Saturday, April 6, 2013

Enjoyable Romance

Romance is a tricky genre that has become polluted with a shallow focus on the relationship and not the people nor the bond. What I mean by this is that the idea of romance has become a forced performance within a story, where values are simply aesthetic. The love is just a show of raw lust, forbidden attractions, gorgeous faces, and outside problems. Where is the actual love? The personal problems and tribulations? There is just face-value emotions covering a void.

swfupload_7174394315127440127.gifNow, do not get me wrong. I love guilty-pleasures and unrealistic romances like the next stereotyped girl. Give me a dark haired, sharp eye, possessive bad boy who has a heart and I am entertained. I do not, however, enjoy the fact we as readers are drowning in pretty much the same romantic formula in most every (tween+) book that's out there. Romance has been shadowed by one style and now people can assume romance as equalling older woman porn or shallow tween vampire fantasy.

There is so much more depth and interest and opportunities romance can cover than given credit for.

But with the fog of the romantic formula hiding potential, what on earth can writers who are interested in the genre do? I have compiled what I think are ten possible ideas to do when creating romance and how they will help make the genre more enjoyable for the writer and reader.

1) Start with what you like and what you're attracted to. If you're writing about your dream girl/boy it's easier for you as the writer to have emotion in the story, which reaches the audience better. If you have a thing for blonds with glasses, you write it. Don't let what is supposedly "popular" dictate how you write your story and create your characters. If there is a guilty-pleasure concept you are drawn to, work with it in your story. Make sure you feel something as you write about these emotions.

2) Bringing up the concept of guilty-pleasures, don't be afraid of them! Just because you get a joy from something that is unrealistic doesn't mean that it is shallow, worthless, or brings a bad name to females, males, or relationship in general. Many love them and understand they're for fun and a sense of escape, and they really can be good books if written well. If you are inspired to write one or discover the project you're writing is becoming one, don't believe your story has become shallow or lacking in "novel nobility". Just work with it and see what you can do with the emotions and the plot.

3) Keep open to realistic character flaws. Don't create flaws that are still, somehow, really attractive. Everyone does something that can bother others to some degree. No one is perfect and everyone can be gross. As nasty and dampening to a figure it might be, when you're writing you should always remind yourself that "everyone goes to the bathroom" and reel yourself back into reality. Your characters don't need to have something super negative or gross, but it should be something more than an attractive sense of stubbornness. Don't let the need to create a dream-character make someone so unrealistic and untouchable it hurts the story.

4) Humor is allowed in romance! You're more than willing to laugh and grin during a relationship. It's not all about the cuddles or drama. The characters can be goofy or be in a funny scenario. They're allowed to laugh just like the audience is allowed to too. There is so much exhausting drama, tragedy, strain, and sadness in so many romance books it feels like the idea of humor would no longer make it romance. This is not the case. Romance can very well be happy, exciting, funny, and something to create a smile.

5) Open up other possibilities of connections and attractions besides a person's physical appearance. Characters are allowed to be hot, but do more than making them a pretty face and a romance based on looks. Have an action, a talent, a random fact, or even their personality be something as an attractive focal point. There is nothing wrong with creating a good looking character. But don't make it all that the character has besides the ability to fight in some sort of supernatural war. Give them more credit than that.

6) Always have work in the relationship. It doesn't have to be the typical romance drama, but the couple (like every couple) has to work for their relationship. However, this doesn't mean you have to follow the exact same type of drama that has been stereotyped in romance books.Every romance doesn't need the triangle, the paranormal, the war, etc. There can be other forms of drama introduced to the couple. An unexpected pregnancy, losing a treasured possession, intense fear of people, etc. There are other ideas out there.

7) Relationship growth is like character growth, it needs to happen. It needs to be rough, awkward, tense, painful, real, and enjoyable. If a character doesn't develop, the book can be boring. If a relationship remains pretty much the same (love to love to love to love = love). Allow for breakups, make ups, new people, and history. Give the romance a little bit of realism to it.

8) Allow tension to grow from within the relationship. So often, books focus on drama coming from outside the couple. Going back to number 3, bring in character flaws that might damage a relationship. Don't make it that they would have en easy time if certain forces were removed (like a demonic war, family loathing each other, etc.).

9) Romance can start as something more than enemies. People can start a romantic relationship through friendship, as acquaintances, with romance as a goal (like a blind date), or barely even talking to each other. Think of different ways people could meet, even something mundane could be written interestingly.

10) A big thing to be said about romance is never be afraid to try something new. Be willing to experiment with different ideas and concepts and plot twists. Just because one type is popular at the moment does not mean you have to follow what previous authors did to succeed. Do other things and start your own trend. When you follow the mold that is how the genre gets stuck in a boring loop.

Just keep writing fellow romance fanatics. And just keep trying out new ideas with everything you do!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear Karma

Insecure Writer's Support Group: April Edition 

Dear Karma,

I am formally requesting a history of my actions and thoughts from the last year. It seems over the past six+ months I've been suffering from an onslaught of bad luck. While I do understand that life throws tests at people to strengthen them for the future and help them appreciate the better times, I feel like this particular onslaught has gone on for quite some time. It makes me wonder if my Karma-level has depleted due to negative actions and thoughts on my part. I do try to be good, positive, and aware of the "what goes around, comes around" motto, but am at a loss for previous actions that may have, let's say, triggered this avalanche of sourness.

Now, please don't get me wrong, I do appreciate what I have but recently I've found myself becoming pretty drained. I've lost my grandfather and been forced to deal with my unpleasant grandmother. My family has been going through a dry spell financially. I've lost a good GPA, a part on the Dean's List, and a scholarship all due to a language course I never plan on using in my career/life but am required to take anyway. Good friends of mine have suffered accidents. I've been on strict diets, started running, and do intense workouts and yet I have gained weight (and it don't look like muscle). Oh, and remember the language course I previously mentioned? It might cost my graduation. I'm suffering horrible insecurities about myself and writing. Writer's block feels like it's crawling from the shadows of my mind. And I'm still meeting a couple of bad luck occurrences practically daily (my new job at school might not be able to pay me in time, surprise French assignments, unhelpful departments, etc.).

I do feel grateful for what I have and for the appreciation and relief I will have once all of this is over and life gets back on an upbeat path again. I can count my blessings and still meet the day with a positive attitude. And while I will whine and sigh and mope, I promise I won't quit on anything. I do apologize if this comes out annoying. You know i hate to do stuff like this. But man I am curious about all of this, Karma!

I hope to hear back so I may leaner from my mistake and not make you so mad in the future.

Thank you in advanced!


P.S.: I look forward to graduating in a few weeks. Please, please send enough luck for that accomplishment!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ugly Writing

It stinks to be on a roll with your project only, for some reason, to stop and feel like you have come to a horrifying realization.

Everything that is being written is terrible.

This is a miserable struggle I am going through now. I feel the idea of my novel is strong, the timeline/outline feels good, and the characters have a purpose. But there feels like there is something lacking and it is lacking terribly.

It is a haunting insecurity that is affecting the completion of my project. I'm already into third edition of my book, so I would like to have it completed. But I find myself hating my writing so much. It doesn't feel polished enough to the point it hurts to complete a chapter because it is so ugly to look at. And I can't just not look because I am fully aware what I am writing and am aware of how bad it is.

Maybe before I wasn't paying much attention to it. I just wanted to complete my book so I can start the quest for publishing. Not sure if I've put more attention on to the actual writing itself now or not. But something has triggered a reaction from me and made me aware something is off.

It's not so easy to keep writing when the foundation of the book feels so weak and boring. It feels like the writing is so drawn out over nothing. But removing the details no longer feels like my writing style. Yet my current writing style feels ugly and not worth publishing.

What can change? Should something change? I feel the view of personal ugly writing is probably very overwhelming and crippling to a lot, if not most, writers. It is an insecurity that grips the hand tightly and it becomes a struggle to write anything.

I find that I'm not so upset that my writing may be bad now. While the idea does hurt, if it is confirmed I don't find the news that horrible. What is frustrating is being unsure what to do about it. How to get better? Do I just continue writing? Do I ignore the doubt or is it something that should be dealt with now?

There are so many confusing turns. It's painful to move on cause the writing feels to be feeding off bad preceding chapters but going back might earn more set-backs and doubts.

What would you guys do? How would you face this situation? Any advice would be much appreciated to hear and to spread to more around who are going through similar insecurities!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Can't Doesn't Mean Failure

In a previous post, it was discussed about always trying despite fear of failing. But this shouldn't be taken to always try in all matters before you are ready. Just because you're unable to even try and run that whole mile doesn't mean that you have failed. You just now have a goal to inspire to. Don't look at what you can't do and look at what you're going to accomplish.

really cant really cant"I'm not ready to ask him out," "I couldn't even do one push up," "A university might not be for me yet,"--none of this means you will never be able to or you are a failure. You're not a coward for not being ready to make a romantic move. You're not a loser because you can't accomplish something new instantly. And just because a challenge is in your face that looks too intimidating doesn't mean you can never face it.

 So many things in life take time to get use to. Baby steps can be a necessity for success. No one should be so disappointed with themselves because they tried but couldn't. And just because you "can't" doesn't mean that you "can't" forever. Either keep trying or move on to something else till you are ready to try again.

And all of this can be the same for writing. Your first edition doesn't meet your expectations? You got rejected? Been about a month since you last wrote on your project? Don't let it hurt you! Just keep trying and don't let the "can't" keep you stuck at where you are.

If it is worth it to you, all your attempts won't fail you. Like in the last post, the failures are steps to mature and learn. You become stronger and better by learning from what you couldn't do a year ago. Don't let it hurt you, let it harden you and try even harder for the next time.

Need some more inspiration? Take a minute to check out these famous failures and realize that you can always amount to anything no matter what happens.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Don't Be Afraid of No

The idea of being rejected can be hard to take. It is being told that you're just not good enough. And it hurts badly. Your work, your courage, and perhaps even bits of yourself don't fit with what you really want. This can be to your manuscript, to asking that desired lovely out, to going after a job. That painful moment where it feels like hope has been taken from you. To sum it up, "no" is a painful process that is just part of every day reality.

What's your definition of NO?But being told "no" does not have to be as terrible as it is. "No" does not equal a total rejection of who you are. This is just a way to grow and mature and become an even more courageous person for the next obstacle in your life.

There is so much about yourself you can discover and create from facing that terrible moment of "no". Don't miss out on an opportunity to hear the word because you are so afraid of it. Negativity and hardship can be the key to positivity and accomplishment.

How can anyone grow if their mistakes or flaws aren't mentioned? How does anyone as a writer or a person develop and get better if they don't see their outstanding possibilities? Without these moments of pain and "no" we wouldn't find out what else we could become.

You didn't get that job/lovely/contract? It's horrible and you deserve time to mourn of what could've been. But then you need to get back up and find that "yes" out there. Because you will find it in some form in a way you might not have expected you needed. You just might find the better person to share the rest of your life with. Perhaps that job would've stopped you from traveling around the world and finding a new dream. And just maybe there is a better twist to your story you weren't even aware of.

My family has a saying when something doesn't live up to expectations or the dreaded "no" was given. "Something better is meant to happen" and I find, for the most part, it is true. It just takes time and trying to make the better happen. Because it can't happen on its own. We gotta still put ourselves out there with the rejections to find it.

Never take "no" as a signal to give up. See it as a challenge to just prove it wrong.

Each rejection should be held as a warrior's mark and seen as an accomplishment. You took the step and tried. Do you know how hard it is to even make an attempt at something out of fear of rejection or a sense of nothing coming from it? Every day people fail to try because of "no".  There are people who are sitting waiting for something to happen to them or just living in an empty mundane because they don't want to go out into the rejections.

Film Review We Bought A ZooDon't let the fear of rejection prevent you from ever trying something you truly want. As hard as it is to say and as hard as it is to do, sometimes you just need to swallow that pride and fear and let yourself do something you never thought you could do.

"Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come from it." -- Benjamin Mee (We Bought a Zoo)

Even if that greatness isn't seen instantly, you accomplished twenty seconds of bravery which is something not everyone can do. Set your stop watch and walk into that restaurant and say hi without worrying about the "no" that may or may not follow.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Liebster Award

The wonderful, kind, and talented Charity Pence has nominated me for the Liebster Award. Please take the time to go and check out her blog. You will find a lot of information, advice, inspiration, and reminders that we all are going through a fun but emotional process. So everyone go and check her out!

The Rules of the Liebster Award:

1) Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to that person's blog.
2) Ask eleven questions posted by the presenter, ask your nominees eleven questions, and list eleven random facts about yourself.
3) Nominate eleven bloggers who you feel deserve this award and have less than 200 followers.
4) Post this award on your blog

Well, now is the time to get started on the rules! Let's start with Eleven Random Facts:

1) I am the president of the Creative Writing Club at my school. It's fun and exciting. There are so many people out there who want to write!

2) I'm about to turn 24 and I have yet to get my driver's license. Cars, driving, and the responsibility of such a powerful machine scares me. So I depend on friends and family to get me places. Hope to get it this summer though!

3) I am an incredibly insecure person and question my ability with anything.

4) I have an intense fan-crush on the anime character Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho. I've had this intense fan-crush for about ten plus years and it has not wavered one bit.

5) I have very deep conversations with myself. Sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud, and sometimes they really aren't that deep.

6) I have never worn makeup, without force, till about a month ago.

7) I have gotten a lot of inspiration for plots of stories from dreams. I've also gotten a lot from hardcore daydreams.

8) I would love to dress like a 50's housewife almost every day of my life. Though I have a bad fashion crush on pencil skirts.

9) If I wasn't on the path to being a writer or in the literature world, I would probably be in culinary school.

10) I've never had a romantic experience. Ever. But strangely people seem to come to me for romantic advice a lot.

11) I love organization. I love to have things really organized and pretty.

Now time for the questions given to me by Charity!:

1) What is your favorite day of the week and why?: I think I might have three. It is hard to say which one I like the most. I like Friday of course cause it means the weekend and a nice break. I like Saturday because it means no stress and hanging out with my family. And I like Wednesday because it is half-way through the week and it's a fun word. I also have more inspiration during the actual week.

2) What inspired you to become a writer?: I had a post about this a bit ago. I've always been attracted to writing. And I was actually good at it though it never really clicked with me it would be my passion. After some time, I found I really enjoyed it and loved writing fanfics. My parents noticed a drive in me before I did. It wasn't until I saw the movie of the book Eragon that it clicked that this is really, really what I want as my career and life.

3) What is your favorite place? Why is it your favorite?: To write, I would have to say in just a nice quiet, but exposed place. Like a classroom or Barnes & Noble. I don't feel as inspired to write if things are too still or quiet. To be more relaxed, it would be home. I love being around my family. Even if we don't talk. To have fun, right now I really like going out and seeing movies or window shopping with my cousin.

4) If you could have only one story published, what would it be about?: Just the thought is hard to take, haha. But if I could only choose one I think it would have to be the WIP I am doing now. This one gets me excited and is fun. It is one of my first big projects and one I am taking very seriously. I will probably be the happiest once it is published (positive thinking!). As for what it is about, I might have to do another post on that. But it is about a girl able to save a fantasy world with a very unique gift.

5) Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what?: Oh yes! Sometimes I don't when I am actually writing-writing, but when I start to imagine future scenes or even future stories I go to youtube (darn iTunes music doesn't wanna work) and just get lost. It can range from techno and dance like Nightcore, to alternative rock (I think that's the genre its under now) like FUN or 30 Seconds from Mars to pop like Will.iAm. I don't seem to have one genre of music I always follow.

6) What item can you not live without and why?: This is a tricky one. Well, since it it not who but what I will exclude my favorite plush (don't judge me, he does have a soul!) and family/friends. I think if I have to pick a what, it would be my laptop in general. Having the internet and Word always at my fingertips at any time of the day is something I love. I love reading, going to Barnes & Noble without needing to get into a car, writing, always having music, talking with best friends, and so on. I think I would have very bad withdrawals if I lost this thing.

7) What is your biggest pet peeve and why?: Hmm, well like everyone, I have quite a few pet peeves. As for the biggest one...I think I would have to say closed-minded selfishness. To be so lost in one's own world, constantly, drives me insane. Like those who drive dangerously or always overlook what someone does or is unable to ever share the spotlight. I think it is good to share conversation about other things and other people and not have it always come back to the person. I have a fear I do this though. Also, another HUGE pet-peeve is how it feels like heavy/curvy women should be exiled. I think it isn't fair that in the media and just in every-day-life that women who aren't super skinny or perfectly in shape can be hated.

8) What color describes you most and why?: My favorite, hands down, would be blue. I also think that a light shade of it, like periwinkle or baby-blue, might fit my personality the most. I'm very shy and don't stand out much. I'm not an aggressive person and would probably fit more in a background. I think I am also soft.

9) What is your favorite number and why?: 6 would be my favorite. Not sure why exactly but I've always liked the number. It was always disappointing that this was considered an evil number. I also like the number 4 and other even numbers.

10) If you could choose one genre to define your life, what would it be?: This is a hard one. I don't feel like I have one at the moment that really fits into a genre. I'm very boring and a bit of a lonely person. If anything I might be a self-help book cause I would be used as examples of a before (weight, insecurities, and shyness) and shown with steps on how to overcome things. I would want my life-genre to be romantic and fantasy/action, hah!

11) If you could change one even from your past, what would it be? Why?: Another difficult one. I think one would be when I scared my mom to tears by playing too far, I was around seven maybe. That's haunted me to this day.

Questions for my nominees!

1) What was the first job you've had? What job do you have now?
2) What is your biggest weakness?
3) What are your top three favorite foods?
4) Who or what is your biggest inspiration with writing?
5) In a story, would you be the main protagonist, the damsel, the villain, the side-kick, or the background character? Why?
6) Where do you hope to be in five years?
7) Who is your dream girl/boy?
8) Confidence booster time! What are five good/positive/amazing things about yourself?
9) What is your favorite holiday and why?
10) When and what made you realize you wanted to write?
11) Quick! The world is under attack! What is the weapon you go for, real or fictional?

My Nominees! Please all go check them out and give their wonderful blogs a good read!

Simon P. Clark
Sunny Smith
Von L Cid
Randi Lee
Mere Joyce
Camille Picott

I'm a bit short! I will keep looking for more people to nominate :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: The Seven Realms

The Seven Realms
By Cinda Williams Chima

I have been wanting to review this series for a long time. It has turned into one, if my top, favorite series of all time. Cinda Williams Chima molded a genre that can typically be overrun with what feels to be a standard set of cliches. She took over the YA Fantasy and made it her own. Chima does not follow the "standard set of cliches"that has started to muddle down the YA-Fantasy genre. Instead she gives each character, twist, drama, and plot-loop a breath of refreshing air only to then take it right back out of the reader from each of the intense, emotional, and nail-biting punches within the story. So far in my reading experience, there is no other book or series that has so many well blended and well balanced elements together and done so well.
The Demon King US cover

The series The Seven Realms takes place in the Seven Realms, a fantasy world split into seven different kingdoms. It is a land filled with magic, history, and a terrible war. But the main focus narrows in on the Queendom of the Fells and the political plots, the hidden past, and the destructive romance between two characters and the people connected to them.

I cannot fully review each book because of the chance that spoilers would be given.This is a series people need to take the time to read without anything given away. This review will look more so at general aspects of the book overall as a way to tempt people to come in a read. Because some details will be overlooked it will hopefully entice people to go out and see about the first of the series. Because that will be the best way for you to learn anything that will come from this review.

General: As previously mentioned, this series is phenomenal. It is something that takes you by your shirt and shakes you. You are thrown into a dramatic world where each chapter leaves you as breathless as a cardio workout does. There are so many secrets, twists, and moment of overwhelming emotions it feels like it would be difficult to keep up. But the switching POV of the focus characters, the detailed writing, and the focus on movement and feeling makes everything work. The reader doesn't get suffocated or confused to the point they are drawn out of the story. Chima plays each move as delicately as moving a chess-piece. You feel that everything has been strategically placed and the author did not feel lost in her work. The movement and decisions are clear, focused, and always well-placed. It is a surprise how detailed the book is and how it never, once, falters from the main point. Any detour from the plot always comes back in the most tantalizing or unexpected way.

Plot: It is amazing how something that by summary sounds cliche and simple and overdone can be done in a brand new amazing way. It is a fantasy romance story concerning magic, racism, and war. It is a blend of realistic characters and action. The story follows a former street lord named Han and a warrior princess named Raisa. Due to mistakes, misunderstandings, and unforeseeable twists the two are thrown together and need to resolve a hatred that has been poisoning the land for over a thousand years. With everything collapsing around them, the two form an unbreakable bond that just may be everyone's saving grace.

Demon King"When 16-year-old Han Alister and his Clan friend Dancer encounter three underage wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea, he has no idea that this event will precipitate a cascade of disasters that will threaten everything he cares about.
Han takes an amulet from one of the wizards, Micah Bayar, to prevent him from using it against them. Only later does he learn that it has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. And the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back
Han’s life is complicated enough. He’s the former streetlord of the Raggers—a street gang in the city of Fellsmarch. His street name, Cuffs, comes from the mysterious silver bracelets he’s worn all his life—cuffs that are impossible to take off.
Now Han’s working odd jobs, helping to support his family, and doing his best to leave his old life behind. Events conspire against him, however. When members of a rival gang start dying, Han naturally gets the blame.
Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna has her own battles to fight. As heir to the Gray Wolf throne of the Fells, she’s just spent three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai Camp—riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Now court life in Fellsmarch pinches like a pair of too-small shoes.
Wars are raging to the south, and threaten to spread into the high country. After a long period of quiet, the power of the Wizard Council is once again growing. The people of the Fells are starving and close to rebellion. Now more than ever, there’s a need for a strong queen.
But Raisa’s mother Queen Marianna is weak and distracted by the handsome Gavan Bayar, High Wizard of the Fells. Raisa feels like a cage is closing around her—and an arranged marriage and eroded inheritance is the least of it.
Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. With the help of her friend, the cadet Amon Byrne, she navigates the treacherous Gray Wolf Court, hoping she can unravel the conspiracy coalescing around her before it’s too late."

Characters: The substance of the of any book. Character is an area where Chima excels. She takes the standard character of a main male and a main female and throw them into drama that leads them fated to keep meeting. The idea feels safe and cliche, but the people are anything but. They have become real figures that go through monstrous and fantastic events. Without these figures, the story (while good) would not shine near as much as it does now.

Han Alister: The main male of the series and would probably be considered the main character too. He is a former streetlord trying to start over in his life and do good. But his fate seems determined to make things difficult for that well-meaning goal. He feels to be a rather conflicted character, but one who is accepting of that. He is not a pure light in the book, he is a young man with dark characteristics and a dark past. He is dangerous and is often described as wicked (modern term = bad boy). He is willing to do anything for love and friendship even if it means to kill. And though he would rather avoid dark paths, he doesn't weep over less than righteous actions he must face if it means something better for someone else. This is a man who will get his hands dirty but still feels like he deserves good in life, and he will take that good if he can. Strong, intelligent, a bit sarcastic, devilish, but has a very sweet and protective side this is a character that feels like he should be boring but is anything but. He charms everyone around him along with the reader. Be careful ladies, you might just get swept off your feet along with everyone else.

Raisa ana'Marianna: The main female of the series. She is a princess with a bite and a flirting streak a mile wide. She desires freedom and to be a warrior more so than a princess. But she accepts her role and wants to become the best queen the Queendom has ever seen. She loves her people and her family and is willing to do anything to keep everyone safe. She is lady-like and poised when she needs to be, but rough and tricky like her warrior family (father side) as well. She is a blend of politics and beauty with power and a sense of the wild within her. She goes after what she wants with a purpose, and perhaps a sense of naivety, but it is always for the best of others. And when something is targeting her she will always makes the toughest, but usually the best, choice that will do the most good for all. Though she has a desire for freedom and a partnership with actual love, Raisa is not someone who will simply cry and wait for any hero to rescue her. She is no ordinary princess and anything but a damsel. She is out to save herself and thousands of people and if needed, she is more than willing to do it on her own. Move over ladies of the romance genre, there is a new girl in town and she knows how to throw a punch.

These are the two main focused characters and what is so interesting is that the book follows both of them. Almost every other chapter switches from one POV to the other so you are totally immersed in both of them before they finally meet. These characters call for you to read more. You need to know what happens to them. 

Romance: Despite this being a fantasy/romance book, the love between the main protagonist are not the only love that is highlighted. Characters are shown to dearly love family despite the trouble and exhaustion they bring. Each character loves their friends and comrades who protect them and help become driving forces in such a bleak world. And there is love for the land and people. Many are willing to sacrifice everything for the Queendom out of pure loyalty and love. Love is what started all the sorrows and distasteful hate, and love is the only remedy for it.

But this doesn't feel like a stereotypical teenage romance despite how poetic I painted the picture. Chima gives it more meaning than that. And she also gives it less. Both of the main characters Raisa and Han are not the pure-hearted, misunderstood heroines and heroes of other books (at least not with romance). Both of them have had lustful flings and are physically burning for each other. Yet there are others...but why doesn't this feel like a sloppy, aggravating love-triangle that we may get in other types of YA fiction?

I think it is because of the way Chima writes. The love isn't happening to please the readers. This isn't a love to try and have the reader fit themselves into. This love belongs to each of these characters and each of these characters are feeling all the joys and pains that come along with it. Despite there being lustful connections and passion driven moments, all feelings on love feel anything but shallow.

The romance is also a perfect dramatic force that opens up floodgates for betrayals, battles, heartbreak, racism, and epic reveals.

Strengths: There are a lot of strengths within the series. Most focus on the previous mentioned categories such a plot and characters. 
The Exiled Queen cover
1) The writing is fantastic. This will be bias since I am not fond of 1st Person Point of View. Because she keeps it 3rd Person it becomes a winner for me. But she does not keep it focused on Han. The chapters switch from following Han to following Raisa until they finally connect. This allows for the plot and the world to expand more. There is just not only one primary focus character. We are introduced to different customs, people, and drama because of this. It also makes the writing very well balanced. The moment one might feel a little tired of following Han and his misadventures we are taken to Raisa and her political warfare and suffocating life. It keeps the pace going very smoothly and everything very interesting.

2) There are so many secrets within the series it is almost impossible to remember them all, and yet you find yourself able to because each one is so vital to the story that moves it forward. It is impressive to see so many twists and turns within a series and have them all work together and not completely overwhelm everything else. It is like a soap opera, but better.

3) It is fun to get cliches that are woven into something brand new and powerful and fun. The dramas, romance, and characters are so powerful but realistic to the world they are in. There are flaws and internal-conflict within so many of the character that isn't for the purpose of making them attractive, but to just be a human in a world that feels like it is losing its humanity.

4) Racism. Sounds a bit weird, but the fact that the hateful racism is so thick and full of aggravating ignorance it just makes the book better. I wanted to start screaming at the characters and different moments for what they were doing to each other when everything around them was starting to fall apart.

5) The constant need to pull my hair out. This is not a book for those who want a simple, laid-back read. Once you start you are invested and you start to physically react to what is happening. My cousin and myself would talk to the book, make faces, scream, and get ready to pull our hair out. I don't know of many that can constantly make a reader react so often. Very big compliments.

In all honesty, there could be a long list of things I found very strong within the writing and the book. But I am afraid I would start to dip into the spoilers and we simply cannot have that, can we?

Weakness: In all honesty, there are not too many weakness I can speak of for the series. Each book is very well formulated and structured but filled with a lot of emotion and drama. However, to be fair I can say there are a few things that were not as perfect (though still close) to everything else.

1) This is a personal one of mine, but there were times I literally had to put the book down to take a breather. The drama and the intense emotions could be suffocating and there were times I was getting teary-eyed. When you feel so connected to the characters and when they are going through so much pain and betrayal it can actually hurt to read. Though a talent, I will admit I was emotionally drained reading at times and wanted to throw the book down and scream in misery for what was happening.

2) At the end, there did feel to be some loose ends. These loose-ends cannot be specified without spoilers, but there are some items that are not yet resolved and some characters who have not really met their true potential. However, I can't a 100% call this a weakness because of how the book worked overall. It wouldn't make sense if everything was tied up with a clean bow at the end of such a series. But while fitting, some might be a bit unsatisfied with that. I believe Chima, however, has said there are many stories within the Seven Realms and only one of them has been told.

I feel like I am being a bit biased because I am so fond of this series. But I simply struggle in finding really any more weaknesses (as if what I mentioned were actually weaknesses at all). This series was quite near perfection that it I don't see how I could ever dissect it deep enough to find flaws to bring up.

The Exiled Queen coverCover: This might seem like a shallow attack at a lot of genres for the YA age group. However, every time I am in Barnes and Noble and I am just overwhelmed with the mundane blandness I see on most every single cover that is there. Each one appears to have almost the exact same cover with minor differences. Even within the Fantasy genre it feels like I am being stared back by a perfect teenage model (drawn or otherwise) who appears flawless and stunning. As if it is the outer beauty of the person which is most important about the contents within the book. Of course, this is not the case with each one and nor does every one of the covers with a person give off a shallow impression. However, it doesn't show for much originality.

Chima's covers are stunning. I was attracted to each cover by the graphics, the colors, the placement of feels like a work of art that fits in with the story and  what is happening within the cover. The cover not only grabs my attention in a sea of the same but it makes me question. What are these objects? It doesn't match the title of book (like a crown for king or queen) so what does it mean? It draws me in instantly and makes me want to touch it on top of reading it. Which is another smart thing that is done with the covers; they have texture. Perhaps not as much as some others may have but there is another that it feels different from others and it feels like the words and the item on the cover are trying to break free. If that alone doesn't earn a peek at what lays within (or at least a gander at the summary) I don't know what cover will.

The Author: Chima herself is also a standout figure when concerning the desire to read her books. While she might not be the most in-touch author with her audience (I have not done near enough research to make such a bold claim yet) she is definitely opening up opportunities for her readers to feel connected with her. On her website she has a section made for growing, potential writers filled with articles and questionaries for the most famous of questions. But in them she not only answers them, she can really get down and explain them. She goes in to explain the payment an author receives and even does example math for readers to get the idea. She doesn't just tell, she even shows when talking to her fans. It feels as if she knows how important this dream is for so many and is helping out as much as she possible and fairly can. It is a big plus when the readers allowed to feel a connection with the author outside of their writing. To know that they are looking out for those who are following in their footsteps. It really stands out and just makes me want to spread the word of her books and who she is.

Crimson Crown coverThere is also so much time and passion given to each book of her series. It feels like one of the most thought out series I have had the pleasure of reading. Much like Rowling, there is so much that happens in the first book or from history that intertwines everything that happens afterwards. Nothing should be overlooked when reading each book of the series. I must take my hat off to her for just how many details and connections were in the series. I feel it is one thing to write a book (that alone is rough) it is another thing to write one that is great and it is another thing entirely to write one that is fantastic. And to me, Chima has written a fantastic book.

To learn more about Cinda Chima Williams and her series please check out her site: 

Overall: I would rate the series 5 out of 5. The characters, plot, writing style, and emotion from beginning to end was pretty much near perfect that it would feel like a disservice to give her anything less.

I look forward to reading her first series The Heir Series which is going to be the next review I will do.