HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
First post of 2014! Whoohoooo! Sorry I’m not writing this actually in 2014 (I’m still back here in the past–it’s currently Christmas for me), but I’ve got a wonderful post for you today by one of my favorite bloggers. Let’s give a warm welcome to the wonderful writer, CL Mannarino!
About CL Mannarino
CL is a fantasy and realistic fiction writer and personal essayist. She works in Massachusetts as a development editor while she writes, reads, walks, and bakes on the side. She’s trained in line-editing, grammar/spell checking, and home improvement, and can be found on her blog or her tumblr.
I Never Expected to Fall This Hard
Love, for me, is about emotional connection. Yes, there is a physical component, but in my experience, if the packaging is pretty and the content is dull, then it’s like a wake up call that’s equivalent to being tossed from your bed into the snow — without blankets.
Books are like this, too. I’ve read a number of books where the cover, and even the summary, are enticing, but after a chapter or two, not even that can keep me reading. I thought this was going to be how Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy (VA) series would be. My sister, Big H, had a lone copy of either the third or the fourth book on our shelf for the longest time and I’d danced around it, trying not to show interest when I was looking for something to read. The reasons it took me so long to pick up?
- The titles of the books made me cringe
- The cover filled me with shame whenever she caught me turning the book over in my hands
- Vampires had become “a thing” — not even a good thing — and it was really annoying me (I’m a vampire fan. They’re probably my favorite supernatural create apart from ghosts and, as luck would have it, werewolves.)
To be fair, I’d been considering reading VA during a time when I wanted nothing to do with romance or vampires, or romance and vampires together. I was in the mood for something hard, gritty, real, and as far from the mainstream as I could get without falling off the metaphorical edge of the planet.
So no, the first ten times I considered entering Ms. Mead’s world, I’d had the good sense to stay away. Instead, I wound up reading (and loving) Divergent and Insurgent, both of which served up an incredible fix for what I needed. Still, when I picked Vampire Academy up for the first time, during the lull between my finishing Insurgent and the release of Allegiant, I told onlooking friends that “if I don’t like it, then I won’t read the next one.” I thought I’d just be humoring my sister by taking her up on a recommendation and that I wouldn’t be interested enough to keep going.
I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong.
I devoured the series, an appetite kept fueled by the fact that every single book had come to exist in our household by the time I picked the books up this past summer. They’re not hard reads, which is probably why I went through them so fast, but when I got to the end of the next book, I just couldn’t stop. When my friend saw me toting the second, third, and fourth books on the train, he laughed and said, “Any good?”
My answer was always the same: “If I don’t like this one, then I just won’t read the next one.”
By the fifth book, I was getting tired. A lot had happened, even more was on the way, and I just couldn’t figure out how Ms. Mead would wrap everything up in time. She did, and neatly, but once that ride was over, two things happened:
- I experienced the third worst book-hangover in my reading career (after Insurgent and Harry Potter)
- I was still unsatisfied because one of my favorite characters, Adrian, had been left heartbroken
So what did I do? After a brief four-hour stint on the internet (in which I half-searched for another book and half-distracted myself with tumblr), I discovered Bloodlines, the Adrian Ivashkov-rich spin-off series that Ms. Mead’s still writing.
Whatever issues I had with Ms. Mead’s books, they continued to plague the series in ways that, while glaringly obvious, weren’t enough to stop my reading the books. What she did wrong (info-dumping exposition to recap the current and previous books; tons of telling without always showing) was consistently wrong without becoming gradually worse over time. What she did right (character development; plenty of action that, while not the most descriptive, always let me see what was going on; realistic relationships in an admittedly surreal environment; characters with consistent personalities whose decisions are understandable, even when you might not do what they did) was good enough to hold me in my seat for the entire ride without asking to be let off.
(I hate roller coasters, so this is a big deal.)
In other words, she’d managed to hold and carry the same ball that Veronica Roth had lifted for me: the one that shut the proverbial trap on my inner editor. (An editor whose critiques had ruined numerous reading experiences for me, until Divergent sucked me up this past summer. Overall, we’re talking about a good two or three years of prolonged dissatisfaction with what I was reading thanks to this constant criticism I had going in my head. (Which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my own dissatisfaction with the things I’d been writing — cough.))
Currently — meaning as of the writing of this post — I’m in the throes of The Indigo Spell, the third book in the Bloodlines series. Well, I’m almost out of the throes because I have roughly 50-100 pages left, but Big H got the fourth book, The Fiery Heart, and so I’m not worried about my lack of reading material for the immediate future. Nope.
Mead’s books might be considered fluff, but I’m loving every minute of them.
Talk to you once the new semester starts! I’ll draw and contact the giveaway winners after my hiatus is over, and expect some other big news coming soon.