Favorites Friday: Chosen Ones

I recently finished NaNoWriMo and working on a novel about the Chosen One, fated to defeat great evil in an ancient prophecy.  Well, actually, it’s about his very smart best friend who gets a bit overlooked.  Playing with the tropes?  Oh, definitely!  So I thought it would be fun to look at a few other stories about Chosen Ones…

1) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – This is, of course, the juggernaut, the one that, for this time period at least, defines all the others.  I like Harry Potter a lot though I’ve never been one of the really dedicated fans.  And I like Harry the individual reasonably well, although…how great is Hermione???  I reread these not long ago, and my experience reading Harry Potter as an adult was mostly that this whole fight against Voldemort would have been over much sooner if Hermione had been allowed to take the lead.  Inspiration for my recent novel draft?  Oh, definitely!

2) Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen – Eerily similar to Harry Potter in many ways, though only one, much shorter and also simpler book.  I do especially like Henry in this one, and while he has a smart female friend, he carries his own load in defeating the big bad villain.

3) Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier – A different style of fantasy from all the others here (not a boarding school, for instance), this is a really interesting story of prophecies and people who believe in them, with (at the risk of a spoiler) a very nice twist besides.  And a female lead, incidentally!

4) Carry On (Simon) by Rainbow Rowell – An interesting backstory here, because Rowell wrote Fangirl, where the lead character Cath is writing a fanfiction novel called Carry On, Simon about a (I assume!) Harry Potter-inspired Chosen One character from his own (fictional) series.  And then Rowell wrote Carry On about said-character, which is sort of Cath’s novel, but not…  Anyway, with or without said-backstory, it’s a fun adventure that, not unlike mine, is deliberately playing with some tropes of fantasy Chosen One stories.  Great fun.

5) Percy Jackson series + Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan – Chosen One fantasy with a mythological twist, Percy fits right in the mold with Harry and Henry, and Annabeth would probably be best friends with Hermione (if they didn’t turn into fierce competitors instead).  I like Percy–and I love Annabeth–and getting some parts from her point of view is one reason I actually like the second series better.  Riordan is funny and clever and rarely have I seen a Chosen One story where it was SO clear that Percy’s apparent weaknesses turn into his strengths.  As happens in good kid fantasy, of course.

That’s a handful, but there must be many more!  Do you have a favorite Chosen One of literature?

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Book Review: Read My Mind

Read My Mind by [Haworth, Kelly]During NaNo, when I was reading but not reviewing, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Read My Mind by Kelly Haworth.  A little outside my usual genres, it’s a paranormal LGBTQ romance, the first in a series.  The characters and the world-building are wonderful.  Full disclosure, Kelly is a friend of mine, but that’s not why I liked the book!

Set in an alternate Earth, Kelly’s world features a pantheon of gods who have gifted humans (some of them) with a variety of magical abilities, like healing or telekinesis.  The story centers around Scott and Nick, incoming freshmen at the University of Frannesburg (think alternate San Francisco).  Scott is devoutly religious, while Nick, a telekinetic, is much more interested in the pop culture, comic book and action figure version of the gods.  The two begin sparking while negotiating exploring each other’s different experiences of the gods.  When Scott unexpectedly develops telepathy, it creates rifts in his family, while Nick struggles with grieving his mother and dealing with a distant relationship with his father–all problems that interfere with their growing romance.

I loved the world-building in here.  I’m fascinated by Kelly’s created religion, and I love the way it’s involved in the plot and the characters’ lives.  Although this is the first published in the series, Kelly actually wrote another volume first, but decided this was a better introduction and I think that was a great choice.  Because Scott and Nick are each learning from the other about different aspects of the gods, the reader gets to learn too in an organic way.  I also love the way they handle learning from each other–though it seems like an obvious conflict, they approach each other with mutual respect and openness which was just lovely. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Christmas Focus?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you celebrate Christmas, do you feel the need to stop reading anything but Christmas-themed romances as the holiday season starts?

I sometimes read a Christmas book or two in December, but I definitely don’t stop reading other books, and I wouldn’t say my Christmas choices tend particularly towards romances either.  Admittedly, my very favorite is The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig, which is a Christmas-set romance.  But my other two favorites are not romances, or much like each other: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

I actually do more Christmas movie-watching than reading, though.  Always The Charlie Brown Christmas, often It’s a Wonderful Life and recently whichever past Dr. Who Christmas Special strikes my fancy–and the new one, of course!

Do you read Christmas (or other holiday) books in December?  Does it become your main focus, or a kind of add-on?

 

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Book Review: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard

I have had quite good luck listening to comedians read their autobiographies (because, after all, they know how to be funny!) and Eddie Izzard’s Believe Me audiobook was particularly good.  Izzard is a British comedian who does stand-up tours and is also rather famously a transvestite (or transgender…more on that later).

As autobiographies do, Izzard’s goes through his life from childhood (actually, he discusses his parents’ lives before he was born too), how he got into acting, how he began expressing himself as a transvestite and how his career progressed on up to the present.  And because he’s a comedian, it’s funny–probably much more so in the audiobook even than the printed version, because he digresses.  At length.  Frequently.  And it’s delightful.

Izzard’s comedy style is very conversational monologues, often telling stories with frequent asides and remarks.  (See my favorite, the Death Star Canteen.  Mature language warning.)  He often gives the impression of ad libbing at length.  I have no idea if it’s true on stage, but it definitely is in the audiobook, as he’ll frequently seize on something, discuss at length, remark, “that wasn’t in the book.  Okay, back to the book!”  The book also has footnotes, and he uses these as opportunities to expound and digress, often closing them with “end of endless footnote.”

You can’t expect the book to be too linear.  It’s not even structured very linearly (roughly chronological, at least as far as childhood, young adult, early career, later career), with a lot of circling around within rough time periods.  But as long as you’re willing to ride along with him, it’s very funny throughout. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo Day 30+ and Crossing the 50,000 Line

I have been very remiss in posting on here the last few weeks!  I had every intention of posting about the NaNo process as it happened…but then it happened to take up every spare writing moment I had!  I spent the month doing a lot of writing sprints before work, on my lunch hour and at odd moments here and there.  I spent most of the month hovering near the goal amount, and crossed the 50,000 after work on November 30th.  Then went out to my writing group!

So much for stats.  As to content–as I was beginning to feel earlier in the month, this turned out more of an exploration than a proper novel draft.  I think I got, perhaps, halfway through what would eventually be the story, but I’m not sure the first half always went the right direction.  I did a lot of world-building in October but not much plot-planning, and struggled to find it in November.

On the other hand!  I discovered some new things about my characters, and about the world even, and the themes emerged pretty strongly too.  I’m not exactly sure how much of what I wrote will end up in a final version–possibly a lot of fragments, cut up and rearranged.

I don’t plan to finish this semi-draft during December, as I often do with NaNo novels.  This was a good exploration and got me back in the writing rhythm after losing my speed some last year (too much revision, and too much other life going on too).  So I’m going to put this one away to think about some more, and in the meantime I want to play with some short stories and work on plotting…because that seems to be the big issue on my last three novel drafts that still need revision.  So it seems like a good time to play with something shorter to hone some skills.

For now though, have an excerpt from my NaNo novel.

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We approached the Great Hall, an intimidating enough building without uneasy thoughts to accompany an approach.  I had only been inside twice, once each year for the opening ceremonies of the new term.  The effect was quite different when streams of students were covering the plaza and heading through the open doors.

The rest of the time—well, I had passed the Great Hall hundreds of times, but it had always felt more like a mountain than a building, a prominent feature of the landscape but not something to approach, let alone enter.

Gery marched up to it fearlessly enough, bypassing the main doors for a small side entrance quite confidently.

The door opened on a short hallway, leading to a second, interior door, this one with a gargoyle sitting beside it.  “Who goes there?” the gargoyle intoned.  It was an old gargoyle, judging by the depth of the voice.  Those were the best ones.

“Gerhardt Greerson,” Gery said promptly, “with an appointment with Minister Drehagan.  And guest.”

I didn’t altogether love that, but the gargoyle squinted at us both then boomed, “Enter,” and the door swung open on a flight of stairs. Continue reading

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