Let’s Talk: What’s so Good about Fanfiction?

fan fiction definition

Image result for fangirl rainbow rowellAs you may or may not have been aware of from either Goodreads or a sneaky glance at my blog home page, I recently (finally) got my butt into gear and read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. For those like me that are still massively behind on the YA contemporary trends, Fangirl’s central character, Cath, is a very popular fanfiction writer. She has thousands of readers and has even won awards for her stories. Basically, Cath lives and breathes fanfic. Her fandom of choice is a Rowell created series about a teen named Simon Snow which has some big similarities to something that rhymes with Gary Trotter. Just as you’d expect, reading this book got me thinking about fanfiction.

These days I feel like fanfiction gets a bit of a bad rap from the reading and broader community. People don’t seem to understand it and have a tendency to brush it off as being simplistic, weird, trashy, obsessive, even creepy. I’m in no way naïve enough to not be aware of the…darker and dodgier areas of the fanfiction webverse (come on, it is the internet), but at the same time, I also believe people discount the value of fanfic and the amount of work that goes into it. I’ll even willingly admit that during NaNoWriMo, I caught myself making a face at the idea that some people were spending their challenge working on fanfiction rather than original work (which is stupid considering I used to write it myself in my teen years – Twilight fics *shivers* dark days, guys, very dark days). Yet, now that I’ve sat down and thought about it (as well as chastised myself for being an idiot), while it may have it’s issues, fanfiction actually holds a lot of really great benefits.

Express Fandom Love & Meet Likeminded People

Pick any book, television show or movie in the world and I guarantee you that somewhere out there is a devoted group of fans who absolutely worship it beyond imagination. And the thing about fans is, once they get a taste of something, they just can’t get enough. Fanfiction is a fantastic way for people to not only constructively express their love of a particular fandom (okay, sometimes constructively), but also help them to connect with like-minded people. For the commonly found introvert (much like Cath in Fangirl), this is a good opportunity for socialisation and the ability to bond over a common interest. For people who have trouble socialising or difficulty finding others in the real world who share their interests, it’s a fantastic solution.

Writing Training Wheels

Writing is hard. Like, seriously hard. Plotting without epic holes, creating layered and interesting characters, world building that makes sense, and then there’s writing style (or in my case, trying to avoid saying ‘he said’, ‘she said’ fifty million times in one conversation. I panic, okay!). Fanfiction can be a great way for newbie writers to develop their skills. By already having a deep understanding of the characters, setting and rules, fanfic writers are able to focus on plot and the actual writing itself. I look back on my fanfiction entries from a decade ago (the horror) and can definitely see a big improvement in the way I write as I go along. It’s like writing with a support system in place until that person decides to try their hand at something original. They have the freedom to experiment and try new things in a safe space. The fact that people are then able to comment on their posts can also be a good way (well, not always) for those writers to get a sense of what they’re doing well and where they could improve.

Enjoyment & Entertainment

I don’t think it’s wrong to say that there are many people out there who enjoy certain fanfictions just as much, or perhaps even more, than some published books. Some fics build up enormous followings of people, thousands and thousands, who sit around excitedly waiting for a new chapter update and drop everything upon publication. In some instances this popularity factor is so big that it even drives fics toward publication as their own works, complete with a full set of name changes. I mean, just look at (I can’t believe I’m actually using this as an example) Fifty Shades of Grey. If you want to understand the power of people’s love for fanfiction, look no further than the money making force that is that trilogy. Sure, there are large percentages of fanfic that fall into the “trashy” category but hey, if it’s not damaging people with toxic ideas, what’s the harm in bringing people a bit of fun and enjoyment?

Continuations, Gap Filling & Spin Offs

One of the really fun parts of fanfiction is its ability to build on and expand canon stories in interesting ways. I can’t even count how many times I’ve come across a loose end I needed explained or a character that I wish I could have gotten to know better. Perhaps a sequence of events was mentioned during the narrative that would be cool to read about more directly or maybe the world has such a rich history ala A Song of Ice and Fire that’s it’s just bursting with stories? Well, fanfiction is the answer. There is a wealth of fics for every whim, interest, history, plot gap, romance, and side character. Fanfics can also be a great way to continue on with a beloved series or story even after it’s finished. While the published books may be over, the characters and their adventures can continue on through the writing of others.

Niches & Representation

I think it’s an understatement to say that there are some severe representation issues within mainstream books. We’ve made some great steps forward recently but there’s still a long way to go. A great characteristic of fanfiction is it’s diversity and inclusivity. No matter your interest, there’s fanfiction out there somwhere to float your particular boat (even if it happens to be…Drarry). Unlike published stories, online fanfiction isn’t bound by the rules of what publishers believe is “mainstream”/popular or will sell. Fanfiction can be written by absolutely anyone and its writers have the amazing freedom to take existing narratives & characters, and rework them to place a spotlight on the more marginalised and minority based groups. By giving these types of characters starring roles and more prominent stories within an already popular setting, they help those who enjoy, but often have difficulty seeing themselves in, the original works to find common ground and relatability.  Divider 3

Let’s Talk!

Are you someone who enjoys reading fan fiction? If so, from what kinds of fandoms? What’s your favourite website? Do you have a favourite fic?

Are you a fan fiction writer? If so, what about it appeals to you? What are your favourite types of fics to write?

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Top 10 Tuesday: YA Contemporaries on my Summer TBR

This week’s topic is to do with cozy winter reads (thanks Jana) but as usual, I live in the Southern Hemisphere which means, to my horror, we’re now in summer. Basically in AUS that means the country is flooding, on fire, and in drought all at the same time. There’s also been word of a giant cow somewhere. Anyway, I’m finally getting on board with the whole ‘summer is a great time to read YA Contemporaries’ thing. In my case, it’s probably more like: summer is a great time to catch up on all the YA Contemporaries everyone else in the world seems to have read ages ago and I haven’t. So here are ten that I’m hoping to read at some point over the next few months of icky, sweaty, humid, bug infested Summer.

Image result for alex approximatelyAlex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett

Essentially this is You’ve Got Mail (which I really enjoy) in a modern, teen setting. So, as you can imagine, I’m very much on board. I like the whole enemies to lovers trope where it involves gaining a new understanding of someone you thought you knew and this definitely seems to check that box. I’m just preparing for a chick flick in book form, really.

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Image result for fangirl rainbow rowellFangirl – Rainbow Rowell

I bought this one a few months back now and still haven’t gotten to it despite the fact that it’s one of those YA Contemporaries everyone RAVES about because it’s apparently so relatable. The cover is cute, the blurb’s cute, and yes, it does all feel very relatable. The lead is an introvert who writes fan fiction and absolutely loves books..sound like anyone you know? I also kind of like the fact that it’s set at university rather than high school. Time to see what everyone’s been talking about. Cath and Levi, I’m coming for you.

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Image result for what if its usWhat if it’s Us? – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

I was majorly anticipating this particular release and while I have certainly bought it, as usual, I still have yet to read it. I love Becky’s books and after reading my first of Adam’s books last month, I’m super keen to read their joint baby. I’ve seen a few mixed reviews on it since its release but I’m hoping that adorable characters and theatre vibes will make it a winner for me.

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28919058Autoboyography – Christina Lauren

This one was recommended to me by someone at the bookstore after I finished Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I’ve heard Christina’s books are really sweet and there is honestly so much love for this book online. I also feel like it’s pretty important to read some more books with diversity. The cover is super pretty and I think the concept in itself sounds really lovely. It may also be because like every other book worm out there, I, too, like to write.

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33385229They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

This one’s a little different from the other YA Contemporaries on this list because its technically set in another world but it’s still classified as one anyway. After reading and enjoying History is All You Left Me, I’d love to read some more of Adam’s work and this one seems to be the most popular of the bunch. I can tell it’s going to be another heart wrecker but hey, emotion is good. I think this will be a great reminder to live life to the fullest and appreciate the little things. At least it won’t be a shock ending, right? RIGHT?

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25756328Love and Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch

Um, what’s more summer than romance, gelato and Italy? Nothing, that’s right. Okay, there’s probably a lot of things but regardless, I get the feeling this will be a perfect summer pick. I’ve used this book in other posts before but because I still haven’t got there, it’s showing up again. Sue me. I absolutely adore Italy so it’ll be nice to read something fun and light set there. I’m not expecting anything too substantial but sometimes that’s okay. I can’t read books about life and death questions all the time.

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18304322Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ has been on my radar for a while but I’ve been putting it off because there seems to be some people that love it and think it’s wonderfully body positive, and others that have a heap of issues with it and complain about it being hypocritical. I’m far from the skinniest person you’ll ever meet so I’m hoping I’ll end up finding something in the former camp. Plus, the Netflix adaptation comes out later this week and I’m one of those people for which nothing spurs me on to read books I’ve been putting off quite like seeing an adaptation trailer.

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31952703Words in Deep Blue – Cath Crowley

A book about BOOKS. Can you imagine anything more perfect than that? Even better, people connecting and falling in love by leaving notes for each other in books! It’s basically my romantic dream. No direct socialisation and spending heaps of time in bookstores. *swoons* This is suposed to be a short read but it’s also got a great reputation for being a really beautiful book about love, loss and learning to move on with your life. Why do so many books on this list want to wreck me emotionally? BONUS, it’s set in Australia! Horray! And yet, I’m still determined to get my hands on the US cover because gosh the UK/Aus cover is a snooze. Zzzzzzzz…

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18460392All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

This book has come up a lot in YA circles. It’s on the 2018 top 101 list at my local bookstore, won a Goodreads choice award back in 2015 and has an average star rating of 4.18. Yes, it’s another love story but this seems like it deals with a lot of bigger things too such as mental health and suicide so I’m expecting to get that giant hole in my heart by the end of it. However, apparently it’s a bit John Green-esque which, no shade to Mr Green, hasn’t really been my thing so far. Eh, we’ll have to see!

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31351689Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake

Okay, this isn’t exactly what you’d call an easy, breezy summer read but it’s YA, contemporary and I am hoping to read it during summer. I’ve got a lot of love story books on this list and I feel like it might be nice to have something a little more serious. This book deals with rape, trust, relationships and it looks intense but it’s supposed to be fantastic and I’m hoping for a really great read which successfully tackles some heavy themes.

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That makes 10. I’ll be realistic, it’s unlikely I’ll get anywhere near to reading all of these during the next few months because I do need to break things up with some other genres for variety but it’s always nice to have goals.

Have you read any of the YA Contemporaries on this list? What are some of your favourite books in this genre?

Top 10 Tuesday: Backlist Books I Want to Read

I’mmmmm backkkk! It’s been about a month and here I am again, ready to get stuck into some Top Ten Tuesday fun.

Is it just me, or are there about a zillion and one amazing looking books released every few months? I go to cross one anticipated release off my TBR list only to find I have to add five more to it. For this reason, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in new releases and neglect the poor book babies which have been angrily screaming, ‘You promised to read me last month’ for about five years.

I also need to consider that every so often I find my reading tastes and interests change or expand a little. This tends to open my eyes up to a whole bunch of amazing books from years ago which I may not have been aware of before. For example, I only really started getting into YA contemporaries last year which means I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of the super popular books in that category.

Here are ten books published at least 2 years ago which I’d like to read at some point:

Image result for siege and stormSiege & Storm – Leigh Bardugo (2013)

I now own all three books, and having finally done my re-read of Shadow and Bone at the end of October, I’m planning to push on to Siege & Storm soon. I’m looking forward to finally getting a proper introduction to Nikolai, who people can’t seem to discuss without swooning. I didn’t mind book one but I wasn’t in love with it. Still, I’m willing to give the rest of the series a go because 1) Leigh is awesome and 2) I’d really like to read King of Scars when it comes out.

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Related imageFangirl – Rainbow Rowell (2013)

As I mentioned above, I only jumped on the YA contemporary bandwagon last year so I’m still working my way through the so called holy grail books of the genre. Fangirl seems to be one of them. Weirldy enough, I’ve already read Carry On which came after (and only because of) this book so it’ll be interesting reading the fan fiction sections. Hopefully I find it as cute and relatable as people (constanty) keep saying it is. I mean, I am a bit of a hermit and I have written fan fiction so the odds are in its favour.

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28165439The Long Walk – Richard Bachman aka. Stephen King (1979)

I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled across this one. I think I may have been googling lists of the best Stephen King books? (Totally normal bookworm behaviour, of course). This one peaked my interest. It’s about a race in which 100 boys have to keep walking above a certain speed for as long as possible. They have three warnings and if they exceed them, they get murdered. Winner gets whatever their heart desires. It sounds super dark but really compelling. It’s also a reasonable length, unlike some of King’s more famous pieces, but then again, he published this one under a pseudonum. I’m hoping it’s an interesting read.

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10576365The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken (2012)

I’ve mentioned this one on some other lists recently so apologies for being an uncreative and repetitious dork. I was never super motivated to actually read TDM until the movie came out but everyone raves about these books so I think I need to find out what the fusss is about. Also POWERS. I LOVE POWERS! I’m hoping to find some loveable characters but I’m a little worried about the book just feeling like every other dystopian YA I’ve read. I also tend to get bored with over the top military/government organisation involvement in certain kinds of stories so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen with this one.

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16069030The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski (2014)

This series seems to come up a lot in YA fantasy/dystopian circles, especially when people are talking favourite ships. I’ll admit, the books look a little trashy – the covers give me some serious The Selection vibes (which my guilty pleasure lovin’ self had sooooo much fun with) and I’m worried there will be a heap of tropes, instalove and a lack of proper development. STILL my curious brain cannot be dissuaded. I have to do it. I’m hoping they end up being as enjoyable as everyone says. If so, they’re short reads and they’ll look gorgeous in my bookshelf, triple win!!

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10626594The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater (2011)

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been in the bookstore, picked this one up, thought about buying it and then decided to hold off. The plot sounds really exciting (intense live-or-die race involving water horses? Um, Yes!) and I’ve heard a heap of good things about it (it’s slow but really atmospheric and poignant). Plus, it’s a standalone so no need to wait years for pesky sequels which may or may not live up to expectations. I may not always adore Maggie’s books but I have to admit that she always has interesting characters and concepts.

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943402Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist (2009)

I’ve been curious about this one ever since I saw the american adaptation years back. I’ve now seen both the Swedish and US versions so I’d really like to read the source material to see how it compares. After how romanticised vampires have become in literature over the years, it’ll be cool to read something with a darker, scarier, and more violent approach towards them. I’ve heard it’s quite intense and creepy so it should be a good change of pace.

 

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Image result for the name of the windThe Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss (2007)

I’ve been putting this one off for a very long time for three reasons. First, it’s not a small book  and 2018 Ashley seems to find that frightening. Second, I’ve heard it takes some time to really grab you. Third, it’s taking Rothfuss FOREVER to write the series, and who needs that pain and suffering in their life? However, pretty much everyone who loves fantasy has really enjoyed this series and I’m looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about. Please don’t end up being boring and disappointing.

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Image result for the well of ascensionThe Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson (2007)

I’ve had this book in my bookcase for a few years now and I keep putting it off because I know I’ll need to re-read The Final Empire before I read it. My memory is basically swiss cheese these days and I remember nothing about book one. Okay, nothing other than the fact that the magic system is super cool and that Sanderson actually surprised me by killing off a major character before the climax. This is another series everyone who loves the fantasy genre gushes about. I enjoyed the first book and it’ll be interesting to see where the series goes after how it ended. Sanderson is a really amazing writer so it’ll be nice to get some more exposure to him.

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Image result for since you've been goneSince You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson (2011)

Morgan Matson is another one of those YA contemporary authors that people seem to really enjoy. I read the blurb of this one and though it’d be a great choice for my first book of hers. The cover gives me such Summer vibes so don’t be surprised if this one shows up on a summer reads related post later on. I really love reading about well written female friendships in books and it seems ike Since You’ve Been Gone will have one at it’s core. Give me some cute moments and make me feel all the feelings, pretty please!


What are some of the backlist books sitting on your TBR at the moment? Why haven’t you gotten around to them yet? Perhaps you’re like me and keep getting distracted by shiny, pretty new releases! 

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I feel like Everyone’s Read but Me

I wasn’t really feeling this week’s allocated TTT topic or any of the variations I could come up with for it. Instead I’ve dug up this older topic from the archives on The Broke and the Bookish which is top ten books I feel as though basically everyone out there has read except for little old me. I could come up with a whole lot more than ten for this one but for now here’s a few.

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Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

This series is everywhere. Like EVERYWHERE, but it got even worse when Restore Me came out this year. I plan on giving it a read soon just to see what all the fuss is about.

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Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

When you talk about YA contemporaries, this is one that constantly seems to come up. It entered the top 100 reads list at my bookstore this year which definitely increased the feeling of being the only one who hasn’t read it.

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The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

The love for this book is crazy. It was on the NY times bestseller list for ages and ages, and it was all anyone talked about online for a good long while. Now there’s a movie coming out and the FOMO is real guys…

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Milk & Honey and The Sun and her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

I’ll be honest, I’m not a massive poetry person. I can admire a lovely phrase or two but I’m not about to go out and buy a book especially devoted to poems. These two works blew up in a huge way last year and the closest I’ve come to reading them is seeing a couple of photos on bookstagram. However props to Rupi Kaur for making poetry cool.

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Looking for Alaska – John Green

Come on, I had to include a John Green book here because (a) everyone seems to love them and (b) I don’t read them. I’ve been hearing about this book ever since I was in high school and it seems to be the JG book to read other than The Fault in Our Stars (which I actually have read!).

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To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This is one of those classics that I feel like HEAPS of people have read, likely because it was part of their English curriculum but also because I hear it’s fantastic. I’m not big on classics but part of me is tempted to read it sometimes just to join in on the conversations.

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Image result for percy jackson and the olympians

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – Rick Riordan

This is kind of a cheat answer because I’m actually three books into the series (only two to go!), however I feel like this series was almost a second Harry Potter for people a bit younger than me. Essentially everyone in the bookish part of the internet has read them and the spin off books, and they’re just crazy about them!

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His Dark Materials Series – Philip Pullman

This is another really beloved children’s series that I feel like A LOT of people read when they were younger but I somehow missed entirely.

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1984 – George Orwell

Another classic that people have read because of school or just out of pure interest, likely because it’s great and still culturally relevant. Again, I’m a bit classically deprived here…

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

Yes, another YA contemporary, I know. I only just recently started picking up a few books in this genre and this one seems to pop up like a game of whack-a-mole. It’s actually so much so, I bought a copy last week. Hopefully I’ll finally get why everyone’s always talking about it. Also apparently the rights have been acquired by Netflix, so that’s cool?

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The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss

This is a fantasy series that’s become huge. Basically everyone I know who enjoys this genre has read these. It’s been on my Goodreads to-read shelf for ages but I keep putting it off because I’ve heard the beginning is extremely slow. Then again, I should probably learn from my Nevernight experience and just do the damn thing already.

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Which books do you feel like everyone else has read but you? (Don’t worry, I won’t judge…much. Kidding, I won’t at all, promise).

Love Ashley