Beautiful People: September 2016

Beautiful People for WritersBeautiful 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 Yuliana, my protagonist. I’m thinking of changing the names of all my characters (I have a tendency to do this), but I’ll stick with the current name for the purpose of this post.

How did you come up with this character?

There was no one point at which I came up with Yuliana. She developed with time. In the very first version of this story, which never got past a chapter or two, she was a he with a personality almost exactly the opposite of her current one. In the second attempt, which got to around 20,000 words, she was female with her personality somewhere between that of the original male lead and her current one.

By the third attempt, the first I finished and what I consider to be my first draft, she had all the basics of her current personality, but wasn’t as well developed as she is in the second draft I am currently rewriting. I suppose the answer is that Yuliana developed through writing about her.

Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

She has been starving on several occasions for many different reasons. It would take way too long for me to go into all of these instances and give away too much. Generally, Yuliana has been starving because food is unavailable for some reason or another. She has eaten a lot of different things after being starving.

Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

Yuliana is proud of her ability to read and write. Literacy is not common for people of the serving class where she lives.

List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

  1. Someone trying to blame a murder on her.
  2. Someone kidnapping her, a member of her family, or her friends.
  3. Her younger sister, Glenda, not listening to her when both their lives are in jeopardy.

What is their favourite type of weather? Least favourite?

Yuliana’s favorite type of weather is hot and humid. Her least favorite is freezing cold.

What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?

Yuliana’s Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw.

Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?

Yuliana is more likely to worry about the present.

What is their favourite thing to drink?

tea

What is their favourite color? Least favorite?

Yuliana loves green, but hates violet.

What is a book that changed their life?

Well, in the first draft of this story I wrote to completion there was a book that changed Yuliana’s life significantly, but I’m not planing to include it in this draft as that book was basically a cheep plot device allowing Yuliana to learn everything with the least effort on my part. Other than that, Yuliana is too poor to own many books and doesn’t have much free time she could use for reading until the end of the novel. She hasn’t had much chance for a book to change her life.

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Blood for Blood 4.5 Stars

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Title: Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2)

Author: Ryan Graudin

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Genre: Young Adult Alternate History, Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher (Little, Brown). Opinions are my own.

*This is the review of a sequel. For my review of the first book click here.

Synopsis: In an alternate 1956 where the Axis Powers won World War II Yael, a teenage Jewish concentration camp escapee, entered an ambitious cross-continent motorcycle race. The winner got to meet Hitler.

Her goal was to win the race, kill Hitler, and start a revolution. This book is the aftermath of that plan.

Thoughts: I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I was worried with the way Wolf by Wolf ended this book would be all filler in an attempt to make a series out of a standalone.

I was wrong.

This book is one of the best dystopian revolution type books I’ve read. (Yes, I’m calling the government in this book “dystopian” even though it is based off of a form of government that once existed because this is alternate history, not actual history.)

What set this book apart from most other novels’ I’ve read centering around a revolution is that the main character, in this case Yael, still has an important message and roll to play in what is to come.

The world-building, something I didn’t feel was well executed in the first book, was better in this one. This is due in part to the fact that in the first book almost all the flashbacks were dedicated to showing Yael at the most devastating moments in her life, whereas these show a variety of circumstances.

This book put greater influence on Yael’s Jewish culture than the first one. Yael spent most of the last book pretending to be other people, and had trouble keeping herself from getting absorbed into the roll of the person she was pretending to be. That was not the case in this book. I enjoyed seeing Yael come into her own and embrace who she was. Though I can’t comment on the accuracy of the depiction as Jewish culture is not something I’m overly familiar with.

Our two leading side characters from the first book, Felix and Luka, play an even greater roll in this book than the first one. They get entire chapters from their point of views. I appreciated how, in spite of this choice, the author didn’t make the book all about romance.

I have a feeling Luka’s character arc in this book is going to be controversial. He accepted things rather quickly. Though the way he learned only part of what was going on at any given time made his actions more plausible.

Something else I noticed that I didn’t in the first one was that I’m not sure how accurately German words are used. I’m not anywhere near fluent in German, but when I read the first book my only exposure to German was spoken.

Between reading the first and second books of this series I decided to learn a little about the German writing system. Keeping in mind that the version I read was an ARC and I have only limited knowledge of German,  I think all of the German nouns in the book should have been capitalized but some weren’t. It seems to me like this is a very basic rule the author should have had a German speaker check for, but maybe I’m wrong since I’m not a fluent German speaker and this was not a finished copy.

Rating: A great sequel overall, though I had a few reservations.

4.5 blue jays

August 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

August started with a reading slump. Thankfully, I got out of it during the second half of the month and read some great books.

Reading

26836910Short Synopsis: Girl genetically engineered to have her life revolve around protecting a single person must pretend to be the person she would die to protect.

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher, but opinions are my own.

Thoughts: This book managed to get me out of my reading slump. It was so addictive I had a hard time putting it down when I needed to.

I’m also a fan of sci-fi novels in which the main character has to masquerade as someone from a very different walk of life, and enjoyed the main character’s internal struggle of trying to decide whether she could be her own person when she’s internalized that she is less important. Full review to come closer to the release date.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: Three young dragons have choices to make. What they choose will influence their world for centuries.

Thoughts: This is book can be read as a stand alone without reading the series it’s a spin-off from. In fact, the main series contains spoilers for this book.

I wasn’t expecting much from this book since I already knew how it ended and spin-off books have a history of being not that great, but this book surprised me.

My favorite part was Darkstalker (one of the three narrator’s) moral ambiguity. It seems to be becoming more common lately, but it’s still rare to see the main character in a middle grade novel, or novel in any genre really, walk the line between good and evil so closely. I want to like Darkstalker, but part of me thinks he is the dragon equivalent of Hitler.

I have a bit of a problem with the names of Darkstalker and his sister, Whiteout. The names sound like some sort of racist joke, but other than that this story was great.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

13259262Short Synopsis: Collection of short stories about fictional Martian colonization.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this overall, but at times certain details seemed illogical to me, or not to connect to the story as a whole. It was as though most of the short stories contained in this odd combination of an anthology and a novel were set on the same timeline while a few were set on different ones.

Still, this is probably one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read, and Ray Bradbury’s prose is beautiful.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: Third book in the Magisterium series.

Thoughts: Something about this series has me hooked, but I have a hard time figuring out what it is that makes it so addictive. I’ve come to the conclusion that I really enjoy the protagonist’s internal struggle, though I can’t go into what that struggle is without telling spoilers.

I’ve read books with similar concepts to this one many times before, but never executed exactly this way. I think it’s the exact set up of the protagonist’s internal struggle, and the reaction of those around him to that struggle that make this series so attractive to me.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays