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A Belated Valentines To My Fangirls (and Boys): Book Crush Time!

Book Crush.

I recently discovered the term for this hormone-induced phenomenon thanks to a perfectly-timed article from The Huffington Post. I’ve linked the original post below, but it inspired my own ideas as to what a Book Crush really is. Unlike, the movie or tv show crushes that most fan girls experience, books are delectably intimate and communal. One fangirl can have a personal experience of her book crush without ruining the collective enjoyment of her friends about the very same character. It is one of the most fabulous and devious feelings in the world.
Naturally, I had to make a list of my own. I focused mainly on the fantasy and sci-fi books that have stood out for me and I didn’t separate for gender because sometimes you can’t help who your crush is—male/female, human/non-human, good/evil. Sometimes, a girl just needs to love her books.

Without further ado, I give you my list of Book Crushes because the Huffington Post list seemed to miss some of the most stellar examples in the book world today. P.S. these are in alphabetical order based on the book title or series title and there may be more than one if it’s a series.

11/22/63 by Stephen King- Jake Epping Although most people think of King’s MC’s as twisted or murderous, Jake is the exception to the rule. He is devoted, compassionate, and brave. Literally, the embodiment of chivalry, and he chooses to leave his life behind and change the world by saving one of the best U.S. presidents—JFK. I drooled for half the book at how easily he took care of a woman so damaged by her previous marriage she was afraid of going to sleep next to a man. If one man could heal a woman’s broken heart, it was Jake. Out of all of my book crushes, he’s the one I could easily marry and give children.

A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin-Daenerys Targaryen/Tyrion Lannister-Mother of Dragons. Daenerys is by far the most interesting and fluid character in the entire series. That paired with a beautiful actress, who portrays her in the tv show flawlessly makes her a crush worthy character.

Plus—DRAGONS! She birthed dragons from the ashes of her beloved Drogo. So many fangirl love for Daenerys Targaryen called Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Dothraki, Trueborn Queen of the Andals, Rhoynar, and the First Men, and Lady of the Seven Kingdoms.

My runner up for book crush is Tyrion Lannister, Imp of Westeros. I would skip through most of the books (and have) just to read what happens to the Imp and what trouble he gets himself into. He may appear to be comedic relief in scenes, but I get all squirmy inside when I get to a Tyrion chapter or see Peter Dinklage on screen. I mean he’s one of the few honest and mostly good-hearted characters in the entire series. Look at the way he cares for Sansa. It’s just too bad that Martin doesn’t use two of his best characters more often.

Black Jewel Series by Anne Bishop- Jaenelle(Witch/Dreams Made Flesh)/Lucivar and Daemon-Besides the fact that this series is quickly becoming my most favorite fantasy of all time, Jaenelle or Witch is dreams made flesh for any avid fangirl. Even though she’s an 11-year-old, I became captivated with the presence Jaenelle brought to the page. If there is one person that I love as much as the other characters love—it’s Witch. The only relatable comparison that I can make is Harry Potter with a throne and 500% more power. But in reality, I love Jaenelle more than I’ve ever loved a singular character. She is fierce, dark, innocent, compassionate, animal lover, frustrated child, and one with the land. Gah! I can’t talk enough about her.

The very close runners up are the brother duo—Lucivar and Daemon. Now as bad as it would sound to have crushes on two pleasure slaves, there is a reason for my undying fangirl love. While they are powerful characters and warlord princes in their own right, they have an undying, unwavering love for Witch even before they meet her. No matter how much pain women have put them through, Lucivar and Daemon love Jaenelle with everything they have. How can I say no to that? And they happen to be the most fantastically sexy men in my mind.

Example: Charlie Hunnam as Lucivar (sans wings) and Aidan Turner as Daemon.

Example: Charlie Hunnam as Lucivar (sans wings) and Aidan Turner as Daemon.

Before I die of excitement, go buy Daughter of the Blood and fall in love with them too!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-Guy Montag-Although the reader gets very little description about him, he automatically enraptures the reader will his willingness to question what he has “known” all his life and in the end chooses knowledge over living just on what he’s been told. He may not have the brains of a professor, but the heart of the every man lives in Montag, and I would be hard pressed to find a book worm who wouldn’t swoon for a guy willing to leave a society that burns books. Could you resist?

Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne-Atticus O’Sullivan-What do you get when you add 2,000+ years of Druid training, mad fighting/magic skills, nerdy quips, and tattoos? The hottest MC on every plane of existence. Atticus (Siodhachan O Suileabhain) is the last Druid alive, and like every fan girl who has discovered him—I am in love. He is witty (partakes in Shakespearian insult battles with vampires), knowledgeable (has the secret to stop aging from ancient Celtic god/has plethora of geeky facts), and sufficiently ripped from all the demons and gods he’s slain to stay alive. Did I mention he taught his dog how to speak telepathically? Or how about his ability to keep a professional relationship, through five books, with his gorgeous apprentice before finally giving the fan girls what they want—BOW CHICKA WOW WOW! I leave you to scour the interwebs to get your Atticus fandom on, but not before I share one of many fabulous quotes:

“Druid log July 15: Dark elves are not only quick and efficient killers, but creative and pyrotechnically inclined ones.”
— Kevin Hearne (Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #5))

Mortal Instruments Series-Magnus Bane-This crush was a hard decision, but instead of going with Jace (the typical choice) I decided to pick character I crush on regardless of if he likes boys. Magnus Bane! Again I state how can I not love him. He has panache, power, and the knowledge to make him a formidable opponent. Ignoring the actor who was chosen for the movie, I always imagined a type of Adam Lambert/Freddy Mercury look for Magnus, and I gobbled scenes with Magnus (and Alex) like candy. It made the cliched scenes with Clary a little more bearable.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory MaGuire-Elphaba-One of the greatest stories ever written was The Wizard of Oz, and then came Gregory MaGuire with his dark, sexual prequel that highlights what life in Oz is like before Dorothy comes bumbling along. I, for one, have to admit that although I love Jaenelle, Elphaba will always be my favorite witch. Cursed with green skin, the universe was bound to hand her the worst of life, but every page of this book just makes me adore her. She is the misfit I see in myself—the one that just doesn’t belong. And yet she manages a functioning friendship (several) throughout college before the corruption of society turns her against the world. I get goosebumps just thinking about how even at the end, Elphaba still gains the love of the Prince Charming a.k.a. Fiyero. The misfit can get the guy and the awesome magic power. Fangasm!

The Eyre Affair– Rochester-Let me preface this entry with the fact that I haven’t actually read Jane Eyre (on my list), but this science fiction novel gives me hope that it’s a classic well worth the read. He’s not only the gorgeous male lead in one book, but in TWO! Rochester manages to save the day for the main character, Thursday Next, who would have otherwise let a mass-murderer/lunatic run free through all of literature. He is sweet, gentlemanly, and always conscious of how much he loves Jane. Love, love love!

Weather Warden Series-David-My final, and probably most exotic book crush is a Djinn. Ancient, beautiful, fearsome creature that just happens to be pretty hunky. Did I mention the exceedingly limitless supernatural power with centuries of experience. I honestly don’t know if I have a normal expectation for men after David. He’s protective without crossing too many boundaries for a magical creature. Meaning, he’s not Edward Cullen status, but you don’t mind him being a little clingy, and he lets his main squeeze, Jo, take the reigns when she needs to. I could drone on about how he blossoms as a character over the nine book series, but I will let you find out.
Honorable mentions:
Blood Price by Tanya Huff-Henry Fitzroy-Vampire, graphic novelist, badass!

Faerie Tales by Fiona Skye-David Lo-Chinese version of a gollum only hotter and a great shot. Yes, I’ll have me one of him to take home. Plus he does dishes.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling-Draco Malfoy-Because he’s a complex, torn character and Tom Felton is hot.

Hollow Series by Kim Harrison-Kisten Phelps-gorgeous, blonde vampire with a complicated history.

Iron Druid Series-Granuaile-foxy redhead and newly made Druid. She can keep up with a 2,000-year-old Druid and his talking dog. She’s awesome!
All in all, I was throughly pleased with my choices, and the fun time I had writing this up. It’s just a shame I can’t poof all of  my enjoyable memories into your heads, dear readers, so that you could enjoy it with me. So, get reading! Pretty please? I do hate the feeling that you’ve found truly phenomenal characters with no one to share it with.

Who are your book crushes? Do you see any that should be on here? Please share. Happy Reading and Writing!

Also….Kitty picture!

Since it's Thursday, thought I'd throw in a Throwback Thursday photo

Since it’s Thursday, thought I’d throw in a Throwback Thursday photo

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Not So Trivial Pursuit of the Perfect Book: Pop Culture Edition

Hello, my minions!

I mean lovely blog readers and internet surfers!

I mean lovely blog readers and internet surfers!

Welcome one and all to the first ever edition of Not So Trivial Pursuit, a series of blog posts dedicated to the finer points in making a novel truly loved by its readers. Anything from what I’m struggling with in my current work in progress to what excites me about my favorite series.

The further I get into Dollhouse Daughter, the more I discover the complications of writing a novel set in modern day United States. While the novel began with an even more complicated setting (Revolutionary War era London), the ultimate debate dawned on me:

TO POP CULTURE OR NOT TO POP CULTURE

That is the question, so to speak. It may be an issue for the rewriting/editing process, but in the midst of my creative flow the question kept popping up. Is a pop culture reference a good choice here? Will readers understand  or even care that the yellow umbrella  in chapter 3 is a vague reference to How I Met Your Mother?

Some of the best novels that I’ve read over the years have used pop culture both to enhance the novel and add a distinction to the characters. One of the most recent examples is The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare, where the “mundanes” use pop culture references that characterize the Mundanes and Shadowhunters as two groups of young adults coming from different worlds. It makes it easy to distinguish the characters with the use of pop culture, and it sometimes gives insight into the author.

While I can’t say much for Cassandra Clare’s love of pop culture, I know the author of one of my favorite series brings pop culture in from his own life. Kevin Hearne is a self-titled comic book collector and nerd, which makes him one of the most qualified authors to use pop culture in his writing. His book series, The Iron Druid Chronicles, is graciously populated with so many pop culture references that in any other setting it may be overwhelming. However, Hearne uses them in a purposeful and entertaining way.

Atticus O’ Sullivan is the 2100-year-old Druid that the series is based on and he has had plenty of time to acquire the knowledge of popular culture during his stay in the United States. From The Big Lebowski to Shakespearean insults, Hearne holds nothing back, and as a fan girl I appreciate his efforts. I have tried to space out my reading of the reading; well, space it out as well as my paltry willpower goes.

At the same time, Hearne is the prime example of how pop culture can add layers to a character. Atticus is 2,00o years old, and to conceal his identity he must blend in with the times. In this case, he must blend in with the nerdy subculture most 20-something’s hold near and dear to our hearts. It also makes it easy for us, as readers, to dive into a story rich with mythology and Celtic lore.

So, for my novel, I thought that it would help my readers to get to know me as a person as well as my characters. Cassie, my MC, is a Japanophile (new word, learned while watching King of the Nerds on TBS). In other words, she loves all things Japanese or about Japan. This ranges from anime, manga, food, and even an unhealthy obsession with Hello Kitty. It’s something a general audience is familiar with and the sub-culture can relate.

Although there is a heart-wrenching fear whenever I think of how badly this whole pop culture reference thing could go, I think of one of my newest and most favorite authors. Fiona Skye is a rising star in a sea of urban fantasy. Her novel, Faerie Tales, follows a modern day exhibition of the magical world to humanity. Skye’s MC, Riley O’ Rourke is a fierce, in-the-know reporter, who just happens to be a werejaguar. Skye and Riley are the perfect example of a blossoming author using pop culture references to reinforce the strength of her characters and the intelligence of her audience.

I caught on fairly quickly with Skye’s light use of pop culture. It was just enough for me to get Riley (who is from Pittsburgh, so I felt especially close to her when she mentioned the Penguins) and the world in which she was living.

Ultimately, it was the help of Skye’s recently published book that convinced me pop culture was the best option for my novel. It doesn’t have to scream 2011 with the top 40 hits and the latest model of cell phone used, but I do think that my readers will benefit from the little easter eggs. I mean, who doesn’t want to get a line from Doctor Who in the middle of the book they’re reading. I know the geek inside me does!

So, we’ve established that using pop culture can be both beneficial and potentially hazardous if used too much or without purpose. I think I can place references in there, like the yellow umbrella, without it ruining the entire piece. It makes sense that someone who is immersed in the geek culture would transfer that love into their work. Why else would authors like George R.R. Martin be selling millions of books if his love of Tolkein didn’t show through his writing?

I don’t have to commit to everything or nothing right now. It’s not the “revise until my brain falls out phase” of editing or the part where I change out the crappy words in my book for much better choices. Right now it’s just establishing who I am as an author and how that voice should show through in my writing.

At this moment, the trivial use of pop culture is important to how I weave my story because without it, I lose the fundamental quirks that make my characters and my world different from the hundreds of books being published as we speak. In that sense, this could be a life changing decision for me and my manuscript.

For those of you writers out there with a setting of Earth, modern times, what do you think about pop culture references. Important or Trivial? A lot or A little?
I would love to hear what you think, so please comment below. Of course, that is after you check out my cute kitty pictures.

Who doesn't love a kitty reading a book!

Who doesn’t love a kitty reading a book!

Had enough of my super cute cat yet?

Had enough of my super cute cat yet?

Happy Reading and Writing!

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