A New Sandbox

Come August, The Lit Connection will turn six.  Six years is a long time, my friends, but sadly, all good things must come to an end. You’ve probably noticed in the past year (or more…apologies!) that my regular posting schedule has taken a dive. For me, anyway, blogging has lost some of its former glory, which is a nice way of saying ‘WordPress is soooo 2006.”  After seeing so many of my book-blogging homies come and go and the great Google Reader gone to RSS-feed-heaven (OH GOD WHY?), it’s time to turn over a new leaf. Plus, need I mention that Outlander is finally going to be a TV show and my Jamie Fraser casting skills will be as defunct as Google Reader (again, WHY?!?!?!?) Also, also, many things have changed. I got engaged earlier this year and things are looking up for my writing endeavors (mums the word for now, more on this later).

So I’m taking The Lit Connection to the pound and putting her to sleep. But fear not, I’m keeping her open in case you ever feel the need to troll her archives and read about the first time I discovered Twilight and gushed over Edward/Jacob, in which case, I’ll DIE of embarrassment. That being said, you can still find me all over the interwebs.

Stalkers take note: 1) You can find me at my revamped tumblr: http://teresayea.tumblr.com/

I’m still blogging about books, musicals, shirtless men, swoon-worthy characters, and sexy sinister villains. Tumblr is a smaller garden, easier to maintain. The same silliness still applies. Y’all know me here as T.Y., but I’m taking a cue from Marky Mark and going by my full name. Consider me the ‘Blogger Formerly known as T.Y.’ So come over to my new sandbox and we shall continue to play. Put me in your new feed reader…if you have one now that Google Reader is deceased (I’M STILL PICKING THE SHATTERED PIECES OF MY HEART OFF THE FLOOR. SOB!)

2) Twitter @teresayea  

3) My Pinterest  With that said, I will be mounting my stallion and riding off into the sunset. I heart you all. Let us engage in a big pervy group hug. T.Y.

I begin 2011 freezing in my whale hunter jacket

As I’m writing this, I am wearing two pairs of pants, one turtleneck, a fleecy sweater, and a big puffy whale hunter jacket, fur lined hood pulled up. God I feel cool, no pun intended. Actually, I feel like I could join forces with Ernest Shackleton on Elephant Island and maybe nibble on cubes of Walrus fat for sustenance. I must stop typing every few seconds and blow hot pockets of air into my frozen palms.  I am also thinking of adding an extra pair of socks over the socks I already have on. This is the perfect time to pick a fight; my extra padding is the ultimate body armor. If you punch me I doubt I’ll feel it.

What does this have to do with books? Either I need to read a book set in warmer climes (any recs?) or I’m about to tear up the pages of a few Horrible Dare Novels and start a bonfire OR stuff them down my Whale Hunter jacket or dare I say it? down my pants. More padding is always appreciated.

Anyway, to fulfill my New Year’s Resolution to blog more, I just wanted to wow you with two totally random things.

A collage of My Wardrobe Remix of Spring-Fall of 2010. They remind me of warmer days when I looked normal and not like I’m about to spear a polar bear. In case you’re wondering if I’m a secret mother: I have not yet produced offspring (and probably won’t if I keep referring to children as ‘offspring.’) The little girl is my cousin, I call her Mini Me, and I borrowed her for picture purposes because she likes to ladypose more than I do.

And I’ve always wanted to do a Teaser Tuesday, except I’m going to be a maverick and do it on Monday. Since I’m not reading anything at this moment, I will grab the closest book and flip to a random page.

This book is Monster by Christopher Pike.

Teaser sentence: “We ate together. In a restaurant. We didn’t eat anybody.”

Reading Likes and Dislikes

Recently I jotted down a list of “What I like in a novel” and “What I hate in a novel” in an attempt to explain why I’m such a picky reader. As a bookworm with evolving tastes, these reading preferences are not carved in stone. And remember, these are MY preferences. Please do not be offended if you love your sluggishly paced novels with trolls and heroines-who-are-too-stupid-to-live. Because I like to bum ideas off like minds, feel free to make your own list and we shall rub grey matter…

I like novels with:

  • Sharp, witty dialogue.
  • A multi-dimensional villain painted in shades of gray. The ultimate turn off is a lame villain.  Speaking of which, the story must contain complex characters. The more three-dimensional the better. Please no cardboard cutouts or stereotypes. Flip the archetypes around: give me flawed heroes and sympathetic villains.
  • Dynamic characters! Characters who grow, change, and transform. The main character must have learned something by the end of the book.
  • Fast but not too fast pacing.
  • A cliffhanger or dramatic unease at the end of every chapter.
  • Romantic tension which includes sexy bantering between lovers. Trust me, sexy vibes are more crucial to the story than the actual consummation. Or, if sexy times are inevitable, break the happy couple up! Happy couples are dull, unhappy couples make for something to look forward to.
  • 1st person or 3rd person limited POV.  I’m not big on 3rd person omniscient but I’m not against it.
  • If the story contains betrayal or redemption.
  • Smart, unpretentious prose. Prose that is simple yet lyrical. Prose that reads like butter. Engaging description, narrative, and dialogue that dashes away reality and draws me into the story.
  • Economy of words. No extraneous words! I admire authors who can convey images and advance plot in as few words as possible. In other words, authors who can kill two birds with one stone.
  • Well-executed humor. Nothing is more awkward than a bad joke or pun.
  • Plot twists that actually SURPRISE. In the same league: authors who are not afraid to throw their characters under the bus, i.e. authors who GO THERE.
  • Nail-biting suspense.
  • Strong heroines who are actually… strong. Don’t tell me she’s strong and give her a stallion to ride then have her snivel in the corner while the hero saves the day. I want a hero girl with strength from the inside out.
  • Finally, the novel must entertain. For my invested time and money, I demand amusement.

I abandon novels with:

  • Stilted, wooden dialogue. Also, cheesy dialogue. Awkward dialogue. Cliché dialogue. Dialogue that does not advance the plot and serves no purpose but to showcase the writer’s pyrotechnics.
  • Stagnant, flat, lame, whiny characters.
  • Purple prose.
  • Plot that crawls.
  • Plots/characters that make you scratch your head in WTFery.
  • Hard to pronounce character names (I’m not a big fan of fantasy names. Sorry fantasy lovers. There are too many vowels!).
  • Cop-out or anticlimactic endings. If you promised me a trip to Disneyland and then take me to Santa’s Secret Village, there will be blood!
  • Predictable plot. Cliché plot.
  • HEROINES WHO ARE TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Books with talking animals (The Knife of Never Letting Go is an exception. My ONLY exception).
  • No dialogue attributions for the sake of art. I am not smart enough to distinguish who is talking if you don’t “quote” your lines of dialogue.
  • Too much interior monologue (especially if thoughts are in italics).
  • That being said, books with a cavalier use of italics. I see italics and I run for the hills.
  • Books where the heroine violates the dress code and decides to wear something lame like a…wig.
  • Elves, dwarves, fairies, trolls. Again, sorry fantasy lovers. I cannot frolic in the enchanted woods with the rest of you. Not that I haven’t tried. Trolls just rub me the wrong way and I’m allergic to fairy dust.
  • Books with free verse poetry embedded within the prose. Said poems can only lead to depressing subject matter.
  • Also, depressing subject matter. ENNUI with no light at the end of the tunnel. There are books that are so depressing that I want to throw myself off a cliff. These books usually have no relief from said depressing topic. A book must have highs and lows. Let us carve this in STONE. Highs and lows, not all lows.
  • Books that begin with the main character waking up in the morning.
  • Books using handicap people in poor taste.
  • The heroine is gorgeous but she doesn’t know it, not even when supporting characters find every opportunity to tell her she’s gorgeous and she’s all “No, I do not believe you. I am a hag. Even though I can pass for an actress on the CW, I am still ugly.” Granted, there are a lot of pretty people with low self-esteem and an easy way to humble your heroine and make her relatable is to make her question of her looks. But that’s an old writer’s trick that’s been done and redone. I would just like to see authors change it up: give me a heroine who OWNS up to her beauty.
  • I will refrain from naming names: YA books with the perfect hot (paranormal) guy. Stop. Being. Perfect. Am I the only one with eyes? Do you see that Mr. Perfect is actually kind of douchy?  By now, I’ve read about so many idolized vampires/werewolves/zombies/merman that I crave the polar opposite. Give me an Average Joe or Ugly Joe who grows more attractive as the heroine gets to know him.
  • Too many pop culture references. Sean Williams Scott?! Who’s that? MySpace? Are we living in 2005?
  • Books with minorities as sidekicks. I am not a sidekick! I object!
  • Long, drawn-out scenes that serves no purpose to the plot.
  • Gratuitous sex/violence/drug use for the sake of shock value.
  • Preachy novels, i.e. novels with a hidden agenda to teach readers a lesson. I object to learning. Entertain me!

I am Bookworm, Hear Me Roar!

I’m usually proud of how much I read. To friends, family, and any passing acquaintance, I like to flaunt my numbers. You’ll often hear me brag that I average 80 books a year and I’ve got the book blog to back up my statement. For the most part, non-readers are impressed or at least they pretend to be in my face. Sometimes they get snippy. Once my cousin proclaimed that my reading was a waste of time. In response, I smacked said cousin upside the head with the book I had on hand and my only regret was that it was a paperback and not a 1,000+ page hardback. Let this be a lesson to one and all: you hurt my books, I hurt you.

As much as I marinate in the awesomeness of my favorite hobby, comments like “reading is a waste of time” or “I don’t read because I don’t have that kind of time” or “I don’t read because I have better things to do” puts me on the defensive. In all likelihood, the speaker didn’t mean anything harmful, nevertheless, I’m secretly thinking, “Are you implying that I have nothing better to do?”

While I’m used to such remarks jabbing me from all directions, I’m usually able to shrug it off. My love of reading is like an impenetrable fortress and the fact that I want to write to publish one day is even more justification for my excessive reading habits. But every once in a while, a snide remark slips through the cracks and pierces at my very core. You’d probably recall (or not) that earlier this year I tried to cull the amount of time I spent on reading and use that time to break out of my cloistered existence and get a life. So I’ve lived life and what did I conclude? I’d rather read.

Being without a book for even a week has made me realize how much I depend on fiction to color my reality. Perhaps I even use books as a respite from reality. But when I was bookless and miserable, I saw that my reality was a bleak and barren place; the only way I could force myself to stand it was through spinning brightly colored images in my head, and these images I derived from stories. Okay, I’m the first to admit that I walk through life like a sleepwalker with a big gossamer veil over my eyes but that’s the way I prefer it … for now.

The fact that I seem to have an endless amount of time to read comes about from forgoing television, sleep, conventional cooking, and sometimes social outings in order to accommodate my passion. It may seem incomprehensible to some that I would choose to stay in and read rather than go out and have fun. But I think reading is thrilling!  In fact, I’d much rather prefer a quiet night with a book and a cup of hot chocolate to a night at the club.  I am a bookworm, I am an Emily Dickinsonesque homebody, and I’m proud of it.

This post topic was inspired by Nymeth’s fantastic Making Time to Read post.

Re: The Magic of Author Photos

Inspired by this post by Pimp My Novel, I’ve decided to discuss some my favorite author photos.

I risk sounding like a broken record but I can’t get enough of  this Young Ernest Hemingway eye candy. The above photo evokes all the wanderlust and romanticism associated with Hemingway. Plus, he’s got an intense stare and matinee idol good looks. I assume this was taken before the invention of airbrushing and if so, I’d kill for this man’s complexion. Let this be a lesson to all authors: if you are blessed with a piercing stare and a face chiseled to a Romanesque perfection, do stare directly AT the camera. Your eyes will carve windows into your readers’ souls…

Mervyn Peake’s got several things going  for him in this photo: 1) He’s staring off into the distance. 2) He’s got a cool coat. 3) He’s in front of a crumbling building. See “Cool background.”
3) It looks like he’s writing, i.e. doing his job on location and appearing devil-may-care because he’s  4) smoking a cig and totally disregarding the hazards of lung cancer. 5) The angle of the photograph makes him look like a giant. “Epic” comes to mind, like “I’m standing in the middle of the Blitz and I’m not trembling in my britches because I’m writing Gormenghast bitches!”

I like authors who appear approachable. Like John Green. What an upstanding young man! I’d like to shake his hand. If I were a seventy year old woman, I’d invite him to my bake sale.

Margaret Mitchell has the flapper diva thing going on. And look! She’s also staring off into the distance, as is her cat. Ah, the old ‘staring off into the distance trick’! I’ve always wonder what they’re staring AT… like said author knows something you don’t know and in order to reach their level of wisdom you must read their novels to find out.

This is Mortimer Chambers, my professor from college.  Don’t worry, this isn’t shameless sycophancy: when I was in his Western Civilizations class, I was just a number without a name. In high school, I read the textbook he co-authored and when I discovered he was teaching at my university, I raced to register for his class. I sat in the front row of every lecture trying to work up the nerve to ask him about Ancient Rome or to autograph my textbook (now that would be shameless brown nosing). But I was shy. And he was a Clint Eastwood look-alike with Charleston Heston-like gestures… He could part that river behind him. Let this be a lesson to you: sailboats. Know how to use them. They will always make you look like a seasoned traveler. I wonder if Professor Chambers knows David McCullogh…

Your turn: what’s your favorite author photo?

2009 Wrap-Up and My Stint in Reading Rehab

Happy New Year!

The magic number of books read this year: 70.

I have a confession: I am an EXTREME person. When I really like something, I do it to the extreme. Call it an addition. Call it a compulsion. I love to read. I haunt the library. If unchecked, I could read my life away and neglect everything else. I guess there’s worst things to be addicted to…like crack…or hookers…but apparently, compulsive reading could get dangerous too…I guess.

Around mid-June, my boyfriend shook me gently by the shoulders: “You have a problem. You read TOO much! If only you can write as much as you read…”

To make a long story short, I’ve entered into reading rehab, capping my reading time from unlimited to 1 hr/day. During the first week, I went through major withdrawals. If you noticed my lackluster blogging habits this year, this is the reason why. To make a longer story shorter, I’m still an EXTREME person, but I’ve managed to steer my obsessive tendencies from reading to writing. A strategic maneuver? Yes. A new can of worms? Double Yes.

Now that I have a time limit, I’ve morphed into a pickier reader. With the exception of next year’s Horrible Dare Challenge, bad books, mediocre books just won’t do. I will only touch the cream of the crop.

Jan 2009

The Ghost Writer—John Harewood
The Little Prince—Antoine De Saint-Exuprey
Fingersmith—Sarah Waters
No Plot? No Problem!—Chris Baty
Stein on Writing—Sol Stein
20 Master Plots—Ronald Tobias
Housekeeping vs. the Dirt—Nick Hornby

Feb 2009

Here on Earth—Alice Hoffman
Silk—Alessandro Barcio
How I Write—Janet Evanovich
Nefertiti—Michelle Moran
Aquamarine—Alice Hoffman
Indigo—Alice Hoffman

March 2009

Garden Spells—Sarah Addison Allen
Incantation—Alice Hoffman
Holidays on Ice (Santaland Diaries)—David Sedaris
The Heretic Queen—Michelle Moran
The Sugar Queen—Sarah Addison Allen
Tipping the Velvet—Sarah Waters
The Hunger Games—Suzanne Collins

April 2009

Graceling—Kristin Cashore
Paper Towns—John Green
What I Saw and How I Lied—Judy Bundell
Danse Macabre—Stephen King
The Running Man–Stephen King
Rapunzel’s Revenge–Shannon and Dean Hale
Wintergirls–Laurie Halse Anderson

May 2009

Perfect You—Elizabeth Scott
Dreadful Skin—Cherie Priest
Someone Like You—Sarah Dessen
Stuff White People Like—Christian Lander
Those Who Went Remain There Still—Cherie Priest
The Big Sleep—Raymond Chandler


June 2009

That Summer—Sarah Dessen
Liquor—Poppy Z. Brite
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels—Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan
Nerd in Shining Armor—Vicky Lewis Thompson
My Nerdy Valentine—Vicky Lewis Thompson
The First Five Pages—Noah Lukeman
Lord of Scoundrels—Loretta Chase
Shadowed Summer—Saundra Mitchell


July 2009
Cooking up a Storm—Emma Holly
Tender Morsels—Margo Lanagan
Notes on a Scandal—Zoe Heller
The Notebook—Nicholas Sparks
The Babysitter’s Club: Claudia and the Little Liar—Ann M. Martin
The Patmans of Sweet Valley High—Francine Pascal


August 2009
Bad Girls Don’t Die—Katie Alender
The Favored Child—Philippa Gregory
Along for the Ride—Sarah Dessen

September 2009
The White Darkness—Geraldine McCaughrean
Catching Fire—Suzanne Collins
The Knife of Never Letting Go—Patrick Ness
Vintage L.A.—Jennifer Brandt Taylor
Cleopatra’s Daughter—Michelle Moran
The Princess Bride—William Goldman


October 2009
Wicked Lovely—Melissa Marr
An Echo in the Bone—Diana Gabaldon
Her Fearful Symmetry—Audrey Niffenegger


November 2009
Thirst No. 1 (The Last Vampire, Black Blood, Red Dice)—Christopher Pike
The Ask and the Answer—Patrick Ness
Liar—Justine Larbalestier
The Minotaur—Barbara Vine
Once Was Lost—Sara Zarr


December 2009
The Man From St. Petersburg—Ken Follett
The Godfather—Mario Puzo
The Lightning Thief—Rick Riordan
The Woman in White—Wilkie Collins
Thunderstruck—Erik Larson
Screenplay—Syd Field

Team Gale vs. Team Peeta

A few days ago, I finished reading Catching Fire, Book 2 of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy. It was so good that it blew my mind all over YOUR face. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, you better hop on the bandwagon. I’m going to cyber bully you until you do. I’m not just recommending, I am shaking a virtual fist. Do. It. Read. It. Love. Me. For. Introducing. You. To. The. Awesome.

You won’t regret it. These book are the most exciting books I’ve ever read IN MY LIFE—so fan-freakin’-tastic, in fact, that I am hereby taking  a week off reading so I can pick the pieces of my brain off your face.  Point in fact, I got my brother, a reluctant reader who said, and I quote “I hate reading” to read The Hunger Games. I had to PAY him money to read it and he still wouldn’t do it so I cornered him and read aloud to him until my voice grew hoarse and I couldn’t continue and he’s all “Please don’t stop! You were right, I was wrong. I’m not worthy!”

See the lengths I will go to pimp this book?

Because Catching Fire left me in a catatonic state, and the only adjective in my vocab. bank is ‘awesome,’ I’m putting my reviews on the back burner in favor of something less taxing: pretty pretty pictures.

Let’s pick teams, shall we? For simplicity sake, I’m going to leave my Team affiliations out of this post until my review. Just a clue: Gale appeals to the Lord of the Flies part of me who likes to hunt and feast on red meat. While Peeta has that noble messiah thing going for him, I felt like he ah…left his balls with his baked goods. *Ducks ninja darts thrown by Team Peeta.*

Whether you’re Team Gale or Team Peeta, hot guy photos will unite us all!

Refresh my memory: did Gale or Peeta take off their shirts?  They do in my version!

I see Gale as a young Henry Cavill. Dark hair, tall and lean, capable hands, square jaw: the man is a work of art!

As for Peeta, I pick British actor/model Alex Pettyfer. He’s no slacker in the chiseled abs department.

Let’s not forget Katniss. I pick Lucy Griffin (Maid Marian from Robin Hood). She’s the perfect combo of English Rose and chick-kicks-butt.

*Buttons taken from Galleysmith