Friday, January 31, 2014

Follow up post: How Do You Define a Love Triangle + My New Button

Everyone had really great points to make on my How Do You Define a Love Triangle post, and I wanted to share some with you here. Then I need to stop talking about this topic, because if I'm getting tired of it, I'm sure you are too. 

I'm also unveiling my new Love Triangle Free Zone button that the amazing Jenny @ Supernatural Snark made for me. I love love love it so much. I've also put it on my sidebar with a link to grab, if you'd like to live a love triangle free lifestyle as well.  

What is a love triangle? 

A triangle, in my eyes, is when there are two guys competing for one girl and she has genuine feelings for both of them and just can't make a decision (or a guy with two girls, though I haven't read a book with that type of triangle yet)...If the girl's feelings are clear, even if there are two guys present it's still not a true triangle for me because she's not confused. She knows who she wants, it just might not be possible at that point in the story. ~ Jenny

I agree with this, Jenny! Though when a first book in a series is set up with two possible love interests, even if the heroine only wants one at this point in the story, usually it means that she is going to eventually do some wavering. Or the reader is at least going to be led to believe that she will waver, which is often just as stressful for me. Sometimes an author pulls off this situation well, without falling into a triangle trap, and I always think those books have more to offer. 

All these types of love triangle hurt my head! Why can't they just all go away? But going through the different types, I agree that some of them didn't even feel like a triangle to me... Overall, I would prefer there to be no triangle at all, but if it has to be there, then I'd want to heroine/hero to be smart enough to make a decision within one book and stick with it. ~ Aman

I know no one is perfect, and mistakes in love are part of life, but I agree, carrying out a triangle over an entire series rarely is necessary or realistic, especially when the integrity of the heroine is sacrificed to keep a reader guessing until the end. 

I don't think most books are really written as true triangles, which I define as someone well and truly caught be between two characters she's equally drawn to in different ways. This is why they are rarely interesting, because most "triangles" don't feel emotionally authentic and feel more like obstacles added to create romantic annoyance. I mean, tension. ~ Wendy

YES, Wendy! Also, I agree with the fact that fake triangles are annoying and often just a plot device. I'd even argue, that that there's a fine line between whether a book has a triangle and whether an author/publisher wants you to think a book has a triangle. Even though most books don't have true triangles, they're still being promoted has having a "triangle" or at least "teams" that the reader needs to choose. This hype just leads to more drama and a drawn out decision that gets old fast. 

There have been love triangles that I never consider a real triangle because the choice was obvious to me. ~ Sara @ Forever 17 Books.

I tend to agree with this, Sara. The Best Friend On Hold model, especially, rarely seems like a true triangle to me. Or at least, It bothers me less than some of the other models, probably because I'm not usually worried whom the heroine will eventually end up with. However, my former confidence has been wavering a lot, in the wake of some surprising (to me) recent ends to love triangle series. This has made me even more determined to avoid them. I wonder if some of the series that were fine for me previously, would bother me if I started them today?

Why are triangles so painful?

For me the bitterness of a love triangle comes from the fact that the MC is truly torn between two choices, whether or not she prefers one, and that act of being so confused and leading on two guys is what irritates me. If a guy is simply there because the MC is grieving (like in The Sky is Everywhere) I can forgive her and I can also get behind her if she's loyal to one guy and someone else just happens to like her which is out of her control, but either than that it's definitely a love triangle for me. ~ Keertana 

I don't mind the Love T, as long as there isn't any wavering happening. I think it often adds some great tension. I also wouldn't call the Make-Out Buddy an official love triangle. However, that model bugs me a lot and I usually don't enjoy experiencing it. BUT I wouldn't call it a "triangle," and thankfully it usually resolves within one book. 

To be honest, every single one of these annoys me, ha! I guess the love T isn't so bad... but I usually end up hating that third party, when he (she) could have actually been a great character otherwise. I can't stand the fact that again and again romantic tension has to come from the outside in the form of another person. It's unrealistic and kills the romance for me. :( Where's the loyalty? ~ Danielle
I know neither of us likes love triangles in general, Danielle. But I agree that they have been overused recently, and that my favorite stories create tension in other ways than including a triangle. It's starting to feel like a bit of a cop out to me. 

It's not like I need a happy ending every time. I just need to know there's peace among the characters I care for --more so if romantic feelings are involved. ~ Marlene C.

I prefer HEA. But I completely agree that series that drag out triangles until the bitter end are rarely emotionally satisfying. Usually the heroine looks bad and one of the choices gets majorly shafted. After working so hard to keep the reader guessing and investing in multiple parties, this is disappointing. 

How do so many characters let themselves get drawn into triangles? 

Honestly, if I was one of the boys in these love triangles and some girl was having a hard time choosing between me and some other guy, I would quickly delete my name from the multiple choice exam she seems to be taking. ~ Monique Morris
I can't stand it when a character spends a whole book (or series *shudder*) vacillating between two love interests. It doesn't make sense to me that a character wouldn't make a choice (A, B, or C (neither)), and it makes even less sense that choices A and B are willing to stick around and wait for this indecisive person to make a choice. ~ Kel @ No Cucumber Sandwiches

Both of your comments made me laugh, because they are so true. I don't understand how these YA guys get suckered into triangles over and over again, especially with girls who often describe themselves as 'plain' and who never had a guy look at them twice before. When a triangle gets to the point that a heroine looks bad because she's been leading on two guys for so long, I wish the guys would just give her the boot. 

Overwhelming dislike for the Blindside and the Middle Book Tension Triangle.

I won't read a book if a love triangle is a feature, which is why I feel conned when it shows up halfway through. Allie @ Little Birdie Books 
I HATE "the blindside" with a burning passion. I mean, come on, I don't need any more of those in my life! … The "middle of the book tension".... *cringes* I can't stand those. ~ Christie  
I HATE the blindside and middle book tension triangles. ~ Sara @ Forever 17 Books   
For me, the worst love triangles are the ones you mentioned that drag on and on and keep us guessing until the very end. I can't deal with those types any more. I'm also not a fan of the guy that pops up in book two in order to create additional tension between our main couple and put them on the outs before they reconcile in book three. ~ Jenny 
Love triangles make my brain melt. And the ones that show up MID series? I can't even ... WHY?! It's like I've been tricked! Allie @ Little Birdie Books 
My least favorites are when they are SO in love with a guy in the first book - this is the only guy who has even known her this way and then - ooh! shiny new boy. And the I want you - no I want you - no I want you - every other chapter for 2-3 books.  ~ Karen

YES! To all of this. I'm so bad at waiting to start series until multiple books are out, but it's crushing to experience a mid-series triangle. It's even worse when it's clear that they're just added for tension. I'm liking this new trend towards duets, though. Less time for a triangle to happen - or drag out. 

On authors' reactions to the love triangle madness. 

"It's always funny when I discuss this with authors and they don't even think they've written [a love triangle]. They know in their head what happens in the end so it seems more like a minor detour while we're all having heart attacks over the eventual decision." Karen

I've noticed this too, Karen. I went to an event last year featuring two authors of very popular/polarizing Love Triangle series (polarizing in that they their audience is split into very prominent and vocal "teams"). Both authors said that they didn't think their stories had a triangle. I was like???? Even though an author knows the way her story is going to go, when she or her publisher tries to set up readers to pick a 'team' that carries throughout a series, keeping the reader guessing until the end, I think that's 100% a triangle. 

These blurbs must be written for someone else.

I think we're screwed. Those blurb writers seem to think that we like the triangle. Silly blurb writers. ~ Mary @BookSwarm 
I am totally with you about misleading publishers! >.< Not just concerning love triangles, though. I have a shelf on GR that's called "avoid until sequel releases." If the sequel has a love triangle or cliffhanger I don't bother. It's saved me quite a bit of heartache in the past, at any rate. ~ Keertana 
I've almost completely stopped reading summaries right before I pick up a book because I don't want to be misled about a possible triangle. And it seems like those who write the descriptive copy think we all WANT love triangles because I've been misled that way and recently, too. *sigh* But I still agree that we should at least get advanced warning of a triangle so we can decide if it's worth it or not. ~ StarryeyedJen 

I'm not sure why some blurb writers push the triangle and some try to hide it. Definitely a mystery! Jen, I think you have the right idea of avoiding blurbs, because they can be misleading. I tend to trust a reviewer's comments more - that's why I'm always coming to you and others for your opinion. Also, Keertana, you're right, blurbs can be misleading in general. Though that's a topic for another day. I LOVE your shelf idea. I need to check that out. 

In Summary:
  • A Love Triangle is when a girl has feelings for, and is is truly torn between, two guys. If several guys like her, but she never wavers on who she likes, that is not a triangle. 
  • Triangles that pop up mid series are annoying, especially when it's clear they're only included to add tension. 
  • Triangles that drag out through multiple books are rarely emotionally satisfying, and usually only make the heroine look bad, and the love interests foolish for sticking around so long. 
  • How the reader perceives a story is sometimes more relevant than whether an author thinks they've written a love triangle. If an author/publisher is pushing their series as having a love triangle with 'teams' that the heroine and, as a result, the readers are encouraged to choose between, the story has entered love triangle territory. 

Do you agree, want to add anything?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mini Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
by Karen Foxlee
Read: January 12 - 17, 2014
Published: January 28, 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers 
Source: NetGally - Thank you Random House.
Category: Middle Grade, Fairy Tale retelling
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard is a practical, modern eleven year old girl who believes in science and not magic. When she visits a museum in a foreign, snowy land where her father is curating an exhibit on swords, she meets a boy locked in a room who challenges her firmly held ideas. This boy tells Ophelia that he has no name, but he has been sent by wizards in another place to defeat the evil Snow Queen. Of course, Ophelia thinks he's crazy. She's also not sure what a small smudgy girl like herself could possibly do to help. But somehow Ophelia gets drawn into helping the boy anyway, and slowly she learns that the world may be filled with magic after all, and she may be able to accomplish more than she ever thought possible. 

Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy is an enchanting story featuring a queen who is appropriately evil, a small under appreciated girl who learns to be brave, a family in turmoil and a boy who is indeed marvelous. This is the type of story that I would have adored as a child. The language is lovely, and the story is magical, dangerous and a little bit creepy. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Ophelia and the boy, as well as the role of Ophelia's family in the story. Ophelia and her father and sister are all a mess at first, struggling with the recent death of Ophelia's mother, but they come together when it's most needed. As an adult I did find the book to be obvious in places, but still a wonderful tale. 

I read an ecopy of Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy, but the book is interspersed with some lovely illustrations. I recommend getting the paper copy for that reason. Also, this story is a retelling of the Snow Queen, but I'm not familiar enough with that fairytale to talk about how it is as an adaptation. On it's own, Ophelia was a sweet, delightful middle grade read. 

Love Triangle Factor: N/A
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone (as far as I know)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Alienated by Melissa Landers

by Melissa Landers
Read: August 23 - 25, 2013
February 4, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Around the World Arc Tours
Category: PNR, aliens, YA

Series: Alienated #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

I think perhaps I’ve grown out of my perpetual love of the Paranormal Romance genre. Or possibly it’s the aliens. But as much as I though this book was well done, filled with delicious swoon and an enjoyable story, I just couldn’t get into it as much as I hoped. Although this PNR story approaches aliens in an interesting way, Alienated never fully grabbed me. 

Cara is hardworking and goal oriented. She has big plans for college and her future, including a career in journalism. As the top student in her school, she has been preselected to participate in an exchange program. Not just with someone on the other side of the country, or the world. But with someone from another galaxy entirely. 

Cara’s alien exchange student Aelyx thinks he’s much better than the messy, less intelligent race that he’s being forced to live with, but he’s forced to reconsider his views when he meets Cara. 

You see aliens – who look remarkably like humans on earth - made contact two years ago and since that time, the two planets have been in peaceful negotiations. As there are understandably, many people hostile to the idea, one of the first steps to interplanetary relations will be this high school exchange program. One student will stay with Cara and study for a semester, and then she’ll go to the planet of L’eihr for a semester the following year (aka book 2). Cara is obviously reluctant, but among other reasons, she is hopeful that it will be a good thing for her future career. 

I thought the author did a nice job with her world building. She’d thought through the differences between the L’eihr and humans, as well as what would be the public’s reactions to an alien race inhabiting earth. The L’eihr’s are actually far more advanced than the humans, they have better medicine, the ability to speak to each other in their minds and are much less…chaotic than earth dwellers. But does that make them truly superior? I liked the discussion in this story about what it means to be human, the bad and ugly parts but also the beautiful ones. 

I really enjoyed watching Aelyx experience earth for the first time, and seeing his prejudices diminish as he got to know Cara. I could also imagine what she went through, losing friends and acquaintances because of her affiliation with him. Many people are understandably worried about a different race of people inhabiting earth. Why are the L’eihr here? And what could they possibly want from the less advanced earth dwellers? But I was in awe of Cara's strength and determination not to let peer pressure change her views. However,
I found Cara to be way too forgiving of her best friend's prejudiced behavior in the end. She must be a bigger person than I am. 

Cara and Aelyx’s relationship is paced well, and I like that it took time for them to develop a connection. A lot of that is due to trust, but also Aelyx is not very familiar with the ways that humans show affection, and seeing him discover that is one of the most fun parts of this story. Also the most swoon inducing. I also really like the tension caused by Aelyx's prejudice and watching him work through that.

As you can see, most of my comments on this book are positive, and I think a lot of people will enjoy this story. However, I just couldn't escape the overwhelming sense that this is going down the standard three book PNR plot arc, and I feel exhausted just thinking about it. There is even a character introduced in the last 2 chapters that seems like they could be a second love interest. However, according to my love triangle disliking friend Danielle, the author has stated that book 2 will NOT have a triangle. Thank goodness for small miracles! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - Medium, depending on your perspective. The end basically sets up book 2, so you know where the characters and plot are headed. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

How do you define a love triangle?

Original image source

Recently I made the declaration on twitter that I think books should come with love triangle warning labels. After that statement, I, of course, started thinking about how that could be practically executed. Not everyone sees love triangles the same way, and I started to wonder whose job it would be to make these rulings. Because if I were to make a dystopian future, it would be one in which Love Triangles Must Be Declared. Actually scratch that, it would be a future of No Love Triangles. But I digress. I certainly wouldn't want the job of having to decide if a book required a love triangle label, if it meant I had to read only books with potential triangles in them. And what do you do about series that introduce triangles in later books? Clearly this question requires Serious Thought.

Today I want to know:
How do you define a love triangle? 

Often, when I consider an entire book series,  I'd easily give it a Mild love triangle rating, although individual books may feel higher than others. For most "love triangles" it's always obvious who the heroine wants, even if she goes after someone else when she can't have him. For those of series, I'm never really worried about who she will end up with. I'm also glad that I didn't pass them by because of my worry about the state of the triangle. It's the series that keep me guessing until the very end, where I struggle the most. 

Would you consider all of these popular love setups to be true triangles? 
Which do you think are most/least effective?
(This list is not extensive, and some of these overlap.)

1) Best friend on hold - The MC's best friend is not-so-secretly in love with her, and she considers him because she can't have the guy she wants. This also leads to any situation where the MC picks a different guy because she can't have her first choice. 

 Examples: The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead 

2) The blindside - A second love interest pops up mid series. 
 Examples: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

3) Middle book tension triangle, or "I love you, but I love him more!" - The MC usually gets into this situation, when a second guy comes into the picture during the middle book break-up between her and her main love interest. Authors must keep the tension high!
Examples: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

4) Make-out buddy - The connection between the MC and one of the guys is more physical and about her needing to escape, than anything emotional. This usually isn't dragged out past one book. 
Example: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

5) The Love T - It's clear who the MC wants and he wants her back. But there is another guy who really wants her too, although he never really has a chance. 
Example: Anne Aguirre outlines this well in her post on her Enclave series at The Midnight Garden.

6) This wouldn't be a triangle if THAT plot element hadn't happened - A new love interest comes into the story because of major plot elements that shakes up the MC's world, changing her future and introducing a potential new love interest. 
 Example: Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (Logan dies at the beginning of the series, and Zach is introduced), The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Katniss and Gale seem a given until she gets called to the Hunger Games with Peeta). 

7) THE LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM - The author drags out the triangle and keeps you guessing until the BITTER END of the series.
Example: See my recent post on the topic. But The Tiger Saga by Colleen Houck is my strongest example of this.

8) The Infernal Devices - This deserves it's own category, because it's the only series I can think of that actually has a true triangle, where all three of the individuals in the relationship care about each other. 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

9) Free will debate, aka I'm bound to you, but I want him instead - Objectively, the heroine makes much more sense with one of her choices. He is her intended match, but she wants to make her own decisions and ends up falling in love with someone else instead. I usually struggle with how these types of triangles play out throughout a series. 

Examples: Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 

Final thought (haha. who am I kidding? I could talk about love triangles forever): Have you noticed that the people who write descriptive book copy like to further confuse those of us actively trying to avoid triangles? Sometimes they like to write book descriptions claiming there's a triangle in a story, but once you start reading, you realize there isn't one at all. On the other hand, sometimes a book description only mentions one guy, when you find out later that there's two at play. Don't get me started again on series where triangles pop up unexpectedly in later books. How is a girl who's actively trying to avoid triangles, supposed to succeed? 

I want to hear from you! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cress Blog Tour + Giveaway
Author Marissa Meyer's favorite fanart

The Cress blog tour is organized by MacTeenBooks
Find the full schedule HERE (and below)

I am an enormous fan of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. With each book I've read in this series, the complexity of the story and the excitement of the plot increases, and I can't help but fall deeper in love with Meyer's characters and her storytelling. 

Cress is definitely my favorite book of the three, although Wolf is my favorite character of all so far. You can find my glowing thoughts on the third installment HERE

Today I'm incredibly excited and honored for Marissa Meyer to talk about some of her favorite fanart images. Fanart completely fascinates and amazes me. I am not artistic at all, but I am a very visual person, and I love to see artists' renditions of my favorite books. I can't imagine how incredible it would be to write a book, and then have someone draw images about it.

Welcome, Marissa!

Highlighting Some Favorite Fanart
By Marissa Meyer

I am a sucker for all fanart, and I particularly love it when artists use their art to theorize on upcoming books, or envision characters that they’ve only barely met. It’s so much fun for me to see how even a single line or scene can inspire a drawing, a comic strip, a painting—anything! Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite parts of being a writer.

Though CRESS has only just come out, some clever artists have been drawing fanart related to the book for months—even years! Here are some of my personal favorites.



OMG movie posters!! This piece makes me very excited and hopeful that there may be an official Cinder movie someday... *fingers crossed* In the meantime, this fanartist is actually making her own fanvid, a trailer for which can be seen HERE.




I am a sucker for any fanart that highlights all four girls, even though you guys haven't met them all yet! This one does an awesome job of capturing their unique styles. The artist, Abbi, is definitely one of the most prolific TLC fanartists, and I adore everything she does!



I am equally a sucker for anything that highlights one of those quirky moments between the characters, and this one delights me to no ends! (It doesn’t hurt that seeing the characters chibi-fied filled with vast amounts of nostalgia.)



This more recent piece has such a strikingly gorgeous interpretation of Cress, and really captures her and her plight so well. It has a romantic, day-dreamy quality that I absolutely love.



Last but by no means least, this drawing makes me SO HAPPY. I literally lol’d the first time I saw it.



More amazing fanart can be found on the Lunar Chronicles Tumblr.


About the author

Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and three cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf . . .), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was given a small book of them when she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg. Cress is the third book in her debut series the Lunar Chronicles.

Find Marissa Meyer: Twitter | Facebook | On tour
Become a fan of The Lunar Chronicles: Facebook | Tumblr
Follow the MacTeenBooks blog for more Lunar Chronicles fun

Get ready for the release of Cress!
Pre-Order Cress and get a free comb! Details HERE (Us only) 
Join the Scarlet Readathon, HERE


Follow the entire Cress Blog Tour

Monday January 20

Tuesday January 21

Wednesday January 22

Thursday January 23

Friday January 24

Monday January 27

Tuesday January 28

Wednesday January 29

Thursday January 30

Friday January 31

Monday February 3


Enter to win a paperback of Cinder + a paperback of Scarlet + a hardcover of Cress + a special Cress comb!

 Thank you Macmillan for this generous giveaway!

Giveaway is for US or Canada residents only (Sorry, other international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE

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