everything, and on Saturday I had to go to my grandparents house to move furniture around and later that night I had to go to a Halloween party that did not, in any way, involve underage drinking, because that is illegal, and teenagers always follow the law.

And on Sunday, I was reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which is one of those books that are really hard to stop reading. I realize this might not be a good excuse, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me in about two paragraphs. Moving on…

I also bought a laptop, using the money I made from working at McDonald’s, which means that I won’t have to share a computer with four other family members all the time. Also, I’ll presumably have more time to post, meaning. . .

I’ll be attempting NaBloPoMo again this November! Mostly because I feel like I need to redeem myself from the massive failure that was my last attempt at it, back in May. Wish me luck.

To end this post, I shall ask all the Walking Dead fans currently reading this: What did you think of last night’s episode? I need to discuss it with someone.

Oh, and American Horror Story fans: Is that show any good?

Four Changes I’d Make to My Favorite Books

I read a lot.

Well, not that much, compared to some of the people I follow on Goodreads, who apparently read suspiciously close to the speed of light.

Yet in all the books I’ve read, there is not a single one in which there’s nothing I wouldn’t change if I were given the chance. I’m not trying to say that I consider myself better than any of these authors, just that there are small (and admittedly, sometimes big) moments where I know I would’ve written things differently.

Keep in mind, before any of you less level-headed people post angry comments like “How dare you insult A Song of Ice and Fire!” or “I’ll have you know that John Green’s writing saved my life!” you should know that all the books I mention happen to be favorites of mine. Which makes me want to change certain things about them even more, because then, in my mind, these books would be perfect.

(Caution: Slight spoilers for #2, and huge spoilers for #3 and #4. You have been warned.)

1) Take out a single word from Paper Towns, by John Green.

Paper Towns was my favorite John Green novel, probably. All I know is that while I liked his other books, this was the only one that I’ve felt the need to reread so far. And both times, there was always one line that’s bugged me more than any other. See, in the first chapter there’s a conversation between Quentin and his mother over the Senior Prom. Quentin hates prom and all things related to prom, because well, he’s a bit of a wet blanket. So his mom says, “Well, there’s no harm in just going with a friend. I’m sure you could ask Cassie Hiney.” Which prompts the following line:

And I could have asked Cassie Hiney, who was actually perfectly nice and pleasant and cute, despite having a fantastically unfortunate last name.

Did you spot what was wrong with this sentence? It should be fantastically obvious.

See, in my mind, the word “fantastically,” is a lot like the word “very,” in that it adds absolutely* nothing to whatever you’re trying to say. Except it’s so much worse, because “very” is a barely noticeable word, only two syllables long and so commonly used that most readers won’t even care. “Fantastically,” meanwhile, has five whole syllables and thirteen letters, which, considering it’s complete uselessness as a word, is thirteen letters and five syllables too long.

Had I written this, I simply would’ve put:

…despite having an unfortunate last name.

Tada! All is right with the world again.

You’re welcome, John Green. But next time, make sure to get permission from me and my infinite wisdom, before using an adverb over three syllables long.
4) Restructure at least two hundred pages of A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R.  Martin.

Of the five currently published ASoIaF books, ADwD is the one that had the most wasted potential. The problem was, there was simply too many chapters that could’ve been cut completely, or at the very least, severely edited. At least three Tyrion and Daenerys chapters could’ve been cut, along with the first Davos, Jon and Quentyn chapters. Plus, Arya’s two chapters should’ve been moved to A Feast for Crows, where it would’ve nicely completed her arc. If you were to also edit out the hundreds of sentences dedicated to food and bodily functions, you’d have at least two hundred pages left, which could’ve been used to resolve: 1) The Battle of Meereen, 2) The Battle for Winterfell, and 3) Jon Snow’s “death.”

If those three story lines had actually been somewhat resolved, I feel like the reaction to ADwD would’ve been much more positive. And I for one would’ve placed it in the same league as the first three books, which is saying a lot considering that they’re all up there as one of my favorite novels of all time.

3) Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, should’ve been at least thirty pages longer.

I didn’t like Mockingjay at first, for different reasons. I thought it was too depressing, and Katniss wasn’t as cool and kick-ass-y as she used to be. But I’ve since changed my mind.

The key to liking this book is not to think of it as a story about a bunch of people rebelling against an unjust government (which the first two books would’ve led you to believe) but as a story about the horrors of war and the effect it can have on someone. Sure it was depressing, but that was the point. And maybe Katniss wasn’t as competent as she used to be, but considering the sheer amount of horrible things she’s had to witness and take part in, people should probably cut her some slack.

When I looked at it this way, Mockingjay almost became my favorite book in the trilogy. Almost.

The one problem: it was too short.

With so many series these days, as the books grow more and more popular, the editor has less and less control over the author, who’s books will get bigger and bogged down with unnecessary subplots and details. And so the series falls victim to its own success.

Yet here it was just the opposite. This book could’ve used a whole lot more detail, especially during the last third of the novel. I believe there was a sentence halfway through part three that went like, “my tears freeze on my cheek.” It took me straight out of the story because, wait, it’s cold outside? This whole time I was envisioning the setting as a beautiful summer night, cloudy with a chance of horrific violence and child-bombing, and as it turns out, only the second part of that was correct. It was actually the middle of winter, yet I didn’t even realize that until they were in the Capitol for at least four chapters.

Not to mention, I think Prim’s death scene was rushed, and it was written in a confusing way. I don’t think I even realized that she had died until a few pages after it happened, then I had to read the scene over again just to make sure.

Admittedly, my lack of attention and forgetfulness might be to blame here. But I’m going to criticize Collins for this anyway.

1) A Storm of Swords: The Viper should have won.

I’m sure many will disagree with me here, because I myself am still on the fence with this. From one storytelling perspective, Oberyn’s death makes perfect sense: Tyrion had already found himself on trial back in the first book, and had managed to get out alive by calling for a trial by combat, which is exactly what he does here. Having a main character get out of the exact same situation in the same exact way is a little too lucky, especially for an author like George R.R. Martin.

BUT… Oberyn is like, really cool. When his names pops up, the word “badass” usually follows, and I’d argue that even if he didn’t die, Tyrion’s storyline would still have been about the same. Sure, Tyrion wouldn’t have been sentenced to death, but he definitely would’ve been at risk of being assassinated by one of Cersei’s men, and no one would’ve cared because at this point, he was completely friendless, despised by almost everyone and had little to no political power whatsoever. Now, it is possible that Oberyn would’ve brought Tyrion back with him to Dorne, but being that Tyrion’s still a Lannister, I don’t think that would’ve happened. Oberyn didn’t give a shit about Tyrion. He just wanted revenge on his poor sister, who had had one hell of a bad day about sixteen years ago.

So basically, everything that happened afterward in Tyrion’s storyline still would’ve happened. He would still be pissed off at his family, Jaime and Varys still would’ve helped him escape, and he’d still learn the truth about Tysha and murder his father. His storyline would’ve been exactly the same, except less depressing.

Not to mention, in A Feast for Crows, we could’ve visited Dorne through Oberyn’s point of view, a character we already know and like, instead of from the point of view of a bunch of strangers we’ve never met before and have little reason to care about.

And besides, major criticism of A Song of Ice and Fire is that it’s too depressing for it’s own good. I had always disagreed with this criticism, up until this scene. I mean, really Martin? You’re going to introduce this ridiculously cool character with a motivation everyone can get behind, just to give him a horrible, gory, humiliating death, while screwing Tyrion over at the same time? Right in front of his wife? Bad Martin! Bad!

___

So, do you agree with my points? Do you disagree? Do you kind of agree but not really? Comment below. Also, make sure to vote on this poll (which I forgot to put in the last post).

Special thanks to those who submitted a name. You’re da best.

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*Sort of like how “absolutely” doesn’t add much either. But I’m a blogger without an editor. John Green is a famous writer with an editor, and so he should be held to higher standard.

My Favorite Beginnings and Endings (TCWT)

Hey, y’all. It’s time for the monthly TCWT blog chain post, and unlike the last one, this entry will be on time. This month’s prompt is:

“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”

Oh, well this is gonna be easy. I’ve read a decent amount of books, many of which have some pretty spectacular beginnings and even better endings. First, I shall start off with the beginnings:

A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin

When I first started this giant mammoth of a novel I was surprised by how readable it was. The only other epic fantasy series I’d read at the time was Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, so I came into this expecting purple prose and a bunch of names I couldn’t quite pronounce. I was wrong on both accounts. Mostly. The prologue perfectly eases the reader into this harsh, cold world, without the boring pages of info-dumping so many fantasy novels resort to. Excuse me while I list a few of the things this prologue introduces you to:

  • A giant 700 foot wall made of ice.
  • Three characters who are surprisingly well rounded, considering how little page time they get.
  • Oh, and EVIL ICE ZOMBIES.

Honestly, as intriguing openings go, you can’t get any better than that. The only possible exception I could think of would be evil ice unicorns, but that’s a bit of a stretch. In fact, the only beginning better than this would have to be:

Stephen King’s IT: (Spoilers, but only for the first 30 pages of this 1,008 page book.)

The ending to this giant novel was, well, a bit of a mess, if I dare say so. But the first section introduced you to the town of Derry, and made it clear that despite it’s cheery outlook, it is a dark and deadly place.

It opens up with a nice five year old kid named George losing his paper boat down a sewer drain. He’s all upset, until he sees a friendly clown in the gutter, holding his paper boat. This is the innocent little conversation the two of them had, with most of the descriptions cut out for brevity’s sake:

“Want your boat, Georgie?” The clown smiled.

“I sure do,” he said.

“‘I sure do. That’s good! That’s very good! And how about a balloon?”

“Well, sure!” He reached forward . . . and then drew his hand reluctantly back. “I’m not supposed to take stuff from strangers. My dad said so.”

“Very wise of your dad,” the clown in the storm-drain said, smiling. “Very wise indeed. Therefore I will introduce myself. I, Georgie, am Mr. Bob Gray, also known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise, meet George Denbrough. George, meet Pennywise. And now we know each other. I’m not a stranger to you, and you’re not a stranger to me. Kee-rect?”

George giggled. “I guess so.”

Shortly after this, Pennywise finally convinces George to put his hand through the drain, and then rips the poor kid’s arm off. The kid dies from a mix of shock and blood loss. Don’t feel too bad, though. The kid was an idiot. If any halfway intelligent person saw a clown hanging about in a sewage drain, they wouldn’t dare touch him, not even with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. Besides, we all know that kid was going to end up dying later anyway, probably from forgetting to stop the car before stepping out, or maybe by starving to death after getting his hand stuck in a vending machine. By not killing him, Pennywise would’ve simply prolonged the inevitable.

But enough with the horribly-insensitive jokes on poor Georgie’s behalf: now I’m going to talk about the chapter after that, which is still technically the beginning.

This chapter takes place before, during and after a hate crime against an innocent gay couple in Derry, the town in which the novel takes place. To sum it up, a group of homophobic jerks saw an openly gay person named Adrian wearing a hat saying “I [heart] Derry!” So they felt that their “civic pride” had been wounded by seeing him wear that hat. One thing led to another, and they beat him up and threw him off a bridge, where Adrian was then finished off by Pennywise the Clown.

Here, King makes it clear that 1: What happened to the kid was horrible, and 2: The town of Derry is extremely homophobic, much more so than the towns surrounding it. This is partially shown in a flashback to when Don (Adrian’s boyfriend) takes him to see underneath the town’s bridge, where it’s littered with hundreds of writings like “STICK NAILS IN THE EYES OF ALL FAGGOTS (FOR GOD)!” and other even worse quotes I’m not going to include, because then my blog will probably get flagged or something.

Then you get this particular piece:

“Whoever writes these little homilies has got a case of the deep down crazies. I’d feel better if I thought it was just one person, one isolated sickie, but . . .” Don swept his arm vaguely down the length of the Kissing Bridge. “There’s a lot of this stuff . . . and I don’t think just one person did it. That’s why I want to leave Derry, Ade. Too many places and too many people seem to have the deep-down crazies.”

And that’s why Derry is so terrifying. Not just because of the crazy clown demon-thingy running amok and killing children and whatnot, but because that evil presence seems to be influencing the rest of the population. There’s racism and homophobia everywhere in the world, but there’s a much larger concentration of said hatred in this small, seemingly ideal town.

(As you may have been able to tell, It is the only book on this list I have with me at the moment, which is why I went into so much more detail.)

Some other great beginnings:

The Dark Knight. I know it’s not a book, but that opening scene was fantastic.

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak. It starts off with the funniest bank robbery I’ve ever read, which admittedly isn’t saying much.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. It opens with the brutal murder of an infant’s family, yet it’s described in a surprisingly child-friendly way.

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve only read the prologue, but it was amazing. Whoever this Kelsier guy is, I want to high-five him.

Carrie, by Stephen King. (Spoilers for the beginning.) It starts off with the main character getting her period in the school locker room, which is embarrassing enough, but what makes it even worse is the fact that her crazy religious mother never bothered to tell her anything about the menstrual cycle, so she was freaking out, thinking she was dying, while all the other girls made fun of her. This gives her what I like to call INSTANT SYMPATHY POINTS from the reader, and that’s something only well written characters can get.

Now, what are my favorite endings, you ask?

Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

While I didn’t like the first three chapters, I was hooked by the end of chapter four and I loved everything about it, especially the final lines:

“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

These words are so moving and powerful (even more so when you know the circumstances surrounding them) that they’ve been quoted a billion times since, almost as often as the book’s opening lines.* Commissioner Gordon even quoted them at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises

Just because of the A Tale of Two Cities quote, mentioned above.

Then I’d pick The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Anyone who’s read that book should know why.

photo credit: cheeseburger.com

And finally, I’d pick A Game of Thrones. Again. (Caution: Spoilers.)

This book started with ice, and ended with fire. Daenerys Targaryen started out as basically a sex slave, sold to a guy who was thrice her age and didn’t even speak the same language. I have yet to be put in such a predicament, but I assume my thoughts about it would be something along the lines of, “Well this isn’t very fun.” Yet Dany, over the course of the novel, grows from a shy, unambitious thirteen (yes, thirteen) year old girl, to a strong and confident ruler, and this makes her storyline the most satisfying one in the first book.

Oh, and dragons. She becomes the Mother of Dragons. If, after reading or watching this scene, you didn’t immediately pump your fist in the air, there are only two possible explanations:

1) Both of your fists have been stolen by the notorious Fist Thief of 1987, or:

2) You are a bad person, and your family probably doesn’t even love you.

Check out the other blogs in the blog chain:

September 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:

Prompt: “What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?” 

7th – http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/

8th – http://zarahoffman.com/

9th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

10th – http://www.elizamcfarlish.weebly.com/

11th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

12th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

14th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

15th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

16th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

17th – http://ttkesley.wordpress.com/

18th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

19th – http://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

20th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

24th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/

and http://www.paperdaydreams.com/

25th – http://write-where-you-are.blogspot.de/

and http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

26th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

and http://anmksmeanderingmind.wordpress.com/

27th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

and http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

28th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/

and http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

29th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

30th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

*I hated those opening lines. I blame my English teacher for making me repeat them so many times.