Monday, June 24, 2013

Flash fiction: The Avengers (part 1)

In the countdown to S.H.I.E.L.D. premiering on ABC, I'm going to post one piece of flash fiction a month inspired by The Avengers Headcanons submissions that went around on Tumblr about a year ago. This is because I really enjoyed them at the time and want an excuse to pull them out again.


Flash fiction: Part 1.

Steve's often the last person to end up in the kitchen during these night time meets. He offers a quick nod to Tony, who immediately quips, "Alright, movie night. Star Wars. Who's in?"

"Or..." Steve interjects, "we could watch the Wizard of Oz?"

Clint starts walking in the direction of Tony's admittedly extensive entertainment centre. It's one of his jokes that this entertainment centre is the main reason for Thor's delay in going back to Asgard.

That, and popcorn, which is what Thor's eating right now as the rest of the Avengers make their way into the large living room. There are a number of DVDs in Tony's collection. Possibly the entirety of English speaking movies. Somehow, Thor always manages to find movies that either remind him of the relationship he shared with Loki growing up, or the tattered relationship that remains. Either way, he's more than happy to turn it off in favour of whatever movie the others decide is to be put on.

Natasha sits in the next best spot in the room after the place on the couch that Thor's. She doesn't look at Steve as she replies to his earlier statement. "Steve we're not watching that again. Or ever."

Having finished his latest stash of popcorn, Thor decides it's time for a change in diet. "We will need poptarts," he calls to the kitchen, then lifts his hand when Tony throws a packet towards him upon entering the room.

Bruce leans against the arm of the couch. "I'm in... if Cupid's in," he offers, shooting a glance across at Clint.

"I'm in," he says, with a game smile. "There's beer, right?"

With beer and poptarts for all, the Avengers share each others company, marathoning and heckling the light sabre scenes in the Star Wars trilogy until the early morning sun starts to peek its way around the blinds.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Talking about YA fiction.

When I was young, the television shows I watched would be about saving the planet (Captain Planet, Widget the World Watcher) and young adult fiction was either about the finding a real life threat inside your video games (Space Demons, Skymaze), running off into some wonderful fantasy world where young women could be heroes with a sword too (Songs of the Lioness, The Blue Sword) or finding romance (The Vampire Diaries).

There's still a lot of interest in the latter, as evidenced by the television show The Vampire Diaries. You might even recognise this handsome man as the visual inspiration for one of my own characters. :)

There has also been the popularity of such series' as Cassie Clare's The Mortal Instruments, which I believe they are making into a series of movies due to come out later this year. I've also been a long time fan of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, which I've made no bones about loving and having almost a whole shelf dedicated to in my bedroom.

There's also the retold fairy tale genre which is really big at the moment, and includes novelists like Sarah Cross, Alex Flinn, Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier, Francesca Lia Block and Malinda Lo.

However, there's another kind of genre within the young adult umbrella that has been pushing itself forward. We saw it in The Hunger Games novels (and movie). Marie Lu's novel Legend was another good example of it. Instead of the worries about the environment that categorised the 90s, the media aimed at young adults seems to hold a message that is: don't be so complacent that the government can rule you. Sort of a 1984 for kids, just like Space Demons might have been a good early read for people who would go on to love Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

Two months ago, I read a book called Delirium by Lauren Oliver and read the follow up sequel Pandemonium this month. Lauren's main character, Lena, lives in a world where love has been labelled a disease for which a cure has been found. (For the full review, click here.) What I thought was amazing was how little the love angle would have mattered at all if not for the backing plot of the story. The same scenario was offered in The Hunger Games; Katniss simply couldn't spend any real number of pages simply falling in love with either of the guys. She was too busy fighting just to stay alive.

I love coming back again and again to the books in this genre. It feels as though there is so much more in YA to read today than there was 10 or even 15 years ago. Subjects like loneliness and alienation are still being tackled, but are now widening to include stories told about interracial and gay, lesbian or bisexual minorities. I read this really interesting interview by two of my favourite young adult writers recently that made me feel really proud to be reading this genre I love so much.

"Both Holly and Sarah are not shy about discussing the difficulties of promoting diversity in Young Adult literature. And they were willing to discuss their experiences in crafting their own works as a way of offering advice to other authors who are seeking to do the opposite of what has been the advice offered time after time to write what they know rather than what they may imagine." (read more)

This interview opens with questions like what advice they would give for writers who want to write outside of their own experiences with gender, race and sexual orientation and goes on through some interesting observations on the way race is depicted both on screen and by readers of these novels, including a quick look at Katniss' depiction in the recent movie The Hunger Games.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Charlaine Harris, Southern Vampire Mysteries and 'Dead Ever After'.

Okay, so, my love affair with Patricia Briggs clearly goes above and beyond any feelings I may have for Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries, or it's associated HBO television show True Blood. Time and again, I mention again how amazing I think Patricia's writing is. I don't think this blog yet has had a thing to say about the certainly more public series written by Charlaine.

At the risk of being just another commentator on the big issue that has come out of the latest--indeed, last--book of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, they are in a similar enough genre to the Mercy Thompson books and I think a person must almost have been hiding under a rock to have missed the outcry that has come along with Dead Ever After.

At the core, Charlaine completed her series of books in a way that many of her fans did not like. As with many fellow authors, she had a vision for the trajectory of the series and, even with the popularity of certain characters over other certain characters, Charlaine made the decision not to waver from her original view on how the books would end.

Now, in the wake of many impassioned and angry fans, Charlaine has had to cancel public appearances and otherwise hide under her own rock until the sensation passes, instead of celebrating the end of a particularly popular series of books.

At the end of season three, I put True Blood aside when they went off and seemed to kill everyone but Sookie at the end of season three, leaving me feeling like I would have sacrificed the main character rather than lose all the rest. I ranted about it a little to my friends that year. I even started voicing it again when time came around for season four to be premiering. I certainly did not write hate mail to the author and producer of the series, or even post my opinion publicly.

As far as the books, I've been trying to figure out how far I'd gotten. Dead and Gone is the last one I read, I think. As much as I loved the 'mysteries' element of these stories, I thought that the character interaction was, on occasion, a little thin. There were a lot of questions about Sookie and Eric getting together that I thought went overlooked in favour of other things.

I've got a account, and I do post reviews of all the books I read up there. All the books I finish. There have been many I haven't, and to those I simply put a 'Did Not Finish' marker on my blog here and move on.

For any books I've finished and not liked? There is always something constructive one can say about a book. I've also read my fair share of writing in various creative writing courses over the years. It is common courtesy, even when you do not like what you've just read, to say something positive before you give the criticism. I take that route whenever writing a review to a book I didn't feel was all that strong. There's got to be some reason you kept on reading it, even if you didn't like some parts of it, so why not mention those, too? (To be truthful, I also list the one or two things I thought weren't strong in books I absolutely loved.)

The issue has brought up questions of whether authors, as both artists and producers of a service, do or don't have an obligation to give their readers what they want. It's a really interesting debate, but also really scary if authors are put in a position where they have to give in to their readers if they don't want to face all this.

Of course, this is hardly the first time anything of this nature has occurred. In what's probably the most famous previous occasion of public outcry against an author's decision, and probably something that's coming to a lot of peoples' minds right now, Arthur Conan Doyle made the decision to wrap up his Sherlock Holmes series by killing him. In this case, of course, the author did give in to public outcry and brought him back.

Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman Film 'Sherlock' Season 3(Unlike True Blood, BBC's Sherlock is something I'm looking forward to with baited breath. Come on season three!)

I'll tell you what, though. The public outcry over the end of the Southern Vampire Mysteries series of books has made this little read want to sit up and finish reading these books on my shelf, just to see how she did decide to finish them. :D

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 2013 Reading List

HELLO! I'm here, I'm still here. I swear it.

So, for anyone interested in the continuation of this post, I have now quit my previous job. My partner and I are the happy owners of an Aussie Farmer's Market franchise and I am... dare I say it, happy. Well, at least not waking up and dreading the day ahead. I won't speak too much about that (truthfully, I'm still working out the kinks of just spelling the word 'franchise'), but suffice to say that it's taken me away from my reading in the last two weeks of the month and, I suspect, will continue to do so for at least a little longer.

Added to that, my writing muse has come back! I blame it on this book, by Patricia Briggs. The last time I tried to pick up this novel in February, it sparked renewed interest in writing my Shadows of Melbourne series. This time, not only did it end my writer's block, but I also finished the damned thing in two days. Two days! It's a good read; the whole Mercy Thompson series is highly recommended.

Still. This month, I'm not expecting to get a whole lot of reading done. Maybe I'll use any excess time I have to finish up reading Game of Thrones.

Media preview

For this next month, I've been hanging on from last month for two books in particular. These are:


3/5 - Not as good as the first one. Nowhere near.
Somehow, in my excitement of putting together my list of books for the month of May, I completely forgot to include a young adult title. This will not happen again. I've even added a whole new list of YA titles on my account to ensure I will not run out. I love YA.

Seriously... I'm Kidding.

3/5 - Enjoyable but episodic. No unified story.
After reading and enjoying Portia de Rossi's memoir in April, is it any surprise that I've hardly been able to wait to read Ellen DeGeneres' memoir? I'm expecting a completely different tone for this one. Actually, I have no idea at all what to expect about this one. Maybe dolphins.

The Mad Ship.

4/5 - While enjoyable, not the best thing she has written.
Another title I've been looking forward to. Ship of Magic left a lot of questions unanswered and, I suspect,  will do the same, being as it's a second book in a trilogy. Still, my heart looks forward to sailing with Althea once more!

A Storm of Swords.

2/5 - A hard slug and a very thick book.
Actually, that idea above was a really great idea. I have about two hundred pages left of reading this, and glances through have proven to me how different it looks than the end of the HBO series so I won't be confused when I pick up A Feast of Crows.

Cry Wolf.
Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)
3/5 - Its only failing being that it's the first book in a series, yet seems to start in the middle.
I don't usually read two novels by the same author in two consecutive months, but I was planning to read this book last month until the library lost it. Also, it is the first book in a different series; Alpha and Omega rather than Mercy Thompson. As I don't actually have this title on my personal bookshelves, I had to wait. Then, lo and behold, it was ready today!

I suspect I shall have to staple my wrist to my forehead and cry 'woe!' for having to read two Patricia Briggs novels in as many months.


As always, follow my progress this month at my account: