Looking Back on the Matched Trilogy

It’s been a few months since I finished Reached, and I think there’s a lot more to be said about it now than there was in January.

I’ve realized that I didn’t love this trilogy for the plot, or the characters, or even the setting. 

Sure, the plot held my attention and it was a unique concept. I loved Cassia, Xander, and Ky. The whole Society did make me slightly claustrophobic. So I wasn’t fond of the setting.

I love the way it’s written. It’s like poetry, only not. It’s filled with wisdom and little groups of words that truly make you think. And it is absolutely stunning.

My copies of Crossed and Reached are filled with ink where I underlined on nearly every page. And if I re-read Matched, I’ll certainly have a pen.

The story is good and the characters are well-developed. But it’s truly the writing that made me love it so much. The way it is like poetry and filled with wise words.

Pick it up and read it if you haven’t. You’ll be struck by at least one sentence.

You cannot change your journey if you are unwilling to move at all.

-Ally Condie, Reached

-Clara

These are the Things I Want More of in YA

I love YA. It’s pretty much all I read. And as much as I love a good love triangle, there are some things I wish YA had more of. One day, I’ll write books that fit some of these criteria. Here’s just a few things that I want to see more of in YA fiction.

1. Villain/Heroine love stories.

Seriously. My biggest “what-if”s when I read involve something along these lines. Sometimes the male villain has so much chemistry with the heroine that I really really really ship them. Hard. I don’t know how a female villain/male hero love story would work, but if it’s out there, I’d love to give it a read. 

2. Betrothals that actually work out.

I long for an arranged marriage story that ends with the two who are betrothed in love and married. I just love betrothals in fiction in general, honestly. It looks like the upcoming When Dimple Met Rishi may be like this. 

3. Curses to Break

I love curses in fantasy. Not the ones that only physically affect people. I want more curses in the style of The Wrath and the Dawn. That was a curse. I loved it.

4. The Villain That’s Not Just A Villain

A villain who has a complicated, emotional reason for his evil. A villain that’s a villain but not a villain at the same time.

5. Foreign Settings in Contemporary

I really want to see stories set in foreign countries with foreign main characters. I loved Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed- it was a great story with an interesting look at Pakistani culture. More books like this would be amazing. 

What do you want to see more of in YA? Do you know of any books with the above tropes? 

-Clara

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. And I must admit myself slightly disappointed.

I liked it, I really did. It just wasn’t everything I was expecting. 

This book follows Scarlett Dragna, a girl who loves her sister more than anything else and lives with an abusive father. For years, she’s wanted to go to Caraval- a magical game. When she finally gets to go, her sister is kidnapped and the entire game revolves around her. 

I loved the setting. Caraval was this lush carnival setting that really pulled me in. 

My favorite part of this book was Julian- the male lead. I loved him as a character. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure about him, but as I got to know him better, I fell in love with him. He was a well-developed character all around.

What disappointed me was the villain. I was expecting either a smooth, charming villain like Keeper in Entwined, or one of those psychotic-for-no-reason villains. I was profoundly disappointed. But to explain any further would spoil the story.

All-in-all, 3.25 stars for me. It had loads of potential, but just didn’t deliver. Not sure if I’ll pick up the sequel. 

-Clara

The New York Times Book Tag

I really like this tag, so I thought I’d do it.

What is on your nightstand right now?

I don’t have a nightstand. But I’m working through The Math Myth by Andrew Hacker. It’s made some of the best points ever. Also reading 1st Samuel.

What was the last truly great book you read?

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. It was so good. 

If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?

Ooh… Probably Heather Dixon. From her blog, she’s hilarious. And she wrote my favorite book.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelf?

I don’t know. The Passion of Dolssa might surprise some of you, because I don’t read much historical fiction. But it was a wonderful book.

How do you organize your personal library?

Classics. Series. Everything else? Not in any particular order.

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet?

Mansfield Park. 

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you are supposed to like but didn’t?

A Tale of Two Cities. Lots of people love it, but I hate it.

What kind of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

Fantasy, especially when it involves betrothals.

I stear clear of books I just don’t need to read: ones with a ton of language, sex, or both.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

The Math Myth, even though I haven’t finished it yet. I have really strong anti-algebra views and this book lays out exactly why advanced math shouldn’t be forced upon us.

What do you plan to read next?

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. A re-read.

I tag:

inkgirlandwords

-Clara

Writing Bucket List: Retellings

(I’m writing this with fake nails that I am so not used to, so please forgive any typos…)

There are so many book ideas I really want to chase one of these days. Writing down goals helps you accomplish them, so I decided to do this. I may never write all of these; I may trash some of these ideas. But here are some books that I want to write one of these days. These are all retellings. I might consider a follow-up post that tells you a little bit about my other projects. Maybe. When the Gwendolyn trilogy is finished.
Beauty and the Beast: This has always been one of my favorite fairy tales and I think you can do a ton with this.

Rapunzel: Another favorite story. I expect it to be somewhat difficult, since I don’t see it having as much potential as others, but I know that if the right idea comes, I’ll chase it.

The Count of Monte Cristo: This book will be really, really long. Probably a life-long project. But it’s tied with The Great Gatsby for favorite classic.

The Great Gatsby: Again, a favorite classic that also has some great potential for a retelling. It’ll probably get smacked in Riverey somewhere.

Gone with the Wind: Another super long one. Maybe I’ll give it a happy ending, or maybe I’ll let someone else write the sequel, like Margaret Mitchell did.

I adore retellings. They’re some of my favorite books to read, and I’ve written a (kinda) short retelling of Cupid and Psyche that was such a blast. I submitted it to a contest back a couple months ago. Perhaps I’ll post a little sampling of it one day.

That’s all for today; I’ll have a video up soon. 🙂

-Clara

 

On the Captain Guinevere Sequel

Hello.

Captain Guinevere was released in November, and since then, I’ve been working on the sequel. Here we are, at the beginning of May, and I’m not even done with the rough draft.
Sequels are hard. Really hard. There have been so many times writing this thing when I’ve felt like giving up on Gwendolyn Patience and going back to Fantasia Loyal (that’s a novel I began a few years back. I have 17,000 words to it, and hope to finish the first draft over the summer). 

But I can’t drop Gwen’s story. Not only do I have readers who want to know what happens next, I can’t give up on her. Writing, creating a world and people to populate it, is something I have to do. I think it’s as essential as breathing now. Writing really is like coffee. The more you have it, the more you need it. (I don’t know who originally said that. Not me.)

And, cheesy as it might sound, there’s this bond between me and my characters. Especially Gwen. Something won’t let me forget her. She begs me to finish her story almost daily. I know it sounds crazy. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably had this happen to you.

So yes, writing this sequel is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. But I know I’ll finish, because I have to. For me. For the people who have read Captain Guinevere. For the characters. 

Yes, it’s hard. But when I finally finish, it’ll be one of the best feelings in the world.

-Clara