Tuesday, March 10, 2015

10 Books with Criminally Awesome Characters

It is probably no secret that I love me a good criminal. Books about outlaws, criminals, spies, thieves, scoundrels, or anything of that sort are my favorite! This link-up is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but this post was directly inspired by Paper Fury's similar post.

Honorable Mentions:

The Last Knight by Hilari Bell
This is the story about a knight who forces a thief to help him on all sorts of adventure. It is great! I haven't read it in a while, but I think it deserves some re-reading.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
This book starts out with our main character in the dungeon. She has magic, which is illegal in the storyworld. But instead of being sentenced to death, she becomes the King's taste tester.

10. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The main characters in the book aren't exactly criminals. They're incredibly smart and gifted children. But they must join forces and become spies in order to stop an evil man from taking over the world. I'm not joking.

9. The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
This book is about a boy who pick-pockets a wizard by mistake. He take the wizard's magic stone, which should have killed him on contact. When the wizard tracks him down and sees the boy still alive, he takes the boy on as an apprentice. The boy, Con, is constantly getting into trouble because of his ties to the criminal world.

8. Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
This book is about a young boy who is a genius. His therapist encourages him to indulge in criminal activity. Bonus, it takes place in Australia. I will say, I enjoyed books 2&3 in this series more than book 1.

7. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
This book is about a young street thief who accidentally kidnaps a princess.  The fantasy/historical setting in this novel is one of my favorite  things. Chima nails the worldbuilding wonderfully. This book is a must read for fantasy lovers!  It's so great! I own the first two books, and hope to own the whole series one day soon!

6. Heist Society by Ally Carter
This book is, in my opinion, the archetype for YA heist books. The main character is from a long family of crime. She tries to leave the life, but quickly gets dragged back into the family business when her father is framed for a crime he didn't commit. Heist Society has a great cast of characters, a well executed love triangle, some of the best one-liners, and a reference to Princess Bride. What more could you ask for?

5. Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarivs McGraw
Mara, the main character in this novel is a cunning spy.  She was a slave, but because of her quick wit and good looks, she gets recruited to be a spy. She then gets blackmailed by the very people she's trying to spy on, and has to stay on her toes while secretly playing a double agent. This book is set in ancient Egypt, and has a great combination of adventure, suspense, and romance.

4. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
This book has two main characters, Artemis and Holly. Holly is a fairy working as a reconnaissance officer for the Lower Elements Police.  In other words, she's a LEPrecon. Artemis is a child genius and heir to a criminal empire. He learns of the fairies existence and decides to kidnap one and hold it for ransom.

3.The False Prince by Jennifer Nielson
This book is about a orphan boy. He's a sneak thief until he gets kidnapped by a noble. The nobel has a nefarious and treasonous plan for the group of orphans he's taken. Little does he know that our main character is one step ahead of him the entire time. This book, I would have to say, is my favorite Middle Grade novel. It's great!

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
This book revolves around the life of Celaena Sardothien. She is a teenage assassin. The crown prince takes her out of prison so she can compete in a competition to become the King's Assassin. Think Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones (I haven't actually read Game of Thrones.)  Celaena is one of my favorite characters ever! Definitely my favorite female character. She is the perfect mix of kick-butt awesome and prissy girly girl.

1. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
If you are a follower of my blog and haven't read this book by now, you clearly have no common sense. I know some people don't enjoy this book, but it is so great!  It takes you on so many twists and turns you don't see coming, and when you go back and reread it, it has all sorts of clues you missed the first time through. It is a must read for loves of thieves!

If you read a loved several of these books, I think you'll also love the movie Catch Me If You Can and the TV shows White Collar and Leverage.

What are some of your favorite books with criminally awesome main characters? Leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Don't Write What You Know

[photo credit]
Sometimes I hear writing advice that is fantastic!  And sometimes I hear more popular advice that seems totally off base to me.  One piece of advice that fits the later category is
"Write what you know." But think about that for a minute.

If every writer only wrote what they knew, we wouldn't have science fiction or fantasy novels. Those are two of my favorite types of novels. Think of the genres and wonderful novels the "Write what you know," rule would have put an end to!

Then I heard another interpretation of that rule. It said you don't have to write what you know, you just need to write what you're familiar with. Meaning that if you read only fantasy novels, don't try to write a historical mystery. When I first heard that idea, I thought it sounded pretty good. In fact, I liked it so much I applied it to my first novel.

You wanna know how that worked out for me? Before I wrote my first novel, I made a list of things I loved in novels. It included the following:

  • Wise Old Mentor
  • Training Sequences
  • Chosen One
  • Rebellion
  • Magical Savior
  • Prophecy
Needless to say, that novel turned out more than a little on the wrong side of cliche. It has improved in the last few drafts, but it is still very much a beginner novel.

So obviously that advice didn't work out great either. I completely disregarded the "Write what you know," advice for a while before I finally had a revelation about it.

Writing is so much less about plot and characters than it is about feelings. If a book doesn't make you feel something, you won't remember a thing about it.

So don't write about that you know about, personally, and don't write about the troupes that are your favorite, write about what makes you feeling things. Write about feelings you know, feelings you have experience with.

That's all I've got for today. Happy writing!
What's some writing advice you've heard but don't necessarily agree with? Leave a comment and let me know!