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January 8th, 2013


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das_mervin
06:47 pm - THE CHATTERBOX: Literature
The Chatterbox: Literature


We all love to read here, and I know for a fact that we all love to get together and exchange reading material. Talk any book you want here, good, bad, or even your own!

(233 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:missy_raya
Date:January 9th, 2013 01:54 am (UTC)
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Is it just me, or does every story seem to start out:

"So and so what a completely normal girl, and then this happened."
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From:ranguvar42
Date:January 9th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
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Most YA novels do seem to follow that formula.
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From:ranguvar42
Date:January 9th, 2013 02:41 am (UTC)

My Novella

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Wolf's Bane

I self-published.

OK, why aren't LJ links working?!

EDIT: Never mind.

Edited at 2013-01-09 05:36 am (UTC)
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From:albion_witch
Date:January 11th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)

Re: My Novella

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Nice prologue.
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From:cheryl_bites
Date:January 10th, 2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
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I think you replied in the wrong place...
From:missy_raya
Date:January 10th, 2013 08:16 pm (UTC)
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The Selection by Kiera Cass. Thoughts on it?

Apparently books involving reality TV-shows are the new vampires. Or is it the new angels?

From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 15th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
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It's... sparkly. Very little plot, very little character building and a needless love triangle which is hopelessly lopsided.
I thought it was quite good, but really it is fluff, you know, a nice pleasant read when you don't want to think too hard. There are some face palmingly moments but there are some genuinely sweet moments between America and Maxon. And while America is annoyingly naive at times, she does have her head screwed on.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 16th, 2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Has anyone ever had any trouble with a planned story that ended up freakishly similar to a popular book released long after you had the idea?
I have found myself in that situation after reading the Host and watching the movie trailer.
Gahfraghkgorb!
Anyone got any tips on how to change things around or should I scrap it?
From:missy_raya
Date:March 3rd, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
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Can you tell me how similar your book is to The Host?

A story about an alien invasion that has humans fighting should be wide open and vague enough for you to get away with. Even a love story during an alien invasion where humans are fighting back is pretty open-ended.

Anything closer... Would be too close, I think.

Speaking of the Host. The chick whose playing Melanie is adorable. Though she needs to work on making her voice more threatening.

Antagonist: Come with us.
Melanie: I'd rather die.

Me: Sweetie, your voice sounds too ridiculously sweet, make it more threatening dang it.

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 18th, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Has anyone read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness? I swear, it's creepily similar to Twilight. And the heroine is the hugest Mary Sue I've ever come across. The biggest giveaway? She's got every single kind of power you can think of. time travel? She's got it. Elemental powers? She's got them too. Telekenesis and telepathy? Yep.
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From:scribal_goddess
Date:February 12th, 2013 04:20 am (UTC)
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I read the second one. Whatever it was called.

I finished it. (But then, I finished Twilight too - I was searching for the plot.) I liked some of it, but I thought a large amount of the subplots were abysmally pointless. All of the historical side characters were entertaining (except for Kit Marlowe at the end, because that was simply pathetic,) and it seemed like the author actually did enough research to make her heroine plausible in her field of study. There was even some atypical witchcraft and alchemy treatment, and the author gets half a cookie for having a female protagonist that is actually old enough to have held a PHD and a well established life. I take the cookie back because I never saw any evidence of said life (Until I finished the book, I assumed that this was because they'd time-traveled and she didn't have to deal with it,) beyond her childhood.

Also, I grew to despise the vampire love interest at the end. He and most of the other vampires were somewhat believeable, but the vampirism, the blood rage, and above all the stupid weaving and time-walking was handled sloppily. Whenever supernaturals or items affecting the future were handled, I didn't get what the point of the subplot was.

I suppose if I wanted to run a litmus test, the main character gets some points for usually being a semi-reasonable person, for having things happen to her for which there are permanent and bad consequences, and for remaining a consistent character rather than jumping all over the place like a rabbit on speed. But the book overall is still disappointing because it had a lot of stuff it could do, and didn't. I assume that the author will grow when she starts a new series and that she'll write a more coherent world that doesn't depend on the heroine running each and every little thing. Clearly, she knows how to research, I think she just lacks the chops and editing experience to know how to make things happen neatly.

The big problem for me is that a couple of weeks after reading the book, I don't know any main character's name. They weren't interesting enough. :/

That's a long reply to the question.
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From:aprilp_katje
Date:January 19th, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
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I've developed a literary crush on Haruki Murakami after reading his novels Kafka by the Shore and 1Q84, his short-story collections The Elephant Vanishes and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, and his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I guess I'd classify his writing as "magical realism," but that description doesn't do it justice.

I've also enjoyed Steig Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy and have torn through the first 16 volumes of The Walking Dead graphic novels.

And in case it's not evident from my default userpic, I love me some Thomas Pynchon. :)
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From:ruin_takada
Date:March 4th, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC)
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I have a bunch of Murakami at home, but I didn't actually start reading his work until I started reading 'Underground'. It's excellent so far.

Edited at 2014-03-04 09:42 pm (UTC)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 22nd, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC)

Beautiful Creatures?

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So, I've been hearing a lot about the "Beautiful Creatures" series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, especially with a film adaptation being released soon. From what I've heard about it and what I saw in the trailer, it looks like it could go either way, and I'm a bit nervous to pick up the book.

Has anyone here read it, and could you tell me if it's actually decent or if it's just a gender-flipped "Twilight" with witches instead of vampires?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 23rd, 2013 10:50 am (UTC)

Re: Beautiful Creatures?

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I got through about a chapter before putting the book down in disgust. Both of the protagonists are gratuitously and unrepentently Mary Sue and the setting is almost a caricature of the American Deep South. I've never set foot in America in my life and I know it's inaccurate and offensive, for heaven's sake!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 23rd, 2013 10:43 am (UTC)

Holly Black - Modern Tales of Faerie

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Hi! I had this series recommended to me by a friend, but as she's an admitted Cassandra Clare fan I'd like to know whether or not they're worth my time, and figured that this was the place to ask. I loved the Spiderwick books growing up, and apparently the faerie lore is accurate, so if anyone has an opinion, drop me a line.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 23rd, 2013 02:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Holly Black - Modern Tales of Faerie

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I read them a few years ago, and from what I remember, they were actually pretty good. Certainly better than anything Clare's ever written, anyway. They're much, MUCH darker than the Spiderwick novels, so keep that in mind before you read. The juxtaposition of that darker, grimier faerie lore with the more gritty, realist setting (no "Twilight" version of high school here) works very well, the characters are engaging, and the plot is actually rather well thought-out, never using the "it's fantasy" excuse to pull stuff out of its ass (ahem, MEYER).

Maybe Black only said she was a fan because she's friends with Clare and didn't want to ruffle any feathers? You can definitely see where Clare ripped her off, actually. There's a bit in "City of Ashes" that reads like it was copied and pasted from an early draft of "Tithe." Disgusting. And that's why Clare is my third least-favorite writer, below Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James.
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From:taekarado
Date:January 23rd, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
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i had a bit of a debate with mum today about publishers, and i want to see the sporkers thoughts on this.

do any of you think that you can tell the quality of a book just by looking at the publisher? i ask because books published by silhouette/mills and boon/whatever its going under these days are usually considered to be universally bad, and i want to know if thats a unanimous view.
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From:beacon80
Date:January 30th, 2013 03:21 am (UTC)

Re: What book would you say does action scenes well?

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The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 30th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)

Need good book recs!

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Hey guys, I'm gonna be volunteering at my local library one day a week, and I was wondering what you all would recommend for me? I'd be willing to try anything: Sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, romance, a combination of any of the above...basically, everything the stuff you spork here tries to do well, but fails. (I'll be honest though, seeing how horrible Twilight is on every possible level, I'd like to read a GOOD paranormal romance. Does such a thing even exist?)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 30th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Need good book recs!

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Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead, and its spinoff, Bloodlines.

This is literally the ONLY YA paranormal romance which does it well! Main character is a dhampir girl, a half-Moroi (good Russian vampire), with the duty to train as a bodyguard to protect her best friend, a Moroi princess, as well as Moroi in general, from the Strigoi (evil immortal Russian vampires)

Absolutely brilliant series. Strong lead, kind and sexy love interest, lots of positive relationships, and interesting plot with lots of the main girl kicking ass.
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From:ranguvar42
Date:February 1st, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
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Any in this comm read the John Bellairs books?
From:missy_raya
Date:February 24th, 2013 04:00 am (UTC)
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The Eternal Ones? Anyone.
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From:beacon80
Date:February 26th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)

“Ghost Stories”: The ubiquitous anti-feminism of young adult romances

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A friend linked me to this article, since I'm working on a YA novel with a female protagonist. I thought people here might find it interesting.

Worth noting, I don't even have a love interest in my story. There's one guy who asks her out, but that ultimately goes nowhere (and he's likely to get left on the cutting room floor entirely). The closest thing I have to a love triangle is the heroine's conflicted feelings about the new father figure in her life and the old one.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 2nd, 2013 10:36 am (UTC)

Re: “Ghost Stories”: The ubiquitous anti-feminism of young adult romances

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Really interesting article!
I'm with you 100% on the love interests thing. I'm working on a few novels right now and I can think of only two real love interests amongst 7 main heroines (and one of the love interests is a girl, so yeah). In fact, any time I have a character that could be a romantic interest, I kill him off. Brutally. And sometimes the girls too. I like focusing on friendship and family more - in fact, all of my characters seem to have a close relationship with an older brother, a younger sister, a grandparent or a father figure and most of the time their conflict is linked to protecting, saving, fighting. or finding that family member.
Your story sounds very interesting. I like your twist in the idea of a love triangle - because it's still love, just not romantic.
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From:soraina_skye
Date:March 28th, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Song of Ice and Fire

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Its very good! I haven't read all of the books yet, but I would reccomend it or the TV series in a heartbeat. As long as you don't mind violence/nudity and having your emotions regularly destroyed. :P

One of my favorite things about it is despite it being a fantasy series, the characters and situations are incredibly realistic. It has wonderful female characters, complex relationships, morally ambiguous people, and is just plain well-written. The first episode will literally leave you staring in shock at the end.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 24th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)
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Has anyone here read From Ashes by Molly McAdams? I looked it up on Goodreads and the reviews were mixed. It sounds kind of awful, actually. I read excerpts from Chapter 1 and it doesn't appear very promising. From the gist of it, I gather that there's abuse galore, dumb plot devices, a love pentagon, and a whole bunch of beautiful characters with horrible personalities. It appears to be good spork material, but I haven't read it yet so I can't really say. Anyone care to clue me in?
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From:ldegnan
Date:April 29th, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC)
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Can anyone recommend some good books that are fantasy or sci-fi oriented, have a female protagonist that is actually worth being in that role, and that has a decent romance plot line? The last part is optional, but I'm a sucker for well written romance. Those things combined make for my favorite guilty pleasure reads, but I almost always stumble across more Twilight's than I do Abarats.

Mangas are fine as well. Please and thank you! :)

Also as a side topic, since this community frequently tackles books and fanfiction that involve dysfunctional relationships presented as a healthy ideal, what are some of your all's favorite romances? Personally, as cliche as it is, one of my favorites has to be the romance between Noriko and Izaark in Kanata Kara/From Far Away. The story is cliche, as is the romance on some levels, but I love the dynamic between the two of them. They make each other stronger, and once they finally admit their feelings they almost give me cavities with how cute they end up acting around each other.

Edited at 2013-04-29 10:30 pm (UTC)
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From:bluekevlar16
Date:May 11th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)

The Percy Jackson series

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:/ Am I the only one who hates these books? Maybe it's because of my bias against Classical mythology, but I just really, really despise these books. One of the things that annoys me is that it tries to make it girl-friendly. No, just no. Greek mythology is probably the most misogynistic religion or mythology I've ever seen in my life. Even the goddesses were misogynistic, if you ask me.

Imo, the only series I've ever read that did Classical mythology properly is Everworld and Disney. Everworld because it, Imo, portrays the old gods of myth accurately (as a bunch of batshit insane, sociopathic, raging lunatics), and Disney because it's so blatantly inaccurate.

Edited at 2013-05-11 10:30 pm (UTC)
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From:scribal_goddess
Date:May 14th, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC)

Re: The Percy Jackson series

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I don't mind them.

Because the premise is that the Greek gods had to modernize a bit and move out, so it's not going to be true to Greek mythology, especially since the main characters were raised in a modern society and have modern values. The family and girl-friendliness is perfectly acceptable when you consider that the target audience is eleven through fourteen. Also, I personally think Rick Riordan is a better worldbuilder than Eoin Colfier, who was the previous winner for middle-school modern fantasy adventure aimed at mostly at middle school boys. (Yes, I know using the greek myths as a base helped that a lot, but he also has a better grasp on when to introduce plot points (more than a chapter before they become important) and how to keep the main characters challenged.)

I do think that a lot of the greek goddess myths are pretty mysoginistic (Not even counting Persephone, there's Atlanta, Athena turning a girl into a spider for boasting, Hestia giving up her place at Olympus, everything Hera ever does to anybody who might catch Zeus' eye...) so, given that the Percy Jackson stories are supposed to be in a modern setting and assuming that the gods have the actual capacity to think, learn, and change their minds in a couple thousand years, the "politically correct" sanitization doesn't much bother me in light of the age of the audience and the fact that death, monsters, and some truly horrible fates were punches that were not pulled over the course of the series. Despite the fact that they're aimed at an audience a decade younger than me, I enjoyed them when I read them so that I could make book reccommendations. :)

Hey, want to watch Hercules and laugh about Hades' hair?
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From:bluekevlar16
Date:June 11th, 2013 05:48 am (UTC)

Re: The Casual Vacancy

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I haven't read it yet, but I plan on doing it someday, since it's by JK Rowling. In your opinion, is it a book I should actively avoid reading, or is it still worth it if you're a big enough fan of Rowling?
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From:bluekevlar16
Date:June 13th, 2013 08:23 am (UTC)

Dracula the book - Misogynist?

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It's been several years since I read the book, but I didn't notice any sexism at all. People say that it demonizes female sexuality. How exactly does it do this? The female vampires have a twisted sexuality, but... They're vampires. What do you expect? Furthermore, the male good guys aren't much more sexual than the female protagonists either. The only male character who really has much of a sexuality is Dracula, who is also twisted and evil, and oh yeah, a vampire.

People say that there's casual sexism that would've been normal for the time period, but from what I remember I disagree. A more open-minded interpretation shows that Mina is pretty much the most consistently intelligent of the heroes. The men on the other hand aren't really good for much outside of a fight, and in case Helsing's case, dropping information. At first the men actually want to keep Mina out of the business to protect her womanly fragility, but it ends up biting them in the ass. Jonathan Harker even said that he loves Mina so much that he'd be willing to be a vampire for her.

I think a lot of this comes from crappy movie adaptions that butcher the book like the on from 1992 with Gary Oldman. I haven't seen the 1931 adaption, but apparently it makes Mina useless. The 1992 adaption is even more godawful in that it makes Mina into a cheating whore who falls in love with Dracula even before being infected. What a load of shit!
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From:scribal_goddess
Date:July 14th, 2013 01:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Dracula the book - Misogynist?

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I think maybe they're getting a lot of that from Lucy's transformation into a vampire, and how it slowly makes her pretty twisted. (Though, again, she is turning into a vampire, so I would argue that the sexual metaphor is more because of vampirism than because she's a woman.

There's a lot of the men banding together to protect Lucy (and later Mina,) which is about par for the time period, but that can also be attributed to the fact that Lucy is being eaten by a vampire. Later they respect Mina's wish to join them in their adventure, her right to avenge her own best friend, her judgement, and even her wish for one of them to kill her rather than let her become a vampire. Obviously they've got to learn to get there, but I'd say it's less mysogynist than a lot of the current paranormal romance genre.

And anybody who makes a case about Lucy or Mina being "seduced" to the dark side and their sexuality being demonized that way clearly missed the fact that the only vampire attack we ever witnessed in the book was clearly portrayed as rape. Overall, I'd say that there's not really any sexism in Dracula beyond the very common-at-the-time "we must protect the womenfolk!" mentality. Everybody being in love with Lucy (besides Johnathan) is a little contrived, but they do respect her right to chose who she wants to marry. (Unlike some literary "heroes" I could name.)

If Dracula demonizes anything sexual, it probably demonizes polygamy and unfaithfulness, along with the denial of agency to women. Think about it: the protagonists deal with a love quadrangle by gracefully backing off and planning the wedding, respecting Lucy's wishes and remaining friends, whereas Dracula just collects wives and keeps them under his thumb, apparently starving for blood in his crumbling ruins, while he gads about searching for a new wife. The only surviving couple is devoted enough to each other that they can resist the temptations of the vampires.

(If you want an interesting book that plays Dracula's wives in a much more sympathetic light, I recommend Renfeild, Slave of Dracula.)
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From:colossalwhale
Date:August 5th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
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Have any of you guys heard of Amanda McKittrick Ross? She's generally regarded as the world's worst novelist; her books are so full of purple prose they're barely readable. She's written "Helen Huddleson", "Irene Iddleslheigh" and another one I can't remember the name of.
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From:scribal_goddess
Date:August 9th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
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No, but those names sound like they come from some romance version of The Eye of Argon.
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From:scribal_goddess
Date:August 9th, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
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Book recommendations!

I tutor a student who is going into the sixth grade this year, and I had to find an independent reading book for her, one that actually has all of the great attributes that are supposedly in Twilight, according to the fans: true love, a brave and intelligent heroine, magical adventures, humor, and strong and supportive friendships and family relationships.

I picked out Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

Ways in which it's better than Twilight:
1) Howl is technically a "bad boy," running away from his responsibilities, ignoring the threat of the Witch of the Waste, and leading girls on. Sophie, however, does not reform him: he works to fix his own mistakes and to bring down the Witch of the Waste, and falls in love with Sophie on the way. He's still a massive coward who would rather anyone else take responsibility for keeping the kingdom safe, but he will take down anyone who threatens his family, his apprentice, Calcifer the Fire Demon, or Sophie.

2)Sophie gains new powers as the plot progresses, but they make sense within the world and within the plot, and, more importantly, do not come out of nowhere. Technically speaking, she started the book with her own magic powers, but didn't use them because she didn't know how.

3) Sophie has a loving and supportive relationship with both her younger sisters, and comes to realize that she has made mistakes about what is best for both them an herself. She also has a respectful, if not always terribly involved, relationship with her stepmother, which is pretty rare in literature.

4) Every major character is subject to their own plotline and new revelations about their character.

I expect that it will take my student most of the rest of August to finish Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air, so does anyone else have any recommendations for JYA fantasies with romance plotlines that I can give her when she goes back to school?
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From:bluekevlar16
Date:September 22nd, 2013 10:25 am (UTC)
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(You have a student now? :O )

I LOVE the anime movie that they made out of the book. It's one of my favorite movies. So I can imagine it must be a pretty great book. I may read it if I have time.
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From:the_whittler
Date:September 2nd, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)

Thoughts on NChick's 50 Shades of Green Project/Awoken by Serra Elinsen

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For people who don't know, the Nostalgia Chick and her team put together a book that adheres to the bad stereotypes of Twilight and it's peers in YA paranormal romance—butchering mythologies, promoting abusive relationships, awful prose, etc.—to cash in on the trends of YA. Awoken, the book they have produced under the nom de plume of Serra Elinsen, is basically Twilight with Cthulhu.

I'd like to see what a community that sporks bad YA thinks about a fairly well-known feminist critic purposefully making a mediocre book and playing to current (well, a bit outdated) YA gimmicks while still planning to sell it, not as a parody or lampoon, but a legitimate product.

Edited at 2013-09-02 07:27 pm (UTC)
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From:bluekevlar16
Date:September 22nd, 2013 10:23 am (UTC)

Re: Thoughts on NChick's 50 Shades of Green Project/Awoken by Serra Elinsen

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I've only watched the first video in of hers on that project, but I think she did say that's a stealth parody. Like, they're going to be playing all the tropes and unfortunate implications completely straight while at the some time mocking it all.

Personally I think it's great. Maybe they can finally get stupid people who eat this stuff up to open their eyes.
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From:carey_pontmercy
Date:October 25th, 2013 10:12 am (UTC)

What We Talk about When We Talk about Normal Heroines

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I recently had a conversation with a friend and it reminded me of the very first thread in this post. The consensus in the thread seems to be that the "completely normal" heroine is ubiquitous in YA and that she is almost certainly a problem, but I want to know what definitions of "normal" people are bringing to discussions like these. I don't think that it's a simple issue.

I'll put it another way: if you were a YA heroine, would you be normal? Why or why not?
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From:scribal_goddess
Date:October 5th, 2014 02:54 pm (UTC)

Re: What We Talk about When We Talk about Normal Heroines

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No, I'd be the one that the author seems to think is special because she likes books more than makeup. Also, I could never be a YA heroine because I'm not interested in sex or romance (le gasp!) so at best I'd be that weird nerdy friend.

... Most YA authors of "completely normal" heroines wouldn't touch my love of mysteries and mummies and chemistry with a forty foot pole.

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