Brimstone, Brimstone, Brimstone

Sometimes, if I have enough to say about a book, I like to post my reaction to it here. In this case, my reaction went straight into my Goodreads review. So sorry if you’ve already seen this, but here it is for those who haven’t:

Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is gorgeous. I was blown away by pretty much everything from page one: the writing, the setting, the characters. I’ve seen a few people mention they’re wary of books involving angels, and while I’ve never actually read any of the angel books that are all the rage right now, I’d be willing to put money down this one isn’t anything like them. Seriously, don’t let the mythos get you down. This book is not what you think—absolutely, 100% not what you think.

There were a couple moments in the flow of the story that jostled me a bit. The climax, in particular, doesn’t really feel like a climax, but a kind of story-spike that’s meant to lead to a much greater climax this book never gets around to. I got the impression this was written as one very long story and then divided up because it was just too epic. I can’t specifically mention what else was odd about the climax without potentially spoiling a surprise, so I won’t.

Lastly, I am a person who needs a character to cling to in order to enjoy a story. If I don’t have an anchor character, neither the most beautiful writing nor the greatest story will hold my attention (yeah, my attention-span is evil; I learned to accept that at an early age). Daughter of Smoke and Bone had so many fantastic characters I could have clung to, but it wasn’t even a competition in the end. There was only ever one anchor character for me from the moment he stepped on the stage: Brimstone, Brimstone, Brimstone.

So in short, read this book, if only because Brimstone is magnificent. As for me, I’m going to go looking for everything else Laini Taylor has written.

Fairy Tale Fortnight

From April fifteenth to the thirtieth, The Book Rat is holding an event called “Fairy Tale Fortnight”, and Titan Magic gets to be part of it! It’s going to be a fantastic couple of weeks filled with reviews, guest posts, excerpts, and giveaways. So if you have an addiction to fairy tales and folklore like I do, be sure to check it out! I expect to find an abundance of new books to add to my must-read list.

Mysterious Horror and Paranormal Activity

I admit I’m a bit of a horror junkie. Good horror relaxes me. I know that’s probably weird, but it’s true. I’ve tried to analyze why (because analyzing is what I do), and I’ve come up with a few ideas involving the release of endorphins, complete emotional occupation, and catharsis. In other words, it’s a mystery. But when I’m down and completely out, nothing soothes me like an unhealthy dinner, a strong drink, and a good old-fashioned horror movie.

Most recently, I saw Paranormal Activity. I’d been meaning to watch it for some time. People said it succeeded in doing what The Blaire Witch Project attempted to do, and having been somewhat disappointed by that romp-through-the-woods-with-angry-teenagers, I was eager to see what the “home video” sub-genre could really do. This time around, I was not disappointed.

Paranormal Activity is a slow burn. I never leapt from my seat screaming or clung to The Other Lamm, who puts up with my horror addiction with open-minded awesomeness (I should tell you sometime about how he turned me down for a first date because, as he put it, “I don’t like horror”—yeah, I didn’t get it either). I watched it in the dark, and then turned it off and calmly went to bed. I didn’t notice the effect it had on me until the wee hours, when I realized the sun would be coming up soon, and I hadn’t slept a wink. Because I was still thinking about it. It was glorious. THIS is what horror is supposed to do: keep your mind occupied; give you a vacation from your own problems; and let you experience a hint of mankind’s ancient, everlasting fear of the dark.

I went on to see the sequels, hoping they would be as good as the first. I read reviews of the second movie that praised it as being superior to the first. I have to say I disagree, although it wasn’t a bad film by any stretch, and it definitely had its moments. My guess as to why people find the second film more frightening than the first is it toys with human protective instincts by involving an infant. But to me, it removed a lot of the first film’s delicious mystery by sharing too much backstory.

We didn’t need to know what the malevolent entity was. In fact, it was MUCH better not knowing. Our fear of the dark is a fear of the unknown, and that’s what the first film touched upon in such a remarkable way. Once you give a history and motivation to the dark, it becomes less frightening. The third film exposed even more of the entity’s motivation and history, and in the light of understanding, it became almost silly—an overdone cliché.

After watching these three films, I’ve decided to pay closer attention to the horror I watch and read. I’m going to pay attention to the moment when the threat feels less threatening, and I’m going to pay attention to the amount of information I was given shortly before that moment. I bet I see a pattern.

Some might say the genre that loves the unknown most is mystery, but I don’t think that’s true. Mystery, as a genre, loves uncovering the unknown; horror, on the other hand, loves drowning in it.

Places to Go, People to Meet, Blogs to Read

This last month has been such fun! I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to.

On September 30th, Titan Magic received a five star review from The Little Blue Pig book blog! And I was invited to give an author interview, which is always a pleasure.

Over at A New Kind of Ordinary I got to write about why I love folklore and why I fill my stories with it whenever I can. There’s a giveaway contest going on, too. You still have time to enter to win!

In Libris Veritas has just posted a wonderful review and an author interview, in which I got to answer some truly thought-provoking questions.

And last but not in the least bit least, I was invited to participate in an event at What’s Your Story. It will be an interview/giveaway, and it’s scheduled for March 1st.

Why I Already Know the Book Is Better

With all the talk about the upcoming Hunger Games movie, especially some people’s understandable nervousness over whether the story will be crushed under the heel of Hollywood conformity, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh in with my own optimism. And if you’re a person who knows me in real life, you probably just fell out of your chair. Because I’m not optimistic. Ever. In fact, I have a very strict policy on why pessimism is superior (every surprise is a pleasant one when you expect the worst), and movies are no exception. Of course, I can’t help getting excited about some. I admit I’m drooling to see The Hunger Games on a big screen. I LOVED the books (yes, the word love needed to be in all caps), and I’ll probably be the first person out of the theater who utters the words, “The book was way better.” But I want to look at why that’s not just inevitable, but also perfectly fine.

No matter what the story, the book is almost always better than the film. There is the rare anomaly, of course, which is usually because the film improved upon the actual plot. But as far as visuals, acting, special effects, set design, etc., nothing is going to quite measure up to a book you really loved. A lot of people will tell you this is due to the boundlessness of the human imagination, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. These days, any great special effects team is capable of creating just about anything you can imagine, and if a film is completely animated, even more is possible. Other people will mention that a book really gets into the characters’ heads and no film can do that. While there’s no denying that’s true, I think our capacity for empathy brings us pretty close to understanding what any reasonable character is going through.

I think the real reason the book is usually better is that every book has not one, but many authors. The writer is just a guide. The readers are the architects of the world, characters, music, everything. Every book you read, you build to your preference, as long as you’re given room to do so. So it is perfect for you, and no filmmaker is going to be able to match that. They are building their story for a wide audience, not just you. In seeing any film version of a book you loved, you’re going to have to sacrifice the look you gave to your favorite character, the way a certain scene was laid out, or the choreography you carefully crafted.

But here’s the thing. I still enjoy watching someone else’s vision of a story I loved, even if they don’t see it in quite the same way I did. I think it’s amazing how two different people can be told the same story and see such incredibly different things. And unless The Hunger Games movie is nauseatingly bad, I know I’m going to enjoy experiencing another person’s vision of the books. If all I wanted was my own vision, I’d just read the books again.

In conclusion… check out this trailer! It is NOTHING like how I pictured it, and that makes it awesome.

Also, team Peeta FTW!

No, seriously. I think the only part of these books The Other Lamm didn’t like was how they compelled me to cry, “Peeta! You’re so damn cute, Peeta! Don’t DIE, Peeta! Peeeeeeetaaaaa!” every other page.

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