What's the Best Way to Read Series? Together or Apart?

Series. Often, we love them; sometimes, we hate them (although let's be honest - they're still books. We mostly love them) and we ALWAYS hate having to wait for the next one to come out. 

Or, at least, I do. You wouldn't expect anything else from Miss What-Even-Is-Patience.
So, is it better to wait until you can hoard them ALL, and read the whole mega-story together? Once you start, you don't have to wait for anything. No cover reveals teasing you, because you already have them all (bought at the same time, so they match perfectly and everything). No gnashing your teeth because the ARCs have all been given out already, so you actually have to wait for release date. Sure, you hung back at first, but that was easier because you hadn't started yet. There's a difference between waiting on an interesting premise and waiting on a story that's already fused into a part of your soul.

The problem with this theory - which is very good, in theory - is that it's unrealistic. You might be willing to hold out for two to three years on that premise by yourself, but you also live in a connective world of book maniacs who are going to be squawking about that series all over social media. They'll want to talk to you about it . . . and then you'll have to be the party-crasher who's "waiting for the whole series to come out". Wouldn't you rather have one book now then have to wait three times as long for three?
Maybe. Maybe not.

What's annoying about reading books that far apart is that you forget details. Sometimes very big ones. (Sometimes whole characters, but that was one time and I'm just going to gloss over it.) This isn't just frustrating: it can also hamper your enjoyment of a perfectly good book because you can't quite recall how it all fits together. If you're a reviewer, that could change your opinion quite drastically (although obviously, it's still your opinion. Don't be afraid to write it.) Reading together, there's no gap with which to gamble on your memory.

When you eliminate the forgetting issue, however, it could be argued that you're robbing yourself - like the rotten thief you are - of the anticipation. No midnight book signings. No sneaking into bookshops to see if your baby has managed to worm onto the shelves a few days early. Where's the excitement? And isn't that torturous wait kind of delicious at the same time? Not to mention the fact that, however you slice it, it's not like having to re-read books to remember every detail is a bad thing. It just means more reading!

Gee, it's not like these arguments go in circles or anything, is it? I find that my opinion can completely flip depending on what angle I look at this issue from, which I guess makes my advice difficult to take.

Of course, you should still at least listen to it because I will one day be your overlord. Not doing so wouldn't end well for you.

I honestly think that, if I could, I would read all series together. It's just easier for me because of the whole memory thing, and the waiting really is easier if you can promise yourself all three at once. That said, since I became part of the blogosphere (and joined the howling book-newsfeed that is Twitter) I've been reading a lot more trilogies as they come out just because it's more realistic if you want to have conversations with other book people.
I guess it's also a little dependant on the kind of series: if each book leads directly on from the last, or does a lot of important but subtle foreshadowing, then you can get a lot of benefit from reading together, but if they have different POV characters or big timeline gaps in between or something similar, then the convenience of experiencing them apart might come into play more.

Ah. Just realised that I might have accidentally sounded a little serious during that post. Normal service will be resumed on Wednesday, I promise!

So, what's your opinion? Is it because of things I've touched on here, or do you have your own reasons? Tell all - I promise that the comments section is a safe space here, and whatever you say you'll be listened to.
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Stuck for Ideas, Book Bloggers? Not Anymore!

Every blogger - especially every book blogger - has experienced the terror of getting astronomically stuck for ideas. Even the brilliant ones, like me! (No, really. Being trapped in an inspiration desert is utterly horrifying for all of us.)

If that's you, there's no need to be embarrassed. There's little need even to be worried, because I am here with a myriad of them, just for book bloggers (because if I read another generic ideas post that suggests "thinking outside the box and reviewing something relevant to your niche, I think I'm going to scream. It'd be sound advice if reviewing books was anything but expected . . .)

Anyway, I'm rambling. Enjoy your nice new shiny ideas.

1. Steal a tag (like the ninja you are).

(If you aren't sure what a tag is, just click on the link below for some examples. They should be pretty self-explanatory.)

There's a reason that the rule you have to be tagged to . . . um . . . tag is unwritten: it's not actually a rule. You can sneak through the book-blogger-net, leaving as much trace as you like, and participate in all the ones that inspire you, and not feel ashamed. Tags are not only made to grow, but the easiest type of post to write both quickly and well (as you are hopefully unable to tell, I'm an expert in last minute blogging, so trust me on this).

Here are a couple of tags you might want to try, if you can't find any. You could also participate in a meme, like Cait and Skye's Beautiful People for writers, then use the link up to share the love and visit some other blogs you might not have seen before.

2. Find a different way to review a book.
Not entirely relevant, but never mind.
The prospect of writing a classic, dare-I-even say boring review might be filling you with dread right now, but - trust me - it's so much more fun to write when you can pull the whole concept of the review apart, throw out the stuff you hate about it and piece back together the rest, along with a bit of your own unique sparkle. Try writing the review as a log of you reading the book (with spoilers removed, naturally), or as a diary entry from one of the characters. You could even present it as a letter to the author, or - if you're really up for a challenge - review that lovely book in as few words as is humanly possible.

For example (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone): Wizards in mind-numbingly detailed uniqueness. Read or you are dead to me.

3. Have a nice rant.

What about books / the book community / YA / Adult Fiction / [insert other book-related (or not) thing here] annoys you most? Love triangles? Inaccurate representations? Sequels that take too long to come out?

Come on, you know there's something. What makes you grit your teeth? If you can feel your hackles rising in complaint as you even think about it, chances are you're inspired enough to write a post. The best news is that - because your audience will know that anger is clouding your judgement a little - it doesn't even have to make much sense. You can use CAPITAL LETTERS and italics and basically have a lot of fun getting that annoyance off your chest.

4. Show your audience a part of you they've never seen before.

Do you have a hidden talent? An obscure and brilliant knowledge of something? A secret ninja identity?

Now is the time to reveal all, folks! Chances are that your audience will really enjoy the post because - being all about you - it's unique. Personal. They won't have seen something exactly like that out there before because there is no blogger out there that is exactly like you. So don't be afraid of stepping outside your niche a little so that you can write a kick-ass post - and make your blog individual.

Also, talking about yourself is pretty easy. I'm pretty sure I know more about myself than anything else.

5. Tell us about your TBR!

TBR posts are my favourite to write when I'm on a reading slump; you don't need to talk about books you've already read (which, presuming it's a proper slump, won't really exist at the moment) if you can chat about books you want to read instead. Talk about what you've heard and how it's convinced you to read. Rant about how unrealistically far away the release date is.

All the good stuff.

6. To re-read or not to re-read?

That, my friend, as the question. If you don't have an opinion, debate something else. Books or eBooks? Libraries or bookshops? The possibilities are ENDLESS and (after presenting both sides at least slightly rationally) you can have a good time inflicting your opinion on everyone.

Just remember that - should you choose something contentious - the comments section could turn into a screaming match. It probably won't, but the chance is there. Fun, right?

7. What books do you think are about to exist? Which do you wish were about to exist?

(No, I don't watch Supernatural. I'M A FRAUD who steals their GIFs. *backs away into a corner expecting hatred*)

This post is especially fun to write at the beginning of the year, when you can go all Mystic Meg and use what you already know about the books planned for release to predict trends for the next 365 days. Does it look particularly fantasy-y? Are there lots of of contemporary books on the horizon? Share your thoughts as to why.

Alternatively, you could tell your readers about the book you've always wanted to read but unfortunately doesn't exist. A type of character you haven't seen enough of. A country or culture you want to see more books set in. Maybe even a traditional story that you think would make a good retelling?

If you share the ideas - who knows - someone might be brilliantly awesome and write them for you.

8. Talk about your plans for your blog. What's up next? Do you want to change anything?

I find that writing about what's happening next on da blog is, nine times out of ten, almost impossible because I can't see as far as the end of my own sentence. That said, when I do manage to scrape together some foresight, I love to waffle on about it in a post so that other people can marvel at the fact I got organised for once.

Besides, your audience are reading your blog because they're interested in it, right? And that means they'd also be interested in finding out where that blog is going. (You'll get a bunch of encouragement from commenters, too, and that's always nice.) Where's the downside?

9. Write an ideas post. 

You should do this because I JUST DID ONE. And clearly copying everything I do is a solid plan, because as an overlord I believe imitation is the highest form of flattery.

If you flatter me you might not get your head chopped off.

In the comments: Which of these ideas have inspired you most? Do you have any more you fancy sharing? Oh, and if you end up writing a post based on one of these, tell me! I wanna see!
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My Fictional Bucket List (A Tag With Mysterious Origins)

I've seen loads of different bloggers and BookTubers do this in all corners of the internet, so its origins are more than a little shadowy (near-black, actually, I'm just gonna roll with it) but here at Another Teen Reader I give tags with dark pasts a second chance. Here I am, crusading through this world that frowns on those with murky beginnings and making the world a lighter, more forgiving place.

Or something? Let's go with that.


Go to Deepdean School for Girls

Just imagine . . . I could go out to town with Daisy and Hazel wearing my "divine berry cloche", play hockey and have midnight feasts. I could learn Latin and French and run down polished corridors and maybe even do a little detective work (not to mention having a MORNING BUNBREAK! That's like heaven within heaven). It all sounds like it would be pretty brilliant. I mean perfect.

Provided that I don't get murdered. That wouldn't be quite as amazing.

Live on Embassy Row

I'm sorry, but if there's something even more awesome than getting to live in a historic European city, it would be living there with diplomatic immunity. And - beach parties? I would love to sail away from the city and all my troubles to toast marshmallows, watching Grace and Rosie do crazy stuff while I laugh with Noah (Noah. . .) and Megan.

Okay, maybe I just want to hang out with the characters. But it'd be really interesting to watch all the political chess and try to cause as many international incidents as I could.

Embroider a pair of Dragonskin Slippers

I really wish I could be good at sewing, because - I'm not going to lie about completely selfish intentions - I would love to have a customised wardrobe. It's also supposed to be relaxing, and considering the tear-filled torment that is today's YA literature, I definitely need that. As soon as possible.

In the silly old real world, I'm limited by my complete lack of patience and common sense, (which, when I end up having to look after myself, will be seriously frightening) but in a world of dragons and magical slippers? With Creel and Marta, who are both insanely good at embroidery and hilarious, cheering me on? I could sew every Duchess in the shop a gown and be done in time to fly a dragon (most definitely Nina, the argumentative one) into battle.

Don't doubt me.

Hunt ghosts with Lockwood & Co.
This is another activity that could very plausibly get me killed, but we're just going to ignore that. Books without the possibility of death aren't much fun anyway.

Working at Lockwood & Co. would be nothing but awesome (if you look past the possibly perilous danger). I mean, you get to research GHOSTS in a HUGE LIBRARY. The entire team is pretty much completely fuelled by DOUGHNUTS, and I'm fairly certain some training involving rapiers goes on at some point.

So at least it's fun mortal danger.

Holiday with the Liars

Cadance, Johnny, Mirren and Gat spend their entire summer, every summer, on a private island. I mean, awesome much? As you could probably tell from yesterday's review, I don't want to say anything about the plot if physically possible - and goodness knows I wouldn't want to be caught up in it - but trust me. That island is pure fabulousness with a side dish of tranquility. (Anything involving steamed clam picnics on the beach must be at least partially brilliant.)

Basically, I want to live in the setting without anything happening that actually happens in the book. Thank you, whoever makes that happen.

For the first time ever, because I met so many amazingly brilliant peeps at last Sunday's #teenbloggerschat on Twitter (join in when you can guys, you'll get to chat with the most friendly people), I'm TAGGING FOLKS. (Lara playing by the rules? Shock horror.) If I haven't tagged you, that doesn’t mean you can't join in - I'm not that mean! Just comment with your link and I'd love to have a look.

(If you have been tagged, then just pick some things from books that you'd want to do if you could dive between the pages. Write about them. I WANNA SEE!)

Tagged are:

Guys, I hope you have fun writing (but no pressure, you obviously don't HAVE to...)

Would you want to do any of these things? Or are you a little worried about the possibility of death (it's a YA book, death is ALWAYS possible)? What else would you fancy doing?

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This Review Will Tell You Nothing (We Were Liars by E. Lockhart)

Before I get started I just want to apologise for last week. No blogging happened because I was stupidly busy brainstorming my contributions to Ely and Inge's Read-A-Long Diaries Event (eek! Can't wait). Life also decided to be really inconsiderate and happen.

Look, I'm not even sure I'm supposed to be reviewing this book.

The entire book community has been keeping the plot of E. Lockhart's We Were Liars under wraps for over two years now. They believe that it's absolutely vital you should go in blind, and that it's best to know as little as is humanly possible from page one. Only then can the absolutely astronomical plot twist pack the intended punch.

And do you know what, I agree. The mystery is vital, but I need some way to SCREAM ABOUT HOW AMAZING THIS BOOK IS. So, with my frankly brilliant bloggerly skills, I intend to write a full review of it without mentioning a single plot detail.

I'm going to need an awful lot of luck.

I can only describe We Were Liars as a perfect storm of characters with beautiful faults and prose so bare it is heartbreaking. The fractured sentences take a chapter or two to get used to, but that's only because as readers, we aren't used to writing being so unapologetically raw or gorgeously real. Again, I am at absolute pains to not over-explain, but it just channels the main character so organically, as if you're reading her thoughts out the back of her head.

Then there's the gorgeous setting. It's like summer in a bottle: the sand, the family cookouts, the swimming and the sailing and the sun . . . clearly, the holidays are just a million times better when you have your own private island.

The characters are flawless too (I mean flawlessly written; as people they're delightfully screwy) but I can say almost nothing specific because - nope. Can't even tell you that.

THEY ARE CALLED CADENCE, JOHNNY, MIRREN AND GAT. I'm pretty confident I can tell you guys that much without being killed by the secretive book community ninjas, but if you don't hear from me for a while, you might want to check out their secret lair, just in case I'm tied up in the dungeon.

Basically, this book is an amazing piece of twisted beauty, and you need to read it. It will make you feel a waterfall of emotion. (And by that, I mean a stream of tears.)

Please read it! PLEASE!

In the comments: Are you annoyed by my refusal to tell you anything? Trust me, it's for your own good. (Those of you that have read the book, don't you dare ruin anything. I'm watching *manic grin*
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5 Things YA Needs to Make Happen (Because What I Say Goes)

YA is my home. I love it to bits and am constantly fascinated by the things that authors put in their books, but there are still things I want to see, in order to make the genre even more amazing, if that’s even possible. And, as a loyal YA-er, I believe I deserve them (like any good Princess, I'm ever-so-humble). Listen up, writers!

Of course, the teen book industry isn’t – or at least I really hope it isn’t – completely wiped clean of all of these things. I just haven’t seen much of them yet, so should you know of a book that shall please me, kindly recommend it.

I like to be pleased. And I’m sure you don’t like being hit over the head with a hardback because you wouldn’t tell me about a book I was bound to love.

Horribly Awkward First Kisses

I completely understand loving it when your ship sails via a beautiful, sigh-worthy smooch, but often – especially when they’re not the most, um . . . experienced . . . characters – it just doesn’t feel real for them to suddenly become movie stars. And I feel like it’s so much more memorable when they’re too busy laughing to be anything but awkward, or they clash teeth and it doesn’t even matter because it’s perfect anyway.

Maybe I’m not asking for awkwardness per se, because most of the time the gorgeous ones aren’t any less well-written, just kisses that are a little bit original to the personalities involved.

Forced Romance That Doesn’t Work

We’ve probably all read at least a couple of books when people are forced together, initially hate each other, and then sparks begin to fly. (Think about Prince Maxon and America from The Selection or Lara Jean and Peter K from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.) Sure, it’s cute to watch them get together and scream over their insistence to do it slowly, but wouldn’t it be more fun if the sparks just . . . crashed to the ground?

I need arranged marriages when both parties are trying to assassinate the other and class projects that remain horrible because the exes everyone thinks are going to get back together end up in a shouting match every time they open their mouths. I need a couple that are matchmade and sassily save the universe together without kissing once, or who’ve been shipped by their parents since they played together as kids but set each other up with their best friends. Basically, as much as we all love romance, I need hate too. Badly.

Characters Doing Their Homework

I honestly do not know how half of the YA protagonists out there don’t spend their entire lives locked up in detention. If you add up all the time they spend fighting with their parents, getting drunk at parties and solving murders, I completely understand why they never seem to get round to that algebra revision, but real teens kind of have to.

Mentioning it would just make me feel that little bit of inner happy.

Authors, can you at least tell me who your character is paying to write the essays for him? Or explain to me whatever crazy shortcut she’s using to write a page a minute? All for the sake of realism, you understand. No cheating here!

Ha. Ha ha.

Ships That Sink. Deep.

I'm probably coming off like a real romance-killer here, especially since I want love that doesn't work and kisses that fail miserably, but there is a reason besides my shrivelled heart.

Most YA romances are one of the first that their participants have ever - er - participanted in, just because that's how things go when you're fifteen and only just old enough to be doing these things. And the fact is that, sadly, first loves are not always last loves. Not everyone meets their soulmate in high school, and in some ways I think it'd be reassuring for those who are getting out of relationships for a first time to realise that that's normal. They haven't failed by not living the perfect marshmallow fluff we always end up seeing on the first time.

Male MCs!

I'm probably a hypocrite on this one, because every single book I've ever started writing has had a female MC. I kind of get that with so many girls taking centre stage in the current market, they become the default in an author's mind, but even I want to read more books with boys fronting the stage. 

They're people too, right?

In the comments: Can you recommend me any books that do these things? Or do you think they're not so important? What would you like to see happen in YA?
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Beautiful People July 2015 (Because I HAVE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS, OKAY?)

It's been over a month since I last had some Beautiful People questions to answer, and I'm beginning to miss them dearly. I might have been scrolling through the archives to try and fill the hole, and when these questions came up I knew I had to answer them, even though I'm almost a year late. Because now I feel all summery (whoo-hoo)!

Yes, I'm also aware that the May edition was just published, but I was halfway through with these questions by the time it appeared, and anyway I like them. I'm going to do them first.

Beautiful People is a meme created by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In that allows writers to get to know their characters better by asking them questions every single month (or less, if you fancy skipping I guess - but why?). Take it from me that taking part is more fun than eating chocolate in a ball pit; you can click on the fancy little hyperlinked button to get to the meme homepage.

For this month, I'm going to answer from the POV of characters from am old WIP I'm intending to resurrect rewrite (or more accurately re-start, because I'm only 5,000 or so words in) at some point: it's set in a boarding house at Harrow School, one of the most exclusive schools in the world, and follows the housemaster's daughter as her and her gossipy best friend get hopelessly tangled in a world of strict fathers, posh boys and poker. Grace is technically the main character, but since Lorna, Anthony and Felix are pretty much as important, I figured I'd throw in bits and bobs from them as well.

1. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour?

Oooh! In my head, at least, there's a scoop shop less than a mile away from Harrow School. Lorna's sister Hattie works there, and when I finally get back to re-wrangling this mess of a WIP, it's going to be important. People have first dates. People sneak back from second dates. Stuff goes down, okay? (I just decided all this - and created the parlour - in the last five seconds thanks to this question, but hey-ho.)

Unlike Lorna, who loves experimenting to the point that she probably has ice cream commitment issues, Grace sticks to what she knows. She would marry chocolate alone in a heartbeat if she could, but mix it with ice cream (plus marshmallows coated in sticky chocolate sauce) and our favourite little main character is in heaven. That said, at a push, she'll eat any flavour - because duh, it's ice cream - except strawberry, which has always been a little too sweet.

Perhaps symbolically, strawberry is pretty much the only type of ice-cream Anthony will eat (no wonder he breaks her heart before the book even starts) because a childhood with a personal chef kind of makes you spoiled by default. If you try and add toppings to, or "contaminate" his bowl, you just might get it thrown in your face. Felix has a milk allergy, so he usually just grabs some mango sorbet, which would never be his favourite, adds a precarious pile of jelly beans - the best part of the whole dish - and complains that there isn't more dairy-free choice.

2. Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where are they going? What are they wearing? Who will they be with?

The girls, when they do actually go out, like to go the whole hog. They usually head to this one American diner that has karaoke, where they will scream out the lyrics to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and try not to get booed off the stage. Imagine them getting ready as a slightly tuned-down version of that, putting weird things in Grace's soda-stream and trying to keep their music down low enough to keep her Dad happy. They don't usually succeed.

Anthony and Felix don't tend to have half as much of a good time, in that going out in term time usually involves sneaking out. They have to do the whole thing taking turns in the bathroom in the dark, because it's the one place in the whole house that has a lock. Once they've managed to change with as much dignity as they can muster, they'll climb out of the window onto the gravel.

Grace always says she can help catch, but they generally end up with bruising because she's jumped out the way (oops...)

3. Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Do they wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Are they in socks that are ratty and full of holes? What do they consider comfortable and what do they consider agony?

Because the boys spend 95% of their time in school uniform, they usually wear proper black leather shoes, the kind with turned-up toes and heels that clack on wooden floors. Felix's are, without fail, scuffed to the point where they're almost grey. He's constantly on custos (a Harrow punishment for uniform violations that involves getting up at an impossible hour) for some untidiness or another. Mostly because he just hates the whole uniform and all its toffiness.

Anthony likes to think that his shoes are always immaculately shone, but after a few weeks of term they're pretty much the same as everyone else's: it turns out you can pack shoe polish, but the Butler who shines them for you at home is a little harder to fit in the suitcase.

4. Do they have any birthmark or scars? Where are they and how did they get them?

Lorna has all kinds of scars on her legs and feet from various operations (she has Cerebral Palsy, like me, and spends most of her time in a wheelchair) but I guess she'd say that they aren't really worth thinking about. Grace has a much more interesting one above her left eye that slices through her eyebrow.

I don't want to say too much, but she won't tell Felix, her main love interest, how she got it. Anthony knows.

5. What kind of music do they listen to? Does it change depending on their mood or is it always consistent? (Feel free to share samples!)

Lorna's favourite song is Born This Way by Lady Gaga, mostly because of the be-yourself-it's-okay lyrics, and she likes her music to be loud, and upbeat, maybe even a little brash. When she feels down, it just gets louder and more upbeat as she tries to out-thump her confusion and sadness.

Grace has a not-so-secret love of classical; it helps her focus when she's studying - poker theory, not schoolwork - and frankly she doesn't have much time to listen to anything else unless she's with Lorna. It's so emotional, so mood-dependant for her that she rarely listens to the same piece more than once a month, but this is Thomas Albioni's Adagio in G Minor, that she's listening to in the last scene.

. . . I'm going to let you guess how heartbreaking that scene is. Sorry.

All - or pretty much all - Harrow boys are posh, but Anthony has an actual ancestral home. He grew up being jealous (or at least pretending to be jealous) of his brother's title. So, naturally, he listens to N-Dubz. Maybe a little bit of Tiny Tempah, if he's really in the mood. 

And . . . Felix is obsessed with the Beatles.

6. Do they have any musical talent? Play an instrument? How’s their singing voice?

I think the section on Grace and Lorna's karaoke prowess tells you enough to know that - while all four of them are pretty happy to sing when it's loud and no-one really cares what you sound like - my lovely primary characters do not have brilliant singing voices. Felix plays the violin, badly, and is constantly mocked by the music scholars in the house for the not-quite-cat-screeching - it's close.

7. What kind of book would you catch them reading?

It's getting to a point where I think I need to come up with a ship name for Grace and her poker books. She spends so much time studying the theory of the game that it's more difficult to catch her without a book than reading one, although she does like fast-paced thrillery novels now and again.

As a diehard fashionatista, Lorna likes to read historicals for their clothing descriptions. Her favourite character is of course Lola from Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door (because Lorna also believes that the same outfit should never be worn twice).

Anthony reads more than you'd think, classics mostly, and Felix never gave up his childhood obsession with graphic novels. (His favourite superhero will always be Professor X.)

8. How would they spend their summers (or their holidays)?

For Grace, the holidays mean a few boy-free weeks, and some precious time without having to tiptoe round toffs (her words, not mine) in her own house. She usually ends up claiming the empty boys' side as her own, having sleepovers with Lorna in a different room every night: they've never attempted it in Anthony and Felix's room for fear of being mind read and killed for it.

As for what the boys get up to (other than one very memorable New Year house party that will be detailed much more interestingly if I get round to restarting), that's yet another mystery of their star-studded lives.

Maybe skiing?

9. It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. Ex. If they’re eating breakfast, what’s on the menu? Are they hiking, shopping, lazing around?

The boys have lessons, so of course the girls make a big deal of sleeping in because they can.

10. Is there anything your character wants to be free of?

Grace honestly just wants to be free of her house - she grows to love Felix and tolerate Anthony, but at least starting the book, the boys represent the stupidity of last year and the overprotectiveness of her Dad.

Basically all the reasons she can't go to Monte Carlo and play poker.

Lorna's is an odd one, I guess, but she wishes her parents and Grace could be free of having to care for her.

Anthony wants freedom from having to go to Church. It's complicated, but his family basically make sure he goes during term time, and as a not-so-secret atheist he feels like a hypocrite.

Felix wants freedom not from his family exactly, because he loves them more than anything, but from their traditions, especially the one that means they need to hide their dwindling finances for pride - and that he has to win a notoriously difficult scholarship and hide the achievement just so his parents won't lose face.

In the comments: Will you forgive my rebellion of answering the wrong questions? Which was your favourite response? And what are YOUR characters like? I want to meet them badly.

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A Letter to America (The Character, Not the Whole Country)

Before I start this post, I need to ask: did anyone get my reference? Please tell me someone got my reference. No?

Go educate yourself on The Proclaimers, then. Go now. Go quickly. Then come back and read this. Chop chop!


As you can tell from my Goodreads account, I just finished Kiera Cass's The Selection, and the main character, America, was more than a little bit confusing for me. I mean, she'd do something that made me want to smash my forehead against the book on one page, and then I'd turn to the other and want to hug her for being so awesome.

And because I needed to talk about it to work out what was going on in my head, I thought I'd write her a letter. You guys can read it, if you really want, but America doesn't know that I let you sneak into her room and read her mail, so be quiet, okay? Don't touch anything.

Dear America,
                       I'm sorry, but you're going to have to stop doing stuff that confuses me - I really need to decide whether I like you or not.

You know, so I can write a review that makes actual sense? Apparently, good book bloggers don't just ramble on about how they don't really understand their own opinions, insisting that you just need to trust them and read the book anyway.

I've got to be brutally honest, so please don't hate me for it, but I honestly didn't like you in the first few chapters. It felt like Aspen (a love interest, if someone else happens to be reading over your shoulder) was your only motivation for pretty much . . . anything. We've all experienced a boy taking over our thoughts from time to time, and I completely understand hating having to be married off - or at least risk being married off - so your family has enough money to eat. But you were going on so much about missing him, you didn't seem to think about leaving your sister May and the rest of your family behind for the Selection.

It made me think that you only truly cared about your boyfriend, that you were a shallow character, and if there's one thing I absolutely don't like it's a shallow character.

Wait! Don't leave yet!

I'm also really glad I kept going and gave you a second chance. I wish I could say this was because I am a benevolent reviewer who can give fifteen chances at the drop of the hat, or because I am so wise that I just knew it would get better - like some sort of fiction-based Mystic Meg - but, if I am going to speak the truth . . .

The cover was just so pretty, okay?

As I kept reading, you became more and more of an individual, a character who didn't follow the same, boring dystopian-love-triangle tropes. I started to love your stubbornness, your determination to stay the same person you'd always been. Of course, I don't want to say too much, just in case those people peeping at your letters haven't read The Selection, but you didn't run into a boy's arms every time the going got tough.

Thank you very much for that. It was such a relief!

So, America, I guess I owe you an apology, because I'm really not that confused by your actions after all. I just didn't quite get the measure of you from the beginning. It turns out that you're fierce, caring and - best of all - full of contradictions. Which makes you real.

It was a pleasure reading you,

In the comments: What do you like about your favourite main characters? What did you think of America, if you read The Selection? And you didn't break anything in her room, did you?
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