Tag Archives: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels

8 Mar

Readers and writers, please take a moment to read this anti-bullying petition that can help the reader-writer relationship as well as the book market:  Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum ParticipationWe may not be able to stop all trolls, but we can and should take a stand against them. Let’s make the internet a more positive place for all.

Beyond that, I wanted to thank The Novel List for reading and reviewing Seconds Before Sunrise. “I was taken away by this new world Shannon A. Thomson created, and even when I put the book down, this world haunted my thoughts. It was addicting and ironic, haunting and mystical, hilarious and sophisticated. I cannot praise this author more for providing an unfamiliar perspective to YA fiction, and exploring new ideas that are clearly distinct and unique to her personality.” Read the full review here to find out what The Novel List never saw coming.

Last time, I wrote out a lot of tips for those readers who are starting up their own book blog. Today, I was going to discuss how to rate and review novels in the most appropriate way possible, but then I realized something: “appropriate” is very, VERY debatable. (We are not talking about the obvious ones: ex/ telling an author to go die. That is blatantly wrong. We are, instead, talking about review situations that are debatable.)

At first thought, it’s difficult to see how any controversy would come up during reviews, but here are just a few that I will be discussing:

  • Reviewing a novel one has not even read or only read a few pages of
  • Purposely reading a novel one knows they will hate
  • Judging a chronological series out of order

However, before we continue, I want to clarify that I am not encouraging reviewers to write reviews in any of these situations. I am also not discouraging them. Although I have my personal opinions about these situations, readers have the right to review novels at anytime for any reason. As a reader, I like to believe I am always respectable when I write a review. As an author, I would simply ask reviewers to clarify if these things happened during the reading process. (Ex/ stating you did not finish the book in the review.) The controversies below are not meant to hurt anyone. They are meant to remind ourselves to be positive no matter what. You do not have to respect someone’s opinion, but you should try to respect that they have the right to one.

1 STAR

1. Reviewing an unread novel

I’m starting with this one because it is the only one I will share my personal opinion on. Please, don’t. Just don’t. Even if your friend told you how horrible it was and you trust them, don’t. Even if you have seen the movie, don’t. Even if you hate things that author has previously written, don’t review their new pieces without reading it. Just don’t. I cannot even fathom a justification for reviewing a novel without picking it up at all. Other than simple hating, (like how readers did this to popular novels), I have seen this happen a lot when a novel challenges very personal issues, like politics, religion, or sex, but reviewing a novel you have not read is simply not appropriate. Finding a novel that you are willing to pick up is more important than tearing down novels you have never touched.

2. Reviewing an unfinished novel

This situation is a lot more understandable than the first one. The reader at least attempted to read the novel. In this case, a reviewer should state that they did not finish the piece, where they stopped, and/or why they shelved the novel. There are many reasons for dropping a novel, including lack of interest, annoyance with a character, or disagreeable prose. Explaining your reason will allow your review to still be helpful to potential readers. For instance, you could say, “This novel was too descriptive.” Even with a one-star, a reader who likes very descriptive prose will find this helpful.

3. Judging a chronological series out of order

I’ve seen it happen. Someone reads book three of a seven book series, realizes it, and still reviews it poorly anyway because they were confused. Of course they’re confused. They missed four books. That’s like watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead and expecting to understand everything. Some reviewers think this is okay because it will let potential readers know if the novels are stand alones, but if you’re going to review it out of order– just say you read it out of order.  (Fun fact: I accidentally read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Mediator series out of order, but I still loved them. However, I went back and read the beginning books before I ever wrote a review.)

two-star-rating

Beyond that, I wanted to include a shortened list of two more situations that I believe reviewers should state if their review was affected from them:

– If you hate or love a genre: picking up high fantasy when you hate everything fantasy means you know you will probably be rating a novel down. I encourage readers to try new genres, but if you know your tastes automatically affected your thoughts, just mention it. This will be helpful for readers, because it will show if that particular novel appeals to new readers of the genre.

– If any outside event affected your reading mood – We get it. We’re all human. Reading a novel on an airplane compared to reading in your comfy bed at home can affect how much you enjoy what you’re reading. If you’re in the middle of finals, stress could cause you to drop the book halfway through with no hard feelings against the book. You don’t have to tell us that you lost your job. Just state that if you think your sour mood might have affected your reading state. That’s much nicer than simply rating it one star without knowing for sure that it was the book or your feelings that week.

Basically, by keeping these situations in mind, readers can remind themselves that an author – who probably worked months if not years on a novel – is not being judged unfairly. While readers have the right to review a novel whenever and however they like, practicing mutual respect is vital in keeping a healthy reading environment. 

To conclude this piece, I want to share a wonderful quote that Ky Grabowski shared on her blog: “Write about the book you read – not the book you wish the author had written.”

~SAT

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Writing Tips: Creating the Paranormal

16 Sep

As many of you know, Minutes Before Sunset is a YA paranormal romance, and my other novel, November Snow, is a YA sci-fi. Although I’ve written in other genres, I wanted to concentrate on these genres, because I’ve found a lot of people (especially those who hesitate to try out the genre) think the genre only consists of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. While these creatures aren’t bad, this belief is completely wrong. There are all kinds of demons, witches, time travelers, magically-empowered beings, and shape-shifters that aren’t werewolves.

For writers, I wanted to talk about this belief and going beyond the vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. There are so many creatures and/or legends to get inspiration from. But where do we start?

Three things you can consider:

1. Creating your own creature entirely–something never heard or seen of before.

At some point, an author used a creature for the first time. Even vampires were new at one point. But there seems to be one thing these creatures have in common: they come from legends, stories passed down for generations. There are entire websites dedicated to urban legends, so why don’t we expand and use these to inspire new legends? You can also use mythical creature lists and/or other cultures tales. For instance, I am fascinated by Japanese legends; they seem to be entirely different than Western legends, so it helps inspire that stretch of creativity.

From the New X Group: Black Eyed Kids

From the New X Group: Black Eyed Kids: I imagine this is how Fudicia would look.

Fun fact: “Lights” in Minutes Before Sunset were inspired by the legend of the black-eyed children, kids who show up at your door and attempt to coax you to allow them inside your home. I also thought it was a perfect legend to use, because it’s really popular in Missouri, and, at the time of writing Minutes Before Sunset, I was living on the border of Kansas-Missouri, and the novel is set in Kansas. However, these black-eyed children have been reported from all around the world throughout history, so…look out and don’t open your door for them! ;]

2. Using a spin-off of an already popular creature.

Personally, I love any creature as long as the author makes it their own. For instance, The Forest of Hands and Teeth revolves around zombies, but they aren’t called zombies. They’re called the Unconsecrated, and that’s just the beginning. They have all types of rules, explaining why some act differently and what created others. This concept became a writing obsession for me. Personally, I think I combined 1 & 2 in my writing style. I love creating something new, something that might be influenced by one creature and spun into another world entirely, but it is generally influenced by another creature I’ve heard of.

For instance, you might realize the Minutes Before Sunset “shades” fit under shape-shifting, telepathics. Even though they are “shape-shifters,” they only shape-shift into another person and only one person. In other words, they have two identities. There isn’t a lot of range when it comes to their shape-shifting abilities, but they have other magical abilities when they are shades or lights. When it comes to their telepathy, they can talk to one or more people at once. (Like a private message and/or a chat room.) They can also block people from communicating with them. Other shades–specifically Eric’s father, named Jim (or Bracke)–can sense when people are using their telepathic abilities.

3. Write with the traditional version of any creature.

I want to clarify that there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to create something new. You can use the traditional vampire if that’s what your writing heart desires. What matters is the storyline, and it’s entirely possible to have a fantastic story with a traditionally used creature.

Basically: there are endless possibilities and ways to create the paranormal worlds readers love.

So embrace the upcoming fall, make a bonfire, sit around, and tell some paranormal stories. Who knows what will influence your inspiration next.

If you have any experience in creating or using traditional paranormal creatures, please share! 

~SAT

Movie Mention: Warm Bodies

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I love this particular movie poster, because I'm a HUGE fan of "Love Story" and the reference brings me a smile.

I love this particular movie poster, because I’m a HUGE fan of “Love Story” and the reference brings me a smile.

On Monday night, I went and saw Warm Bodies–the movie that takes our normally feared zombie creatures and turns them into potential dates.

When a young zombie man, R, saves Julie from becoming a zombie herself, the two trigger a heartbeat in the living dead, changing everything. Click here for more information and/or a trailer.

This movie is smart, cute, and full of fun (if you consider war between zombies and the unsatisfied Bonies fun…which it is. Seriously.) Nicholas Hoult does a great job, bringing an introspective zombie boy to life. (To life? Can I say that since he’s dead? I think so.) My only complaint (seriously…my ONLY) is that I wish the heroine was more capable. I felt like she was only there to spark the catalyst and then be saved…numerous times…even when she probably didn’t deserve it. However, my overall opinion of the movie was great!

Whether you’re with your special loved one or with no one at all today, this is a great movie to see.

Warm Bodies is also (and originally) a novel by Isaac Marion. Click here if you’d prefer reading this dark and lovely tale.

If you’re a zombie fan, and you’re looking for more undead entertainment, check out Carrie Ryan’s “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” book series here. The trilogy is probably my favorite zombie tale. World War Z is also fantastic (but it’s very much a political metaphor–nothing like the Brad Pitt movie that’s about to come out. However, I’m excited to see that as well.)

~SAT

P.S. I’m delighted to announce that I have a new page coming on February 16th. Be sure to check it out!

Relax & Read: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

5 Oct

If you’re anything like me, the month of October is filled with pumpkin spiced lattes, witchy movies, cuddling with your black cat (okay, maybe not this one), and reading spooky novels that haunt your dreams.

However, sometimes I’m not in the mood to read or watch something truly terrifying, but I do love reading novels that have frightening concepts or dangerous explorations within dystopian worlds. Because of this, Carrie Ryan is one of my favorite young-adult authors.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth series is PERFECT for young-adult Halloween adventures.

Mary, a girl living in a world surrounded by the unconsecrated, believes there’s more out there than the Sisterhood and her town that is doomed by invasion. Her mother always spoke of the ocean, yet she’s never seen or heard of it elsewhere. The unconsecrated make it too dangerous to leave, and the forest of hands and teeth may be her only way out—if she even decides to leave in order to save her future.

I’d like to clarify and say that the unconsecrated are zombies—and I’m not even a zombie fan, yet I LOVED these books. Ryan’s delicate prose truly creates this dystopian unconsecrated-filled world and leaves you there to survive next to Mary. (Also, each novel can stand on it’s own—but I won’t explain how). Ryan’s unique writing style somehow finds beauty in such an ugly place, deepening the emotions into a deathly reality.

If you’re looking for a great Halloween read, or even a fantastic read by itself, then I recommend this series.

To read more on the first novel, click here.

To read more on the entire series, click here.

To get a signed copy from Carrie Ryan, click here. (How cool is that?? I LOVE it when authors push themselves that much further just to connect with their readers and fans. So encouraging!)

Happy Hallo-read!

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: