Feb 23

Review of Iron Cast

Book Reviews 10 ★★★★

Review of Iron CastIron Cast by Destiny Soria
on October 11, 2016
Genres: Alternate History, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Goodreads four-stars

In 1919, Ada Navarra—the intrepid daughter of immigrants—and Corinne Wells—a spunky, devil-may-care heiress—make an unlikely pair. But at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, anything and everything is possible. At night, on stage together, the two best friends, whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art, weave magic under the employ of Johnny Dervish, the club’s owner and a notorious gangster. By day, Ada and Corinne use these same skills to con the city’s elite in an attempt to keep the club afloat.
When a “job” goes awry and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes they’re on the precipice of danger. Only Corinne—her partner in crime—can break her out of Haversham Asylum. But once Ada is out, they face betrayal at every turn.

I was so excited to see this book in my tiny local library! They seem to be putting more of an effort into diversifying their YA section and it makes me really happy. This is my pick for February for the Diverse Reads 2017 challenge. So here I present my review of Iron Cast, Destiny Soria’s debut novel from 2016.

Feels:

“America is the land of liberty, Danny dearest,” Corinne said. “She won’t stand for Prohibition, mark my words.”

 

This book feels like a gangster movie with a few twists. Also not everyone dies, like in most gangster movies I’ve seen. 😛 I felt like I was sucker-punched in the gut a few times. Also I love how the author has chosen a relatively unexplored (in YA, at least) period of time (the weeks right before Prohibition took effect in 1919) for her setting. It was an awesome experience!

Ahem. Where was I?

Characters:

“No one likes a know-it-all, Ada.”
“Yes, I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”

Ada and Corinne are amazing. Their chemistry just leaps off the page and it’s beautiful. It made me miss my best friend so much. The back-and-forth banter had me laughing out loud, but their fierce loyalty to each other was what really made this story. The romantic interests – sure, they’re there, but they are a background to the girls’ friendship.

Plot:

Destiny Soria has taken the year 1919 and turned it on its head with one change of facts: there is a small percentage of the population that are born as hemopaths, who have the ability to manipulate other people and sometimes time itself through some form of art. When I first started reading I thought that the hemopath ability was inspired by sickle cell anemia due to the influence put on the hemopaths’ aversion to iron (an iron deficiency being one of the side effects or symptoms of sickle cell anemia), but after I finished I wasn’t sure. It’s an interesting thought, though. If it WAS so inspired, the author definitely gave it a new look by making it a strength and also making it just as widespread in people of every race.

At this time in history, hemopaths are feared and even hunted in Boston. Once considered artists, they are now looked at as freaks that are sub-human. Ada and Corinne find the noose of the law closing on them as they struggle to survive in their underground nightclub home, seemingly able to trust almost no one. Hemopaths start disappearing – people they know. Unsure where to turn, they spend a lot of time wandering from place to place. At times this was kind of a drag…it created atmosphere but left me wondering what was the point of a particular scene or chapter. However, the characters and a lot of the places they visited were interesting enough to keep me reading. I really wanted to find out WHO was behind all the horrible things that kept happening!

Worldbuilding/Description:

Reading this was like walking down a dark, foggy street. Or sitting in the darkened, smoky club surrounded by toughs and exquisitely dressed women. OR being kidnapped and dragged to a sterotypical “insane” asylum! There is a definite 1920s vibe to it that I loved. It’s so different and feels so glamorous compared to most places and even books (maybe I haven’t read the right ones?) today.

Final Rating:

4/5 stars. As I mentioned, the plot did drag a bit sometimes. Also I wish that Charlie and even Gabriel had been a little more fleshed out, but maybe that would have taken away from the strong thread of female friendship that holds the story together. I also really enjoyed the diversity aspect, as Ada’s family was not white but neither were her parents from the same country, and there is a LGBT couple as well. I loved that Destiny Soria didn’t gloss over how any of these characters would have been treated at this point in history but manages to (to me, at least) portray them without the slightest hint of bias. I’m not marginalized myself, so I can’t authoritatively speak to how accurate the characters are, but they felt very real and relate-able.

review of iron cast

Actually 384 pages, the auto-generated data was wrong.

four-stars

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Feb 22

Writing Up Wednesday #5: What’s Your POV?

Books/Writing 5

writing up wednesday

Welcome to the next week of Writing Up Wednesday! I’ve been so excited to see more people participating in this, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂 Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #5: What’s Your POV?

Point-of-view can make or break a book. The right one draws you in, gives you just enough information to keep you entertained and reading to see what happens next. The wrong one is nails on the chalkboard of your brain. If you’re not familiar with the different POVs, there’s an awesome, detailed article here on Novel Writing Help. There are 3 main POVs in fiction: first-person (a huge favorite in YA fiction), third-person limited, and third-person omniscient. I’m not going to get into a breakdown here – there are TONS of helpful articles around the web for that. So for now, think about your current WIP. Are you consistent with your POV, or do you use multiples? If so, do you handle it in a way that won’t confuse your reader? How did you settle on your POV?

I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to the POV in my current novel, to be honest. It just was. It just happened, and it felt completely right. I’m using a third person limited perspective, that of my MC. As it’s a fantasy, I can see some additional characters maybe jockeying for a turn eventually. Like my dragon. Pretty sure she will have a voice of her own that needs airing more than just as a side character. As it is, while I’ve done a LOT of her character development, both in my head and in written character sketches – I haven’t actually written her into the novel yet!

Personally, I don’t care for writing in the first person. It just feels…odd, to me. I can read it alright, but I think it’s a more difficult POV to do WELL. A lot of writers try to tell the reader things through the first-person, that that character simply wouldn’t know.

I can’t wait to hear from all you guys and what your thoughts are on this topic! Be sure to add your link to the widget. 🙂

 

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Feb 20

Down the TBR Hole #13

Books/Writing 6

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 616. This week I added QUITE a few! Eeeek. But I just found some that I couldn’t pass up. So let’s see how the culling goes. Up this week are numbers 67-71 of my original list. Covers link to GoodReads!

 


Title/Author
: The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber

Date Added: August 20, 2014

Thoughts: This still sounds intriguing. However, I tend to have unrealistically high expectations of historical mysteries, and this review is really turning me off. Nobody got time for that…that, in this case, being cheesy writing.

Judgment: Go.

 

 

 

 


Title/Author
: The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross

Date Added: September 4, 2014

Thoughts: Despite the slightly eyebrow-raising cover (thank god for no muscle-bound male though), this still sounds fascinating.

Judgment: Keep.

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare

Date Added: September 4, 2014

Thoughts: Despite my abandoning of the Mortal Instruments series in the middle of book 3 (angst much…I couldn’t take it), I still really enjoyed the first two books and am very intrigued by the world and characters. Also, lots of people have said this trilogy is better than the longer series.

Judgment: Keep.

 

 

 


Title/Author
: The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd

Date Added: September 4, 2014

Thoughts: This still sounds like a hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-standing-up good book.

Judgment: Keep.

 

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: Code of Honor, by Andrea Pickens

Date Added: November 27, 2014

Thoughts: What is this? How did this get on my TBR? I honestly have no memory of ever even SEEING this book or description before…

Judgment: Go!

 

 

 

 

Well, 2/5 won’t quite catch me up from all the ones I added this week, but it’ll help. How are you guys doing?

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Feb 20

Something Else Sunday #25

Life, Musings 1

something else sunday

Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for another Something Else Sunday and unfortunately about the only “something else” that I got to this week was my job. 😛 Haha. However, there have been MASSIVE improvements on that front…a day late and a dollar short, but I will definitely enjoy them for the rest of the time I’m here. I haven’t been getting a whole lot of reading done either, sadly, but this weekend helped some with that. I actually did massive amounts of adulating this weekend…laundry, groceries…all that dumb stuff that’s necessary but annoying. 😉

Oh, I did get the pieces of my Iris the Gourmet Monster knitted. Now just to add eyes, stuff, and sew together! This is for my goddaughter (who I will meet for the first time when we go home in the late spring!). I’m using a yarn I spun a few months ago. I think it’s going to be pretty stinkin’ cute, if I do say so myself!

I also participated in the second Beat the Backlist Instagram challenge – I was behind the entire week but I’ve posted all my entries now! I’m not a huge romance reader so I struggled a bit with this one but I got a few good or at least decent pics. 

Other than that, here’s the rundown for the next week!

Upcoming Posts:

  • Down the TBR Hole #13
  • Iron Cast (YA review)
  • Writing Up Wednesday #5: What’s your POV?
  • The Get to Know Me Tag

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Feb 18

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

review of a series of unfortunate events

I missed the boat on these books growing up. Actually, I think they were published just a little bit behind when I would have been of the age to most appreciate them (yes, I’m old…shhhh). Of course I had heard of them, but when I saw all the hype about the Netflix show I decided to pick them up and of course I had to write a review! My plan is to read all 13 books and review them in 3 posts.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Series Overview
:

This series is entertaining just for the narrative voice, if nothing else. Mr. Snicker (as narrator), is so dry and ridiculous that while yes, the books appeal to children, the tone is undeniably entertaining for adults. Are they great literature? No, I really don’t think so. Will they be remembered in 50 years? Yes, I think so, because they are so different from the vast majority of middle grade (MG) books.

The first 4 books (all I’ve read of the series, at this point) are all very similar. Set in an indeterminate time after the invention of the car and the telephone but before television and cell phones (I’m leaning towards the 1930s but not sure), the Baudelaire siblings, as we are told “lead lives filled with misery and woe” even though “they are charming and clever.” The actual location varies a bit, but adults are generally stupid and careless or cruel and cunning. The siblings stick together even as various horrible people try to hurt them or steal their fortune (or both). As their parents die in a catastrophic accident at the beginning of the first book (hence the title), the siblings have an enormous fortune, no near relatives, and no intelligent adult to help them or protect them. They fall easy prey to fortune-hunters…a theme that is repeated in all four of the first books. They go through a series of “guardians,” each seeming more horrible than the last, but at the end of the 4th book it looks like something might be changing as far as their living situation goes. To be honest, that is the main reason I’m going to continue on with the series, just because they were all so very similar.

The narrative voice in this series is as previously mentioned, very distinct. It breaks all the rules. It interjects into the story – sometimes with 3rd person omniscience, sometimes with random definitions of words. Like this:

This is one reason many lawyers make heaps of money. the money is an incentive – the word “incentive” here means “an offered reward to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do” – to read long, dull, and difficult books. The Baudelaire children had a slightly different incentive for reading these books, of course.

I think in this way, the author manages to use some words that middle grade readers wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with. It works, surprisingly – though as an adult reader I found it a bit annoying. The narrative voice is also the constant voice of doom and gloom, though with such wryness I found myself chuckling.

The series is not a realistic fiction series. I read several negative reviews that obviously took it as such, and I think that’s missing the entire point. The appeal of these books is that they use gross exaggeration to make points and to be funny. The characters are not supposed to be people you would meet on the street. They are grotesque exaggerations of people. Yes, we can all see elements of our crazy ex-boss in Count Olaf or Mr. Poe. But no one in the real world is that overtly-obtuse or evil. There are also made up creatures in these books – a dead giveaway that while they are set in a familiar world for readers, they are not in fact events that could actually happen.

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Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on September 30th 1999
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 176
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.
With all due respect,Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning as a title does not exaggerate. These poor kids, let me tell you. It starts off with introducing us to the Baudelaire siblings – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – just as they’ve lost their parents. Their solicitor, Mr. Poe, is a well-meaning but incredibly thick man who has no idea how to care for children and truly seems unable to see past the end of his constantly dripping nose. The siblings go to live with the evil Count Olaf, who is somehow VERY distantly related to them (how is it their parents have SUCH weird distant relatives and no near ones?) and cares nothing for them except how to get his hands on their money, as their deceased parents were quite wealthy. They move into his horrid house, where there are treated as little better than slaves. There is some comic relief, and also a consistent ray of sunshine in the form of Count Olaf’s neighbor (who, despite being well-meaning, is just as dense as every other “good” adult in this book).

The siblings are far from being normal children. They are all extremely gifted in some form, even Sunny – who is still a baby but is able to both communicate and act on a much older level. Violet is an inventor, and Klaus is a devourer of books and therefore just a general compendium of knowledge. Are they believable? Hardly. But neither are the adults.

The dark, twisted tone of this book really surprised me. This is for children!?! There are elements of abuse of the Baudelaire kids on all kinds of levels, twisting of the law in the worst possible way…and yet, the siblings refuse to be put down and refuse to give up. They stick together and eventually overcome the evil…but the evil is still lurking…and Mr. Poe is just as dense as ever.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on September 30th 1999
Pages: 192
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I'm afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don't be fooled. If you know anything at all about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.
In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the appearance of a person they'd hoped never to see again.
I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The Reptile Room starts off (after the necessary doom-and-gloom letter from the narrator, of course) on a much better note for the Baudelaires. At last it seems they may be going to live with someone who genuinely cares for them and has their best interests at heart. BUT WAIT. Let’s not get too carried away. This is, after all, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and indeed they do seem to be the MOST unfortunate of children.

Soon after they arrive at their new home – another relative, this one a eccentric but lovable scientist, disaster strikes and they find themselves being hunted by the horrible Count Olaf once more. Only of course, since they are children and have been greatly traumatized, no one believes them. Because why would you? 😛 Naturally, things go from bad to worse and the children find themselves in a desperate fight to avoid being kidnapped right under the nose of the law. Sunny, the little rascal, plays a very important part in this one – eliciting a few eyerolls as somehow she manages to have the mental compact of about a 7-year-old in the body of a 15-month-old, but you know. Realism isn’t the point here. 😉 In the end, they narrowly avoid Count Olaf once more.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on February 25th 2000
Pages: 214
Goodreads three-half-stars

Dear Reader,
If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven't got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The Wide Window takes place far and away from the first two books, in a reclusive town and even more reclusive house with, you guessed it, yet another unstable distant relative as guardian for the Baudelaire children. This time their guardian, Aunt Josephine, isn’t even actually related to them, but is their “second cousin’s sister-in-law.” Who just happens to be terrified of everything. The dock. The lake. The oven. She never eats anything hot for fear of getting burned by either the oven or the food. However! She has an intense passion for grammar.

“Grammar is the greatest joy in life, don’t you find?”

Being something of a grammar freak myself, I found her constant corrections and horror at bad grammar to be quite entertaining and that in itself is the reason this book received a slightly higher rating than books 1 and 2. It really was hysterical at times, and plays an interesting part in the story.

Of course this wouldn’t be an A Series of Unfortunate Events book without, well, you know. Horrible bad luck. Of course these kids can’t catch a break and when a “Captain Sham” (hahaha ok, Lemony Snicket, you must have had such fun naming characters) shows up with an unhealthy interest in the children and all kinds of sweet words for Aunt Josephine, the terror begins. Once again (I since a recurring plot) the kids are forced to fend for themselves due to the incompetence of their adult guardians, and once again after a great deal of running around and close calls and horrible things happening to certain people, they manage to escape.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on April 15th 2000
Pages: 194
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.
The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.
I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Whoo-boy, here we go – The Miserable Mill picks up where The Wide Window left off, with the Baudelaires going off to yet ANOTHER guardian, this one the most mysterious and incomprehensible yet. Things are getting extremely repetitive at this point, so much so that I was tempted to not read this one. But the books are so easy to get through and so FAST to get through that I persevered.

This book gives a new spin to the Baudelaires mistreatment – they actually ARE slaves in this one, for the most part! Thrown into a sweatshop/poorhouse type sawmill, they are used and abused and try to hold each other together. Hope seems to be slipping away from them as they are too exhausted to do anything at the end of the day. But then Klaus breaks his glasses and has to go see the “optometrist.” And all is not as it seems…because nothing ever is, for these kids. Of course no one believes them when they say they are being stalked. Of course no one sees anything wrong with 3 children working in a sawmill – actually, someone does, but has no guts to do anything about it, typical of the “good” adults in these stories. In the end, they of course barely escape per the usual. However, this time, the ending doesn’t have them going off to another relative, it has them going somewhere else entirely, so maybe the next book will have a change in plot. I very much hope so because I really think even most children would be bored with these by now.

three-stars

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Feb 16

Writing Up Wednesday #4: What Genre is Your Novel…or Does It Even Have One??

Books/Writing 7

what genre is your novel

Welcome to the fourth week of Writing Up Wednesday! I’ve been so excited to see more people participating in this, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂 I’m thinking of publishing the next several topics in a list so that it’s possible to plan posts, so keep an eye out for that.

Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #4: What Genre is Your Novel…or Does It Even Have One?

We would all love to write a bestselling novel, one that appeals to several different audiences and that everyone loves, right? The ever-elusive “crossover novel.” A quick Google turns up the idea that most of the time, at least currently, when people talk about crossover books they mean a crossover between YA and adult fiction. I have to admit that kind of boggled me for a moment, because that’s not at all what first comes to mind when I think of crossover books – I first think of books that don’t fit in any single genre, regardless of the age of their target audience. Some examples would be Fear the Drowning Deep (YA), and my well-beloved Outlander (adult).

So what genre is your novel? My current novel work-in-progress (RotS), is NOT EVEN CLOSE to being a crossover. At least not at the moment. It’s solidly in the adult high fantasy camp. Would younger audiences read it? Mmmm…I don’t think I would recommend it, due to some of the explicit issues the characters deal with. Would other genre-readers like it? Mmmm…again, I don’t think so, as magic and dragons don’t sit too well with hard-core historical or modern fiction readers. Now of course there are people who love both, but in this story…while yes, parts of the fantasy world are inspired by medieval societies and even older mythology, I’ve definitely marched to the beat of my own drum and there isn’t a shred of historical accuracy in it! I purposely chose to write this with THIS particular audience in mind, as it’s my first novel. I feel like trying to appeal to too many people would muddle the story and make my writing struggle.

This topic has actually really got me thinking, and I have a LOT of thoughts about crossover novels that I may share in a later post.

Edit: Please add your link below! I totally forgot to add this in the original posting. Doh!

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Feb 13

Down the TBR Hole #12

Books/Writing 3

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 611. Which means I’m still hanging on from last week! To be honest though, I’m pretty sure the static number reflects my lack of time in the past week to browse other book blogs and GoodReads. Haha. Anyway! Up this week are numbers 62-66 of my original list.

Title/Author: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, by Alexandra Horowitz

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts: I think I was really missing my dog when I added all these dog books. BUT, I still want to read them! I’m fascinated by the relationship we have the ability to share with dogs, and the intelligence of them.

Judgment: Keep!

 

 

Title/Author: Following Atticus, by Tom Ryan

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts: Climbing 48 mountains with your little dog in tow? Yes please!

Judgment: Keep!

 

 


Title/Author
: Southbound (The Barefoot Sisters #1), by Lucy and Susan Letcher

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts: I am fascinated by the Appalachian Trail and I would love to thru-hike it at some point. God knows when, as I don’t see myself ever having a job that would allow 6 months of leave…but you never know.

Judgment: Keep.

 


Title/Author
: Walking Home (The Barefoot Sisters #2)

Date Added: May 10, 2014

Thoughts: Not sure why I added the second one before I read the first one, since I hadn’t and haven’t read anything by them before…

Judgment: Go, at least until I’ve read the first one.

 

 


Title/Author
: The Road to Avalon (The Dark Ages of Britain #1), by Joan Wolf

Date Added: August 12, 2014

Thoughts: While I love Arthurian legend, my interest at the moment lies more in delving into the actual history behind the legends, not so much stories inspired by the legends.

Judgment: Go.

 

Well, 2/5 again this week! But my pile is steadily shrinking each week, which at the rate I add, should mean that in the long run I end up with a smaller number…right? How are you guys doing? Is your TBR about to swallow you?

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Feb 13

Something Else Sunday #24

Books/Writing, Life 2

something else sunday

It’s time for another Something Else Sunday, and well, this last week was just crazy! However, most of my free time was spent on one thing: my awesome, lovely penpal friends. I have had a massive stack of beautiful mail on my desk for months now. Writing about life was just depressing to me, so I…just didn’t. I wrote book reviews, wrote about books, even started writing fiction again. Meanwhile my friends waited and my correspondence suffered. I’m finally feeling a bit back in the groove though, and felt my letter-writing mojo returning last weekend – hence the lack of a Sunday post as I was trying my darndest to get caught up. I still have a ways to go but here are some pics! I may do another post on letter writing and snail mail later…we’ll have to see.

 

This is just part of my reply pile. Yikes!

 


Some of my outgoing from the last week.

Any other letter writers here? Is anyone surprised to find that the “long lost” art of letter writing is still so alive? 😉

Coming Up This Week on the Blog:

Down the TBR Hole #12
A Series of Unfortunate Events #1-4 (MG review)
Writing Up Wednesday #4

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Feb 09

Review of Waterless Mountain

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Review of Waterless MountainWaterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 12th 1993
Genres: Historical, Middle Grade
Pages: 212
Goodreads two-half-stars

Winner of the 1931 Newbery Medal, this is an authentic novel about an eight-year-old Navaho boy's training as a medicine man. This deeply moving and accurate account of one young Navaho's childhood and spiritual journey is filled with wonder and respect for the natural world--a living record of the Navaho way of life before the influence of the white man.

This is my first Newbury Award winner of the year! I need to get on this challenge, I’m already behind! So here’s my quick little review of Waterless Mountain, by Laura Adams Arner.

My first issue: I feel like that description or blurb is very misleading. “A living record of the Navaho way of life before the influence of the white man.” Um…I don’t see how that is accurate at ALL, when several of the main incidents of the story involve a slightly condescending but kind white man who runs a general store near the Navajo family. So what exactly is that blurb about? Hmmmm? Anyway.

This book was first published in 1931. The style of writing reflects the time, as it’s very slow-paced and nothing at all like the fast moving, action packed chapter books and MG novels of today. It’s thoughtful. There isn’t very much dialogue. I think that most middle grade readers today would lose interest, sadly. The subject matter is fascinating, but it’s not really presented in the most fascinating way. :-/ There’s a brief conflict that doesn’t even begin until the book is more than halfway over, and even that is resolved almost immediately and when it is, it just happens off somewhere else and Younger Brother (the main character) isn’t even involved!

The characters are not really fleshed out very well at all. I liked Younger Brother’s way of looking at the world, of his respect for all nature, of his desire to communicate with it, but I felt like the rest of the characters were very two dimensional and rather stereotypical.

Supposedly the view on Navajo culture presented in this book is pretty accurate – according to some white scholars in the 1930s. The book is written by a white woman. Which is all fine – you don’t have to be a member of a nationality to write about it – but I think the #ownvoices movement has sensitized me somewhat to people outside a culture writing about it, and I really object to the covert racism here. For instance, when the Navajo family makes a trip with the white store owner, to another store, the narrator says that “his father was curious but dared not go outside the door.”

I think the Newbury Award judges were trying to expand children’s view of the world by even selecting a book that portrayed Navajo culture in a positive light. I really do. However. Most white people at the time weren’t even…aware isn’t the right word. Racism at that time wasn’t looked at as anything particularly wrong, it just WAS. That doesn’t make it any more excusable, but from the point of view of a white intellectual in the 1930s, this book was probably a shining example of equal opportunity. So that said, I wouldn’t really recommend this for modern classes or kids, except as maybe an example of how racism creeps into even well-intentioned (?) writing. With all that going on I found it a little difficult to find things I liked about the writing, even if there was nothing particularly wrong with the style.

“I know this much, Little Singer. There are secrets we cannot name, songs we cannot hear, and words we must not speak.”

I did really enjoy how Younger Brother has such a respectful connection with nature. It’s not just him, but the rest of his family as well. At one point the narration mentions how even the youngest child isn’t afraid of bees, because she has never learned to be afraid of them. This was a real lightbulb for me. How many times are we afraid of something because we have seen someone else express fear?

Overall, 2.5/5 stars. When I initially finished I felt a little more forgiving, but the longer I think about it the more irritated I become by all the issues, especially the racism masquerading as not racism.

two-half-stars

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Feb 08

Writing Up Wednesday #3: Which Character is Your Favorite?

Books/Writing 2

writing up wednesday

Welcome to the third week of Writing Up Wednesday! Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #3: Which Character is Your Favorite?

It’s ok. You can be honest. We all have them. That one character you get excited to write about, your fingers just fly across the keys. Or maybe it’s two characters…together. Or maybe it’s your bad guy. Oooh.

When I first started writing my novel (RotS), my main character was my favorite character. Honestly, truly, deeply. I loved her so much. She was, after all, the inspiration for the entire story! She’s badass. A little shy. But badass. And she has to make IMPORTANT CHOICES.

However. After I plotted out my entire story (see Writing Up Wednesday #2), I realized that no, my dear MC is not, after all, my favorite character. My favorite character is my dragon.

Inspiration pics:

This stunning piece from Sandara from DeviantArt. Photo links to the listing.

Also the lovely (and here slightly goth looking) Amanda Seyfried.

My dragon is broken. Horribly broken. She (yes, my dragon is female) is hideously scarred, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Sometimes the other characters wonder whose side she is really on. She is powerful and dangerous because of her very nature, but also because her pain makes her unwilling to trust anyone. She is a fighter. She never quits. And eventually, she embraces herself – scars, desires, inabilities – everything.

She is neither white nor black, in the moral area of things. She is decidedly, stubbornly gray, and it is partially because of that that she is such a huge part of the story. People want to control her and use her for what she is – and she refuses to let them. She refuses to be used.

Again.

She’s my girl.

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