July 20, 2017

Writing Relationships: Couples

Writing Relationships: Couples

Everyone loves a cute couple. But how do we portray them correctly in our novels? Welcome to part three of the writing relationships series. Click these links to see part one and part two if you missed them. Today's subject is couples, so let's dive in.

And a quick note: I'm using couples in this post to refer to anyone in a relationship. Whether that's dating, engaged, or married. Just thought I'd clear that up first.

Why it's Important to Show Good Relationships

Couples in our world have many problems these days. Divorce, infidelity, sex before marriage, and more. And many of these things show up in our books and movies as well. Even worse than that, they're shown as something that's perfectly normal and all right to do. Getting a divorce is a freeing decision. Having sex with whoever you want is just fine. This is both sad and wrong.

What's sad is that even Christians aren't above these things. The divorce rate between Christians and non-Christians is really close. Lots of Christian teenagers say they don't believe in sex before marriage, but over half of them will do it anyway.

That's why we need to put good relationships between couples in our novels. To shine the light of God out into the world. Give our teenagers good examples to follow and safe books to read rather than the trash that's out there now.

With that in mind, let's move on to how we can write good relationships between various types of couples.

Dating Couples

I don't know about you, but I don't think dating is taken seriously enough these days. People drift from one person to another without really having intentions of finding someone to marry. That's why many Christians prefer to say they're courting, since it implies more serious intentions.

When you have a dating couple in your novel, make it be respectful. They should have boundaries with each other. Make them considerate to each other and not willing to drop out of the relationship for stupid reasons.

If your couple gets engaged, also take that seriously. Engagement is when you're committing to marrying someone. People shouldn't just break it off because something isn't working for them. If they want to back out so soon, maybe they shouldn't have gotten engaged.

Examples:


• Nancy and Ned from Nancy Drew. Since these books are older, Nancy and Ned have a fairly good relationship. He's always there when she needs him and willing to put up with her crime solving. Nancy makes time to be with Ned as well. (Yeah, I know this is a weird example, but it was really difficult to find a good dating or married couple in books.)


• Troy and Gabriella from High School Musical. While Troy and Gabrielle aren't the best couple, they always manage to work out their problems and stick together in the end.

Married Couples

The way we show marriage in our novels should also improve. I already discussed some of this in my post on family, like having kind, loving parents. Here I'll talk more about the relationship side of married couples.

We should try to show the Godly ideals of marriage in any book, whether it be realistic or fantasy. Couples should be true to each other and not willing to just throw their marriage away. They should listen to each other and the wife should be willing to submit to the husband.

That last one is something I think we need to see more of as well. Today, things are all about strong, independent women. Feminists are on the rise. I'm all for women being strong and capable and having equal rights as men. But I also believe that a woman should show deference to her husband.

I know not everyone has had great parents. But that doesn't mean the couples in our books can represent what we wish things were like. There is a place for bad marriages, but it should be used with caution.

Examples:


• The March sisters and their husbands from Little Women. Again, this is an older book, so it has better relationships. The girls and their husbands may be different, but they work out their problems together. (But am I the only one who always shipped Jo and Laurie?)


• Bob and Helen Parr from The Incredibles. They have always been one of my favorite movie parents. Despite the bumps in their relationship, they stick together for better or worse.

Final Word

Like I've said before, bad relationships can be used in a novel. We just have to do so with care. I suggest instead that we write healthy ones that give an example to the rest of the world. Being a couple is not something to be taken lightly, but instead a serious thing. Always remember to follow what you think God would like.

Let's talk! What do you think about writing couples? Do you have anything to add? Tell me in the comments.

July 17, 2017

My Thoughts on 2016 Movies: Part 2

My Thoughts on 2016 Movies: Part 2

You may not remember, but back in January I did a part one of this post on 2016 movies. At that time, not all the movies I wanted to watch were out, so I had to split it into two parts. Now, however, I am ready to give you my thoughts on some more movies from last year.



Passengers

Original Thoughts: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in one movie? Yes, please. It also looked like an interesting story.

Thoughts After Watching: To be honest, I was surprised. The filmmakers left one of the biggest parts of the plot out of the trailers. Yeah, you don't want to give everything away, but at least a bit of a warning would have been better. One of the best parts of this movies was actually the robot barista, played by Michael Sheen. Other than that, it was pretty good, even if the premise was a bit scary.

Recommendation: If you like survivalist movies, or sci-fi ones, this is for you. It's best for older kids, since there are some heavy themes and adult content, if you get my meaning.



The BFG

Original Thoughts: It looked absolutely magic. And since it was a book first, I had to read the book before watching it.

Thoughts After Watching: It was still magical. Spielberg did a great job creating the world of the giants. The dreams were my favorite part of the whole thing. The actress who plays Sophie was great, as the BFG himself. The second act did drag a little, however. On the whole, it was amazing, especially backed by John Williams score, which was reminiscent of Harry Potter. (Although, what happened to the gorgeous letters they used in the trailers? The ones in the movie weren't half as good.)

Recommendation: A child of any age can enjoy this movie, although younger ones might be frightened by the giants. Great for any time you want a magical movie with lots of heart. (Also, Doctor Who fans may recognize a familiar face among the cast. Hint: she's royalty.)



Pete's Dragon

Original Thoughts: I'd watched the original movie only once, so I wasn't totally sure what to think about this one. It looked good, but you can never tell by the trailers.

Thoughts After Watching: This movie was so, so sweet. The kid who played Pete was a great actor, as was the rest of the cast. Elliot was adorable and made me want to have my own dragon. The only problem with this film was the villain, who wasn't very good. And it was filmed in New Zealand, so lots of lovely scenery. (Don't forget to listen through the credits to hear Lindsey Stirling's song for the movie "Something Wild". It's beautiful.)

Recommendation: Another one anyone can enjoy. There are some sad bits, like when Pete's parents die in a car accident, and the ending, so you'll probably want tissues. A fun and whimsical movie.



Kubo and the Two Strings

Original Thoughts: My dad showed me the trailer for this one, and I thought it looked kind of interesting. I also liked the animation style, which is a form of claymation stopmotion (like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Boxtrolls.)

Thoughts After Watching: This movie was sweet, mysterious, and heartbreaking all at once. Can you say plot twists? Because this movie was full of them. It was a great adventure film with a theme of family and letting go. Kubo was a great protagonist with a good arc through the movie. It's placed in Japan, so lots of interesting culture is included.

Recommendation: This may be a kids movie, but a person of any age can take something away from this film. You'll probably want tissues for this one as well. It's a great story with some spot on humor.



Moana

Original Thoughts: It looked awesome. Another amazing Disney princess for me to adore. Oh, and Maui and a weird chicken.

Thoughts After Watching: Moana is one of my top favorite Disney princesses. There was so much I adored about this movie, I can't cover it all. The characters, the jokes, the music (done by the man, Lin Manuel-Miranda, himself), and the world. Just take my word that it is awesome and should be watched immediately. Because you know I'm the expert on these things.

Recommendation: Whether you want a strong female heroine or some awesome music, this movie will probably have something for you. Disney did another great job with Moana.



Doctor Strange

Original Thoughts: Benedict Cumberbatch is in it. That's good enough for me. Okay, I was also interested in seeing the next part of the MCU, especially their venture into other dimensions.

Thoughts After Watching: It had some problems, but on the whole, I really enjoyed it. It was fun seeing Benedict being American (and trying to catch when he slipped). The whole dimensions thing was awesome and slightly sickening. I really thought his ex-girlfriend would have a much bigger role, and then she didn't, so that was slightly disappointing.

Recommendation: A must see for Marvel fans. Or Benedict fans. It was a good movie and had lots of head spinning action. And don't forget to stick around for the two after credits scenes. It's worth it.



Star Trek Beyond

Original Thoughts: I couldn't wait. I'd see the first two movies and was looking forward to the third. The only damper on that was having Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin both die before it could come out. Oh, the feels.

Thoughts After Watching: On the personal side, I thought this was great. On the plot side, a little less so. There was a giant plot whole at the end of the third act that only accumulated in problems from there. (Watch the HISHE to see what I mean.) But other than that, it was well done. The characters continue to fight alien bad guys and stick with each other through out.

Recommendation: Star Trek fans should definitely give this one a try. It's high stakes with lots of sci-fi action.



Arrival

Original Thoughts: The trailers were quite cryptic as to what the movie was about. That was intriguing, and one of the reasons I wanted to watch this. It's not the sort of movie I would generally go for.

Thoughts After Watching: Mind-bending. That's how I'd describe this movie. It's the classic, aliens arrive on Earth and we try to communicate, but with an unusual twist. I can't say more than that without spoiling it, but be warned if you watch this, it's a bit hard to understand.

Recommendation: If you like movies that make your brain hurt trying to understand it, then you'll enjoy this one. It also had some great discussions about linguistics, if you like that sort of stuff.



La La Land

Original Thoughts: It looked just like all those old musical I love. And it had Ryan Gosling in it. So I was quite excited to finally see the film everyone had been talking about.

Thoughts After Watching: It was amazing. Once I got past the fact that it actually takes place in the modern day, I loved it. Yes, the ending was different than anyone thought, but it was a good ending. The music was one of my favorite parts of the whole thing, as was the romance between the leads.

Recommendation: If you love old musicals, you'll love this. It's not child friendly, but it has some amazing scenes and shots in it.



Rogue One

Original Thoughts: It's a Star Wars movie. Of course I'm going to watch it. 'Nuff said.

Thoughts After Watching: It was really good. And really sad, because all my fears came true, but it tied in so beautifully I wanted to cry. In fact, I watched Episode IV right after it and it was awesome how many little references there was. Anyway, it also had a solid plot and great characters. K2SO is the sassiest droid you'll ever see.

Recommendation: Star Wars fans should totally watch this. Be warned, it's a pretty sad ending. But a great addition to the Star Wars cannon.



Sing

Original Thoughts: I saw the first trailer for this and was hooked. From there, I couldn't wait to watch this movie.

Thoughts After Watching: It was just as good as I expected. The characters really were the best part of this movie, as they each had their motivations and wants and needs. There was great music, a great cast, and a great plot. The world is similar to Zootopia, but not as well built, which would be my only problem with this.

Recommendation: Although it's animated, it's a good movie for anyone to watch. If you like musicals or just want a lighthearted film, give this one a try.

That basically covers all the movies I was really excited to see in 2016. A few I still haven't watched, like Ghostbusters and Hidden Figures, but this wraps up the majority of them.

Let's talk! Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think of them? What were your favorite films of 2016? Tell me in the comments.

July 13, 2017

Writing Relationships: Friends

Writing Relationships: Friends

Friends in books and movies aren't as bad as families, but they still have their problems. That's what we'll be talking about in this post. Welcome to part two of writing relationships, which is all about writing good friendships. If you missed the first part on family, you can read it here.

Fake Friends

In novels, I notice a lot of times that people claim to be friends, but then then back-stab each other or are only friends with people for their own gain. This isn't a friend, it's a frenemy.

Fake friends hurt one another. They tear each other down. They talk behind each other's backs and steal one another's boyfriends (or girlfriends if they're boys). When we fill our books with friendships like these, no wonder we see such problems in our society. Like the saying goes- "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

False friends do have a place in fiction. Don't we all love a good betrayal by someone the hero trusted? (I'm looking at you, Hans.) Yeah, we hate the character, but it can be an excellent plot twist. Be careful not to use it just for the shock factor. False friends should be used with care.

Now for a few examples of fake friends. These examples will show you how you can properly use a false friend, which is often as a mirror for the protagonist.

Examples:


• Luke Castellan from The Lightning Thief. Luke is a great example of someone who let his bitterness twist him. He pretends to be a friend to the kids at Camp Half Blood to get what he wants, which is revenge on his godly father, Hermes.


• Hans from Frozen. I remember being in disbelief the first time I watched Frozen and learned that Hans, who was super awesome, was the bad guy. This is excellent use of the false friend. He has great motivation, plus it highlights Anna's flaw of naivety. 

Real Friends

True friends are people who are there for you when you need them most. They support you and love you. They're someone you can laugh and cry with, or tell your secrets to, because you know they would never tell. Those are the signs of a real friend.

Let's start filling our writing with more good, solid friendships. No matter if it's a best friend or just a someone you know well, we should show the world what true friends look like. Friends treat one another with respect and trust.

The world already has enough back-stabbing "friends" in it, we don't need to add more just because. A real friend can be a great asset in any sort of book, from realistic fiction to sci-fi. Give your hero someone he or she can rely on and trust.

Examples:


• The Kingdom Keepers from The Kingdom Keepers. Reason number one I love these books is because it's all about Disney. Reason number two is for the kids. At first, their group is a reluctant pairing, but as the books go along, they become great friends. They're always supporting each other, laughing together, and letting each other shine.


• Mia and Lily from The Princess Diaries. These two are the best of friends. They can tell each other anything. When they fight, they make up, and they're always there for each other (Lily has some of the best lines in the film when defending Mia). Both are weird and neither of them care. They are an amazing friend pair.

Deciding on Friends

When writing a novel, your protagonist will probably be friends with people. It's up to you to decided what sorts of people and why you chose them. Most of the time, you'll probably pick to fill your novel with good friends. Excellent choice.

But there are times as well you may wish to use a false friend. Be careful when choosing that and make sure to show them the right way. Maybe they were nice at first, but don't let readers love them even after they betray the hero. Show what the real consequences are of hurting someone. Hint: it's not we all become friends afterwords and everything goes back the way it was.

And don't forget to add different levels of friends. We all have best friends, good friends, and friends that we only see once in a while. Or those people that are above acquaintance but not quite a friend either. Try to have a variety of friends in your novel, if you can. If not, at least make sure your protagonist has one or more good friends.

A word on Cliques

YA novels are often full of cliques as well. If you're thinking of using one in your novel, think carefully about why. Is it to show how bad they are? Then go ahead and do so. But if it's because you think it's cool and trendy, maybe you should rethink.

Most of the time, cliques are groups of people who only care about being popular and like having the power to exclude others. Maybe there are good cliques out there, but I've never heard of one.

Instead, why not have big groups of friends that are open to making new friends. That's what it's like at my church. There's a large group of girls all around the same age, and we do our best to be friendly, helpful, and open to new people. Try adding something like that to your novel and see what happens.

Final Thoughts

I know not every novel can feature friendships. But if you take away one thing from this post, it's that we should strive to show healthy friendships in our writing. Whether your character is making new friends or hanging out with old ones, try to writing friendships that you would want to see.

Let's talk! What examples of bad friendships can you think of? What about good ones? What are your thoughts on the types of friendships we should portray? Tell me in the comments.

July 12, 2017

The Dual Character Inquisition Tag

The Dual Character Inquisition Tag

Today I'm participating in the Dual Character Inquisition Tag. Victoria from Wanderer's Pen tagged me in this, and I'm quite excited to do it.

It's a fairly simple tag. 1) Pick two characters. 2) Include a picture of each of them. 3) Answer the ten questions. 4) Tag three or more bloggers.

Today I'm picking Hana from The Girl with the Sword (one of my favorite characters that I've ever written) and Elle from Goggles, Corsets, and Cyborgs, mostly because I have drawings of them. I really need to do some more of my other characters, as a side note. Anyway, on to the tag.

Hana in her superhero outfit


Elle

1. Who inspired this character?

Hana: A person didn't inspire her, it was actually her story. She's from my first NaNoWriMo novel, and to come up with an idea, I pulled some ideas out of a hat. I ended up with a sword, ninjas, and a superhero and had a thought of "what if a girl is on a trip to Japan, and finds a sword that gives her superpowers?". Hana grew out of that.

Elle: Elle wasn't so much inspired by a person, more like an idea. The idea of a socialite young woman who wanted to be something that everyone says she can't. From there, the story evolved into a steampunk novel with a mystery, and Elle came with it.

2. What is their weapon of choice?

Hana: Her sword, Otachi. The sword is a Japanese katana made long ago as a weapon to bring justice. It's the source of her superpowers and she loves it.

Elle: Probably an invention she made herself. She's an inventor and loves making new gadgets.

3. Have they ever been physically violent with someone else? What instigated it?

Hana: She's a superhero, so yeah. In Japan, where she was trained, she fought some people called Ninjas that wanted to take the sword from her. Back in the States, she's fought bad guys, including the Arachnid. She only fights people in pursuit of right.

Elle: The only person she's been physically violent to is Whitlock, and that was started because he was trying to blow up half of England. Other than that, she'd prefer to solve her problems with brains, not brawn.

4. Are they more of a rule-follower or a rebel?

Hana: She's a rule-follower, unless need arises to do otherwise.

Elle: Elle is a rebel. That's the whole point of the novel. Society tells her to be one thing, but she wants to be something else.

5. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Hana: Completely shy and quiet. She didn't like to talk much or hang out with other kids. She was the girl who was always sitting by herself because she prefers it that way.

Elle: She was probably a bit of a wild child. She didn't like to sit still and learn womanly arts like other girls. Elle would rather play outside or tinker with some spare parts.

6. Where would they go to relax and think?

Hana: A treehouse she and her friend built at a local park. It's hidden high in the branches of tree and has seats and everything. That's where she goes when she needs to think without being disturbed.

Elle: Probably her work shed out in the garden. It used to be a gardening shed until they built a new one. That's where she can be herself most freely.

7. Do they have a temper?

Hana: Only when highly provoked. Most of the time she's a more soft-spoken person.

Elle: I'd say probably. Things get on her nerves easily, especially when they aren't that important.

8. Would they be more likely to face their fears or run from them?

Hana: This one is tricky for her. Over the course of the novel, she has a major change in her perception of the world. Before she gets her superpowers, I'd definitely say she'd run from them, but afterwards, I think she'd be scared, but willing to face them.

Elle: She'd face them with her head held high and a defiant gleam in her eye. She doesn't want any fear to kick her butt, no matter what it is.

9. When they are upset, do they turn to other people or isolate themselves?

Hana: She would probably want to be alone for a while, and then turn to someone. Either her brother, her parents, or her best friend.

Elle: Elle isolates herself until someone pries her problems out of her. She also likes to write in her diary when she's upset.

10. Say 3 things about where your character lives (as broad or specific as you like).

Hana: She lives in a part of LA called Cerritos. Her school is called Breezewood Academy (a fictional school, by the way) and her dad is an eight grade math teacher there. She lives on a cul-de-sac.

Elle: She lives in a rich neighborhood just outside London. There are lots of machines, like personal air purifiers and robot butlers. Her friend Lydia owns a corset and hat shop in downtown London.

Those are the questions. As for tagging, I tag:

Melissa@Quill Pen Writer
Jeneca@Jeneca Writes
Catherine@The Rebelling Muse
Or anyone else who might want to join!

Let's talk! Do you have a favorite character you've written? What are your answers to some of these questions? Tell me in the comments.

July 10, 2017

How to Write A Simple Book Review in 8 Steps

How to Write A Simple Book Review in 8 Steps

Writing a book review can be hard. There are so many elements that go into a book, it can hard to figure out what to talk about. The plot? The theme? Characters? Writing style? If you struggle with writing a book review for Goodreads, your blog, or anywhere else, this post is for you.

I'm going to show you how to write a simple book review that you can use anywhere. Once you get more comfortable writing reviews, you can start adding your own flair to them and try mixing up how you do it. All the things I say here can be used as you need. Whether that's one tip or the whole post, my goal is to help you write a good review. I'll be mostly focusing on writing on for Goodreads, but these tips can be applied to other things, like blog posts, as well.

Step 1: Read the book

It's pretty impossible to write a book review without reading the book first. (Unless you've got some sort of book reading powers that can just zap the whole thing into your brain.)

Step 2: Decide how long you want your review

Some people write giant reviews of books. Others write a single sentence summing up their thoughts. Length is all up to you. However, if you're new to writing book reviews, I'd suggest starting with somewhere between one to three paragraphs.

My reviews vary, depending on the book. If it's a children's book, especially a very easy one, I'll probably only write about a paragraph. But for MG, YA, and other such books, I try for something a bit longer, between 2-4 paragraphs.

Step 3: Start thinking about what you want to say

It helps me to start brainstorming what I'm going to say in my review before I write it. In fact, I start thinking of what I might say as I'm reading the book. If you do that, however, make sure to keep an open mind, as previous thoughts can change as you go along.

Take a minute to think about what you liked and didn't like in the book. What caught your attention? What surprised you? How was the plot, the characters? Also think if you're going to include spoilers. (On Goodreads, you can choose to hide the entire review because of spoilers, a handy feature. On a blog, you'll have to come up with a different method.)

Step 4: Write an opening paragraph

I find it helpful, and fun, to write an opening paragraph for my reviews. This sort of introduces what I thought and my rating, if it includes a half star that Goodreads doesn't have.

This can be a fun exercise as well, as I try to make it interesting but not say too much about my thoughts, which I'll talk about later in the review. The trickiest part is coming up with a great opening sentence. If you're new to this, don't worry about that so much. Just work on writing a workable opening.

Step 5: Choose what to talk about

I read this tip from Paper Fury and found it extremely helpful. She advises picking three things to focus on in your review. Plot, characters, and worldbuilding are a good three to pick. You could also pick things like prose, theme, or descriptions. Pick what three you'd like to talk about for the book you're reviewing and stick to them. If you have something to say outside that, don't be afraid to add it.

Step 6: Write the review

There are two ways you could write your review. You could divide it into sections depending on what you're talking about (like one paragraph for plot, another for characters, and so on), or you can have things you like in one section, things you didn't in another. I tend to do the second, but the first is perfectly fine too. That's what I use for reviews on my blog.

Sections-

If you decide to use the sectional approach, pick an order for your subjects to go in. Then you basically talk about what you did and didn't like about each subject.

Likes and Dislikes-

If you choose likes and dislikes, you can either divide them into separate paragraphs, or make bullet point lists of each. Both are excellent choices and I've done both. Bullet points are probably best for beginners, however. Once you've picked that, simply write what you did and didn't like about the book in each part.

Step 7: Close the review

Lastly, it's nice if you write a closing paragraph that sums up what you said in your review. Think of it a bit like a school paper. Opener that catches your attention, middle section with all the actual information, and closing paragraph that recaps everything. Your final part doesn't have to be fancy or anything, just say whether you did or didn't like the book.

Step 8: Publish your review

Congratulations, you've written a book review! Check it over for spelling and grammar mistakes, then press that lovely little publish button. Or, if you're on Goodreads, save review. And you're done.

Tips

• Remember K.I.S.S. Keep it simple silly (or stupid, depending on who you're talking to). If you're feeling overwhelmed, just write a few sentences and leave it at that.

• Don't worry if it's not great. You'll only improve with practice.

• Add a bit of you to it. Try to infuse some of your personality to your reviews. If you're funny, use that. If you prefer to be serious, go ahead. Give your reviews some sparkle.

• And remember, it's your review. Do it your way. Everyone views books differently, and it's okay if you liked something other people didn't, or vise versa.

Let's talk! Do you like writing book review? Do you have any tips or tricks? Tell me in the comments.

July 6, 2017

Writing Relationships: Families

Writing Relationships: Families

Welcome to my first post on writing relationships. This is sort of a follow-up to my post on rebellious writing. By writing relationships, I don't mean relationships between a writer and their writing or something. I'm talking about the relationships we find in writing.

Too often in novels and movies, people make these horrible relationships between people. Whether they know the person or not, they don't have people treat one another well. The relationships are unkind, thoughtless, or not even there. This series is going to talk about how to write good, healthy relationships. There will be four parts- families, friends, couples, and other people (all those other relationships we don't think about a lot). Let's get into this first post on families.

Parents

Quick, tell me of a good set of parents, who are both alive, around, and care about their child, in a young adult novel. Let me guess, you're having a hard time finding one. We all know about the parents of YA literature. They're either not there, don't care, one's dead or gone, or both totally disappear from the plot.

This needs to change. I understand in books when characters go on a quest, they can't exactly bring their parents along. But we can do much better than what is currently around. It's time to start writing real parents.

Most parents I know are very loving, caring people that are interested in what their kids are in. They enjoy spending time with their kids and are fairly soft spoken. They actually discipline their kids when they need it. These are things you don't see most parents in novels doing.

Don't have parents in your novel be jerks. They are people too. Draw inspiration from the parents you know to write good ones for your novel. Have your parents be both around and alive, and actually care about what their child does.

Examples:


• Sally Jackson from The Lightning Thief. Even though she is a single mom, she is one of the better parents I can think of in a book. She's exactly what a mom would be like if they found out their kid was a demigod and fighting monsters.


• Tui and Sina from Moana. Moana is one of the few Disney princess that actually has two living parents. Her father is trying to protect her from the harm that came to him when he was younger, which is why he's so hard on her. He's also trying to teach her to be the chief she will need to become one day. Her mother, however, is one of my favorite moms in movies. Sina tells her about what happened to Tui. She catches Moana leaving, but doesn't stop her. Instead she helps her pack her bag. That is a good parent.

Children

Kids in YA are almost as bad as the parents. They always seem to be lying, disobeying, and generally disrespecting their parents as well as other people. I know that this is unfortunately common these days, but that doesn't mean we can't show the world a better example through our writing.

We need to write better relationships between children and parents. YA novels are full of the cliche "my parents don't understand me, so I won't tell them anything" thing. Instead of that, how about we show respectful kids that act kindly towards the people around them?

Children, no matter how old they are, should always be obedient to their parents. They should listen to the people around them. Let's start writing better parent-child relationships, shall we?

Examples:


• The Coopers from The Cooper Kids Adventure Series. This is a Christian series, so these books have a great parent-child relationship. The kids travel around with their father, who they love and obey. (Check out this series if you want some awesome Christian thrillers.)


• The Cortez family from Spy Kids. This is one of my favorite families from a film series, even if it is a bit cheesy. The Cortez's are always working together and have a pretty good relationship between parents and kids. That was only changed in number four, which was still pretty good.

Siblings

Have you noticed how terrible the relationships between siblings are in books these days? They're always being mean, calling each other names, and hurting one another. Yeah, siblings fight. That's a part of being a sibling. But I find in literature they are so much worse than what I've seen.

Instead, why don't we write real siblings, that are there for each other and actually get along at least 50% of time? We need to show families that lift each other up instead of tearing one another down. Siblings can be some of the best friends a person has.

I know not everyone has great siblings. We aren't all blessed with great families. However, we can make an example again with our literature and show how families and siblings are supposed to be.

Examples:


• The Pevensies from The Chronicles of Narnia. One of my all time favorite families from literature. These four children are there for each other through it all, whether that be bombings or finding a magical land. They fight, but they also make-up, and come together despite everything.


• The Beardsley and North kids from Yours, Mine, and Ours. Okay, maybe these aren't the best families, but I love the relationships of the siblings from each one. They are willing to do all sorts of things to stay together. The ending, however, is the best part. When the kids realize they want to be one big family, and start showing it by helping each other with their unique talents. They're awesome when they work together.

Extended Family

Have you ever noticed how little extended family is brought into YA literature? Unless it's the grandparents, they're either not there or not liked. Why don't we see more cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews in books?

Once again, I know we all have extended family that might not be the greatest. But why is it that they don't come into fiction except to be weird or annoying? Or why are all our grandparents kind of boring? We need to show more authentic relationships between our families.

In my family, we see our one set of grandparents quite often. The other set is gone, but when they were alive, we would see them all the time too. I have pretty good relationships with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Family should be there for each other as much in fiction as they are in real life.

Examples:


• Bilbo and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo takes in Frodo after his parents die, and I think he's one of the best uncles in literature. He's fun, he lets Frodo explore and have adventures, plus has some secrets of his own. The two of them are quite close, which is lovely.


• Gramma Tala from Moana. I think she's like the best grandmother ever. She helps Moana follow her heart, while also reminding her to listen to her father. She's crazy (that's her job), a beautiful dancer, and is always there for her granddaughter.

Suggestions

For parents. . . Why not make it a full family adventure? Bring the parents along and see what it adds to the story. Or have the parents be fully in support of what the kid is doing over the course of the book and helping them? Think of ways you can improve the roll of the parents in your novels.

For children. . . No matter if they're a teenager or not, they should be respectful to their authorities. Try having a girl that has a night with her mom once a week where she tells her everything. Or a boy who tells his dad he has magic powers. There are so many ways we can improve the parent child relationships in our books.

For siblings. . . We need more Pevensies. Why not have a book where all the kids get caught up in the adventure and have to defend each other? I would personally love to see more fantasy and sci-fi novels where quests or adventures are taken on by families or siblings.

For extended family. . . Why don't we have cooler grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? What about a cousin filled mystery or grandparents that train their grandchildren how to use their powers? Think of ways we can use more of these relations in our books as well.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Come back next Thursday for part two on friends.

Let's talk! What do you think about family relationships in YA novels? Do you agree with my points? What examples can you add? Tell me in the comments.

July 3, 2017

Book of the Month: Alex and Eliza

Book of the Month: Alex and Eliza

Alex and Eliza
by Melissa de la Cruz

Blurb: Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

Cover Review: Beautiful. It's simply designed, but obviously inspired by the Hamilton logo. The cover actually looks like it's made of brocade, which I thought was a great touch. So overall, gorgeous.

My Thoughts


First, allow me to say that I was over the moon when I heard about this book. I love Hamilton, so a Hamilton inspired book sounded amazing. I'm not normally a romance reader, but this book was an exception.

Me when I found out about this book
One thing you should know before I go on. This is not a retelling of Hamilton, the musical. It is an imagined story about Alex and Eliza's love story. I noticed lots of people on Goodreads were disappointed by this, so I thought I'd mention that now. Also, warning, this post will probably be full of Hamilton references.

Plot: The story timeline is a few years long, but most of the story takes place at the ball where the first meet, and the winter of 1779-1780. I thought it moved along nicely. The romance evolved beautifully and everything was just great.

One of my favorite things, however, was how clean it was. There was minimal cursing, since they didn't do that as much back then. Also, even though Alex and Eliza marry at the end, we don't get a sex scene. Eliza has a lewd suitor who forces himself on her, but Alex shows up before anything can happen. It was pretty clean overall.

Characters: I loved every character in this book (except Eliza's nasty suitor, but you're not supposed to like him). The banter between the main characters was witty and their personalities great. I especially liked that Eliza wasn't helpless, but a strong, independent woman. Her sisters, Angelica and Peggy, were also great.

World: I think Melissa did a good job writing in the time period of the story. I felt like I had stepped back in time to the Revolution. Her prose was also beautiful. She got to use words we don't get to any more, which helps to take you into the time period.

Other: This was just a great piece of historical fiction. I loved it. If you're anything like me, you'll want to listen to Hamilton while or after reading this book. To sum it up, I was quite satisfied with this book. You'll be back to read this one again and again. I read through it non-stop. Melissa didn't throw away her shot with this one. (Okay, I'll stop with the Hamilton references now. Probably.)

My Rating:







Let's talk! Have you read Alex and Eliza? What did you think? Tell me in the comments.