Beautiful People: July 2016

Beautiful People for Writers

Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Catrine, a major secondary character from my current epic fantasy work in progress that I’m about 75,000 words, or three fourths of the way through rewriting.

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

Yes, Catrine has already made a dress she planned to wear for her future wedding, though she no longer has it due to her constant movement between places. She has every intention of recreating that dress to the best of her abilities when the time comes for her wedding.

She wants to get married and have kids because she really likes the idea of having small children to make clothing for and pass down her trade to. She also likes the idea of being able to settle down somewhere, something she has a hard time imagining herself doing with all the places she has lived.

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

A sewing needle. 🙂

What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

The nicest thing Catrine has done is help some of the poor people on the island where she lives at the start of the novel by giving them free clothing as she uses them to practice making clothes for her wealthy clients and lets them keep what she’s made for them at the end. Cloth is very expensive on this island, and most of the poor only own one pair of clothes.

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

Catrine is normally a non-violent person, but when she feels she, her brother, or her job as a tailor at the palace is threatened she can get violent. During the story there is an occasion when she feels threatened by the main character due to something the main character did that gave her good reason to suspect the main character was threatening her aforementioned values. I can’t go into specifics without spoilers.

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

rule-follower

Are they organized or messy?

organized

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

Having people show her kindness makes Catrine feel loved. The last person who made her feel that way was her brother.

What do they eat for breakfast?

It varies. Catrine has lived in a lot of places and has parents who were from two places she has never lived. She takes what is available based on the place she is living in at the time.

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

Yes, she has lost people she was fairly close to through disease, but she has also lost many people she cared about not because they died, but because they lost her trust.

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

By making a nice garment for herself.

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An Ember in the Ashes 4 Stars


22529162Title:
 An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: Laia is willing to sacrifice everything to rescue her brother. Including her freedom.

When Laia agrees to work on an undercover operation for the resistance, in which she must work as a slave for one of the most powerful women in the empire, the last thing she expected to find was a kindred spirit in her master’s son Elias.

Elias wishes to be free of his obligations to the empire about as much as Laia wants to rescue her brother. Together they might just succeed.

Thoughts: Since I’ve read an ARC of the sequel, to be released in August, I’ve decided it’s about time I sort out my confused feelings towards this book so I can move on to writing an advanced review of the sequel.

This book is addictive. I started listening to it on the last day of a road trip. When I got home that night at about 9 PM, I could not get to sleep until I’d searched my house for my physical copy and read it the rest of the way through.

I’ve read a number of reviews in which reviewers say this book got them out of reading slumps, and I can see why. It’s next to impossible to put down. The timing was also perfect for me to read this book at the time that I did, exactly halfway through The Way of Kings.

Most people who read my posts are probably aware that Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series (the first book being The Way of Kings) is one of my favorite series, but even I started to feel a little discouraged about halfway through the first one because the book takes so long to read and I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere with it. Reading this book so quickly encouraged me to finish The Way of Kings, and I’m glad I did.

The society depicted is one that encourages blood lust, and one of the protagonists is a slave. It could have been unrealistic, or even disrespectful to glaze over the violence. However, there was a particular act of violence between characters who trusted each other that seemed to be crossing a line, and made me lose some respect for the characters’ in turn.

In the time since I’ve finished the book my confusion with regards to how I feel about this story has only grown. The story doesn’t standout in my mind from all the other YA epic fantasy books I’ve read, and therefore hasn’t proven all that memorable. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason this story doesn’t stand apart for me is its usage of many common tropes in a way I’ve seen used often before. The magic system didn’t seem particularly unique, and felt largely unexplained in this first book.

The element of having magical masks that permanently adhere to peoples’ faces also brought to mind a number of questions in my mind while reading with regards to sweat, dead skin, and shaving. The story also followed a familiar formula with the novel being arranged around a series of trials.

The familiar elements of the story helped make it a quick read, but also made the story somewhat forgettable.

Rating: I recommend this to people who need a break from lengthy books, are trying to get into reading fantasy, or are trying to get out of a reading slump, but it is not a thought provoking read.

4 blue jays

 

June 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

June was a busy month for me. I spent most of it traveling, and since I get motion sick there wasn’t much time for reading, but I did still manage to read four books and a novella.

Reading

25558608Short Synopsis: Sequel to An Ember in the Ashes.

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher. Opinions are my own.

Thoughts: Like the first book my thoughts on the sequel are very mixed though positive overall. It is addictive while reading, but I didn’t find it to be as memorable as I like books to be. This is a good book for someone trying to get out of a reading slump.

Rating: 4 blue jays

13836Short Synopsis: An orphan with a gift for caring for animals must come to terms with the fact that she has special abilities.

Thoughts: Loved the atmosphere and magic system, but had a hard time fully immersing myself in the story and kept getting distracted.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

25067046

Short Synopsis: Two young Imperial recruits follow very different paths. AKA Published Star Wars fanfiction.

Thoughts: The beginning felt very cheesy and a bit cliche, but the second half more than made up for it. It’s rare to find a story that follows a character who remains in a system deemed to be evil by society at large like this one.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

7824322Short Synopsis: A 15-year-old is abducted from her home and taken to a Soviet prison camp in Siberia during WWII.

Thoughts: This was a somewhat personal book for me since some of my relatives have narrowly escaped these camps. If they hadn’t I wouldn’t be here today.

I’m debating whether or not I’m willing to share my relatives’ full story publicly on the internet. Depending on my decision, I might write a full review.

Other than that though, this is a good historically accurate account, but it doesn’t have as much plot as I like in the books I read. However, it might be more shocking for someone who didn’t already know this happened.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

18075001Short Synopsis: Young orphan tries to find her way in  a world where she must hide her true nature.

Thoughts: I enjoyed the atmosphere and magic system introduced in this story, but ultimately thought it was too short for me to become entirely immersed in the story. However, this is not unusual for novellas.

Rating: 4 blue jays