Mar 30, 2015

How Well Do You Know These Books?

Who's ready for a little bookish trivia? I've decided to put together a book-related quiz. Whoever wants to test their knowledge, feel free to answer the questions below- but no Googling the answers, or looking through your books! Answer them all from memory only! Good luck! :D

1. Who gave Katniss the mockingjay pin? (Bonus points if you can name the character from the book and the character from the movie).

2. What was the translation of the Dutch lady's comment to Hazel and Gus in The Fault in Our Stars?

3. What are the three Deathly Hallows objects in Harry Potter?

4. Which faction was Al originally from in Divergent?

5. What was Tris's first ranking in the Dauntless initiation?

6. Who was the artist whose artwork Hazel's "This is not a pipe." T-shirt was based on?

7. Who shot a muffin off of Marlene's head in Divergent?

8. Which district was Finnick from?

9. In Under the Never Sky, what were Perry's Senses?

10. What color was Cassia's dress for the Matching Ceremony in Matched?

Post your answers in the comments, and let me know what you think! Was it too hard? Too easy? Were there too many questions from one book? Did you know most (or all) of the books?

Key (don't cheat! :P):

1. In the book, Madge Undersee; in the movie, Greasy Sae

2. "The beautiful couple is beautiful."

3. Invisibility Cloak, Resurrection Stone, Elder Wand

4. Candor

5. Sixth

6. Magritte

7. Uriah

8. District 4

9. Scire and Seer

10. Green

Alright! So, how'd you do? Let me know!

~Katheline Hansen

Mar 27, 2015

Q&A with the Writers of "In the Characters Shadow."

We decided to do a little question and answer session with some of the writers of the Blog, giving our readers a chance to know us a little better! So here are the questions and answers that our writers so kindly filled out. :)

If you were any character from any book, who would you be?

Oh, my. This is hard. :P I think I can be really similar to Iko from The Lunar Chronicles. I share her enthusiasm and fangirly-ness. XD I think I’m also kind of like Lizzie from Gallagher Girls, in that I’m clumsy and have similar strengths and weaknesses as her. I’m going to leave it at that even though there are probably more I could compare myself to. :P

If you could live in any book’s world, which would you choose?

Well, this is the question, isn’t it? Considering I read a lot of dystopian/sci-fi…. Hmm… I think the Harry Potter world is pretty cool (of course. :P) and also The Lunar Chronicles world… you know, before the world war and all that… The plague would be frightening and awful, but compared to other dystopian worlds, I think this one’s a little less violent to start off with. XD

Favorite genre to write in?

Oh, boy. It used to be sci-fi/dystopian, but now, I think it’s leaning more towards contemporary.

Favorite writing snack?

FOOD. That is all I have to say about that. Kidding. I think a spoonful of peanut butter is a pretty good writing snack, accompanied by Dr. Pepper, Big Red, or (if I’m feeling healthier) water.

Plotter? Pantser? Or Plantser?

Plantser, I think leaning more towards the pantsing side. I’ve determined if I try to be a full-on plotter I get bored with the story before I even begin writing it. (I have a short attention span- don’t judge. :P) But I like to have some idea of the plot and at least mostly know my main characters before I start writing. Of course, the two first drafts I’ve actually completed are almost completely pantsed, sooo… I’m starting to lean more to the pantsing side of plantsing…

What is your favorite kind of character?

I have two favorite kinds of characters. First, the funny, sarcastic guy (or girl). I just say guy because the main characters I’m thinking of when it comes to this category are all guys. First, I’m thinking of Roar, from Under the Never Sky, who is probably one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. Then, I’m thinking of Uriah from Divergent and Doug from the Christy Miller series.
My second kind of favorite character is the really complex character. I’m thinking Snape and Draco from Harry Potter and Peter and Caleb from Divergent.

Favorite book?

*glares at question* That. That right there is the forbidden question. *sighs* But fine, I guess I’ll attempt to answer that evil thing. Some of my favorites are Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and The Selection by Kiera Cass.

What do you want someone to think or say when they finish the last page of your novel?

I really just want readers to feel inspired. I want them to fall in love with the characters that I’ve fallen in love with, remember them, and I want them to have gone on the emotional roller coaster that I’ve gone on with said characters. I want them to find beauty in my words, and in some way, shape, or form simply think (hopefully positively, or at least, not negatively) about my novel after closing it.
~Katheline Hansen

If you were any character from any book, who would you be?
I don't know. Maybe Nancy Drew. I think I read so many of her books that she rubbed off on me haha :D
If you could live in any book’s world, which would you choose?
The Boxcar Children's 'world'. America in the 1950's. I think that would be pretty cool.
Favorite genre to write in?
I enjoy writing about things I know a lot about, so that's usually Christian Contemporary for young adults.
Favorite writing snack?
I like to make myself a protein shake to drink while I'm writing. My favorite is a banana coffee one I came up with.
Plotter? Pantser? Or Plantser? I
'm usually a plotter for long stories but a pantser for short ones.
What is your favorite kind of character?
I like the almost perfect characters. Like Polly in An Old Fashioned Girl. I like the ones I can look up to and strive to be like.
Favorite book?
I have so many. I'm gonna say Pride and Prejudice at this moment.
What do you want someone to think or say when they finish the last page of your novel?
"I enjoyed that. It was pleasant and I think I learned some from it."
~Eliza Noel

If you were any character from any book, who would you be?
That is a hard one for me since there are so many good characters and books! I think maybe I would be Arya from the Inheritance Cycle. Being able to wield magic, fight and ride a Dragon would be awesome.
If you could live in any book’s world, which would you choose?
Oh dear....probably Alagasia or the Inkworld. Or Middle Earth. Or my own Fantasy World. :)
Favorite genre to write in?
Not quite sure about that, since I write just about anything I feel like.
Favorite writing snack?
I actually don't snack a lot while writing but it would probably be BBQ chips.
Plotter? Pantser? Or Plantser?
Pantser. :)
What is your favorite kind of character?
*evil laugh*. Oh boy, this is seriously one of my favorite subjects. (just ask my BFF she'll roll her eyes and groan, haha). I love the Characters that can pull the most emotion out of me. If a Character is making me scream “FEELS!!!!!!!!” while gripping a box of tissues, stuffing chocolate in my face and sobbing to my friends, then I love it=In a morbid, bittersweet kind of way. I love the ones who have broken backgrounds, painful secrets, emotional and psychological scars. Why? I haven't the slightest idea.
Favorite book?
Definitely difficult. Probably “Divergent”.
What do you want someone to think or say when they finish the last page of your novel?
I want them to love the characters as much as I do, but when they close the book, I really want them to say; “Wow...that affected me.” Whether it be emotionally, or it made them think about something, (like a situation or a choice or a scenario my characters make or face), made them dig deeper into the things I write about, find small things to admire and remember about my characters. I just want them to say they were affected, and think they want to read it again. :)
~Ria Faith
1. If you were any character from any book, who would you be?
Tricky, but I suppose I’d either be Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, or Max from Maximum Ride series, or maybe Tris from Divergent.
2. If you could live in any book’s world, which would you choose?
Oh, book. That’s definitely different from TV show… ummm.. can I say mine? I love my fantasy world I came up with. :-)
3. Favorite genre to write in?
4. Favorite writing snack?
Not sure if this counts, but cocoa or coffee with lots of creamer. I don’t really like snacking while writing, because then I’ll eat more then I type. ;-P
5. Plotter? Pantser? Or Plantser?
Umm… Planster. I do both occasionally, sometimes for the same story. I”ll pants parts, and then plot others. It really depends on my mood and the story.
6.What is your favorite kind of character?
The fiery one who can’t keep their mouth shut. I’m also partial to the quiet and intellectual ones who get put down or over-looked. Also… umm… maybe some villians.
7. Favorite book?
I’m going to be vain for once and say mine.
8. What do you want someone to think or say when they finish the last page of your novel?
Wow. That’s all they can say, is Wow. Or What. What is good too.
~G.M. Brown
If you were any character from any book, who would you be?  
Hmm… if we’re going by the character I’m most like, then probably Emily Byrd Starr in the Emily series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Emily is a dreamy writer with *coughs* a streak of pride.  If we’re going by the character I’d most like to be, then probably Lucy Pevensie from Narnia with her adventures in Narnia and trust in Aslan, or one of those olden-day Christian fiction heroines with unshakeable faith and boundless love for Jesus, friends, foes, and the poor.
If you could live in any book’s world, which would you choose?
Maybe the Hundred Acre Wood (Winne the Pooh). Or Narnia (Rather self-explanatory). Or Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables). Or, hey, I’ll go with  the land of Story in Storybound by Marissa Burt, because then I could see them all.
Favorite genre to write in?
I’m not entirely sure. My characters’ journeys tend to be more of the type you find in a Christian YA contemporary -- “Well, there’s this girl, and she has this family problem/ the sort of past that must be italicized/a lie about life she believes, and then there’s God, and then there’s this guy or guys…” -- but most of the time crazy fantasy and sci-fi elements sneak in.  What I see myself writing consistently is Christian YA Sci-fi Romance.  
Favorite writing snack?
Uh...well, most of the time, I don’t eat while I’m writing, but my favorite procrastinating-on-writing snack would be either blue corn chips or whatever leftover holiday candy I happen to have sitting around in my room.
Plotter? Pantser? Or Plantser?
I think I’ll end up as a Planster. For my first novel I had a vague outline with dramatic but unhelpful things like tame a baby dragon and  save the world from doom with princessly etiquette, and after a meandering messy bear of a manuscript that eventually involved magical glass and a man impersonating a chicken, it dawned on me that perhaps pantsing isn’t among my most prominent of natural gifts. Fast forward to my second but never finished novel, where I outlined every blessed scene and then.... decided to overhaul the plot, change the setting to a boarding school, and eventually shelve the book. So. I’m basically coming to accept that my process is more  along the lines of “I explore an idea, start writing, and mild to horrific chaos ensues.” XD
In other more concise words, “Plantser.”
Favorite kind of character?
A character who feels real. ‘Nuff said. Actually, there’s much much more that could be said, but if I let myself I doubtless wouldn’t get to my math homework.
Favorite book?
That’s easy.
*grins at the gasps and outcries*
The Bible.
But other than that, I couldn’t choose if my life depended on it.  Okay, perhaps if my life literally depended on it, as in there’s a guy holding a gun to my head demanding that I name a favorite book,  but otherwise, no way.
What do you want someone to think or say when they finish the last page of your novel?
Say? Nothing at all. I want to leave them speechless.  Thinking is allowed, though, especially if they’re revelling in how moved and edified they feel.
~Miri Williams


Mar 25, 2015

Judge a Book by Its... Blurb!

This is my final post in my "Judge a Book by Its..." series, and this time I'm talking about blurbs! They're the first thing most of us actually read about a book. Alongside the cover and first line, the blurb helps us form our first impressions of the book. These three things really can (and usually do) influence whether we buy a book or not.

So, now, onwards we go!

1. Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani
Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met. 
Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed. 
So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.
I think what makes me love this blurb (and make me really want to devour this book as soon as it's published) is the JAPANESE MAFIA FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!! I mean, I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever heard about a book that's about a member of the Japanese mafia. And that would some interesting stuff to read about. So, really, the key thing here is the introduction of a unique and intriguing element of the book.

2. Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life. 

Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher?

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening…

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way.

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own.

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.
I like how this blurb incorporates a bit of the narrator's voice. It gives me a glimpse into who I'm going to be reading about before I've even opened to the first page. Also, I love the little tidbits of fun quirkiness sprinkled in there- lobster emancipation. This sounds like a pretty awesome book to me.

3. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love... 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
I think what makes this blurb shine is its glimpse into the book's unique world. Not all books have such a unique storyworld, not even a lot of dystopian/sci-fi books. So the uniqueness of this world really makes this book pop out, at least to me. I think what makes me interested so much in it is the sort of "history" esque feel the setting has, but it isn't historical. Does that make any sense at all? I feel like this paragraph was just me rambling. *shrug* Oh, well. That happens a lot doesn't it? XD

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.
Yes, I do realize that this book has been on every list in this series, but this book is phenomenal. This blurb is absolutely fantastic. First, it's written in the same point of view as the book, which is pretty cool, but maybe not the best idea for all blurbs. It works for this one, though. It gives us Verity's problem without outright telling us, and it introduces us to an important theme of the book. This blurb does so much in such little space. I love it so much!

5. Insignia by S.J. Kincaid
The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid's fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender's Game.

The planet's natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn't seem like a hero. He's a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom's life completely changes. Suddenly, he's someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there's a price to pay. . . .
This blurb capitalizes on this book's unique premise- a war fought with (some) teens at the controls in a gaming style system. That's pretty cool, and pretty unique. This blurb definitely does a good job at enticing the reader.

Alright! That's all I've got! What do you guys think? What are some of y'all's favorite blurbs?

~Katheline Hansen

Mar 23, 2015

Book Review: "Immanuel's Veins" by Ted Dekker

Here I am again dear readers with another Book Review! This particular post has not been very nice to me-at all-so I think it's going to be more of a mix of a review and a breakdown. Bear (bare? lol) with me. :)

Spoiler Alert!

The Plot:

This is the first book by Ted Dekker that I have read, and I have to say, it is strange. It took me a little bit to get into the story, but the elements of it were enough to keep me reading. Dekker paints a haunting and beautiful picture with many messages within it's colors and it leaves you really thinking when you read the last pages.

The Characters:

Toma is our main character, a professed Atheist and a soldier of the Queen of Russia, sent to protect the Cantemir family during the Russo-Turkish War. He falls in love with one of the girls he is sworn to protect and eventually will do whatever it takes to win her, even learning what true love really is through Christ.

Alik, Toma’s friend and fellow soldier, assists with this mission, and falls for the younger Cantemir twin.

Lucine is the oldest Cantemir twin, waiting for a man who will truly love her, and not just marry her for her looks or wealth.

Natasha, is the younger Cantemir twin, who will throw herself at anyone who looks at her, and it is her who gets our main characters into a lot of trouble.

Vlad Van Valerik is our mysterious Antagonist, who draws the sisters to his castle and group of followers, with sinister seduction. Oh yeah, and he's a Nephalim. Basically a Vampire.

The Message:

There are many messages wrapped up in this story, and I could probably find more if I read through the it again, but the biggest ones are about love. That true love is not about passion and seduction and endless fun. Our Characters all fall into the Clan's traps and lies, and it is a vicious battle throughout the whole book between the good and the evil.

Lucine is taken by Valerik to be his bride, to be the Nephalim queen, leading a life of bliss and passion. While Lucine is drawn to it at first, she comes to realize that the life she was promised isn't what it was made out to be. She is under Valerik's complete control, and in her own words, she both loves and hates him. One moment he is caring and tender, the next violent and vicious. When asked what happens after their long lives are over, Valerik responds that they will both take their place in Hell, since they are both already dead. This leaves Lucine feeling horrified and empty.

Valerik symbolizes our bondage to sin. Satan promises us many things that in the present seem wonderful, but in the end we are really trading our spiritual well being for things that mean nothing later on. The result is always death.

Lucine, having been bitten by Valerik, has now become a Vampire, and no matter how much she wishes it, she cannot change that form. This shows that no matter how hard we try, we cannot change our sinful natures, because that is how we are. Tainted through and through.

Toma, is told by a prophet to be Lucine's “Immanuel”, and armed with an ancient book, and your standard vampire killing tools, goes to the Castle to confront Valerik. In the end, Toma must give his life to save his love, Lucine drowning in a pool of Toma's blood from wounds inflicted by Valerik himself. This symbolizes Christ's death and blood being the only means of saving us from our sin, and our souls from hell.

The ancient book, that tells all of what Valerik is, opens Lucine's eyes to the truth, and that to me was a picture of the Bible being used to help an unbeliever come to God.

To Sum it Up:

It is a vivid and emotional tale with stunning imagery and a message that reminds us of how much our salvation depends on Christ and how he sacrificed everything to save us who do not deserve it.

~Ria Faith

Mar 20, 2015

1/2 a Cup of Fantasy And a Whole Lot of Creature

In a post not so long ago we looked at the history of mythical and fantasy creatures in novels. Today we are going to take a trip through how you introduce a mythical race into your own novel.
We start, as with most things, by answering questions.
Why? Where? When? What? How?

Why do I need a mythical creature?

If your answer is because I want one, then you shouldn't add a mythical creature. I wanted to add two specific mythical creatures to my novel because I wanted them, and guess what? They both got cut. Make sure that adding a mythical creature will further the story. They need to have a place and purpose as much as your MC.
Speaking of Place...

Where will your mythical creature be?

What part of your fantasy, or contemporary, world will your creature live in? Where does the hero need to go to meet him? I have had to redesign how my hero meets the mentor character and his mythical pet a dozen times, because the story is always changing and then I need to have someone kidnap her. It's crazy, but I've now devised over a dozen ways she meets my mythical guide creature. You only need one, of course, but as your story changes, you may need to get around a giant gorge that wasn't there before. Always keep the location of your creature in mind.

When will your character meet the mythical creature?

Before, during, or after the climax? Is the meeting the climax, or a key part of it?
The events surrounding the meeting, and how close it is to the climax, determines when the character has to meet him, and what level of character development he has reached. This gives you a timetable for how long it should take to reach his cave, and how many times your character can get in a bar fight on the way.

What will your Mythical creature be?

An evil dragon that's as likely to fry your hero as smell him? A magnificent mermaid with a tool for the hero's quest? A griffin that's sole duty is to protect your MC... until his will is stolen by a sorcerer?
Having answered all the preceding questions, you should have a good idea what your creature needs to be, and what role he must fill. His role defines what he has to be. If you need a wicked sorceress who flies down on the hero from above, you don't want a unicorn. If you want a gentle soul to guide the hero in his quest to an island paradise, a mermaid is just the thing.
Make sure the creature fits the role.
But of course, if you want to be original, come up with your own! Who's to say your firebreathing mentor has to be a dragon? You could make it a phoenix, or some new kind of creature, like a fire breathing tiger. Always look for the new, or old and forgotten. Poor griffins and unicorns...

How does your MC meet the mythical creature?

Now that you've figured out what purpose your creature fills, and what he is, you can decide whether he nearly eats the hero upon introduction! The meeting of the hero and the mythical creature is of the utmost important. Eragon had a dragon hatch in his closet in the middle of the night. Lucy meets a faun with an umbrella in a snowy wood in her wardrobe. Make sure the meeting is gripping, and perhaps foreshadows their future relationship, Either friend, betrayer, or enemy.

And that's it.
Of course, there's a lot more you can do with mythical creatures, and you don't have to add just one. However, make sure each creature has a purpose, even if it's just letting the MC know they're not in Kansas anymore, otherwise cut it.

I hope you have fun experimenting with your mythical creatures!

What's your favorite role for a mythical creature? Do you count talking horses as mythical creatures? Do you love Burger King? Let me know in the comments below. 

G.M. Brown

Mar 18, 2015

Judge A Book By Its... Cover!

This is part two of my "Judge A Book By Its..." series, in which I talk about book covers. You can find the first post here. In the first post, I talked about first lines, and I did a bit of critiquing, but because I am by no means an artist (and don't have the knowledge whatsoever to critique covers), in this post I'll just be talking about covers I love, in list form of course! :D

Note that I haven't read any of the books on this list save Code Name Verity, and I'm currently reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye. This is solely based on covers that look awesome!

1.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I absolutely adore this cover! And, yes, I realize this one might be a bit biased, since I have read (and loved!) the book, but whatever. :P This cover portrays a central them to story- friendship, and I love how it binds the two hands together, considering the narrator of the story is telling the story from a Nazi prison. That might be kind of vague, and it doesn't completely convey why I love this cover, but I don't want to say too much since this book can be very easily spoiled. 

2.) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I'm not a big fan of most covers that just have a model on them, which I'm sure you'll see in the rest of this list. I don't really know why I love this cover, other than, of course, its simplicity. *shrug* 

3.) The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

*giant GASP* Just now, looking at this cover to determine why I love it, I remembered something Cait @ Paper Fury said about this cover. She said that the sticky note meant something once you read the book, and even though I'm only about halfway through the book, I GET IT!!!!! But, anyways, I'm not going to explain any further than that, so you'll just have to read the book to find out what I'm talking about. Mwahahahaha! XD 

4.) What Lies Between by Charlena Miller

I know absolutely NOTHING about this book, but when I was looking through books to see covers that stood out to me, this one stood out to me. I almost glossed over it, but I JUST LOVE THIS COVER. Maybe it's because it's more of an illustration than a photograph, like most novels, or maybe it's because of the colorful letters on the dark blue background, but there's something about this cover that stands out to me. 

5.) All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Again, I don't really know much about this book, but here we go again with the simplistic covers. I love the simplistic, almost sort of mathematical layout (did that make sense? I don't think it did, but it makes sense in my head. XD). 

6.) Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

I really want to travel the world, so this cover clearly stands out to me. Also, I love the colors of the letters, and the font. I also love how "Love", "Hope", and "Loss" are used as city names.

7.) My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Again, I love the font style on this cover. Also, we're back to simplicity. I love the simplicity and the color scheme of it as well. 

8.) A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

The colors in this cover are fantastic! I love how the top half is blues and grays while the bottom half is pinks and purples. Also, I love how it shows the skylines of two different cities as reflections of each other. I also love the way the colors splotch out on the top and the bottom. (Again, does that make sense? XD) 

9.) Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

First of all, I just adore the artistic style of this entire cover. I love how it looks kind of like watercolor, and how it's clearly an illustration (compared to a photograph). It's not perfect or precise, but it just looks amazing. I love that. I also love the sort of messy blue "rainfall" on the umbrella and how the girl's face is partially covered by the umbrella. I just love this entire cover. 

And I know nine isn't an even number, but I'm going to stop there. :-)

Alright, one thing that I've determined while writing this post is that I am by no means an art critic. I have trouble even putting my finger on why I like certain covers. O_o Well, I tried. *shrugs*

So, now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite covers? Do you agree/disagree with me on any of the covers I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

~Katheline Hansen

Mar 11, 2015

Dragons, and Centaurs, and Unicorns!

"From the waist upward he was like a man, but his legs were shaped like a goats...and instead of feet he had goat's hoofs. He also had a tail. He was a faun,"

                                                                   The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

One of the most beautiful and intriguing elements of fantasy is that of the mythical creatures that inhabit the fantasy realms.
C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are riddled with talking animals, a great lion, Centaurs, Griffins, and Fauns.
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, while focusing more on the humanoid species of fantasy, had its share of wild creatures, such as orcs and goblins and trolls.
Today I would like to take a brief but in depth look at the use of mythical creatures in novel, both classic and modern.

Classically we have, of course, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. While Lewis's greatest beasts of myth were of the good side, Tolkien preferred the darker creatures, and cast them in with his evil characters.
Personally, I like Lewis's usage better, so we'll focus on him.
In The Chronicles of Narnia we are introduced, and inevitably fall in love with, a variety of creatures. In the Lion the Witch and Wardrobe, we have Mr. Tumnus, a Faun that Lucy meet in the woods of Narnia. he is a kind hearted soul, who at first betrays Lucy, but is so overcome with grief and guilt, he sacrifices himself to save her.
In The Silver Chair we meet Puddleglum the Marsh Wiggle, who like his name is quite glum and depressing. He probably has the greatest character development, second only to Jill.

But where did Mr. Lewis get so many of his fantastic creatures from?

Why, from the Greeks and Romans.

Greek mythology is filled with Satyrs (Fauns) and centaurs. Pan, the most famous of the fauns, was an ugly satyr who scared people, chased dryads, and is credited with the invention of the pan pipes. Not quite a Mr. Tumnus, I grant you, but is his ancestor of sorts.

We also have the Centaurs, great wild beasts who were horrid, and are comparable to the people of Nineveh in the tale of Jonah (though as far as I know, no one threatened to destroy the centaurs if they didn't behave. Pity, really....). The greatest of their kind was Chiron, who despised his brothers ways, and become known as a great teacher of heroes.

These creatures have travelled all the way down from history, capturing the imagination not only of C.S Lewis, but of more modern writers as well.

Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series is filled with satyrs, centaurs, and other mythical creatures of Greek and Roman origin.

But Greek and Roman tales aren't the only legends to have lasted so long. The old tales of fairies and goblins and trolls under bridges have inspired other authors in their own writing.

Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series revolves around the existence of fairies, trolls, goblins, and leprechauns. It puts quite a different spin on the classic legends of every child's favorite creatures, rewriting in quite the modern YA sense the story of gold at the end of the kidnapping... er, rainbow.

So many creatures have passed the test of time, lasting from bygone days to the present, and will probably last well into the future. These stories and series I've mentioned are some very original examples of classic fairy tale creatures being brought to life in the realms of fantasy (or contemporary fantasy, as the case may be), but they only cover a small portion of the mythical creatures available through out history.

I shall end with two favorites.

Dragons and Unicorns.

Dragons are by far the most popular creature, and they find a place almost everywhere in fantasy. My favorite representations of dragons are that of Tolkien in The Hobbit, and Christopher Paolini's in The Inheritance Cycle.

In The Hobbit, the Lonely Mountain halls of Erebor have been taken over by the worst dragon in the history of Middle Earth, Smaug the terrible. If any of you have seen the new Hobbit trilogy, I have to say that their deign of Smaug is the best I've seen. Smaug cuts quite an imposing and terrific figure, who's one lust is for gold. He is a nasty beast, who has no qualms about attempting to fry Bilbo, even after a rather pleasant conversation.

Paolini's dragons of The Inheritance Cycle are polar opposites to Smaug. While still the winged beasts of legend, they are more gentle, and bond with humans and elves in the order of Dragon Riders. They are loyal to their friends, and a nightmare to their enemies. They are quite smart, and as dragons rightly should, have a touch of magic within them.

Now, Unicorns.
I can count two books in which a kind of unicorn has appeared. The Last Battle, Book 7 of the Chronicles of Narnia, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
I don't know why this is, or why people don't think of unicorns more.
Pop culture has made unicorns into a girlish image. The very name, unicorn, arouses an image of a pink my little pony type beast, with a long flowing mane filled with ribbons.
That's ridiculous.
I think unicorns, if given the proper recognition, would be a fine and majestic beast, and I think of them more along the lines of Jewel the Unicorn, in The Last Battle.
What I would like to see is a book with a unicorn that is wise and majestic, a mentor for the heroes, not a girly girl plaything.
If anyone has book suggestion for that, I'd be glad to hear them.

I'd like to end this post by saying that, if after reading this, you begin to feel discouraged, and think that there are too many mythical creatures in fiction already, or that Tolkien's dragon, or Lewis's fauns are too perfect to be matched, then clearly I misspelled something, or you misread.
My hope for this post is that it will inspire you to take a look at more mythical creatures then those mentioned here. I didn't even touch on griffins (another disappearing breed) or mermaids, or selkies, or even bigfoot.

There are so many untold stories about these fantastic beings that are just waiting to be written.
Waiting for you to write them.

I hope you have become inspired to see what original twists you can bring to these classic creatures, and I'd love to hear what  you come up with!

G.M. Brown