Book Review Sunday! The Black Magician Trilogy

ImageI’ve got to start this post by apologizing. Yes, I am sorry, because I am completely guilty of only doing book reviews for books that I actually like (so far). Maybe next week I will do a book that is in my trash pile. Sadly, a lot of YA novels that have come out recently are in that pile.

If you loved Brandon  Sanderson’s Mistborn series, then you will absolutely love the Black Magician Trilogy. The Black Magician Trilogy, written by Trudi Canavan, is an utterly fantastic book trilogy that I would recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in fiction. Unlike a lot of other book series, such as my own, this series is short and succinct, wrapping up with only three books (to be fair there is a prequel novel and sequel series, but I would prefer to think that those books don’t exist).

The series follows Sonea, a slum-living girl of Imardin, who violently discovers latent magic within her. While the first book focuses on her escaping the magicians who seek to control her and tame her now reckless magic shows a slightly innocent Sonea, she develops throughout the course of the series into a strong, resolute, able and compassionate woman. I love it when women in novels don’t turn into classic female archetypes. Sonea is definitely an original. If I ever had a daughter,  I would want her to read this book (and also the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce) so she could see what a truly strong woman is.

Canavan is also a master of threading multiple plots in a single novel. Each book in the trilogy has multiple storylines and each of the storylines are still interesting, a feat in and of itself. It shows that not only is Canavan limitlessly imaginative, but she is also crazy talented. I can only hope to make so many storylines flow together so smoothly and beautifully. Though the last book is dogged down by a love-plotline that came from way out in left field, I still appreciate the story in it’s entirety. The first book is a novel version of cat and mouse, the second is more of an adult version of Harry Potter, and the third is a book-long climax that wont let you go for a second.

I totally recommend this book to anyone with a love of both magic and realism. Canavan is truly a hero among authors for her world building, and her books manage to rekindle the nostalgia in me for the days of Harry Potter and schools where you can go learn magic. I would trade my Anthropology of Religion class for Transfiguration any day.

Advertisements

You Know You’re a Writer When…..

Image

 

  • You get to school an hour early so you can bang out some pages before class
  • You don’t sing in the shower – you make dialogue for your characters and act it out
  • ctrl-z is your best friend
  • You clearly remember what book first inspired you to start writing
  • You can’t sleep because you’ve thought of a new novel idea
  • You suddenly have a new book idea in your head but you don’t have anything to write it on so you keep repeating it to yourself while you frantically run around looking for pen and paper.
  • Instead of counting sheep to sleep, you go over plot ideas.
  • All your pets have the names of your favorite literary characters
  • You spend your time at parties inspecting your host’s bookshelves
  • You hear someone say something funny and you keep a mental note of it so your character can say it
  • You’d rather write than socialize with people

Did I miss any?? How do you know that you’re a writer?

Using Music to Influence your Writing

I use music a lot. As an avid cellist (I’ve been playing since the 3rd grade), I feel a certain connection to music. Emotionally, music has guided me through a lot of hardships in my life, and I owe a lot to my cello and the many teachers that have helped me along my path to being a successful (and quite amazing, If I do say so myself) cellist. Saying this, I admit that a lot of the music that I use to help me along in my writing has a cello in some form or another. End of aside, music of all kinds can help you break through that writers block and it can also help you shape your writing, your characters, and your story as a whole.

Using my own writing as an example, I have a selection of songs that I believe best represent the characters and places in Children of Earth. For example, I use many of the songs by Pink Floyd to shape my scenes involving Axle. Axle, unlike the other characters, is a lot like myself in that he can say a lot of the things to people that I am thinking. He is the sassiest out of all the Children, and has a snarky reply to everything. Pink Floyd’s songs are both sassy and they don’t care about the social norms, in fact they thrive in rebelling from them. Axle has a lot of character personalities that will be peeled back throughout the series to reveal the true strength of his characters, and like Pink Floyd’s music, an in-depth analysis of the character would be needed to fully understand him.

The example above seems kind of shoddy, so I will give you a better one. I often use the scores to some of my favorite movies and television shows to help me write scenes that have been troubling me. By taking the score for a scene, I can understand the necessary plot progressions and the climax of said scenes, and therefor I know what the timing for my own scenes must be. An example of this would be Lost, one of my favorite examples of everything ever because it is such a fantastic piece of work. Composer Michael Giacchino did such an amazing job composing for Lost. He brilliantly managed to make themes for nearly all of Lost’s characters (a feat in and of itself considering how large the cast was) and he managed to compose themes befitting to both the island and each of the scenes. For example, the Travelling and Gathering themes is one of my favorites to work with because it manages to both invest the viewer anxious and involved. As the theme progresses, it reaches a climax (of sorts). I have used this theme many times, in particular in writing the first chapter of Children of Earth, when the heroes are steadily climbing up the mountain/hill to the stone circle, steadily walking faster and faster as they reach their destination.

My overall advice to you is to find all of your favorite movies and television shows, compile a list, and then make yourself a YouTube account. From there you can make a playlist of all the scores from these movie/tvshows that can help you along with your writing. I recommend sitting and listening to the music a few times before you start, playing the scene in your head in rhythm with the beat of the score, and then, still playing the music, begin writing your scene. Your writing will flow from there.

For reference, you are free to use my own writing playlist! It’s been a lifesaver!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL29YuSQcpscF40r4BHNPCvZXhrxAjmYw8
https://lalionnedeecosse.wordpress.com/the-playlist/

Inspirational Authors

This seems like a silly post, but I really want to point out the authors and their books that have been the most inspirational to me and my writing. I feel like a list of ten authors is very limiting, but I will make do.
1)F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
2)Tamora Pierce – The Lioness Quartet
3)Trudi Canavan – The Magicians Guild
4)John Steinbeck – East of Eden
5) Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits
6) J.R.R. Tolkien – LOTR
7)Kristen Britain – The Green Rider series
8) George R.R. Martin – Song of Ice and Fire
9) Patrick Rothfuss – Kingkiller Chronicles
10) Diana Gabaldon – Outlander

I can only aspire to be as great as the authors on this list.

Book Review Sunday – Poison Princess

I almost feel bad. I’ve been reviewing books with primarily female heroines. While the Green Rider and Noble Dead series have excellent male leads with plenty of backstory, they are both told from a female perspective (primarily). The same can be said of Poison Princess, the first in the latest series from romantic novelist Kresley Cole. And, sadly, I’m not nearly as impressed with Evie, the heroine of Poison Princess.
Evie is self-obsessed, and does little other than obsess about herself and create problems for the other characters in the novel. It isn’t until the last couple chapters that Evie comes into her own and becomes, at long last, resourceful. While this can be interpreted as an example of character development, to me it dragged on too long and her incessant whining became tiresome when she could have easily done things for herself.
Despite the book’s lack-luster heroine, it still manages to catch you on a hook and hold on tight. I couldn’t break away for more than an hour, finishing the book within a day. This I blame on the book’s intriguing and original plot, ie. the Tarot cards have brought about an apocalypse. And while the first third of the book focuses on unnecessary plot details and high school drama that becomes unnecessary once everything becomes blown to bits by the apocalypse, they are still engaging enough to make all the hours reading it enjoyable. Once all the teenage murk and high school nonsense is out of the way, Cole manages to weave an apocalyptic story that rivals all the others, simply for its ingenious use of Tarot Cards and their historic characters.
Overall, Cole has created an engaging book that will hook you in until the very end and leave you begging for the next. Cole creates the layout for what could be an epic story if the heroine ever stops obsessing over herself. Before you open the book take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the dive because once you start reading, it will not let you go.