Make Storyland Better

make it workIt’s time for Adventures in Storyland to take the next step. Sometime in the next couple weeks you’ll be seeing a new layout and changes to the theme. But I also need the help of my readers. I need to know what you want out of a blog.

I most regularly post Tuesday Reads, and that’s not about to stop – I’m hoping, in fact, to make it an every-week occurrence as opposed to an every-couple-of-weeks. I’m going in search of interviews and guest posts, and, with some luck, I’ll have book giveaways happening in the next couple months.

So here’s my question for you: What else would you like to see? Vlogs? More posts about writing? Posts about something else? Would you be interested in seeing some of my original stories?

I want to make a blog that’s interesting and fun to read, that will keep you coming back. Hit up the comments and let me know what you think I can do to make that happen – and thank you, as ever, for reading.

Tuesday Reads: Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London

“That means,” he said, “if you’re an environmentalist, then I’m your worst nightmare.” We stared across the table at each other, an invisible wall bricking between us. “But it also means that if you want to learn about the economics of land development” – he steepled the tips of his fingers under his chin – “then I’m the man of your dreams.”

definitely maybeI love retellings of old stories, but I’ll admit, going into Ophelia London’s Definitely, Maybe in Love, I was a little nervous. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice roughly a million times. I wondered if London could breathe new life into the story, if the characters would just be carbon copies, if I’d feel as intense a need for Spring and Henry to get together as I do for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Definitely, Maybe in Love does not disappoint. The characters remain loyal to the heart of the originals while being entirely new people to meet. I can totally see a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet being a nature-loving feminist  college student fighting for conservation and sustainability, Jane being a sweet girl on Prozac, and Mr. Darcy being glued to his iPhone.

Don’t expect the exact same plot, either. London removed some characters and shifted some plot points around. That could be tricky to pull off, especially with such a well-loved story, but it was done well and it worked for this book and these characters. By the last fourth of the book, I was well and thoroughly hooked and just wanted Spring and Henry to live happily ever after already, dammit, but London brought up a twist I totally didn’t see coming. And then I shook my Kindle because seriously, I was going to go insane if Spring didn’t just tell Henry she loved him.

The hormones are also out in full force. While there are no explicit sex scenes, there’s quite a bit of steamy making out that I maybe shouldn’t have read on the bus because I’m sure my face turned bright red.

There are a few small bits that I’m not in love with – girls casually shaming each other and themselves about what they’re choosing to eat, about their weight, referring to Lilah (Caroline) as “skeletal”, implications that casual sex isn’t something good people do – but they are small and aren’t themes of the book. They bothered me enough to bring it up here, but they didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the story.

Overall, this is a good retelling and definitely a fun, edge-of-your-seat love story. Well worth the read.

Medium: Kindle
Stars: 4/5

Tuesday Reads: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Democracy, at its root, is based on the faith that our representatives have our best interests at heart. If we as a nation no longer believe that they do, that may be even more disturbing than the idea that aliens are among us.

I’m really into disaster scenarios. Bonus points if they’re kind of weird, and big bonus points if we then get to see normal people pushed entirely out of not only their comfort zones but just their entire realm of experience. That’s what happens to Reese and David, two of our main characters in Adaptation by Malinda Lo. I was sold on this book from the first paragraph of the Amazon summary:

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

AdaptationARC_cover_webReese and David are two of those stranded travelers. They’re in Arizona, and they’re forced to drive home to San Francisco. But on a deserted highway, a bird flies straight into their headlights. They swerve, flip over, crash. They wake up in a military hospital, miraculously healed, and they’re…different. They can’t exactly understand what’s different, but something is off.

They eventually get home to San Francisco, and return to their lives. Reese meets Amber, this beautiful, interesting girl that flirts with her and makes her feel wonderful.

But of course, it can’t all be sunshine and roses. Reese continues to monitor her rapid healing. She can’t shake the feeling that someone is following her. Her best friend talks about government conspiracies and aliens – and Reese starts to think that maybe that’s not as crazy as it sounds. Maybe he’s onto something.

I’ll admit – I’m not super into the alien government conspiracies, but Adaptation kept me on the edge of my seat and I enjoyed it. The aliens weren’t entirely my style, either, but I like the classic scifi feel to both them and their ship (but I won’t spoil all that).

Adaptation is also an awesome example of diversity in YA (which I’ve talked about before) and which makes sense, considering that Malinda Lo’s other books (Ash and Huntress) feature queer and POC characters and, oh yeah, she’s one of the founders of Diversity in YA.

While this whole crazy conspiracy plot is going on, Reese is struggling a bit. She has this huge crush on David, but then she meets Amber and wow kissing her is pretty great. The truly great part here isn’t that she’s kissing a girl – it’s that she has feelings for and chemistry with both a guy and a girl.

Here’s the thing. Erasure of bisexuals is pretty big in popular media. “Oh, he can’t like that girl, he has a boyfriend. She can’t like that girl, she has a boyfriend.” People are either gay or straight. When there is a bisexual character, they’re generally portrayed as being slutty (which we’re also told is bad) or indecisive. Just this past week, Glee’s awesome lesbian Santana complained that she only ever dates experimental college girls and bisexuals (both groups, of course, will always leave her for a guy), and that dating a Real Lesbian was intimidating. Said Real Lesbian told Santana that she deserves a “full Sapphic goddess”.

Because bisexuals just don’t count, right?

Of course, the sad thing is that these are just backing up real opinions that people have about bisexuals.

When it comes down to it in Adaptation, it’s not that Reese is struggling to figure out if she’s gay or straight. Yeah, she gets confused a bit because she’s only ever thought she’s straight, but in the end that’s not what matters. What matters is that she has feelings for both David and Amber, and there’s a whole lot of drama with both of them. She’s not choosing between gay or straight. She’s choosing between two people that she cares about.

Normalized bisexual representation and a giant government conspiracy? I don’t know about you, but count me in for the rest of this series.

Medium: Kindle
Stars: 4/5