gender balance

The Neverending Story

Posted on

This week on Novel Ideas, we discuss The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, a fantasy/YA classic that many people remember fondly from their childhood. Of course, we never read it as children. Listen to the episode to hear us talk about classic v. modern YA, Mary Sue characters, fate and luck and how they effect problem solving, and world building. And possibly feminism. We also discuss generic hero boys, Fantastican revisionism, unannoying Tom Bombadil, and the power of love.

The music bump is Frank Mantooth’s version of “Imagination,” a tune that I used for a previous episode but didn’t remember until it was too late. If you never listen again, I won’t blame you.

The Neverending Story – Three Dub

Recommendations:

A story full of ideas and imagination that isn’t fully developed and ultimately goes nowhere.

Gabs: 6/10 for the first half, 3/10 for the second half.

Ben: 3/10 for going 200 pages past the point where I cared.

Advertisements

Under the Dome

Posted on

Novel Ideas returns, still a tad off schedule, with Under the Dome by Stephen King. Yes we’re a week late. Yes we’ve switched up our order. But we made it. And we’re hoping to get back on track for a few weeks before our schedule mid-March disruption. But more on that later. Listen to the episode for our discussions on antagonists, black and white characters, feminism, and difficult thematic questions. We also talk about Stephen King-isms, people who don’t swear, functional bullshit detectors, and bursting a rage bubble.

The music bump is “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, chosen for possible thematic relevance.

Under the Dome – Worst Comedy Ever

Recommendations:

Gabs: 8/10. A fun and compelling read, where you don’t stop to ask questions until after you’ve finished.

Ben: 8/10. A very entertaining book, assuming you aren’t scared of its sheer mass.

Catching Fire

Posted on

Novel Ideas returns with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Not to mention the second movie, which you may have heard, was released recently. We apologize for missing last week, illness and a new work schedule have been conspiring against us. In this episode, we discuss masculine and feminine character traits, PTSD, overly silent conspiracies, and inaction in the face of evil. We also talk about classic dick moves, Peeta as a potential creeper, whether President Snow is a vampire, and many, many prequel possibilities.

Ben’s holiday work schedule is fairly likely to result in more delays with editing and posting episodes, so the schedule may look a little jagged through the end of the year. Posts are most likely to occur on Mondays rather than Tuesdays for the duration. We’ll try not to miss any more weeks without putting it on the schedule in advance, but bear with us.

The music bump this week is “Fire in the Hole” by Steely Dan.

Catching Fire – Scalene Love Triangle

Recommendations:

A very good read, as long as it isn’t the first book you ever read, with markedly more sophistication than the first book.

Gabs: 8.5/10 with the extra half point awarded for going beyond typical YA fare.

Ben: 9/10 I think I may have liked this one better than the first one, mainly due to the added political elements.

The Joy Luck Club

Posted on

As promised, Novel Ideas returns with episode number two for this week: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. This is a book that is not easily summarized, as its narrative follows eight different women through various episodes in their life, not particularly linked by any continuous plot threads. Listen to the episode to hear us talk about genre vagueness, embarrassing parents, marriage, and character authenticity. We also discuss losing your mojo, baby hatin’, murder by anorexia, and what really defines your “second best bed.” And of course, feminism, though through a very positive lens this time.

The music bump is “Mah-Jong” by Chicago (yes, that Chicago).

The Joy Luck Club – China Is Not America

Recommendations:

Ben: 8/10 One point for each cotagonist.

Gabs: 9/10 Just as enjoyable as Ender’s Game, but in a very different way. Also gets a gold star for being full of interesting, complicated women.

World War Z

Posted on

Welcome back to the zombie apocalypse. Or almost apocalypse. This week on Novel Ideas, we read World War Z by Max Brooks. This book is a little bit different from other books that we’ve read in that it doesn’t really have characters or a plot, but is instead written in the style of an oral history. Because of that, we changed our format slightly for this week’s episode. We talked about the movie, the breakdown of society, the nature of celebrity, and gender balance. We also discussed zombie tropes, the fact that dogs hate zombies, historical zombie fiction, and zombie war psychology. Basically, we discussed everything zombie related we could think of.

The music bump is “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden, used to bait zombies at the Battle of Hope.

Recommendations:

An interesting and compelling book about 80-90% of the time. It drags just a little at the end, but not enough to put a damper on the experience of reading it. The book includes some excellent world building in telling a well covered genre story in a different way.

Ben: 8.5/10

Gabs: 8/10

Inferno

Posted on

The great Harry Poddercast Extravaganza continues with… Oh, it’s over? Right. In that case, Novel Ideas is back with a non-Potter podcast for the first time in several weeks with Inferno by Dan Brown, a thriller that involves Dante and lots of obscure art knowledge. This episode also launches a new theme month, Bestseller Month, where we examine books that have sold well and recently. We would like to offer a legitimate spoiler alert for this episode, as the book has several plot twists, and even we would be less interested in the story if we had known those twists in advance. If you’ve already read it, or aren’t planning on reading it soon, tune in (Like on a dial? Maybe I don’t understand the internet yet…) to hear us discuss the aforementioned plot twists, infodumps, overpopulation, and feminism. We also talk about unlikely character pairings, victorious villains, the existence of gay people, and the consequences of monologuing. In a very special turn, we also get to experience a couple of minutes of Gabs rage. Hooray!

The music bump is from Franz Liszt’s “Dante Symphony,” which is being performed during much of the climactic scene of this book.

Recommendations:

Gabs: 5/10 If you like thrillers, read it. If you like the stuff we like, skip it.

Ben: 4/10 Pretty dull for a thriller.

Plug Alert!

Check out Epic One, a collaborative fiction project involving Gabs Roman, half of Novel Ideas. The link will take you to the first chapter of an ongoing online e-book.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Posted on

Novel Ideas Harry Poddercast Extravaganza continues with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. (Turns out all of them are by J.K. Rowling, go figure.) In this episode, we discuss the longest (thus far) book in the series, covering some topics we’ve already visited, such as wizard racism, and some topics that you would assume we’ve covered, such as feminism. Not to mention editing errors, elaborate villain schemes, the importance of world building, and whether 700 pages is too long. And that’s before we get into Draco’s secret pain, shaving mishaps, face punching, and whether Voldemort would be even creepier with a weird mustache. We hope you enjoy!

The music bump is Mike Relm’s “Harry Potter Remix of Death,” one of many Harry Potter remixes floating around the internet.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Recommendations:

I probably don’t even have to mention that we highly recommend this book, but just in case, we highly recommend this book.