Book I Love But Others Love to Hate – Part 2

Last week I made the point that real readers are becoming frighteningly uncommon, so in an effort to get people to read more, I thought I’d share with the world why I love some of the hot and hated books right now – and, therefore, why I think they’re worth reading.  Last week’s post was about Stephanie Meyer and her books, the Twilight Saga and The Host (click here to read last week’s post!), and this week’s topic is going to be about Christopher Paolini and his books, the Inheritance Cycle (a.k.a. the Eragon books)!

Now I know this one might not be hated as hotly as the Twilight books are, but (in my experience, at least), I’ve gotten a lot of sneers for confessing my love for these books (and I know a lot of friends who have gotten sneers for liking them, too).  Some of the arguments I’ve heard most often against Paolini’s books (there are four: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance) are that he uses too much description, the language he uses is hard to understand, his characters/the setting/the world/the storyline are not believable, etc., etc.  There are many more things I’ve heard people say about how “bad” these books are, but the ones I listed are what I’m going to address, so I’ll stop there.

For one thing, I thing it’s pointless to argue that a book’s plot or characters or setting is unbelievable – especially when that book is clearly fiction.  The whole point of setting a novel in another world is so that your readers aren’t always worrying about whether something in the story is “believable” or not.  And I’m making this argument as both a reader/book-lover AND writer/aspiring-novelist.  So don’t call something in a fiction book “unbelievable” unless you know that the author intended the story to be accurate to life… or unless you mean it in the “this book is so awesome!!” sense.

Description has always been a matter of opinion to me – some people like to read longer descriptions that paint pictures in the reader’s mind, and some people like less description so that they can let their imaginations fill in the details that were left out.  It’s the difference between describing (for example) someone’s eyes as “the green-blue color of the ocean, shaded by thick, dark lashes” or simply as “piercing.”  So in the case of Eragon and Paolini’s other books, I would agree that he has a lot of description – but I would also argue that his description is eloquent, beautiful and appropriate.  He’s not another Melville.  (If you don’t get that reference, go read Moby-Dick… or at least try.)

Which leads me to my next point – there’s nothing wrong with good, well-educated and well-used diction and vocabulary.  Yes, I do think Paolini uses a lot of vocabulary that the average public high-schooler might not know, but so what?  When you don’t know a word, look it up!  (It’s called “LEARNING!”)  I grew up reading tons of books that were technically “above” my reading level, so I learned a lot of words sooner than most other kids my age, and it actually gave me an advantage in my high school literature classes.  Sure, you can call me a nerd if you want – or you can ask me what a word means and learn something yourself.

Ok, I can’t let this topic go until we talk about the film version of Eragon.  Unfortunately, this is one instance where I agree with the general public (and in this case, the general public’s opinion is by far the majority opinion)  – the movie was terrible.  Bad acting, bad accuracy to the book (and I mean worse than usual, Hollywood), low budget, they never made the other books into movies (so we have no sense of how much better it could have been), and it just wasn’t very well made in general.  Now don’t get me wrong – there are actors in there that I loved when they were in other films, but they just weren’t the right ones to play these characters…  The books were epic and really well anticipated when they were still coming out, but I don’t think this movie was very highly anticipated – and of the people who did have high expectations, it turned out to be a sorry disappointment.

So those are my thoughts on Christopher Paolini and his Inheritance books!  I’d be very interested to hear what your opinions are of these books, or, if you haven’t read any of them, whether my post has made you any more motivated to read them now!  Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

Books I Love But Others Love to Hate – Part 1

Reading is becoming a lost art.  FAR too many people have told me “I don’t read” or “I don’t think I’ve ever actually finished a real book before,” and it makes me want to cry.  And rant.  And (of course) write about it.  (Even though the only people who will read this are actually readers…)

I’m one of those people who became a bookworm and bibliophile the moment I learned to read.  I have my own personal library at home (I have about 140 books), and I’ve read all of them at least once (some of them more than 4 or 5 times).  Needless to say, I’ve read quite a few books – many of which have been novels and series that became popular within the last 5 years.  Of these books (the ones that have recently become popular), a few have been made into movies and therefore become hotly debated topics of conversation because of their added publicity and popularity.

So, in an effort to persuade people who “aren’t readers” to pick up a book “everybody else” is reading, I thought I’d start a series of posts about books I’ve come to love, but others love to hate.  I don’t know how long this series will last (it’s at least worthy of 2 or 3 more posts), but I’ll only cover one book (or series, or author) in each post.

For this post, it seems appropriate that I start with Stephanie Meyer and her books – The Twilight Saga and The Host.

Yes, I’m a Twilight fan – but not for the reasons I know all of you are thinking.  First off, I hate how people tend to lump the movies in with the books and call them the same thing.  They aren’t the same thing!  And this is coming from someone who has actually READ all the books!  Now I must admit, I do like the movies.  Yes, the first couple got off to a rough start because the cast wasn’t that great and they had small budgets, but once they got a little momentum, I think they’re a series of pretty well-made movies with mediocre-to-okay acting.

The books, however, are a whole different story (no pun intended).  I consider Stephanie Meyer to be a good author.  She’s simply a fantastic writer, and even though she’s been accused of taking cliches and somehow “remaking” them without actually remaking them well, her stories are deeper than that.  Beneath those first person narratives, there’s a pervasive theme that’s present in both the Twilight Saga and her novel, The Host: what does it mean to be human?  It’s a prevalent question!  All Meyer does is explore it in the context of a series of fiction novels.  In the Twilight books, the question is about whether vampires are still “human” in the sense that they retain essential elements of their humanity even after they’re changed into vampires.  In The Host, the question is whether the alien species that has invaded the earth and taken over humanity actually has elements of humanity in themselves, and whether being intimately linked with humans makes them more human.

Whether or not you care about these deeper topics, though, I think Meyer’s novels are worth reading simply because they capture a character’s perspective in a way that makes them easy to identify with and easy to understand.  Bella of Twilight and Wanda of The Host are admirable characters, and they have nuances to their personalities that you’re still discovering even as the story is coming to a close.  In short, Meyer’s characterization skills by themselves are worth witnessing.

One final note – because The Host was written after the Twilight Saga, the quality of writing is noticeably better, and it’s written more for an older audience than the Twilight books were.  Even if you’ve read the Twilight books and not liked them, I would still recommend reading The Host simply because it’s so different from the Twilight books.

What are your thoughts on this author?  What was your reaction when you read these books or saw these movies? Does my argument make you want to read them any more than you did before you read this post? I’d be very interested to hear your answers!  As always, thanks for reading!

Ramblings and Updates and Poetry!

Yikes…..it’s been a whole month since my last post…..oops.  Sorry guys!  I’m working a summer job right now, and in the time between work shifts, I’m trying to finish a commission that’s long overdue, so that’s why I haven’t been very active.  I guess I might as well say this – I probably won’t be very good at being active until the end of the summer – which for me is late August.  I do intend to keep this blog going, so I’m sorry for being so sporadic, but right now my schedule is too crazy for me to be able to promise regular posts. When I do get on, though, I’ll be sure to show you guys more of my writing!

If you’re the impatient type, though, and you want to see more of my creative writing that what I post here, this is the site that I’m by far the most active on:  mistressofquills.deviantart.com

I also have a facebook for MistressofQuills, and a twitter @mistressofquill  (I know…lame that I couldn’t fit the ‘s’ at the end -.-), and also an instagram (username MistressofQuills) if you’re interested in seeing some of my amateur photography!  I have a tumblr too but I’m even less active on there as I am here….  Hey don’t blame me, if I have too much internet in my life, I won’t have time for writing! (…it’s happened before…)

So!  Follow me on any of those websites if you so desire, and I’ll just continue tryyying to be more active on here…. TRY being the key word.

Now that I’ve rambled enough, let me show you another piece of poetry, since my creative writing is the whole point of this blog(:  This was written last September, so it’s actually a little weird for me to look this far back and see how far I’ve come…  Anyway, thanks for reading, and as always, please let me know your opinion!

 

Lights and Love

If I lit a little crimson candle
for every crystalline tear I cried,
for every shaky breath I sighed
and every time I’ve almost died
when you looked into my eyes…

My house would be filled with light,
and the heat of a thousand flames
that writhe and dance and play games
of flickering fun and flirty aims,
as if to taunt me and my pain.

So I pick them up, one by one,
while they continue their wild dance,
with a deep bow and a little prance,
as if their devious aim is to entrance.
They don’t understand: their purpose
is to light my heart and warm my soul.

They light the pier in a soft glow
that doesn’t rival the moon’s show…
silver brilliance, beams white as snow.
My eyes gleam with tears unknown.

The beauty of the night is lost on me…
the moon, the stars, the candle light…
the little flames dance with growing fright
as they bleed red tears in the night,
their life burning and bleeding away
as I sit there and weep and pray
for the day we are together again.

Because, my love, I miss it when
we could part and say “until then,”
and simply mean the next day…

I ache for that time to return.

So until then, my dear, know that I remember all the tender caresses.
I remember the gentle words, whispered in secret, fingers tangling in silky tresses.
Know that my love lives on, past the forced silence and the painful distance.
That I will wait for you, as long as it takes, for I possess an unwavering persistence.

Live, with those words in your mind,
Laugh, with that promise in your heart…
Love me, till the end of time.

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Hello all!

Well, the summer is finally getting interesting now that I’ve got a weekend job and am in the process of getting employed as a nanny for the weekdays, and now I’m finally making some headway on my commissions!  New stories are coming to mind, and the time is ripe for inspiration!  I’m excited to show you what I create next, but for now we’ll stick to the things that have been written for a while and have been critiqued and improved(:

I wrote this poem after reading most of the book by Wes Moore called “The Other Wes Moore.”  It’s a wonderful story, and it gave me the inspiration to write this poem. Let me know what you think!

“…it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between second chances and last chances.”
– Wes Moore

 

The Street

Under lamps as tall as trees
And loud or laughing conversations buzzing like bees,
There lies an old grey street.

Many a car and pedestrian
Has its cracked sidewalks and faded line-paint seen,
And policemen, gazes keen.

Small children playing ball
As mothers yell warnings, using full names and all,
Summer sun, bright and hot.

But not just as a playground
Has its purpose served, but also drug-dealer spots
And beds for bums, minus cots.

The people wear old eyes,
Jaded, faded, and worn with time’s desperate cries,
Aged beyond rightful age.

Slow steps walk the street,
Shuffling and dragging like nowhere is worth going,
Ash-grey concrete-wandering…

Dull sky and lifeless world;
Even the yellow paint is cheerless, even if it’s curled
In its sharp, winding turns.

Hope is scarce, love more so
And kindness is a thing forgotten in the distant past,
Hiding from people harassed.

These are the grey streets
That crisscross our cities, rain coming down in sheets,
Poverty reigning just as heavy.

The fear is hard to grasp
When you’re from a background and home like mine,
Where safety is benign.

So many different realms
Can exist in the very same city! The change overwhelms
And awakens us to reality.

Looking into the recent past,
So calloused to – and ignorant of – life’s reality we’ve become;
We’ve become so very numb.

What is life really like outside
Our own little personal worlds? What could one little stride
Have changed if it was wrong?

Life’s details and how we cope
With what we endure – these are what seem to decide our fate,
And if the path we walk will be straight.

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Hey guys!  I think one of the best things about learning is that you also improve in whatever you’re learning about. I love looking back at my writing and seeing how far I’ve come! I used to write all fixed-form poetry, stuff that has fixed lines and syllable counts, as well as specific rhyme schemes, but now that I’ve grown more in my writing style and skill set, I’ve taken to writing a LOT more free verse poetry. So! Flash from the past, this is a poem I wrote almost a year ago, and it’s from that time when I almost exclusively wrote fixed-form poetry. I hope you like it! Tell me what you think, and, as always, thanks for reading!(:

 

Poison

There’s ice in my blood, in the blue veins,
and Pain whips its scorching-hot reigns,
yanking and tightening its cruel hold
until my whole body grows very cold…

Licking crimson fire and creeping cobalt ice –
they clasp my limp body in an iron vice
so steel-strong and diamond-hard
that the black cords leave me scarred…

The fire drags me into the deep black,
the ice shows me memories of way back.
Colors dance before my feverish eyes
and images roam with deafening cries…

Voices softly whisper and gently plead,
but I can’t hear that they and their words bleed.
They don’t realize that this mortal disease
isn’t visible, nor recognized with ease…

Painful? Certainly. Serious? Yes. Deadly? Aye.
But completely hidden from the human eye.
Outside I’m calm, composed, but fake,
the true illness lying buried but awake…

A toxic poison slowly spreading to its goal,
eating, chipping away at my blackening soul,
and my weak, fluttering excuse for a heart,
malady oh so stubborn, refusing to depart…

Thoughts and dreams of just one image:
a face – dragged from the past’s muddy dredge –
once sweet and dear, now loathed and despised,
a face which hid a black heart well-disguised…

He fills my head, my heart and my soul,
for my ignorance, my innocence he stole,
leaving me empty, alone and searching…
seeking, questing, looking, but never finding…

I fear my heart will remain vacant and closed
until the One, my doctor, calm and composed,
can come to drive the poison away forever,
replacing deadly disease with loving care.

Sorry for the Sudden Hiatus! — My Creative Writing: Poetry

Hey everyone!  I know it’s been almost three weeks since I posted something, and there is a good reason for it, I promise!  School has been finishing up, and as of now I am in the middle of Finals week.  The school year ends this Friday and then I’m free for the summer!  So that’s why I haven’t been posting – I’ve been swamped with papers, projects, presentations, tests, and now finals, so I haven’t really had the time to post anything… Sorry about that!

But I’m back now and I bring more of my creative writing!  Oh, and I should hear soon whether the pieces I submitted got added to the book of art my University is publishing, so I’ll let y’all know as soon as I know!

Anyway, here’s a poem I wrote last year in August.  Each stanza represents a different kind of grief: stanza 1: loneliness, 2 and 3: the death of a loved one, 4: missing a loved one who is far away, and 5: disappointment/betrayal.  Thanks for reading!

 

Colorful Sorrow

Orange clouds,
Stone grey life,
Shim’ring shrouds…
Green mist haze,
Blood-red tears,
Empty gaze…
Full pink lips,
Blackened heart,
Sailing ships.

Heated blood,
Tender words,
Emotions flood…
Cold hard mind,
Warm body,
Words so kind…
Open grave,
Beating rain,
Standing brave.

Gone forever,
Empty rooms,
Ties to sever…
Time’s a blur,
White roses,
Are you sure?
Crystal drips,
Absence felt,
Blank fear grips…

Beaten gong,
Moonlight grass
Sad little song…
Silver lining,
Little bells,
A voice crying…
Long thin sighs,
Parted lips,
Golden eyes…

Ashen face,
Purple eyes,
Silken lace…
Yellow dress,
Bad tattoo,
Cobalt tress…
Mother’s eyes,
Saddened gaze,
Respect dies.

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Hey everyone!  Well, since last time I showed you a piece of prose, this time I’ll show you another piece of my poetry.  This one was written last July, and it’s the first narrative poem I’ve tried to write!  For that fact alone, I’d really appreciate your input on what worked and what didn’t, what you liked and didn’t like, etc.  Thanks so much for reading!

 

The Battlefield of Love

Swords clash with a deafening ring
And men fall, looking to the skies above
While a chorus of pained, dying cries sing
And the crows begin their feasting thereof
On this, the battlefield of love.

Fathers, brothers and sons in blood are gone,
Fallen prey to the steely weapons of the enemy.
No more will they rise with the grey dawn,
Never more will they their families see;
For here they fell, on the battlefield of love.

The leader, above his white army standing,
Wanders his eye over the crimson struggle.
In grief his heart wails to see his men dying,
Their lifeblood pour and life-force crumble.
He watches, helpless above the battlefield of love.

A shining helm he wears, a gift from his royal father,
And on his hip, the straight sword of a true prince.
In his clothes, near his heart, lies a hidden favor,
Given in promise by a lady fair, her love to evince.
This he remembers, above the battlefield of love.

He flinches in memory of their last fateful night
When her father snatched her from his grasp.
Jealous of his daughter’s love – his “fatherly right” –
The black king took her from her lover’s clasp.
Now the lonely prince’s tears blur the battlefield of love.

But when his gaze rests upon the black army,
His tears become ice and his heart turns to stone.
He thinks of his captive lady, his eyes grow stormy,
And concerns for his own safety to the wind are thrown.
His noble goal in mind, he joins the battlefield of love.

Foe after foe he proceeds to vanquish and slay,
Enemy after enemy lies dead in his bloody wake.
With a skillful sword and strong arm, he enters the fray,
And turns the tide of battle while his enemies quake.
In fear they shake, there on the battlefield of love.

Invigorated by their lord’s calm and powerful advance,
The men of the white standard fall on the enemy.
With new strength, they again begin their solemn dance,
For discouraged they had been, and fearful as any.
But now they prevail on the battlefield of love.

And so the black standard was trampled down,
The dark army slain, and the white victory won.
On, the snowy host advanced, after the silver crown,
Into the dark woods and across the raging river; as one
They forsook the blood-soaked battlefield of love.

At last the castle of Night came into the warriors’ sight,
Reaching to the stars with towers like eagle’s claws.
The emerald-eyed lady awaited her beloved knight
Atop the tallest tower, locked in chains without cause,
Enduring her father’s cruelty: her own battlefield of love.

Into the inky castle burst the white army with ease,
The black army having fled after its own defeat.
Frantically the prince sought, fighting down his unease,
For without his gentle lady love, he felt incomplete.
He feared heartbreak, an entirely new battlefield of love.

Finally, there was only the tallest tower left to search,
And at the top, the prince found his lover dear.
“But who is also here?” he wondered with a lurch,
Seeing the lady’s father, threatening her with a spear.
Here was an entirely different battlefield of love.

“Kill your men and yourself right here,” the black king said,
“Or your lover dies on this spot, by my spear blade.”
“No, my love, please do not!” the beautiful lady pled.
“My life spared is not worth so many lives paid!
No more blood must be shed on this battlefield of love!”

With a tortured gaze, the prince looked at them,
Wishing for another option than the two presented.
Men or lady, many or few?  Who must he condemn?
For this dilemma, the black king he hated and resented.
What will happen on this battlefield of love?

Then something happened that no one expected:
The lady fought back in a fierce though futile fight,
Leaving her father for a short moment unprotected.
The prince took his chance and killed the black knight,
Setting them all free from this battlefield of love.

Their quest over, and the victorious white army returned,
Bringing the shining princess back safe and sound.
Never again would the land have to be fearful or concerned
About the black king and castle, formerly so renowned.
At last, the prince and lady could freely revel in their love.

Forevermore, that battlefield of love lies forgotten in the grey dust of time.
Now, however, a new kind of battlefield of love looms before the royal pair.
For love is never an easy road, and ever remains a long and difficult climb.
Their love must pass the test of time, and of life’s innumerable cares beware.
The War of Love will endure ’til lovers’ end, each battlefield fought and won.