Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Review: The Haunted


"Spectacular! The Hollow keeps you reading from beginning to end without coming up for air." - L.J.Smith, bestselling author of The Vampire Diaries and Night World.


I have a knack for picking trilogies, don't I?

Miss Smith couldn't have described the reading pleasure of this book any better. I got sucked in from the first line, and I didn't want to put it down until I got to the end. (Of course, the end is not truly the end, considering this is the middleman of a trilogy).

We meet a mourning sixteen year old Abbey, taking time out from her life at Sleepy Hollow by staying with her great-aunt Marjorie on a farm. She's seeing a therapist because she thinks she's gone nuts, because see, Abbey fell in love with this hot studmuffin, Caspian, who has white-blonde hair, and who has vibrant green eyes, and who just so happens to be dead. I'm not talking vampire-dead, I'm talking ghost-dead.

Abbey doesn't know whether he's just a figment of her imagination that she had created to help her deal with the drowning of her best friend, Kristen, and in the beginning there are a few moments where the whole situation plays mindgames with you - is he real, is he in her head?! - until Abbey finally finds closure. She later on goes to visit Caspian's grave. That's when I, as the reader, fully accepted that he wasn't just some shadow that was going to disappear when her life starts getting back on track. Part of me half-expected him to do just that when she was kneeling at his grave, but nope, Caspian looks like he's there to stay for good.

The plot and subplots all blend together nicely, from Abbey getting resolution on Caspian's surreality, her awkward friendship with Ben the science-geek, accepting that her best friend had kept secrets from her that were starting to leak out, and five Revenants chasing after her signalling that her death is near. Oh. And there is of course the issue of raging teenage hormones between Abbey and her other half, Caspian her Shade.

The characters are interesting; I loved Abbey's parents and her relationship with them, and the fact that unlike most young adult books, her parents never took the backseat of 'they're-briefly-mentioned-because-they-have-to-be-mentioned' characters. They had a role to play and there was love and effort put into shaping their characters. I liked Ben - albeit he did seem like the typical cliche geek - and the detail put into the Revenants were wicked. I felt freaked out by them, but I think that's what the author was going for. I liked Aunt Marjorie, too, and Uncle Bob... actually, I don't think there is a character I didn't like.
Except for the cheerleader and Vincent. That guy gave me the creepy-crawlies.

Abbey's love for perfumes is a brilliant contribution to the story, tells more about the character, and then there's Caspian. Every time I read his name, I kept getting the tune 'Casper, the friendly ghost' going through my head. Did I ever get a kick out of it when Abbey later nicknamed him just that! I didn't get such a good feel for his character, as I saw him as this sad, lonely boy who is absolutely smitten with Abbey, but according to Abbey he suffered from moodswings. I don't get it. I could follow his track of mind and get where he was coming from when his mood changed, but those don't class as moodswings, do they? Moodswings are more of a spontaneous thing that is triggered at random for no 'apparent' reason.

To conclude my review: it was like reading a fanfiction of The Forbidden Game, post-The Kill, with a few details changed. The author's inspirations show through The Haunted very clearly, and I couldn't help but think 'JULIAN!' every time Caspian was in the limelight. But then, I'm a pathetic Julian-fangirl who sees the character in anything with white-blonde hair, so do I mind? No! The fact that Caspian's character very clearly was inspired by Julian's character, makes me love Caspian even more.

This is one of the best YA paranormal romances I've ever read, and will definitely recommend it for anyone interested in the genre. The plot, the characters, the chemistry, the visuals, all = WIN.

You can check out the author, Jessica Verday, and her other sources of inspiration for the Sleepy Hollow trilogy, on her website.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Horror nibbles


Listening to: Ça Vaut Mieux Que D'attraper la Scarlatine
Reading: TVA - Last Sacrifice
Writing: Black Eyes (title may change without warning)
Revising: Shadow Legacy

I'm the kind of person who absolutely loves to watch 'extremely' intense horror movies. There was a stage where I'd watched just about every horror movie that our video store owns. I've read just about every YA horror book in our library (I'm working my way through the adult horror books - there aren't enough of them, sadly). But I tend to have restless nights when I read these things, and my imagination is kicked up to it's peak so every little creak and blur has me jumping out of my skin. And, of course, I watch those horrific horror movies through my fingers.

I go through phases, though. I'd watch horror, and nothing but, until I watch that ONE movie (Let Me In, They Watch, Paranormal Activity, The Amityville Horror, etc) that has me nearly hyperventilating in terror and makes me swear that I'm done with the genre. No more. My poor soul can't stand it!

And I'll trudge along for a while, horror-free, until something new in the genre catches my eye again. The Rite, The Woman in Black, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, internet horror-myths that I've missed out on such as the Slender Man, just to name a few. I've started off my horror-spree this time around with F3ar. Of course, my hands are occupied with the controller so there's no way I can play and watch through my fingers; instead I accidentally jab the RS and hurt anyone or anything that's in front of me when I get a fright.

This is just the beginning, so if you're a horror buff or you like the occasional scare, check back here for more links to more upcoming horror stuffs.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review #1


The Vampire Diaries/ Stefan's Diaries, Volume 1, Origins - by Alloy Entertainment & L.J.Smith

Listening to: Rolling in the Deep (Adele cover) - Linkin Park
Reading: book #2
Writing: FF (for inspiration)
Revising: Shadow Legacy

It's taken me a while to blog about this book due to the fact that I'm a fan of the original Vampire Diaries books. I found my inner fangirl sabotaging all my points with complaints about how it's different from TVD.

But that's just it. This is no longer TVD. This is a book based off the TV series The Vampire Diaries, based off the original The Vampire Diaries book series. Fact noted and filed. Stefan's Diaries deserves a decent review untarnished by any other factors.

So, here I go.

The Old World era was done splendidly, from the dress code to the transport, to the traditions and methods of the people of that time. The war being waged in the background made it all the more layered. Damon as a soldier - who wouldn't like that? The prose was picture perfect (<.<) No, but really it was done very well. The image of Stefan's betrothed being found as she was; that initial shock you experience when both you and the main character realise what it is that you're looking at. I felt sorry for Stefan when he tried to work through his feelings of guilt about her death. I felt bad for him having to live with that image imprinted in his mind. The comrade between Stefan and Damon was refreshing, considering their brotherly hate in the TV series, and the vibe of big brother and little brother was portrayed nicely. But then, they were just like every other set of brothers throughout the story. There wasn't really anything about their brotherhood that made them stand out from all the other brothers out there. This is excluding the influence of their father's views on them both, I'm talking strictly Damon = Stefan here.

It was nice to see good ol' predictable Stefan finally thrown into the 'naughty' and 'bad' light. And there was this question throughout, from the moment Katherine showed up: is Stefan really into her, or was he influenced by her the whole time? It's no secret that Katherine liked to play with her toys (poor Damon) but she was clearly crushing on Stefan big time. Damon, on the other hand, let her play him like the fiddle because he'd fallen in love with her. Stefan?

Well, considering he ratted her out to the townfolk, despite his 'feelings' for her, and that he only helped her escape for the sake of his brother, and considering how he gives her the cold shoulder in the TV series, I think it's safe to assume that Stefan really, really does not like Katherine.

I guess, when you're watching the TV series and you read the books based off it, the books tend to lack that spark. Sure, everything in the TV show will suddenly make sense or be explained. But there's no mystery in the books. There's nothing to lure you back. There's nothing in it that will tickle your curiosity because, well, why read the books when you can catch it all on TV?

That's just my opinion on it, and applies to books that were inspired by a TV show (or even a game). You get a broader picture, but the book will never exceed the expectations of the show. It compliments the show, in a way. It's available but it's not a necessity. You can do without it.

On the brighter side of things: Stefan's Diaries is a good book. If you're a fan of the show, I'd definitely recommend you read it.

But for me, I'll give the rest of this book series a pass. It just wasn't my cuppa tea.
...and I'm biased. ;)



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stories that inspire us

 

Originality is the art of concealing your sources ~ anon
 
Reading: Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
Listening to: The Script - Nothing
Mood: I've got a persistent headache. You can imagine.
 

We've all read That Book, or seen That Movie. The One that inspires you to create something of your own, that puts the wildfire in your heart and has you up at 1am in the morning, typing like a madhatter because you're too inspired to even think of sleeping.
My inspiration for my characters stemmed from both the Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal and The Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J.Smith. Their appearances carried across to my own, but given that there are thousands of heroines and heroes out there with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, you wouldn't be able to place the source of their creation unless you knew what genres I've been subjected to as a child.

But as all writers do, I've revised and rewritten my stories so many times that my characters have eventually moulded into something different, something new, something that you couldn't trace back to the original place where they'd been inspired. Inexplicably, blonde doesn't suit my character any longer, the name Julian seems too soft, he doesn't have to be six feet tall to be a looker anymore, suddenly he's no longer a rebellious prince from another dimension stuck in our world but he's now classed as a devil whose curiosity just got the better of him, and as his personality develops, the relations he forms around him changes drastically. My characters (and so my story) have grown from being my baby - practically copied from the stories that inspired them - to a teenager that rebelled against yet revelled in cliché, to an adult that is confident, straight forward, layered with experience and originality.

There are still the obvious footprints that point in a certain direction. It's young adult, it's forbidden love, it's family drama between sisters, it's coated with paranormal themes. But would you think my character stemmed from so-and-so? Mmmmaybe, but there are too many differences to make anyone fanrage.

There are a certain number of stories that have been told throughout time. The same stories have been told a thousand times over, in different words and different worlds and through different voices and through different eyes. The love triangle, the machines standing up against the human race, the forbidden romance between vampire and human; it's all been done before.

I always tell my readers that I have a twist or two waiting for them in a story that's been told a hundred times over. Coca Cola tastes like Coca Cola no matter what shape bottle it comes in, but when you add a bit of rum to it, you get a major kick out of it. I can't believe I just used alcohol as an analogy, but it's the closest thing I can think of to describe how a clichéd and abused story line can be refreshed and refined.

I started writing IHEAY (I hate everything about you) both to try my hand at first person narrative, and to take the misused storyline of OC=love triangle and do it differently than others. My OC isn't some kick-ass hot and wicked devil huntress, or some poor self-pitying damsel in distress who couldn't tie her shoelaces to save her life. She's not perfect, but she has her strengths and weaknesses just as any other person would have. She doesn't fall head over heels for Mr.D right away either, and he doesn't think she's the most awesomest girl in the world!!! either. They don't get along right off the bat, in fact she ends up having a stronger and deeper friendship with Mr.V before she eventually develops romantic notions toward Mr.D.

And they don't live happily ever after. Spoiler for everyone who reads it there, but no one who reads it is following my blog so I think I'm safe. The title of the story should already tell you that it's not going to have a happy ending anyway.

Because I'm an evil author.
Muhahahaha! >:D