Category Archives: Reading

Land of Masks and Moonlight by S.K. Falls

World of Shell and Bone has been one of my favorite indie dystopias since I read it last year. The second book in the series, Land of Masks and Moonlight, comes out today, complete with a new (and beautiful) cover redesign for both books in the series. I was lucky enough to beta-read this one, and if you’re a fan of the first book, you’ll definitely want to pick it up. (And if you haven’t read the first book, go grab it now while it’s on sale!)

LandofMasksandMoonlight_Website

The sequel to the Amazon Top 20 science fiction bestseller is here!

Three weeks on a ship to China as a stowaway. Backbreaking labor in paddy fields. A one-room shack for a house.

Vika Cannon will endure anything if it means giving her unborn child and her sister Ceres a chance to grow up. The Great Land may be fraught with dangers of its own, but it’s still safer than the grim Asylums and stinging acid rains of their poisoned home. The brutal conditions seem a small price to pay…especially with Shale Underwood to come home to.

But when a local cell of New Amanian Radicals is captured, Vika knows it’s only a matter of time before her true identity is revealed. In order to survive, she must immerse herself in an underground society where masked strangers revel in the spoils of illicit power.

A mistake now could result in her unmasking—and the obliteration of everything Vika holds dear. As the net around her cinches tighter, she begins to understand that nothing in life is free.

What will Vika trade for her family’s safety?

Amazon | Goodreads

To celebrate the release of Land of Masks and Moonlight, it is being offered for $2.99 for one day only, until December 10 at 11:59 Eastern! After that, the price will go up to $3.99.

Haven’t started the series yet? Book 1, World of Shell and Bone, is only $0.99 until December 12th!

 

About S.K. Falls

SKFalls_Newer_100x100A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.

Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know she has one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures she never forgets that her hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.

S.K. Falls is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Visit her on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Cover Reveal: Arbitrate by Megan Thomason

The second book in Megan Thomason’s daynight series, arbitrate, is coming out on October 29th – and I have the cover right here to show you:

arbitrate

Remember The Second Chance Institute (SCI). Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. They’ve stepped up their game on Earth and on Thera—infiltrating political parties, preying on the downtrodden, and planning offensive maneuvers. And they’re handing out more “second chances” than ever before. The SCI’s abuse of their charter leads to Arbiter oversight and bitter consequences.

Remember Kira Donovan. Broken, burdened, and evading those who wish her harm, Kira enlists the Arbiters’ help when forced to return to the clutches of the SCI and her angry, estranged love.

Remember Blake Sundry. Exiled, determined, and packing an agenda, Blake seeks assistance on Earth and Thera to use his newfound knowledge to bring down the SCI.

Remember Ethan Darcton. Overworked, emotional, and holding a grudge, Ethan hunts down his stolen property, but finds himself in awkward territory, stuck between the Arbiters and the SCI.

Full of action, competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, arbitrate is Megan Thomason’s third installment in the award-winning daynight series after daynight and clean slate complex (a daynight story).

 

daynight also got a new cover to match the cover for arbitrate:

daynight

Praise for daynight:

2012 Book of the Year Award Finalist-Young Adult Fiction, ForeWord Reviews

“Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story” —Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping young adult dystopian novel; compelling conflicts; high stakes; powerful narrative; surprises keep coming; strong writing; page-turner; engaging characters; Readers will be hungry for the sequels.”—BlueInk Review (starred review)

“Thomason’s description of Thera’s totalitarianism will make fans of Brave New World shiver… SCI, her fantasy corporation, has disturbing parallels to actual companies and regimes that claim to do good while harming people… The author deftly appeals to both romance-loving teens as well as those intrigued by young adults fighting the establishment.”—ForeWord Clarion Review, 4 stars

 

Author bio:
Bestselling, award-winning author Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn’t typing away on her laptop, she’s reading books on her phone–over 600 in the last year–or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac.

Amazon link for daynighthttp://www.amazon.com/daynight-ebook/dp/B00A6NG014
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/daynight.series
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/megan_thomason
Add arbitrate to goodreads shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17401137

Cover Reveal: The Defiance (Brilliant Darkness #2) by A.G. Henley

If you read indie books and are a fan of YA, you’ve probably heard of A.G. Henley’s book The Scourge. The Scourge, a dystopian YA fantasy, has found hundreds of fans since its publication last year, and now I’m happy to share the cover of the upcoming sequel.

Defiance

THE DEFIANCE (Brilliant Darkness, #2)

Cover design by (the fabulous, professional, efficient) Robin Ludwig Design Inc., http://www.gobookcoverdesign.com/.

Suspicion Trust. Fear Compassion. Hate Love.

Fennel and Peree learned the truth: the Scourge, and their world, is not what it seems. Now they need to convince their people that everything they believe is a lie.

An impossible task, especially when someone seems resolved to try anything—even arson and butchery—to destroy Fenn and Peree’s new bond and crush the frail truce between the Groundlings and the Lofties.

Unable to tell friend from foe and with the Scourge pushing both groups to the breaking point, Fenn must again decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to ensure the people of the forest’s future.

Only this time, the price of peace may be too high to bear.

DEFIANCE will be available on July 29, 2013.

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A.G. Henley is the author of the BRILLIANT DARKNESS series. Her first book, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award.

A.G. is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they’ve had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she’s not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she’s inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Learn more at aghenley.com.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Interview With S.K. Falls, Author of Secret for a Song

I’ve known indie author S.K. Falls (aka Adriana Ryan) since before I started publishing, and I became a fan of her writing with her wonderfully poetic dystopian novel World of Shell and Bone. She’s recently released a contemporary new-adult novel, Secret for a Song, which you may remember from the cover reveal a couple of months ago, about a girl with Munchausen syndrome who falls in love with a boy with a terminal illness. Today I have her on my blog to talk about what’s behind the book, what it was like to write it, and which part of the story is her favorite.

 

What gave you the idea for Secret for a Song?

I’m a huge psychology buff; I majored in it in college. When the idea for a character with Munchausen syndrome popped into my head one day, I couldn’t get the idea to go away. I was enthralled with the idea of creating an unlikeable character. People with Munchausen struggle with a lot of different issues, a personality disorder being one of them. I did a lot of reading on the subject, past what I’d learned in college, and was even more fascinated with what I found. So I ended up writing down a loose plot outline, and the rest is history. 🙂

You’re best known for your dystopian novel World of Shell and Bone. Was it difficult to switch gears and write a contemporary story?

Not really. I tend to jump from story idea to story idea in my head a lot when I’m deciding what to write next. I like stories with a big psychological pull, no matter what genre they happen to be in. That’s pretty much how I view or think about stories—I ask myself how the current condition affects the main character’s psychological makeup.

So to me, it was a matter of switching from Vika’s (the protagonist in World of Shell and Bone) psychology to Saylor’s rather than switching genres, if that makes sense. In a way, Secret for a Song was a bit easier because I didn’t have to keep track of the world building aspects that I did in World of Shell and Bone.

With her illness and her issues, Saylor isn’t always easy to relate to. What was it like getting inside her head?

I’d had her in my head for so long that Saylor began to feel very, very real to me. She was my constant companion through the day’s chores and activities, and I had her “voice” going 24/7. So, in that way, it was easy—and a relief!—to get her reactions down on paper. It was simultaneously emotionally draining, though, because, like you said, Saylor has a lot of flaws and a lot of internal pain. I’d never quite written a character like her—one who is so obviously doing the wrong thing and is cognizant of the fact. That was an interesting line to toe.

Which part of Secret for a Song was your favorite to write?

My favorite had to be the end, which is funny because some readers have written to tell me the end made them cry. The end, to me, was like a big sigh of relief. I just felt like the story had come full circle, and Saylor (and therefore I) could move on.

Are you planning any more contemporary novels in the future?

Most definitely. I love writing contemporary fiction. Right now I have a contemporary series planned with (again) a heavy focus on psychology. 🙂

Thanks so much for having me, Zoe!

 

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Buy Secret for a Song here:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

AdrianaRyan2A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, I enjoy alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where I live and imbibe coffee. My husband and two small children seem not to mind when I hastily scribble novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.

Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know I have one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures I never forget that my hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.


Visit S.K. Falls:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Cover Reveal: Adriana Ryan – Secret for a Song

A few months ago, I helped share the cover of Adriana Ryan’s post-apocalyptic novel World of Shell and Bone. That book was even better than I had expected, which is why I’m so excited about her new book, a new-adult novel called Secret for a Song.

Check out this gorgeous cover:

SecretForASong_Small

The book will be coming out this June, and it sounds very intriguing:

Saylor Grayson makes herself sick. Literally.

She  ate her first needle when she was seven. Now, at nineteen, she’s been kicked out of college for poisoning herself with laxatives. The shrinks call it Munchausen Syndrome. All Saylor knows is that when she’s ill, her normally distant mother pays attention and the doctors and nurses make her feel special.

Then she meets Drew Dean, the leader of a local support group for those with terminal diseases. When he mistakes her for a new member, Saylor knows she should correct him. But she can’t bring herself to, not after she’s welcomed into a new circle of friends. Friends who, like Drew, all have illnesses ready to claim their independence or their lives

For the first time, Saylor finds out what it feels like to be in love, to have friends who genuinely care about her.  But secrets have a way of revealing themselves. What will happen when Saylor’s is out?

 

AdrianaRyan2A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, Adriana Ryan enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.

http://www.adrianaryan.com
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAdrianaRyan
http://www.twitter.com/adrianaryansc
http://www.goodreads.com/adrianaryan

Novellas and Novels: What Do You Want From Your Reading?

I’ve been thinking about novellas and novels and short stories lately, and why I have a strong preference for longer fiction while other people prefer the shorter stuff. I know there’s no sharp line between the two audiences – lots of people like both novels and short fiction. Even though I’m mainly a novel reader, I’ll still read a novella sometimes, and I know there are plenty of people who read novels, novellas, and short stories indiscriminately. But I know a lot of readers check the page count carefully before they order an ebook (I’m one of them), while others couldn’t be happier at finally being able to find novella-length stories.

There was a discussion on Kindleboards the other day asking whether the authors who visit the site plan to write more short fiction or longer works this year, and that’s part of what made me start thinking about it. I had assumed it mostly depended on what people were used to reading – I’ve been inhaling novels all my life, while other people grew up reading short-story magazines – but reading through the thread, I got the sense that it came down to more than that. Someone mentioned preferring novels because a novella might not tie up all the loose ends adequately. I’d prefer to read a full-length novel, too, but I had honestly never considered that as a reason. Someone else said that novellas are mainly written to be read in a single reading session, so someone used to sitting down and reading a novel start to finish probably wouldn’t feel satisfied by a novella. Novellas often leave me unsatisfied, too, but I’m used to reading a book over a period of at least a couple of days.

I read this post (part of a larger series) a while back, and that discussion made me think of it again. The post is about video games, but I think some of the points could apply to novels as well. It talks about how people tend to fall into two camps when thinking about the length of a game. For some people, a game – a good one, at least – can never be too long. The longer a game is, the more they feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth from it, because they’ve gotten more entertainment for their dollar. Others feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth out of a game when it provides a complete experience that they can finish in a reasonable amount of time. For these people, a game that costs $60 isn’t worth the money if they play for fifty hours and are only half-done, because they’ve only gotten half a game out of it.

The same thing could be true for readers. Maybe there are two ways of looking at a book – whether it provides you with the most hours of entertainment or the most complete experience. (In addition to novels vs. novellas and short stories, it could also apply to whether people like series novels or stand-alones.) Obviously it’s not as cut and dried as all that (just like it isn’t that cut and dried for games, as some of the comments on that blog post point out), but I think it makes a decent starting point.

I tend to fall into the former camp when it comes to games, so it makes sense that I’m the same way about books. It would be very hard for me to find a good book that’s too long. (Obviously a book padded for length is worse than the same book written with tight prose, but in that case the length also makes the book less good, which doesn’t make it a good example.) Although I have to say, I don’t seek out series books as much as I used to – with all the books I already want to read, the thought of getting into a new series can feel daunting. When I find a really good series, though, as long as the books stay consistently good I don’t want it to end. I don’t need the wrap-up in order to feel satisfied, as long as the good books keep coming.

What do you think? Does this seem like a plausible way of looking at reading? What do you look for when you read – is it more important to get a complete experience or more hours of entertainment?

Cover Reveal: World of Shell and Bone by Adriana Ryan

I met Adriana Ryan on Kindleboards a few months ago when we found out we both had dystopian novels coming out this year, and I’m very glad I did. Not only is she enthusiastic and helpful and generally a great addition to the indie author community, her novel, a post-apocalyptic dystopia, sounds fascinating. I’m always on the lookout for new dystopias, and I was intrigued by the premise of her novel World of Shell and Bone. After I read an excerpt, I was even more excited to read the book.

I’ve been waiting for this book to come out, and now it’s almost here – World of Shell and Bone will be available on December 7th! I finally got a look at the cover the other day, and today I get to share it with you:

World of Shell and Bone cover

The cover was designed by James Helps at http://www.humblenations.com. I like the almost surreal look of it; it’s elegant and intriguing and makes me want to know more.

Here’s the description of the book:

In a world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust, Vika Cannon knows there are no guarantees: no guarantees of safety, no guarantees that your neighbor is not actually a spy for the government, and no guarantees you’ll be allowed to emigrate to a new life in Asia.

New Amana is dying. Food and water are scarce, and people suffering from radiation-caused mutations—the Nukeheads—are the new class of homeless.

Vika has just one purpose: to produce healthy progeny using a Husband assigned by the Match Clinic. Unhealthy children are carted away to Asylums to be experimented on, just as Vika’s little sister Ceres was, eight years ago. Parents incapable of producing healthy progeny are put to death in gas chambers.

When she’s assigned a Husband shortly after her twentieth birthday, Vika expects him to be complacent and obedient. But Shale Underwood has a secret. He is a member of the Radicals, the terrorist group intent on overthrowing the government. And Shale has information about Ceres.

As she learns more about the Rads’s plan, Vika finds herself drawn to Shale in ways she’d never imagined. When freedom calls in the way of a healthy pregnancy, will she betray her government and risk death for Shale and Ceres?

I know I can’t wait to read it when it comes out on the 7th.

In the meantime, you can find out more about the author and visit her website:

Adriana Ryan lives and writes in Charleston, SC. She is currently at work on a dystopian and an urban fantasy series. A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, she enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards.

Contact her using the form at the top right of her website or email adriana@adrianaryan.com.

Adriana Ryan is a member of the Romance Writer’s Association (RWA).

Contact: Adriana@adrianaryan.com

http://adrianaryan.com

http://www.facebook.com/authoradrianaryan

http://www.twitter.com/adrianaryansc

Stop Protecting Your Main Characters

I think I’ve discovered my new pet peeve in fiction.

I’ve read two books in the past two weeks – different authors, different genres, one self-published and one traditionally published – that both bugged me in the same way. It wasn’t until the second book that I was able to put my finger on exactly what the problem was. In both books, the main character was reluctant to kill, and ended up in situations where killing was necessary… but were saved from having to make the choice because someone else stepped in and did the killing for them. This didn’t happen just once, either. Especially in one of the books, it became an ongoing theme.

I don’t have a problem with a character who finds it difficult to kill, or even completely refuses to do it. In general, I prefer it – although of course it depends on the character. But what I don’t like is a main character who doesn’t have to make any hard choices, because someone else does the dirty work for her.

It doesn’t have to involve killing, either. I read a book a few years back (said book was highly successful, and I actually liked it a lot except for this aspect) that centered around a moral dilemma – a dilemma that was then rendered meaningless by the book’s final pages. Suddenly, the choices all the characters had made no longer mattered. The characters no longer had to worry that they had chosen wrong, that their decisions would lead to consequences they couldn’t handle. And the book lost a lot of its power.

It makes things easier on the characters, certainly. It’s easier if, in the end, their choices turn out not to mean anything. It’s easier if they don’t have to make those choices at all, because someone steps in and does the hard thing for them. But that’s exactly why it robs the book of its power. Writers shouldn’t make things easier on their main characters. Writers should push their main characters to their limits, and then beyond. That’s what makes for a compelling story, one that sticks with you after it’s done. That’s what makes me get tangled up in a character’s life to the point where I don’t want to put the book down.

The dynamic I mentioned earlier can be done well. Another book I read in the same two-week timeframe is a good example of this. The main character didn’t want to kill. A secondary character had no problem with killing. This disparity in values caused problems, both internal and external, for the main character; it didn’t protect her. It increased the tension, and therefore the power of the story, rather than limiting it.

I want to see characters tested, pushed to their limits. I want to see them struggle, and fail, and succeed by the skin of their teeth. I want to see them make the hard choices. I don’t want to see someone else saving them from the consequences of their decisions, or saving them from having to decide at all.

Stop protecting your main characters. You’re only weakening your story.

Writers, do you find yourself tempted to protect your main characters? Readers, have you ever noticed this happening? Does it bother you like it bothers me, or do you have a different pet peeve?

When a Trend Finds You

There’s something sort of comforting about writing weird books in an obscure genre.

Of course, I didn’t realize this back when I actually was.

It took me a long time to even figure out what genre I was working in. (I even queried one book as literary fiction for a while based on some horrible advice, found not just once but in several places, that said that all character-driven stories are literary fiction.) For a long time I assumed I would find my home in urban fantasy – after all, it was what I loved to read when I was growing up – until I looked around and realized that not only did I have a decidedly lukewarm reaction to most current urban fantasy, I had never really written one. No, that post-apocalyptic story was never going to be an urban fantasy, no matter how many angels were in it.

Finally I looked at that book I had been querying (which was not The Torturer’s Daughter, by the way; this was a different book), the one that was no more literary fiction than that post-apocalyptic book was urban fantasy, and thought, You know, I might have better luck selling this as science fiction. But it wasn’t science fiction either, not exactly. It was set in a skewed bleak dystopian version of our world, and that sort of thing did technically fall under the umbrella of science fiction, but the plot didn’t rely on any science-fictional elements. Aside from an injectable tracking device, it didn’t even involve any advanced technology. Eventually I threw up my hands and just started calling it a “dystopian novel” in my queries. I looked at my past experiments and future ideas, realized a lot of them fell under the “dystopian” heading, and groaned a little. I was going to have to do this genre dance all over again. Besides, you weren’t supposed to write multiple dystopias. You were supposed to just write one, and it was supposed to be a thinly-veiled political rant about the problems you saw in the real world. I wasn’t doing that. I was just writing stories set in the overtly nightmarish or subtly oppressive worlds that fascinated me.

At some point I realized something that was likely to make the genre dance a lot easier, though. Despite vaguely thinking I should be reading more adult novels, I still loved YA best, and that was where my true fictional home was. It fit not only my story concepts – even the ones with adult main characters worked a lot better when I imagined changing the main characters to teenagers – but my writing style as well. I’m not sure how to quantify it, since there’s such a variety of YA novels, but in some ways the genre has a distinct style, and it’s the style I automatically find myself falling into. This was a reassuring realization to me; there’s a lot more flexibility when it comes to genre if you’re writing under the wider umbrella of YA, so maybe I would have a better chance of selling some of my… strange… hey, why are there so many YA dystopias being published all of a sudden?…

Suddenly my books had gone from weird and uncategorizable to being smack in the middle of the latest trend. I was thrilled – not only did I have tons of new books to read now, it was going to be a lot easier to sell my own. But it also created time pressure. I had to hurry and get out there before YA dystopias stopped being popular – publishing trends only last so long. And now I was going to look to publishers like I was writing to the trend, and authors who write to trends tend to have short careers. A pattern was also emerging in the dystopias being published, and my ideas were squarely on the periphery. What if, having so many to choose from, publishers rejected my books because the settings weren’t strange and exotic enough, or because my characters didn’t solve all the world’s problems, or because I didn’t include a love triangle?

And did I mention the time pressure?

I read something the other day predicting that the dystopian/post-apocalyptic trend will be over by 2014, and I admit, it made me freak out a bit. Two years? How am I supposed to write all the stories in my head in just two years? And post-apocalyptic too? It will take months just to rework the post-apocalyptic series into something that can be written, never mind actually writing the thing. And then what? I’m not going to get any less fascinated with dystopian worlds just because a certain time limit has been reached.

But I can remember other publishing trends. Look at chick lit, for instance. The chick lit explosion is over, and publishers and literary agents will tell you that chick lit is dead. But there are still plenty of chick lit books out there, and plenty of readers devouring them. That doesn’t look like a dead genre to me. Trends become niches. To use a broader example, there was a long period of time when it was nearly impossible to sell a horror novel. (I’m not sure if this is still the case, since I don’t really keep up with the horror genre; horror is one of the few genres I just won’t read.) This didn’t just affect horror writers; it left a lot of readers stranded too, readers who had to hunt through used bookstores to find the kind of books they wanted to read.

And although I always stayed well clear of the horror section, I was combing the shelves for YA novels set in dark worlds long before they were so easy to find. I’m sure I’ll be looking for them long after. I can’t be the only one.

Have you ever watched a publishing trend spring up that was exactly what you like to read or write? Ever had one die before you were done with it? What formerly-popular genres do you wish you could find more of? And what are your thoughts on the future of YA dystopia?

The Ubiquitous Love Triangle

I’ve been feeling strangely nonplussed by the romance subplots in most of what I’ve been reading lately, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. It’s not that I’m an unromantic person. I love a good intense love story. And it’s not that the books I’ve been reading have been bad – far from it. (The Hunger Games is a perfect example. I loved those books. But the romance aspect… that part did nothing for me.) So what’s going on? Why haven’t I been able to get invested in these relationships?

It took a while, but I finally figured out what the problem is.

I just don’t like love triangles.

I’m not saying books that involve love triangles are bad, and I’m not discounting the possibility that I might write a love triangle someday if it suits the story. But in general, it’s just not a concept that does anything for me. Part of it is that a lot of books have the heroine choosing the mysterious alpha-type when I’m usually rooting for the sweet best friend… but mostly it’s the triangle itself.

What I like is a romance subplot where the main character has one person they’re drawn to above all others, one clear choice. I like soulmate relationships. I want these characters to feel differently about each other than they do about anyone else, to have a connection that nothing else can match. Those are the relationships that draw me in; they’re the ones that have me tensing up as I turn the pages when it looks like they’ll never be able to be together, the ones that can make me forget that a happy ending is all but assured as I read faster to find out whether everything will work out against all odds, the ones that have me bouncing in excitement when the final obstacles are overcome.

When there’s more than one prospect – when the main character could conceivably have that sort of connection with a couple of different people, and could turn away from a connection like that because she likes somebody else better – the romance loses its magic for me. How can they be soulmates if it’s possible for her to choose somebody else? I know that’s not necessarily how it works in real life, but it’s how I prefer my fictional relationships – and after all, it’s not like you always have two guys fighting over you in real life, either.

I mentioned The Hunger Games as an example of a book that I loved, but that didn’t have a romance I was invested in. Granted, romance is a very minor part of The Hunger Games – but I suspect that if it hadn’t involved a love triangle, I would have felt a lot more strongly about that aspect of the trilogy. I could easily see myself getting wrapped up in the relationship between Katniss and Gale, or between Katniss and Peeta. But when she has feelings for both of them? The magic is gone.

In contrast, the romance in Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, drew me in a lot more than I thought it would. I didn’t expect it to, since I hadn’t been having much luck with love stories, especially in YA. I mainly picked up Delirium because I was snapping up every dystopia I could find. But I found myself believing in the romance much more than I thought I would, and rooting for the main characters to not only escape the tyranny of their dystopian world, but for them to be together. I didn’t make the connection at the time, but Delirium, unlike the majority of YA out there these days, didn’t involve a love triangle.

The love triangle is a staple these days – mainly in YA, but in other books as well. And I don’t think it’s going to stop being popular anytime soon. But knowing that I don’t like them, and knowing why, may make it possible for me to enjoy those books more. If the romance subplot does nothing for me, I’ll know it’s not because of the way the characters are written or because there’s something wrong with the book; it’s just because love triangles don’t enthrall me the way soulmate relationships do. I can thoroughly enjoy the rest of the book, accept that the romance subplot probably isn’t going to interest me, and move on. And if a book looks like the main plot will be centered around a love triangle, I can pass it by, knowing it’s probably not my thing.

It’s not a bad thing that authors are writing love triangles, after all. A lot of people like them. (Clearly, or they wouldn’t be so popular.) They’re just not for me.

What kind of romance do you prefer in the books you read? Love triangles? Soulmates? Star-crossed lovers? No love story at all? What do you think of the current ubiquity of love triangles in YA – do you love them, or are you ready for something different?