Review: Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow


Danny is a fun-loving 16-year-old looking for a father figure and falling in love with a different girl every day. He certainly doesn't want to follow in his mum's witchy footsteps.


Just as his community is being threatened by gangs intent on finding a lucrative power source to sell to the world, Danny discovers he is stunningly powerful. And when he falls for Saba, a gorgeous but capricious girl sorceress, he thinks maybe the witch thing might not be such a bad idea...



But what cost will Danny pay as, with his community on the brink of war, he finds that love and sorcery are more dangerous than he ever imagined?


Um . . . A couple of my favourite bloggers are really big fans of this book.

*shivers nervously*

It wasn't bad, exactly. Many parts - the intreguing premise of a post-apocolyptic fuel crisis; the vivid setting that was the Greenworld, and certain secondary characters *cough* Melz *cough* - were compelling enough to keep me interested, and I did finish.

But it was really hard to wade through the perspective of a main character I really, really didn't agree with.

I must admit that this was almost solely because of his attitude towards girls. The Goodreads blurb says he's "falling in love with a new one every day", which I'm not sure I'd have a problem with if they knew what short-term relationships they were getting into, but they absolutely don't. First, there was Sadie, the childhood friend who was effectively his girlfriend; he pretty much just forgot about her when he left to train in witchiness. And didn't bother actually telling her they'd broken up.


Then there was Saba (I'm not sure if I have a valid reason to be suspicious of her or am just being judgy). In my opinion, their entire relationship was just me screaming "no, don't", "this is not going to end well" and "are you even listening to me?", but I won't go through all the other complicated details because a) the book wasn't utterly terrible, and I don't want this to turn into a rant, and b) if it does sound like your sort of thing, it would be awful of me to spoiler.

Now! Shall we talk about some nice things?

Firstly, the entire setting and premise of this book was unique and really well-imagined: it worked because the idea of a fuel crisis is quite an immediate danger to today's society, and the Greenworld's (a sort of huge hippy commune who live self-sufficiently and without power) formation seemed like a perfectly logical reaction to that. It's refreshing to see a sort of dystopia that properly does have its heart in the right place, and I can't help but wonder if even the darkest societies - Panem, home of The Hunger Games, The Society from Matched, or even Divergent's twisted Chicago - started out like this. I also really enjoyed page 185.

I like a lot of the secondary characters, too. If only Omar could have been around for a younger Danny as a father figure, because he was just the right kind of rough around the edges. Lorwenna was fabulously scary, I loved the portrayal of Danny's Mum, Zia (who he was actually good to, so silver linings) slowly losing her influence, and Melz, a shy, eyeliner-wearing sharpshooter, was utterly glorious. I might read the sequel just to make sure she's okay.

Danny had a nicely realistic relationship with his sister, too. There were good elements. I just wish my arguments with him hadn't existed, because then I could have given these elements a better star rating.
***
In the comments: Do you agree with me about this book? Or are you here to stop me being so judgemental about Danny? Or have I actually convinced you to give this book a try?
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Do YOU Have What it Takes to Blog? (Spoiler Alert - You Probably Do!)


So. Your friends tell me you've been talking about starting a blog.


Blogs are absolutely amazing things when the person writing them is enjoying themselves, and I'm sure you'll get a lot of enjoyment from it as long as you have what it takes. Just ask yourself these questions, and if the answer is yes, then you're good to go!

Are you passionate about your subject?


If you're interested enough in books or fashion or technology or whatever to consider blogging about it - which I'm guessing you are if you're reading this - then the answer is probably yes. If you think you have enough to say about it, and will enjoy talking about it for posts on end, then it sounds like you'll make a great blogger.

The secret blogger police - I'm absolutely sure they exist - will, however, be on to me if I don't tell you that blog subjects are not the be-all and end-all. Yes, this is a book blog, so most of the posts are just me screaming about books everyone needs to read, but I also have posts up about disability and the fabulous me and of course blogging (this post, you may have noticed, is not specific to books). It's a good idea to keep most posts themed, so that people know they can keep coming back for subjects they're interested in, but you don't have to feel boxed in by that theme.

Are you willing to devote a lot of time to your new baby?


Blogging takes commitment, and there's no point beating around the bush: I probably spend anything from forty-five minutes to two hours on every post I write. That adds up to maybe six hours a week, some weeks, and doesn't even cover the endless tweeting, taking bookish photos (only some of which actually end up in a post) and how long I spend skimming the blogosphere looking for ideas to write about in the first place.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

As long as you are willing to commit as much time as will make you happy with your blog, then you can make it work. Maybe you're okay with writing shorter posts than me, or only posting once a week, or not tweeting as often, and that's fine . . . you just need to be honest with yourself about what to expect in the time you have. 

Are you brave enough to put yourself out there?

Merida? From Brave?
The basic concept of blogging is putting out your thoughts, feelings and opinions for the world to see, if they want to. It's a hard fact of life, and the whole point of a web-log (I never knew that was where "blog" came from, did you?) is that you get at least a tiny bit personal.

That doesn't mean that you have to tell everyone where your full name and address. In fact, DON'T - what I mean is that, even if you avoid social media like a disgruntled tiger and don't ever comment on anyone else's blog, someone you know will probably find it eventually, and you're going to have to be prepared for that.

I am, however, going to say that putting yourself out there, while scary at first, is not akin to offering yourself as a blood sacrifice. Commenting on other blogs in the community and establishing yourself on social media is fun. You get to meet people, chat with them and work together, which was kind of the reason I started. Also, if you want to get views and comments on your own blog, then you are unfortunately going to have to reach out to people. Even your blog opinion twin (again, totally exists) can't read your stuff if they don't know where to find it.

You should also ALWAYS reply to comments on your posts. It's just polite, makes people want to come back because they know they're being listened to, and can start conversations that lead to pretty cool opportunities.

If you're worried that anxiousness or low self-confidence might make you answer no to this question, then you can still become a blogger. I didn't pluck up the courage to even tell my best friend I'd started a blog for almost a month, and now I never shut up about it. The confidence will come in time.
As you can probably tell from everything I just said, almost anyone has it takes to be a blogger: you just need to have enthusiasm and know how to work a computer to even the most basic level, which are probably both true for you if you've found your way here.

Start a blog. I promise you'll enjoy the ride.

***
In the comments: What sort of qualities do you think help as a blogger? Do you think you have them? And, if you were to start a blog (or if you have already) what would you blog about?
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#MiniReviews - World Book Day

World Book Day - if you're not living in the UK, or have your head under a children's-reading shielding rock - is one of my favourite things ever. Basically, kids all over the country are given £1 book tokens to exchange for a free World Book Day novella, or to get the money off any other book. You can also buy those novellas for a pound, which is good for me, because my school has now decided to only give tokens to Year 7s. It's so sad (although there are a few awesome English teachers who are giving older pupils tokens in a kind of secret black market), but at least I could still read these two, because I've been waiting for them for So Long.


As they are novellas mini books, I thought I'd write some mini reviews. And if I've managed to bore you already with long descriptions of what World Book Day is, then you can get away with reading even less, because I've summarised the plot and why you should read each book in a couple of sentences. But of course, you should read my awesome reviews if at all possible.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Short Plot Summary - A self-admitted Star Wars nerd fights her over-protective mother to spend four days waiting in line for the new movie and be among hundreds of fellow superfans. Only to find it is two people long.
Read This If - You like (or are) people who celebrate being true nerds and books that make you smile with cute characters. Also Star Wars.

I am constantly aware that novellas this short (96 quite large-print pages) are really hard to flesh out, and the amount character development that was squished into such a small, beautiful packet was ASTONISHING. Elena's Mum, for instance, was only involved in maybe a maximum of five pages, but she cracks me up, and the relationship between her and Elena was adorable. Then there's Troy and Gabe. Don't even get me started on Troy and Gabe - I might start squeeing so loudly that you hear me from the other side of cyberspace.


In fact, Elena herself was really interesting too, because you don't really know much about her life beyond Star Wars at the beginning. You have to be drip-fed her secrets like a three-year-old begging for malteasers, and while all that teasing doesn't sound fun, it really kind of is. I'm a little uneducated worm of a book reviewer, so I don't know everything, but I think it's because she's so well-rounded and believable at the beginning . . . and then you get the backstory . . .

Some people might say that this book doesn't have a very daring plot - I mean, where's that line going to go other than in the cinema? - but there are twists. There are character reveals. And I don't care what you say, because CHARACTERS SO AMAZING NOT LISTENING LA LA LA.
Oh. I need to be a little bit professional. Five stars. *ahem*

Spot the Difference by Juno Dawson

Short Plot Summary - A girl is branded a freak by almost everyone she knows because of severe acne - but then the miracle drug her dermatologist gives her works.
Read This If - You struggle with acne or feel invisible at school, or if you just want to read about a girl whose awesome friends (her true friends really were awesome) help her be comfortable in her own skin. Or if you love Juno Dawson.

I went into this book with pretty high expectations, to be honest. The title is clever, but the expectations were mostly because COME ON. What part of the words Juno Dawson - and the nuclear brilliance explosion that is All of the Above - don't you understand? I've also suffered with acne myself for the last couple of years; although mine has never been as bad as Avery's (at least, I really hope not) I was really excited to see whether the way she processed it would be different to mine.


Trepidation, however, did seep in, and that's because Avery's new skin gets her in with the A-List. When characters suddenly become popular, they have an annoying habit of abandoning their previous friends, who are almost always amazing.

I have a really hard time identifying with them when that starts to happen.

And now, after reading this, I'm really, really confused about whether I have a problem with that or not. Yes, Lois was my kind of homegirl, and I did not like seeing how Avery treated her once the popularity pulled her away, but that didn't change the fact that the ending was very inspiring and put one of the biggest smiles ever on my face. I'm giving it four stars because, if you don't have a weirdly specific vendetta against one plot point, you'll love the themes of being comfortable in your own skin, the scarily accurate portrayal of English Secondary School, and of course Lois. Again she is brilliant.
I hope you have enjoyed my mini reviews (even though, now I think about it, they aren't that mini) and would just like to mention that "Read This If" is not prescriptive. You don't need to love Star Wars to read Kindred Spirits! Spot the Difference isn't just for girls with acne!

I've said what I need to say. Now where's my coat?

***
In the comments: Are you a fan of World Book Day? What did you think of these books, if you've read them? And if not, do you want to?
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Conversation Starters: The Holocaust


Recently, I've become pretty obsessed with the Holocaust and the history of anti-semitism. Not in the completely cold-hearted, slightly spock-like way that I'm often obsessed with crime dramas, but because I want to try to understand what made such a horrible thing happen. I want to pick up the scattered historical pieces, make sure that it never happens again - that the current genocides, in Darfur and Syria and Burma, don't just keep being ignored - and make this world a more equal place.

Mostly, I want to hear people's stories.

Hopefully, you'll want to hear people's stories too, because then we can start having conversations. The Holocaust might be near-buried in our past, but it needs to be dug up again, because similar genocides - and anti-semitism - are an all-too horrible part of the present. 

If you do, then these books are where you can start. Where I started, anyway.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank



No-one can mention the Holocaust or WWII literature without Anne Frank's diary. And classics become classics for a reason: what makes that book so special to me isn't just the horrible things she went through, her raw and matter-of-fact descriptions of them, or even the amazing ways she bore everything.

It was the fact that, before all of that, she was just a normal thirteen year old girl.

We might not be able to imagine even half the horror of being cooped up in three rooms as one of eight people for years, sitting in complete silence for the whole day so no-one hears anything. But we've all lived a version of the joy that comes from forming a table tennis club with your best friends, or scrounging ice-cream sundaes from boys who flirt with you.

Reading how someone exactly like us bore the horrors of that period is a true testament to the human spirit, and the most important part of this book is the truth of it. Anne humanises the heartbreak: our brains struggle to even comprehend what six million deaths look like, but one? We can imagine that all too well.

Night by Elie Wiesel

This is another beautiful account from a survivor that absolutely sings with realism and the emotional numbness of trauma, but what makes it different to Young Girl - and gives it its unique poignancy - is that it was written by a survivor years after the event. It's almost chilling when you think of how much those horrible memories must have seared themselves onto a young boy's memory, and truly eye-opening to read about them through the lens of someone who's had years to reflect on what impact they had on his life.

This book is powerful, deep (layers like an onion), and masterfully open to interpretation. What I love is how many hidden meanings you can understand from just thinking about some of the words; I'm sure, were I to re-read it, that I would have an almost entirely different interpretation.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne



I don't want to tell you too much about this story, because the blurb itself tells you to go in with an open mind (and I would be an absolutely awful book blogger if I DISOBEYED a BLURB) but it's about a little boy called Bruno who doesn't understand what's going on.

But he isn't necessarily on the side you would expect. And World War Two is no place for any child.


Please, please read at least one of these books if you're the least bit interested in what happened. It's important that those stories get told to someone.

***
In the comments: Do you have any more books about the Holocaust to share? What other historical periods do I need to investigate? And why are YOU interested in the Holocaust?
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A 5-Point Ode to Luna Lovegood

One of the first ever posts I wrote, almost a full year ago (scary, right?), was A 5-Point Ode to Hermione Granger, and it was also some of the most fun I've ever had while writing. So I really, really wanted to replicate that with an equally awesome Harry Potter character - enter Luna.
(There may be spoilers in this post, by the way. So go ahead and Potter-binge first, if you haven't already.)

This post isn't about forcing you to love Luna, and in fact I'd love to hear if you disagree with anything I mention. I, however, believe she is uniquely amazing - maybe even better than Hermione, but she didn't hear me say that - and would like to write a little tribute explaining why:

#1 - She was absolutely not afraid to be herself.
A lot of YA book characters are constantly concerned about popularity and what other people think of them. That makes sense, because a lot of real teenagers are too, but what made Luna such an utterly unique character was that she embraced her uniqueness. She was never afraid to skip down the corridors or wear radish earrings to the school ball - and it was those things that made her happy, even when other people called her names. Luna showed me that I could do that too: I seriously needed it at the time, and I'm sure a lot of other readers did too.

#2 - She showed me that academia isn't the only kind of intelligence.
We all knew that Luna wasn't your average smart girl, the teachers' pet. She was far too dreamy to pay much attention in lessons and liked to answer questions in the most tenuous way possible - but what a lot of people forget is that she was a Ravenclaw, and that proves that you don't have to get amazing grades to have "wit beyond measure". In fact, it's Luna's creativity, her tenuousity, which made her think of things no-one else did.

You know, like the threstrals.

#3 - Her fashion sense is . . . wacky. But it's also utterly amazing.
Luna's clothes were a brilliant facet of her personality, and well-described by Rowling, of course, but it's Jany Temime, fashion designer for the Potter films Luna appears in, who I really have to thank for cementing her style in my head so much, although apparently Evanna Lynch, the actress who plays her, also had a hand - isn't that cool? I love how much the costume must have influenced their knowledge of the character and made her an even more memorable presence onscreen.

I could also really do with borrowing that headdress, if that's okay. Does anyone know who I should call?

#4 - Her Quidditch commentary is pure genius.
Luna did not seem to have noticed; she appeared singularly uninterested in such mundane things as the score and kept attempting to draw the crowd’s attention to such things as interestingly shaped clouds and the possibility that Zacharias Smith, who had so far failed to maintain possession of the Quaffle for longer than a minute, was suffering from something called ‘Loser’s Lurgy.’

You just need to read this quote, and try to hold in the giggles. I need her commentating on the football matches my Dad watches - you know, to avoid my mind folding in on itself from the crushing boredom.

#5 - She helped thousands - probably millions - of Potterheads to be themselves.
This is what makes J.K. Rowling such an inspirational writer, an idol to so many people. Her characters are designed to show readers that they can be anything they want to be, consciously or not. (And yes, I know that's mind-numbingly cheesy, but I am absolutely sure that it helped me be the person I am today. So I don't really care how it sounds.)

Luna might not be everyone's cup of tea - people like her rarely are - but that's why she's one of my favourite characters, and also why I'm so glad such a fitting actress was found to play her. That's another story though, I suppose.

Thank you, Queen Rowling, for another character who showed me it was okay to be the person I want to be.

***
In the comments: Luna fans, what's you're favourite thing about her? Do you think she shaped your life as much as I cheesily think she did mine? If you aren't so keen, then how come? (I promise I won't bite you for disagreeing, I'm truly interested.)
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Book Spine Poetry


Like most memes on the internet, the idea of book spine poetry has been passed around so much lately that I've no way of tracing who came up with it first. Sorry, whoever you are. Do me a favour and continue being awesome.

Oh. Do the rest of you want to know what it is?

Book spine poets create free-verse (or sometimes rhyming, if you're a million times more skilled than me) from several books, each title being a line or part of one: it got its name because a poem is usually presented by stacking books one on top of the other so their spines spell it out.

Yes. Coming up with coherent verse at the best of times is tricky for me, so with these restrictions . . . I applaud anyone who can work out what the heck I'm going on about. That said, being a writing nerd who can't pass up an opportunity to stack her books - because mountains of stuff to read - I'd better just get on with it.

This first poem is about the confusion of dating and your reputation, I think. But having no experience of either of those things, I'm mostly just going off book relationships.

I don't own a copy of the amazing Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. That sticker will have to do.
To all the boys I've loved before,
Hold me closer,
Carry on.
Am I normal yet?

*waits for applause*

No? Okay, didn't think so. This next one is about writing. Fellow writers, I feel your pain.



How novels work.
Extraordinary means:
Going solo,
The subtle knife.


And, lastly, I have this one for you. It might have something to do with the apocalypse - or maybe I was just in a dark, evangelical mood.

Honestly, your guess for what this one is about is as good as mine.


The edge of the cloud,

Catching fire.
Wicked Angel,
Web of darkness.


After that display of my frankly outstanding - why are you laughing? - poetic skill, I hope you won't be too intimidated (or confused, or terrified) to come back on Friday. It would be great to see you on my next post!

***

In the comments: Can you come up with any of your own book spine poems? I'd love to see what good ones actually look like . . .
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Review: Web of Darkness by Bali Rai



When the incredibly attractive Benedict befriends Lily online, she is thrilled. He is so much more mature than boys her age and he seems to know exactly how she's feeling. She finds herself opening up to him, telling him things she wouldn't tell anybody else.


And she needs someone to confide in more than ever before as a spate of apparent suicides rocks her school - and her group of friends.



But is Benedict the kind, charming person that he seemed to be initially? Lily soon realises that now, with half our lives spent online, you can be found - even if you try to hide . . .

(via Goodreads)


This book is the absolute best kind of creepy.


One has to admit that it's pretty much impossible to write a thriller about an internet predator and his chokehold on a group of sixteen-year-olds without being creepy. But while everything in this book was pretty much perfect, it was the tension that was handled most masterfully, although to be honest you might expect that from a book taglined "you'll never sleep again". There was a perfect balance of downright horrible chapters (especially those from the point-of-view of Spider, the dark orchestrator) with hopeful teenage interaction just like you'd expect from a bunch of Year 11s helping each other through stuff.

But then there were the characters. They were also absolutely amazing, and the author was really skilled to show them being reeled in without making them seem like naive idiots who didn't know how to keep safe online. Lily, the main character, was probably the least interesting of all of them, and that's saying something.

She's awesome.

I have more than a soft spot for Danny, the self-labelled 'Asian gayboy' (quick shout-out for ethnic and LGBT diversity - Rai's books apparently deal with these issues very realistically, although I've only ever read this one) who wore lime plimsolls with white jeans. Anyone who puts together colour coordinations that brave is a winner in my book. Then there's Tilly, Lily's rhyming best friend who stands up against bullies and basically cares about everyone, and Kane, who I liked precisely because he was so nice (very few boys in YA are really and truly nice).


That said, the Spider was definitely most fascinating out of everyone. It's quite rare to read sections from the villain's point of view when you - and the main character - have no idea of their true identity, and it was morbid, but utterly gripping to see how intoxicated he was by power. Maybe the scariest part was that you could see how easily power can intoxicate.

Oh! And I forgot about believable parents, especially Lily's Mum. She wasn't always completely involved (which makes sense, in that most of the book took place on Facebook chat) but made sense, and dealt with some of the more worrying things that happened in such a strong, careful way.

In short, this book had just the right balance of captivating themes, tense plot and believable, vibrant character to keep me glued to it from start to finish. Plus an ending that will make your skin crawl. Read.

***
In the comments: Was that review a little bit confusing? I've tried as hard as possible to make it clear, but I'm so infatuated with this book that the raving is hard to control. Sorry! Also - if you've read Web of Darkness, what's your opinion? And, Bali Rai experts (come on, I know you exist) which of his books should I read next?

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Beautiful People #16 (I've Never Done This Before! ARGH!)

You may have guessed by the title that I'm a little apprehensive. This is my first EVER meme, and the first time I've really talked about my W.I.P. (Work In Progress) on the blog, and so it is the day of firsts.

I'm still nervous.


Beautiful People is a meme created by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In (which was a blog I hadn't looked at before now, but is undeniably too cool for school) 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?). THIS IDEA = RAINBOWS AND BRILLIANCE. If you want to sign up and join in, click on the fancy little hyperlinked button.

I was not intending to talk about my W.I.P on this blog, now or possibly ever, but then I saw these questions and . . . number six is effectively my favourite thing about my main character, Maya (My-ah). So you guys have the blessing (curse? don't say curse) of hearing all about her.

What first inspired this character? Is there a person / actor you based them off?


Cait? Sky? You just sneakily asked me two questions. This has been noted and . . . never mind. I'll just answer.

Maya popped into my head after reading something online - can't remember what now - about the lack of ethnic diversity and different gender roles in Fantasy fiction. I suddenly had this character on my hands, a Princess groomed her whole life for rule because her brothers weren't considered smart enough for negotiation between countries, and who'd never seen someone with pale skin. 

I know it sounds like a cliché when I describe her like that (maybe it is) but never mind. My inspiration never seems to make much sense.

As for an actor to base Maya off, I'm still looking! Maybe it says something about the diversity of actresses in Hollywood, but none of the people I can think of look enough like her. I'll find someone eventually.

Describe their daily routine.


Maya likes to sleep. She will stay under the covers for as long as humanly possible, often until someone - usually one of her brothers - has to literally shake her awake. Then she has endless classes with her tutor, Tixi, trying to learn enough Power theory to prevent a civil war.

That's the other thing about Maya. She doesn't have the magic that has solidified her family's throne for centuries.

Then dinner in the banquet hall, sat at the front table with everyone staring at her until she's sure her secret has been discovered.

Lastly, more sleep.

If they joined your local high (secondary, I'm sorry) school, what clique would they fit into?


The kids - you know the ones - who do absolutely everything to try and please their parents. They're in every sports team, get solos in the school concert every year, and have never got an A- in their life, but they don't really seem to enjoy it all.

She's a sarky overachiever who's always behind, basically. If what I just said makes any sense.

Write a list of things they merely tolerate (certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives).


Okay.

  • Lady Erlin, her aunt, because she's almost definitely waiting for her to slip up and lose the throne. But, you know, still family, so tolerance is required.

  • Long sea voyages - as you'll see in question six, Maya would much rather just jump in and swim there: she knows it's necessary to get in the boat, but mild body odours and seasickness always put her off a little. The lack of privacy takes a while to get used to as well.

  • Chocolate. I know, I know, how dare she, but please don't kill my lovely main character.

How do they react in awkward silences?


Ha. Not well.

The threat of discovery has always been so constant for Maya that the moment anyone falls silent awkwardly, she panics - mostly because they could be reading her mind. The feeling that she must be doing something horribly wrong is always there, but amplified with silence.


Can they swim? If so, how did they learn?


I'm going to need to dump some backstop on you for this to make sense, so sorry about that, but the world where Maya lives is an archepelago where all the islands are small and mostly spread wide. All kids learn to swim because shipping and water are such an integral part of life, and - for once - the crown Princess is no different.

She always loved the water because swimming was the one skill she could learn with other children without her lack of Power being obvious: as she was kept closer and closer by her Mama, that time in the water became her only real solitude, when she didn't have to worry about people working out she has no magic because she's behaving the wrong way. Swimming is her escape.

What is one major event that helped shape who they are?


Literally all I can say is that it happened before she was born. Other than that, SPOILERS. (Seriously, this spoiler would be so terrible it merits caps lock.)

Moving on . . .

What things do they value most in life?


Maya values control, mostly because she's never had any: not over how she behaves, what she does or even what other people know about her (because most of them are Powerful: they can just read whatever thoughts they want). I don't know what she'd do if she could choose though - probably panic because she's not really had the chance to practice making decisions.

Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?


That depends on whether the person she's trying to trust can read her mind or not. If they can, she finds it almost impossible to trust them, and is so used to evaluating situations so she can survive that she makes snap judgement about everyone *cough* Tarin *cough*. This means she doesn't usually give second chances because she doesn't really believe people are capable of change.

Your character is having a rough day . . . what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk / interact with to get in a better mood?


You want another list? Tough. You're getting one.

  • Sleep. We've already been through the fact that Maya loves sleep.
  • Swimming is also pretty obvious, but the lack of self-scrutinisation that comes from being alone gives her the headspace to think about things and cheer herself up. It makes her feel better just to be doing something she's good at, too.
  • As for people to interact with, she likes to go to her tutor, Tixi, for advice, because she is the only other person in the palace who doesn't have Power, and Maya knows she can trust her. Also, Tixi seems to actually get that Maya isn't stupid, and actually needs knowledge to navigate court life without the magic everyone else relies upon.
***
In the comments: Are you guys doing Beautiful People (link to your posts - I REALLY want to hear about your fabulous characters)? What do you think of Maya? And can you come up with an actress to represent her in my planning - I would be indebted to you forever?
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8 Ways to Enrage a Reading Bookworm

While reading, a bookworm is generally at his or her most vulnerable - their life force is almost tied to the book in their hands, and interrupting the flow between reader and story can result in extreme irritation, violently targeted at you.

That's why it's so much fun such an utterly terrible thing to do.

I merely include these strategies so you can avoid them, and prevent hordes of angry bookworms coming at you with their hardback of choice because you picked on a member of the community at a time when they couldn't defend themselves. DO NOT try this at home*.

*for most bookworms, this should read "the library".

#1 - "What are you reading?"


This one is an absolute classic, and great for stealth annoyance because it seems so innocent and friendly - but the thing with reading bookworms is that they don't WANT you to be innocent and friendly. They want you to be silent and preferably not even there.

For bonus points, once they have muttered a one word answer or swivelled the cover in your direction for you to read, ask what it's about. But be prepared to have a book thrown at your head.

#2 - Spoilers

Admittedly, this requires a little bit of prior knowledge, but will result in anger. Screaming. Tears, even. If you really want to torment one of our number (which is still totally not okay, by the way) then ruining a book for them is a brilliant way to do it. The best spoiler artists will do it in the most subtle of ways, namely through fake excitement. "Have you got to the bit where {insert spoiler here}", followed by an innocent look when  faced with incoherent rage usually does the trick.

#3 - Be a school bell. Ring.


The end of lunchtime is my least favourite part of the day - it involves PUTTING AWAY THE BOOK AND WALKING AWAY FROM THE LIBRARY.

What even is this?

#4 - Ask them to do something important.


If you have a bookwormy best friend or colleague, then you probably know this already, but there is absolutely no way a reading bookworm will be able to do anything useful for at least ten minutes after closing the book - usually longer if you wrench them away from it. This might be annoying, but do you really want that super-important job done by someone with at least half their brain in Narnia, Westeros or Panem?

I think not.

If they have homework to do, then remind gently. Please. Gently. And don't expect immediate results under any circumstances.

#5 - Create some form of discomfort.


It takes a bit of innovation to make one artificially (I'm sure one of you geniuses would work out an elaborate system involving fans) but one thing that will seriously interrupt a good reading session is a draft. Or sun in my face. Or achy arms. Or numb limbs. Or heat. Or cold. Or-

Basically, a reading bookworm has about as much environment flexibility as Goldilocks crossed with Sheldon Cooper. We like to be comfy and do not like the opposite.

#6 - Snatch the book.

It's kind of obvious, but bookworms react horribly if you remove their book from them. You're effectively baby-snatching. I've actually been known to follow my Dad around the house when he has my book in his hand, but that's mostly because he holds it open to taunt me.

Just try not to rip a page from the book as you snatch it. This will result in a bookworm so hysterical that you need to spend several hours calming them down, and possibly several pounds placating the librarian with a new one.

#7 - Reveal a plot flaw.


When you adore a book, it's almost like you're wearing blinkers - plot niggles will often fade away in favour of the shiny brilliance that is the rest of the story, and when they're pointed out, it usually ruins the whole experience.

When you first drop your flaw-bomb, expect to be told that you're wrong. Denial is the first step to acceptance, after all. Once the penny drops, though, there will be stunned silence, dropped jaws and even quiet whimpering as they mourn the loss of a previously perfect book.

#8 - Insult their favourite character.


If someone tried to tell me that Luna Lovegood wasn't brilliant or smart in her own way while I was reading Harry Potter, I think I would punch them. Physical violence is a usual reaction here, because most bookworms will be too outraged to make rational argument. At that point, we tend to just hit or scream at the offending person.

Hey. You're the one that insulted Luna Lovegood. If you want a black eye, tell me Umbridge is amazing. I. Dare. You.

(Don't)

Yes, I may have overused a GIF there, but it sums up basically my reaction to everything while reading. ALSO IT IS MY FAVOURITE AND MY BEST AND YOU WON'T EVEN HEAR ME APOLOGISING. #sorrynotsorry

I've also had a sudden realisation that I may have just revealed the fatal flaws of both myself and the wider book community. Oops. *Ends blog post before the fangirl police can start tracking.*

In the comments: What other things frustrate you when you're reading? Which people need to be named and shamed? And just how annoying is the phrase "what are you reading?"?
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