Review: The Uglies Trilogy **Spoiler Alert**

Description: The Uglies Trilogy (UGLIES, PRETTIES, and SPECIALS) is a trilogy of books by Scott Westerfeld, and is a dystopian young adult series. It takes place in a post apocalyptic Earth in the different civilizations that have formed. They are highly advanced technologically and they refer to those in the past as Rusties (we used metals that rusted, they are focused highly on what we would consider ‘green’ living – nothing wasted and everything is recyclable) and are themselves very focused around making everyone the same.

Basically when the story starts she is considered an ugly. Their world has come to the conclusion that all of the problems are centered on the fact that there are prejudices and differences among people. So and extreme cosmological surgery happens when people turn sixteen and they are turned into someone who looks almost like everyone else. Only minor details are different. There are no races any longer, no differences in looks. The world is divided into twos. The uglies and the pretties. The uglies are those that have not gone through the surgery and the pretties are those that have. It’s to such an extreme that they even divide the two groups and keep them away from each other.

The trilogy starts with UGLIES and is focused on a young girl named Tally Youngblood. She is on the verge of her sixteenth birthday and is excited that soon she will be pretty and will be able to join her older friends in pretty town. What ends up happening is she meets a new friend named Shay and she enjoys the fact that their birthdays are right around each other and they can be best friends forever without having to wait for each other. But something is off about Shay; she is unusually unexcited for the surgery. Shay ends up running away; to somewhere she says that the surgery and being pretty is not important, they can be themselves. Tally stays behind and looks forward to her surgery. On her birthday though, instead she gets taken away and is recruited to find Shay by Special Circumstances (a government agency that deals with trouble makers) and to turn Shay and the people she ran to in to Special Circumstances. So she does it so she can get the chance to be Pretty and winds up in the camp with Shay, and David a boy who has never lived in a city where surgery is required. David and Tally fall in love, and David tells Tally a secret about the surgery. The surgery causes lesions that change a person’s personality. David’s mother, who is a surgeon, thinks she has a cure. But in order to test it she needs a consenting subject. So Tally makes a drastic decision, she decides to become Pretty even though she had changed her mind before.

Book two, PRETTIES, is what happens after Tally turns herself in. She is now pretty and so is Shay. But the bad thing is she doesn’t remember the plan, the liaisons in her head have erased all the memories of her life with David in the wild. She is your standard pretty. Enjoys parties and having fun. While at a party she meets a guy named Zane and starts to fall for him. At that same party she runs into one of her old buddies from the wild who gives her a message. With Zane, awhile later, she follows what it instructs in the letter. When they get to the end they find out that there are two pills left in an envelope for them. But time is running out, Special Circumstances has followed them and they each decide to take one of the pills. Months later, they are starting to feel some basic results from the pills and start acting out. The pills also cause them to do a giant prank that seems to have many repercussions. They decide to escape to the wild again, with a lot of the different pretties. The group runs into trouble and they all get separated, Tally ends up at a “reserve” where there is a very wild group of people (think some Indian tribes nowadays that have not progressed even to the point where we are today – people stuck in the distant past). Eventually Tally gets to the wilds and the group of people she escaped with (including David and his mother) and she finds out that Zane has gotten worse. They also find out that they’ve been tracked by a tracker in Zane’s tooth. Since Zane is too unstable to move, Tally and he stay behind. They get caught, and they are confronted by a cruelly changed Shay saying that Tally is going to be turned into a Special. An agent of Special Circumstances that has been changed to accommodate their new job.

The third book is SPECIALS and takes place after Tally has been changed to her newest form. In this book Tally has new abilities as a Special, and she also has new lesions. But even with these lesions, Tally is beginning to keep her memories and not be completely affected by them. As the story goes on, Shay and Tally once again journey into the wild to try and find David and his group again. We see Tally’s journey to discovering the world again, and herself. She runs into familiar faces and new ones. She discovers how to be herself and be special. She finds new cities that aren’t restricted by the surgery and lesions and she works to try and get her own city that way.

Review: I really like this series, but I was a little disappointed in the end of it. I like the character and how real she seemed to come out as. Tally was both naïve and haunted by her choices. She wanted to just be like everyone else but other people’s choices seemed to take that chance away from her.

The first book of the series was by far my favorite of the three. I liked how it flowed and I like the character development of it all. The second book was good as well but I kept hearing myself say “oh my god why is she doing that?” and that really pulled me away from it. By the third I really struggled to enjoy it. The ending was decent but not what I hope for.

One thing I did enjoy about this was that it was a male author writing as a female point of view. I haven’t really seen much of that. I’ve seen female doing male POV, I’ve seen male doing male POV, but from what I remember I really can’t say I have seen much of any male doing female POV. It was very well written and I didn’t seem to see any real “tainting” from the male perspective of a female life.

Rating: I think I’m going to give this series a 4 out of 5 as an average. Because of the downward spiral I felt with the end of the series and my love for the first one, I’ll only dock it one point right now.

Cara Mia Amore

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Review: Blue Bloods **Spoiler Alert**

Description: BLUE BLOODS is the first book in a paranormal young adult series by Melissa De La Cruz in which she takes a big spin on your standard vampire. Instead of being your “doomed to the night” type people, they are actually every day people with a twist. When they hit a certain age they have to start consuming human (or Red Bloods) blood. They are called Blue blood because their blood is actually blue. They are descendents of the angels cast from heaven. Instead of having immortality in the obvious sense it’s not their body that lives forever but their soul/memories/past lives. As they become blue bloods (which is an inherited possibility) they start to get access to their past lives and memories.

The story itself centers on a young girl named Schuyler Van Alen. She goes to a private school and is an outcast who is only friends with other outcasts. She discovers a blue blood and finds out that there are many different secrets in this society. The story revolves around her learning who she is and discovering that even though they should never be able to be harmed, there is something out there hunting them.

Review: Alright, here’s my problem. I hate pop culture references in books. It really seems to make books less timeless. De La Cruz uses a lot of pop reference, especially in regards to fashion (which is one of the quickest changing things in this world) as well as common fads that are currently around. I got crazily bored reading this book, which is relatively short, because I kept having to skim over these references. I understand that there are plenty of young girls out there whose lives revolve around fashion and pop culture and I understand I am not really a part of what would be her target audience, but I feel that as a writer you shouldn’t just shoot toward one audience because you never know who might pick up your book to read.

Other then that big issue that I had with it, I really did like the concept and the story. The characters are unique and enjoyable, but I didn’t find myself as drawn to them. It was definitely an original twist on a classic idea.

On thing that was unique was how the referred to historical parts of the story, though embellished, interesting period of time to refer back to.

I don’t really have much more to say on the story … it took a significant amount of time to get through it, and I made the mistake of buying the whole series before finding out if I would have liked it. I will go all the way through and review the other books. I hope they are more pleasing to me.

Rating: I will give this book 3 out 5. Was an interesting tale just not a fan of the way it was written and the things referred to in it. I will read the others and we’ll see how those go.

Cara Mia Amore

Review: Caster Chronicles **Spoiler Alert**

Hey everyone out there who reads this, just beware that there are definite spoilers in here. So don’t spoil a great read, just go get those books and enjoy them first!

 

 

Description: Currently this is a two book young adult paranormal book series, though from what I know there is going to be at least a third, if not a forth. These books are written by a pair of authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

The first book is BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and is told in the male perspective of a boy named Ethan Wate. He has very realistic dreams that not only stay as dreams but follow him to his waking moments. The dreams are always about a girl. Someone he doesn’t know but is inexplicably linked to. As school starts and they go through the year he finds out that a new girl is coming to school. Her name is Lena Duchannes and she is the niece of the town recluse. They meet and Ethan realizes that she is the girl from his dreams. As the story progresses we find out that Lena is what is known as a Caster. She has magical abilities. Not only that, but she is coming up on her sixteenth birthday, in which case she is going to have to choose between being Light and Dark (basically good or evil), but she really doesn’t get to choose, because the choice was taken away from her family in the past when a curse was set on them. The story is the progression towards her birthday and that choice.

The second book BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS takes places relatively soon after the awful happenings from the end of the first book. The story is still told from Ethan’s perspective and we follow his journey through trying to keep Lena with him after her dangerous sixteenth birthday. Lena is pulling away because she doesn’t want to hurt anyone. We meet some new characters in this novel and we learn a lot more about the Caster world. We follow Ethan as he tries to rescue Lena from herself and the dangers of some of her family. Old characters return and new characters emerge. Yet more choices are made in this novel that can make or break the relationship between the two main characters.

Review: I ate these books alive. Literally took two days for both of them to be finished, averaging about a book a day. I loved the fact that this story was told through Ethan, instead of Lena. He is so much the average boy on the verge on manhood, and he ends up being linked to a girl who is no where near average. It’s a fun experience watching him have such … normal reactions. Fear, loves, hatred, loathing, desire – all of those and more were represented through Ethan at one point or another in the story

The writing in these two books was flawless, I would have never guessed it was two separate authors writing. Garcia and Stohl seem to be very in sync with each other which is necessary when doing a dual authorship. I was nervous about these books at first because of the very fact that it has two authors. I’ve had bad experiences with multiple authors for a single story in the past – those experiences involved writing that was no where near seamless in the back and forth. I was pleasantly surprised.

I love all the characters. Even the bad guys. They are so rounded out that it makes you love and hate them all. They are very real and you get very invested in their lives. Ethan and his classic down south attitude makes me laugh, his world is filled with the War Between the States and how it continues to affect those in the Deep South. Lena is naïve and slightly broken by this curse of her family, and because of this she is more and less just like any teen trying to make it through life. Amma, who is a Seer and the house keeper at Ethan’s home, makes you laugh because she is so much a living example of old time manners and chivalry. Macon, who is Lena’s recluse of an uncle, surprises you with his strength, his love and his power. Link, who is Ethan’s best friend, keeps you laughing with his utter joy in the world, despite what is happening around him he can always crack a joke. Ripley, who is Lena’s Dark cousin, is enticing and endearing, even with her evilness. Sarafine drives you made with her selfishness and evil toward her own daughter. Pretty much any of the many rounded characters make you fall in love with them.

The story itself is a unique twist on “witches” or those with magic or supernatural powers. Each person has a type a magic that they are a specialist at, making the magic in this story more along the lines of super powers. Kind of a twist on the Heroes world but WAY better.

Rating: I give each book 5 out of 5. (Apparently I only read books that I think rock … maybe I’m not the best reviewer out there).

 

Cara Mia Amore

Review: Mortal Instruments (thus far…)

Description: The Moral Instruments series consists of, currently three books – CITY OF BONES, CITY OF ASHES AND CITY OF GLASSbut it was announced last year that there will actually be three further books – CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS, CITY OF LOST SOULS AND CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE. They are based around a group of teenagers that have to save the world. Has a bit of a paranormal twist. Characters in the books are what they call Shadowhunters (basically your standard vampire hunters pumped up) and they keep the world at peace by pushing back Downworlders (which are your standard vamps, weres, demons and other badies with magic).

The first book (CITY OF BONES) follows Clary (Clarissa Fray) finding out about herself and who she is. She meets a group of Shadowhunters (Jace Wayland, Alec Lightwood and Isabelle Lightwood) in a club while they are fighting off some demons. She enters their world and must get used to the difference between the world that she knew and the world that was hiding under her nose. Because of the cast of characters she is constantly in conflict between the world of the Mundanes (those who do not know of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders) and that of those who are Shadowhunters. Her best friend is Simon, a regular mortal and his humanity causes a constant conflict for her. The story itself follows Clary on the journey to discover what happened to her mother who has disappeared and find out what role she plays in this world she has been thrown into. The bad guy is Valentine, a man who is anti-Downworlder and is aiming to destroy them all. Including those Shadowhunters that wish to keep downworlders alive as long as they follow the rules. Through the first book, we get introduced to a lot of key characters that will continue through the story.

The second book (CITY OF ASHES) continues shortly after the end of book one. Valentine has escaped with one of the mortal instruments. The Inquisitor has arrived and is questioning Jace’s loyalties. Valentine continues to search for the remaining two mortal instruments to continue his plan in the destruction of the downworlders. Simon is getting sicker and sicker and Clary has discovered he is calling her his girlfriend. We begin to get introduced to other characters that will play big parts. There is a mysterious killer going around killing different downworlders and draining their blood. We find out that Valentine had experimented on children (including his own) and that because of that both Clary and Jace have special abilities. The story ends with a major fight at where Valentine is hiding out, leading to many people to become very hurt and/or dead.

The third installment (CITY OF GLASS) takes place around a week after the events in the second book. Our group of heroes has decided the need to get to Alicante (the city for the Shadowhunters) to continue to stop bad things from happening from Valentine. They take portals made by Magnus (and Clary) and get there. At one point Clary gets sick from ingesting some bad water. This book is a round up of a lot of information that was hidden from us in the first two books. We get a lot more information on Clary and her family and her past. We get the development of different relationships. We get introduced to new characters both bad and good. Its action packed and I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say it gets you where you need to go and very well.

According to Clare’s websites and Twitters, the next three books are going to follow the characters that are in the first three books but will follow a different story line since the other was resolved in book three. I’m looking forward to reading the next ones!

Review: I loved these books! Not only does Clare have an ability to pull you into the characters and her world, she has a way of making you have love/hate relationships with all of it.

I love being in Clary’s eyes and seeing her struggle with the realization that her world is not the one she thought it always was. She has to deal with all the hardships in the revelation of who her family is and the lies her life has been centered on for a majority of her life. It’s fun to watch her grow into the person she is destined to become. Her relationships with different characters range from “aww how sweet” to “what the hell is going on” and it’s exciting to see where they go.

Simon, who is human through a majority of the book, is an interesting character to follow. Because of his love for Clary, he is like a puppy dog on her heels, following and helping whenever he can. When he turns into a vampire, his whole life is turned upside down. Watching his relationships with the different characters fluctuate through the book is an interesting one. I really had a love hate relationship with Simon’s character and at times even feel guilty for what he goes through.

Jace is a character you have to love and you have to hate. He is your standard bad boy character that you fall in love with. He acts tough which makes it so much more endearing to see him weak and vulnerable. His tale is a hard one, his story revolves around Valentine, Clary, Lightwoods and the Waylands and it’s a very difficult journey for him. One of discovery and one of power.

Alec is a fun one as well. His is a journey of self discovery. Of learning to be himself. He must live with his decisions to be gay in a world where homosexuality is forbidden or at least look down upon. And Magnus, who is his “boyfriend” must help him learn to deal with and the possible repercussions. I love that Clare put in this story line, though homosexuality in stories for young adult is becoming, slowly, more common it still seems to have a forbidden taint to it and its fun to see how it is written.

Most of the other characters have fun journeys as well, but I think I’ll shorten this up by just saying you should read it! Clare has a wonderful talent of making you love each of the cast of characters and each of them has their own stories to tell. I was excited to here about additional books because I wanted more of it when I had first finished reading CITY OF GLASS. Now I am rereading them in preparation for the next book to come out in April.

Rating: 5 out of 5 for each book!

Cara Mia Amore

Let’s talk about Evolution …

… at least when it comes to my writing.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Poetry, short stories, novel length type stories. I can remember why I even started writing one of my stories (one that is long gone in the wasteland of computer malfunction). I was probably around the age of eleven and I had read a book about orphans that were sisters that were separated at birth. One going to a happy family and one going to a bad family – I believe it took place during World War I or possibly World War II but I honestly don’t remember much about it. All that I remember is that I was reading it in fifth or sixth grade, I think, and I had read it all of the way through quickly. The story was good but what I didn’t like was how it ended. So I decided to rewrite the story how I wanted it to be – this could be either considered fanfiction or plagiarism now a days but I didn’t even end up keeping it. I think I probably had maybe 100 pages typed of it. Then I remember that my computer died and it went bye-bye. I remember being devastated but now I just laugh.

I have always dabbled in poetry, from the moment it was introduced to me through school in elementary school or such, and it always sucked. If you want some examples go and look at the early days of this blood, I spent maybe a month posting a good portion of the bits I had written and saved through the years. That’s really all I have to say about it.

Anyways! On to the next big project of my life. This one has haunted me for my entire life. Around the age of twelve or so I had a dream about a girl who was breaking in to a house. I woke from that dream and I couldn’t stop thinking about what possible reason a girl would be breaking into a house. And well, to put it lightly, I wanted to find out. So I started letting the voices and story in my head push forward. I did the old fashioned thing of scribbling in a spiral notebook with a pencil about this story. The girl’s name was Selene. It was all I could do to get the chatter in my head to quiet down.

If you notice, that’s the name of the character I’m writing about now. Twelve years later. Let’s say that again TWELVE YEARS LATER. It’s truly an obsession. The problem about this obsession is that it follows me everywhere. I write in it constantly but I can’t seem to ever finish the story. I know many of you writers out there would say give it up, but I can’t. It’s been such a vital part of my life. Something I have never been able to tuck away for long. Even with my wedding it was something that was there at the back of my mind even when I didn’t get any true writing down. There have been breaks in the writing, there’s been times when all I can do is depressingly think about it but not get anything down but eventually I start up again.

I think one of the biggest issues with me finishing this story is that it has completely evolved from day one to now. It has gone from one story to two to three different story lines. I have ideas for them all. I know – in general – where I want each of them to go. Now all I need to do is sit down and write them. I wish I didn’t have to work. I need to win the lottery so I can stay home and do nothing but go to school and write. I wish.

But because of the fact that I feel guilty that it has taken me twelve years to write one book, one that isn’t even finished, I want to kind of walk you through the evolution of that story from where it was to where it is now:

  • It all starts with a dream. I have to write this story down because the voices from my dream are screaming at me to do so (I swear if I keep talking like this y’all are going to think I’m crazy … maybe that’s the definition of a writer) and so I stay up in the middle of the night and write it in a spiral notebook left over from school. I want to say it was summer time-ish because I don’t remember feeling worried about waking up the next day (and I have always been a crazy person for my sleep). I remember being in this teepee that we had gotten for Christmas and I used it as a clubhouse type thing in my room. I almost filled an entire notebook that first night. When I first started writing I really didn’t know the characters that well. Selene was a girl that looked different (she had stripped hair – orange and black) and she met a boy in the house she broke in to. I wrote about that night she broke in and what happened next. But something seemed to be missing from the story …
  • So we get to the next step, I figured out that Selene wasn’t just a regular girl. She had this special ability. One that allowed her to change into a tiger and she wasn’t alone in that fact. Her entire family all had the ability to change into different big cats (tigers, lions, etc.) and they were hiding amongst us lowly humans on Earth. Selene was still a thief, and she still broke into a house and met a boy named Alec. That boy was human. And I finally realized why she was breaking into his house. It was a test. The story got more and more developed (maybe even too much) and I got nearly 200 hundred pages typed up (see what I mean by too much). I also realized that the story line was switching from Selene to another character that took over, Aislynn. I realized we needed to change that.
  • The next step was the division of the story. I suddenly found myself with two stories instead of one and realized that that just made things more complicated. So Aislynn got her own stories and Selene got a revamp. This went on for quite time this way. Until I realized that Selene’s story became in some degrees a very long prologue to Aislynn. I didn’t like that. I knew that Selene had her own story to tell and I had lost her voice in the midst of Aislynn.
  • The next big change was finally listening to Selene again. I wanted to get her story back on track and in order to do that I needed to pause on Aislynn. So, I struggled with that. But like her story started with a dream, the solution for where to go with it came to me in a dream. And so her story became more involved and more detailed then it ever was. All the characters got revamped. They all got affected by the change of the story – relationships, attitudes, and the world. With this big change in Selene’s story, I really decided that the story could not possibly take place on Earth.
  • While this was all changing for Selene, Aislynn was getting a revamping of her story as well. Mostly to fix the bits of “history” of her family that got changed with Selene’s story. As I went through a deep development for Aislynn another voice began to try and get his point across. Noah. And so I got to where I am now.
  • I have three separate stories. One for each of these main characters and here is where we’ve gotten to with each of them:
    • Selene – This story is now about a magical girl who gets into a bond with a goddess to save her sister. Because of this the goddess tries to constantly torture her and bring her closer and closer to death. She is no longer a thief but she does meet a boy. This boy helps her to overcome the thrall of the goddess – who is his mother – and they fall in love.
    • Aislynn – Her story is about what happens to a young parentless girl with too much power. Her blood is so potent that her magic has become something that is outside of the normal bounds of her race. She is a thief. She steals artifacts to control her power. She meets a boy. He is like her but his family has a history with hers that could tear them apart. She is the protector of her race – or should be – along side her best friends and boyfriends. The form a prophesized group called the Elementai. They will have to save their race, and the world, from an impending war. She also meets another boy, but shhh that’s a secret.
    • Noah – He is a prophet who has run away from his family. His father did some very bad things like sell his sister. Now he is trying to find her. He ends up meeting a girl and they fall in love. But he has to introduce her to his parents and that causes issues. Haven’t gotten much time to develop his story too far but its bound to be interesting.

 

I imagine there were a few other transition point through the years, but those are the main ones that actually made a difference. As I talked about in the entry on naming people, one of the big parts that have gone along side my evolution is the changing of names. But everything seems to be falling in to place for me to finally get these done (if only I got the chance to actually write) because I am actually seeing the ending how I want them to be.

I look forward to writing again and seeing where it will go. I wonder if maybe I should think up a new idea. Maybe that would help me finish a story.

Cara Mia Amore

Review: Hex Hall Series

Description: HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins is a young adult paranormal book about supernatural characters that are sent to a boarding school for misbehaving. The school itself is called Hecate Hall and is home to fairies, witches/warlocks, weres and other shifters. There is also one vampire (who in this book is not considered on the same level as the other supernatural characters – others descend from angels while vampires are abominations formed from demons – which I would love to here more of the story of how this came to be…) and she lives at the school in more of a ‘scholarship’ role to learn her place in the world. Instead of using the standard ‘supernatural’ terminology Hawkins calls these magical characters Prodigium.

The story itself is about a girl that gets sent to the school after many bad results from spells. Sophie Mercer is fifteen years old and has been a witch for three years. She has been raised by her single mother who is non-gifted and finds out from her that her father had a secret. He was a warlocks and when she hit puberty part of her inheritance would show up in the form of magical abilities. She is sent to Hex Hall once one too many spells go wrong and when she gets there she immediately finds herself in trouble.

Sophie makes friends with the school outcast, falls in love with the wrong man, and has to defend herself against ultimate evil. The story revolves around a series of mysterious deaths that seem to have an obvious person committing them, but is shockingly not who you think it is.

The second book, DEMONGLASS, just came out on March 1st of this year. It continues the story about six months after the end of the first book. Sophie has been waiting for her father to show up so that she can go through the Removal to get her powers taken away since she doesn’t want to hurt anyone like her ancestors have done. Being a demon is something that scares her completely.

When her father finally shows up, he ends up denying her the chance for the Removal, and instead insists that she spend the summer with him in London learning what it means to be a demon and that not everything about it is disaster and destruction. Sophie reluctantly agrees to this but only of Jenna can come, and her father counters that offer with saying that she can come but only if Alexander Callahan (or Cal) can come with.

They travel to London and are taken to a secluded stretch of land that holds an ancient “house” that is gigantic. Sophie, Jenna and Cal are surprised to find out that the manor house is actually harboring the Counsel, the group of people that rule the Prodigium. There are also two other demons in residence – which is a surprise to the threesome when they arrive because they were under the impression that Sophie and her father are the only Demons alive today.

As the story progresses, more secrets are revealed, both about Sophie and her family, about Archer and his being part of the Eye, about Nick and Daisy (the resident demons) and about Sophie’s powers.

 

Review: I loved this book. I literally read it in four hours, and that included a break in the reading so I could cook dinner for the family and eat. Hawkins has a wonderful way of drawing you in to the characters and making you hope for the best even when the worst is happening.

Her characters were very realistic, even with their super powers and abilities. The supernatural element is subtly and easily put into the novel. It’s not over powering to the point that you go “blah, blah, magic, blah blah change” and skim over all the magical aspects of the piece. It was well played in the story and even when it played important roles, or back story needed to be told and explained, it was easily put in. We learned as Sophie learned. Because she was just as much of a novice as we are.

I love the mystery of it, though I had guessed a few things a long the line. But even guessing the basis of some of the conclusion there were a lot of parts that added into it, making the guess more complicated and detailed then I would have imagined. Hawkins is very good at the twists and turns!

The second book, that has just recently come out was definitely one that has supported all I have said so far about the writing of Hawkins. It is amazing and fun and you still have to love all of the characters. Even when those characters are bad. A love triangle ends up showing up in this second book between Archer, Sophie and Cal, and it was amazing how much that Hawkins made me go back and forth between both of them (but I think I’m going to be team Cal – Archer is just too much of a cocky boy for my tastes!) and we get to get more into how Jenna lives and her love life. I’m always a fan of authors who take that still daring step to add homosexuality into their books, and it makes me love the fact that the characters are so very real.

 

Rating: I imagine from the gushing review you all know what this review is. I give both books 5 stars. Mostly because its hard to do otherwise when I can sit here and say that each book only took me three hours to read each and I couldn’t put them down!

Cara Mia Amore

 

Naming my characters and my world

I know that I touched base on this when it was day three in the month long series but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the so I wanted to go into more details about it.

Like I had mentioned, naming for me is a difficult process. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about it (sometimes stressing about it) and do a lot of research. Names don’t just pop in to my head – or if they do it’s a very rare occasion. Not only that, but I change the names a lot. I’ll find one that fits, at least in my head, but as I am writing something may happen where the character changes and the name no longer so I have to go and find another one.

Let’s just say it’s a pain in the ass.

I am a fan of using name finders and baby naming sites. Especially when they have user friendly search features that allow you to search in different ways (example: by a word, by a gender, by country, by anything under the moon) and give you lists of different names to choose from. One of my favorites is Behind the Name. I think I have used that site since the beginning of my writing for ideas into names, granted I have used others as well but those have been intermittently when I can’t find what I need on BTN because it’s always my first stop with name issues.

Alright, so character names are hard for me. We get that now. What I have come to discover that is much harder is naming different things in the geography – countries, cities, landmarks, rivers, etc. are all a lot harder to work with. I mean when you use BTN, it is really hard to use a person’s name as a country. Or at least I think its silly looking. And another thing that bugs me is name generators. They always come up with weird names that, in my head, would never pass as a real name for a place. So what I have learned to do recently is make up my own. I know, I know I said that was a hard process for me. What I have been doing isn’t a hundred percent imagination, mostly what I do will grab a few names from random searches and combine them in ways that don’t normally come together. It makes for some weird names that I either keep or trash.

The one big reason I change character names is because who I am writing doesn’t fit the name that they have. Names have a connotation behind them. They leave a picture in your head. Think about someone named Bambi. I know when I read that name I think ‘stripper’ or a very blonde idiot. Granted, in life there are most likely Bambi’s that don’t strip and aren’t idiot but saying and seeing that name leaves a picture in my head. And in the heads of most people I know.

Let’s take my character Micah. And I have told his progression before in one of the thirty day entries but I want to dig deeper. A little background on my world: there are humans with no magic and there are shifters with the ability to change into certain animals. The humans do not know about the shifters. So, knowing that, when I started writing Selene’s story her love interest was human. So, I picked a random name for him: Alec. He was naïve, young, and slightly frightened by who Selene was (when he finds out). I didn’t like him, and he didn’t like himself. I didn’t want Selene to be with someone so weak-willed. So, we did a revamping of his character.

Alec became Leo. He was still human but more strong-willed. He was very vocal in his parts. Instead of being completely unaware of the world around him, his family was initiated into the magical world and had planned on initiating him as well (though when he gets forced into it he had yet to find out about it). He stayed as Leo for quite some time. I like him as Leo, I mean his name just bled strength and courage. Which he ended up needing a lot of initially, the world he was thrown into was scary and harsh to him.

What ended up happening next was that Aislynn came along. She was never going to have a very big part of the story, other then being the child of Selene and Leo. But she had a bigger voice then I ever would have imagined. When I decided to give her her own separate, individual story I realized that her father being human hindered who I was watching Aislynn become. So to make sense of Aislynn’s story, Leo became Savitar.

Savitar didn’t stay Savitar for long. Mostly because I realized that I had taken his name from a character that has similar type of abilities from another book that I had been reading at the time. Since I didn’t want him to be a carbon copy of someone else’s creation, I realized I needed to revamp his name again and he became Micah. He is no longer human and more so a demi-god. Because of this, Aislynn’s character now makes sense.

So, as you can see, the transition from one name to another has a point in my head. The connotations behind that name represent what they are on the paper for me. Many things bring a character to life, one of those is the name itself, especially since you don’t get to actually see the character.

Now when we get to name of places, things get a little trickier. Like I mentioned earlier, I have a habit of mashing them all together in different ways. Lets take a look of a few of them as an example:

  • Torrest Reyenne – This was one name that I didn’t come up with myself. I was actually trying to think up names and my husband gave me this random name. And so I stuck with it because I really couldn’t think of anything any different/better that worked for my writing. This is the name of the world in general. It may end up changing, or it may not. I haven’t come up with anything that works better in my mind, so as of now it’ll stay.
  • Calypto – Now this name is the world of the gods. This one was a pretty random as well. I was trying to write a short story on the creation of my world and the gods part in that and since they do not reside in/on Torrest Reyenne, I realized I needed a name for the world the gods lived in. This one just … popped in my head. Something that I didn’t even really have to think of. I liked and so I kept it.
  • Hycintha – This is the name of the country where the Cats mainly reside. This was a sort of melding/mixing up of words. I had found the word Hyacinth (which is a type of flower) and removed and changed some letters around. Basically removed the A and put it at the end instead of near the beginning. And so I came up with Hycintha.
  • Lolia – This name came about by come across the name Layla (which has a meaning of night – and since this is the home of the bad guys I think it fit) and me just playing with letters (you can see that it’s really no where near Layla anymore…). In which case I came up with Lolia which became the home of the Dallions.
  • Aeria – This is going to be the home of some shifters that change primarily to avian creatures (bird people). The way I came by this name is pretty simple. Aerie by definition is the home of birds – specifically birds of prey – and so I figured taking that to start with was a good place, then changed the ‘E’ at the end to a ‘A’ gave it a familiar yet different connotation.
  • Abyssinian – This is the main city of the Cat population. It is where a lot of the story takes place. Came initially from finding the word abyss (which most know means vast and profound space) and finding this name in the “similar” terms area on dictionary.com. The name Abyssinian is actually the former name of Ethiopia and I like it so I decided to use it as the name of the city for the Cats.

So, as you can see, the developments of the names I come up with really go through silly processes. Especially with names of places in my world – makes me wonder how others do it. People are just way too creative for their own good when it comes to names!

Cara Mia Amore