Fantasy fiction, self-publishing, Young Adult fiction

Spotlighting Masters and Beginners!

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One year ago today, I officially put my baby debut on sale, thrust the result of my hard work and long wait to be published into the world, for public consumption. Wow, that makes it sound not quite as pleasant as it actually was. Well, I have to admit, seeing Masters and Beginners on Goodreads, seeing the ARC reviews on blogs, was almost terrifying at first. In a good way.

Anyway, since this is my “bookiversary” (yes, anniversary of the book’s release), I wanted to mark the occasion with the fanfare it deserves! Seen above is the redesigned cover of the first installment in my fantasy series, The Order of the Twelve Tribes, created by Kyle Robert Shultz. The story inside either the first or second edition cover is the same; I switched printing companies, and wanted to do certain things announcing my establishment as an author — like secure a cover designer for the whole series, really increase my presence on Goodreads and Twitter, and build a solid foundation of loyal fans who would move mountains for me. Okay, I’m being slightly facetious on that last bit. But the fandom part is important. To those of you who have been around since the beginning, I want to say (again, but it never gets old) THANK YOU, for all your support and participation and faith in my writing.

So, today I want to go a little nuts, waxing lyrical on my own title, and we’ll celebrate Masters and Beginners: Volume 1 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes!

The story focuses on the Driscolls, a pretty ordinary family that lives in a pretty ordinary town in Ohio. The reason we choose to follow their tale is because they’re actually descended from a secret organization called The Order of the Twelve Tribes, which knows the forgotten truth of the universe — that faeries, angels, and monsters are real — and the Order protects unsuspecting people from the more unsavory of these creatures.

Sophie Driscoll and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, and their parents, James and Kate, take over running the Annex, a local facility that stores documents and objects related to Order history and the fey. As they officially join the Order, they find themselves immersed in a world of literal magic, and danger.

As if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, the new neighbors are demi-fey (half human, half faery), their pets are talking, shapeshifting cats, and I leave Volume 1 off on a twist worthy of the most brilliant/evil author. It ensures that you’ll have to read Volume 2 (see, brilliant) to find out what happens.

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Classified as YA (because I wanted to write something my kids could read before they were all grown up), my contemporary-fantasy-blend series isn’t limited to the ages of 12 to 17. Scattered throughout the text are references to the art and entertainment that helped bring about my inspiration to write this tale, such as Harry Potter, Discworld, Warriors, Warehouse 13 and Doctor Who. My playlist during the writing part of this project also receives its credit, by appearing in the form of lyric snippets at the start of each chapter.

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There are still a few copies of the first edition available, which can be acquired through me (though I only accept cash, check, or gift card, sorry). The redesigned cover/second edition can always be found at Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masters-and-beginners-daley-downing/1126998956. (And they accept credit cards, and often have free shipping deals.)

If you enjoyed Volume 1 and feel inclined to post a review on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble.com, or a blog, that’s fantastic, and I espouse further thank yous still.

This last year has been quite the journey, and I look forward to what comes next! See you all there, moths!

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Fantasy fiction, reading, Young Adult fiction

My Love/Hate Affair with the World of Shadowhunters

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White Fang has entered the world of Shadowhunters. He finished reading City of Bones last week, and is now onto City of Ashes. He has NO IDEA of the massive plot twists that await before he finishes City of Glass, and I am DYING keeping the spoilers under my hat. But I will absolutely do so for his sake.

Last night we watched the movie of City of Bones, and he and I agreed (I’d already seen it) that most of the acting was great, the plot changes were acceptable, and it was worth viewing.

Without getting into a whole discussion on the book vs. the movie (personally, I liked the movie, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so there), I will say that there were hints towards events portrayed in later books in what was hoped to be the first film in a series. Then production was switched to the TV series, Shadowhunters, which I cannot stand. Sorry, folks.

Anyway, my biggest issue with the foreshadowing is (again, NO SPOILERS, everyone, he reads this blog) is the reminder of the fact that Cassandra Clare repeatedly broke my heart in City of Fallen Angels/Lost Souls/Heavenly Fire. 

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The only reason I pushed myself to finish the whole series was the proverbial: to find out what happened in the end. Although I felt the wrap-up in book 3 was very nice and good and pleasant and fair, once I found out the author had written more, I couldn’t help myself.

Here are my thoughts of books 1-3: OH MY GOSH!!!! What a wild ride! Everyone who likes fantasy should totally read this! Wow, that ending!!!

Here are my thoughts of books 4-6: WHHHHYYYYYYYYYYY?!!?!?!!

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I truly felt this was a perfect example of: When the publisher wants more, but the author is tapped out. Plots suffer. Character arcs suffer. Readers suffer. And then so do book sales. And possibly great movies get cancelled, and turned into lame TV shows.

Now, I’m well aware that authors are allowed to change their minds without asking the readers what we think. And some authors can pull off stunning twists that no one saw coming, and we haven’t all fallen down on the floor, crying. But when it comes to The Mortal Instruments, I — and thousands of other fans — firmly believe the series should have ended with City of Glass.

After how much I enjoyed the first couple of books, I felt betrayed by what the ultimate conclusion actually became. Yes, betrayed. I had a bitter taste in my mouth for WEEKS after finishing City of Heavenly Fire.

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I wasn’t even encouraged to try the prequel series, The Infernal Devices. Eventually I did take Clockwork Angel out of the library…and returned it within a week, unfinished. That was over 2 years ago.

The prequel felt so flat, so churned out to feed the demands of an ever-increasing fan publicity monster. At least, to me it did. The banter all felt recycled from The Mortal Instruments, the characters merely Victorian versions of Clary and Jace and Alec and Izzy and Simon. It did not float my boat.

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And then there are the spinoffs. I haven’t touched any of them. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have touched them — the library copies, to very, very carefully take a peek at the blurb…and then return them to the shelf. Actually, I think I read the first 2 pages of The Shadowhunters Codex. But my enthusiasm for the world as a whole was already seriously waning by this time, so I don’t feel like I missed much by opting to pass.

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However, I caved when The Dark Artifices hit shelves last year.

And then I was back on the floor, writhing in agony. Because of reader’s remorse. Because I knew I shouldn’t have bothered with the 700-plus-page behemoth of confusion and lackluster-ness that was Lady Midnight. I ended up skimming the last several chapters, found out who the (cardboard cut-out) villain was, and didn’t even bother with the epilogue. I don’t care for the characters, or the new plot, and didn’t even see the need for this series to be written.

And, yes, all of this is just my opinion, and there are many happily carrying on with this world. But I am (long) done.

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Last night, watching the movie again, I remembered anew what drew me to the books in the first place — the incredible worldbuilding, the intense potential for character arcs, the depth and breadth of backstory, the wonders awaiting around every corner, creepy and horrifying, or beautiful and admirable. The unwavering optimism of teens in a very challenging situation, sometimes in way over their heads, and how they faced everything with bravery and humor and teamwork — even when their personal feelings about who, or what, the team should consist of were complicated — all of this really won my heart.

Those are the feelings from reading the early books that I really want to hold onto. Let’s hope I can, in the midst of further releases and adaptations that are in danger of making me bitter.

Well, it’s still up to me, how much I take in, and what memories I choose to put front and center. Just like maintaining hope that Clary and company will defeat Valentine and retain the Mortal Cup. Not giving up even when it looks bleak.

Luckily for all of us this is just a fictional world, and we can decide to visit or leave whenever we wish. Though I must admit, I do still sometimes feel sad that I’ve decided to leave.

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Fantasy fiction, The Invisible Moth

The Next Book Club Meeting!

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Okay, so I completely dropped the ball on assigning a date for the next quarterly book club for my own work. And when you consider that this is the only book I released last quarter, well, here we are on Volume 2! If you have read Rulers and Mages, or are currently reading it, feel free to wax poetic on what you loved in the comments! Please no spoilers, though! (I’ll totally understand if some comments therefore have to be compiled just of ASKJALFGH!!!.)

Also, announcement: Next month will be the bookiversary for Masters and Beginners! I can hardly believe April 21st shall mark a year since the release of the first edition! To celebrate the occasion, some fun stuff will happen! If you haven’t yet read Volume 1, you can find it at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masters-and-beginners-daley-downing/1126998956. It’s very affordable (only $8.95 USD), and Barnes and Noble often has free shipping deals available. Plus Kyle’s new cover will make bookworm drool overtake your common sense and instill in you the overwhelming emotion that you need this book now. Happy reading, moths!

Fantasy fiction, reading, Young Adult fiction

March Mini-Reviews

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Well, it’s a winter wonderland out there! At least for me — and if you don’t care for the snow and are ready for spring, then my apologies. Not too sorry, though — it looks wholly amazing, and I am once again awed by the splendor of Creation.

So it’s time for another round of mini-reviews! I’m already off to a raring start with reading this year (I guess setting my Goodreads challenge at 25 was laughable?!), which means I have more reviews to give!

Let’s start with a bit of nonfiction for a change — this I actually read years ago, but I’d forgotten how well-written it is, and my husband stumbled across it in a largely- unrelated Google search. So I decided to see if our local library still had it.

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Wicca’s Charm is an excellent, objective, and compassionate account from a Christian journalist who spent years researching the modern interest in ancient polytheism and the sudden surge in the practice of nature religions in the late 20th century. She never judged the many people she interviewed for their personal beliefs and customs, and while she found herself drawn deeper into her own faith, she also clearly saw a lot of the ways that the Church has let down so many of the people it’s meant to be building up. I highly recommend this one for anybody interested in bridging the gap between specifically Christian believers and those who are following non-Christian religions.

The next on this list will start a bit of extended whining. Sorry…

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I wanted to enjoy this. Oh, did I ever hope to open the cover and be swept away into a tale of magic and modern legend. Sigh. I’m afraid Enchanted Glass didn’t do it for me. Maybe I was still a little hung over from the anesthesia? But I had a very difficult time following the plot, and constantly got bogged down by the extremely similar names both the protagonists had (Aidan and Andrew), and felt frequently confused by the roles the secondary characters actually played. The housekeeper, Mrs. Stock, particularly was so irritating to me I wanted to chuck something at her, and began skimming the scenes she was in. And then the ending made NO sense to me, and I twisted into a bundle of discontent.

Unfortunately, my malcontent only continued with The Night Circus. Trust me, I’m aching, too…

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After hearing such great things about this novel, it’s been on my TBR (admittedly near the very bottom) for quite a while. I got to page 50 and just couldn’t get into the style. The prose felt neverending, and not really enlightening as to getting the plot going or establishing the character relationships. I struggled on as long as I could, then finally threw in the towel about halfway. When I had yet to reach any actual night circus action. (The auditions for a new illusionist don’t count, sorry, folks.)

At least I had saved my re-read of Shiver until now (after ordering it at Christmas). This will definitely perk me up.

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I read the whole trilogy (minus the “extra” wrap-up, Sinner) a few years ago. Recently, I decided it was time to enjoy The Wolves of Mercy Falls all over again, so I bought the first book. A few weeks ago, White Fang was literally moping (yes, quite literally — sorry, dude) over the fact he was AGAIN at the end of his TBR. (I swear he must be sacrificing cans of tuna on a scratching post altar under the full moon to a cat god who grants the power of speed reading, because he went through the 8 books I got him at Christmas in NO time.) Anyway, I handed him my copy of The Scorpio Races — and the rest, as they say, is bookdragon history.

So he has now completed all 4 of the Mercy Falls tales, and he is IN LOVE with the series.

No complaints with that. But what do I give him now?!

If you guys haven’t read “the other Maggie Stiefvater series,” what are you waiting for? The Wolves of Mercy Falls has definitely been eclipsed by the phenemeon The Raven Cycle has become, but I find the writing and plot and characters in Mercy Falls far superior. The protagonists are SO easy to root for, and I love the dynamics between the secondary characters in this quartet.

Well, that’s all for today! I’ll be back probably next week, as I put aside blogging for a bit in the pursuit of attacking fiction drafts (most likely with a flamethrower, or a live dragon). If you’re new around here, don’t forget to check out some of my more recent posts and some of my readers’ favorites! (Links are all in the sidebar.) Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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family, Fantasy fiction, spiritual growth

Guest Post: Kyle Robert Shultz on The Magic Elephant in the Room

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Good morning, all. Today we will be joined by Kyle Robert Shultz, the #ShultzWithoutaC author of the Beaumont and Beasley fantasy series. Given that Mr. Shultz is spiritually and morally a churchgoing Christian, some may be surprised that he writes fantasy fiction, chock full of storybook magic, witches and wizards, and mythological creatures. All of this was part of what drew me to this author’s writing in the first place. As someone who believes in Jesus of Nazareth as a divine Savior, and tries to follow his teachings in everyday life, I got very fed up with being told that one cannot attend church on Sunday and read fantasy Monday through Saturday. With popular authors such as Ted Dekker and Carrie Anne Noble breaking this mold (and C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien never being off the bestseller lists in the past decade), I was very interested in connecting with like-minded writers in the indie publishing camp. So I asked Kyle to write about this subject for today’s post, and I’m actually going to use it to lead into a 2-part discussion on the topic later in March. So enjoy, and have a great day, everyone!

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The Magical Elephant in the Room by Kyle R. Shultz

In my experience, Christian writers of fantasy don’t like to discuss the thorny subject of magic. We either use it in our stories or steer clear of it, but we’re not inclined to get into a big debate about the ethics of *Anthony Head voice* SOSSERY. The conflict over the subject has been going on ever since Harry Potter first become popular in the 1990s. Much of the furor and book-burning has died down since then, but even today, if you write a novel that heavily features magic, you’re likely to get a review from a Christian reader which at least mentions it as a potential problem.

So, since this is still a relevant issue in 2018, I say we stop tiptoeing around it and and tackle it head on. Ready? Here we go. The basic argument from Christians against fictional magic is as follows:

  1. Real-world magic is wrong, according to the Bible (Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Galatians 5:20, Revelation 21:8).
  2. The Bible also tells us to do nothing that would cause another to stumble and commit sin, even if what we are doing seems innocent (Romans 14:21).
  3. Therefore, reading and writing stories involving magic is wrong because it might encourage someone to engage in real-life sorcery.

If we don’t accept the idea that real-world witchcraft is real or dangerous, than this argument is invalid. However, I don’t ascribe to the doctrine of cessationism. I believe that the supernatural forces described in the Bible–both good and evil–are just as real today as they were in ancient times. The Bible passages regarding witchcraft specifically refer to the practice of communing with pagan gods, similar to both the medieval notion of consorting with demons and the modern concept of neo-paganism (i.e. Wicca). These practices are not only idolatrous; they’re potentially harmful to the soul.

That being said, however, we need to get some definitions straight. Magic as defined by the Bible refers to both witchcraft (invoking pagan/demonic entities) and divination (foretelling the future through means other than consulting God, such as astrology). The definition of fictional magic is a lot broader. It’s a force that the characters harness to achieve their goals and to do things impossible in the natural world. Fictional magic may or may not bear similarities to the sorcerous practices that the Bible describes. The magic systems in the works of J.K. Rowling or Brandon Sanderson, for example, are generally no more demonic in nature than the metric system. They’re mechanical rather than spiritual. On the other hand, there are fictional works which veer too close to promoting actual paganism–Buffy the Vampire Slayer being one of the strongest examples.

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Where, then, does this leave the Christian author? Presumably, due to our beliefs, we won’t be writing something that reads like a recruitment pamphlet for Wicca. But all the same, is it wrong for us to be writing about characters who cast spells, especially if we present such characters in a positive light?

The core of the problem lies in the reader’s awareness of the divide between fiction and reality. If an adult reader attempts to summon a demon into his or her living room after reading Harry Potter, Mistborn, or even the Bartimaeus Trilogy, the fault lies more with the reader than the author. It shouldn’t be the writer’s job to repeatedly remind adult readers that fiction is fiction. Child readers are another issue altogether, since young children don’t necessarily have the same grasp on what should and should not be mimicked. I have, in the past, been surprised by the level of occult content in books directed at younger readers, such as the Gatekeepers series by Anthony Horowitz or the Demonata books by Darren Shan. (That’s not an actual critique of the books, as I haven’t read more than a few pages of them–I’m just naming them as examples.) But while there are sometimes murky philosophical waters to be navigated in the Harry Potter novels, as well as occasional content that might be too frightening for some children, I still maintain that it’s highly unlikely the series will lure children into actual occult practices–especially if their parents have clearly explained the differences between real and fictional sorcery.

Assuming that actual paganism is not being endorsed, I don’t believe there’s a conflict between Christian faith and writing magic-heavy fantasy. Integral to the fantasy genre is the concept of other worlds, very different from our own. In this world, magic is dangerous and should be avoided. But in fiction, we journey through a vast multiverse of worlds where magic is not inherently evil. The stars in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia are sentient beings whose patterns inform centaurs of future events; our stars are not. The Potterverse contains people biologically capable of casting spells using wands and faux-Latin incantations, our universe does not. There is no reason for such distinctions to become muddled.

Furthermore, I don’t think Christians should act on a blinkered understanding of Biblical teachings about paganism to single out those who read or write books involving magic. Getting on that soapbox can damage the cause of Christianity by turning away non-believers who have an innocent love for the fantasy genre. What magic represents for many people is a power beyond the physical world; beauty and glory bursting in upon dull and colorless reality. To condemn this is to deny the very thing that we, as Christians, are meant to be offering those outside the faith. Let us not, in the effort to save people from some nebulous occult threat, steer them away from all the wonder of fantasy–a signpost on the way to embracing a very non-fictional God.

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Fantasy fiction, tags

The “What If” Fantasy Tag

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Hello all! So, I’ve been tagged by The Kyle Robert Shultz (yes, that really is his official title) to do this tag, which will be fun, since I hardly need an excuse to wax lyrical about my favorite genre, fantasy!

1. Your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The cast of the most recent fantasy book you read comes to your assistance… who are they? Will they be helpful?

That would be Skylar, Gilbert and Aldwyn from “The Familiars.” Yes, they actually would be helpful in this situation, although they’re from a world that doesn’t have cars, and even with all of them being animals, since they’re magic, and they love to help people. So they’d find a way to get my non-magic transportation up and running.

2. You go to bed one evening and wake up in the lair of the villain of the last fairy tale you read; where are you and how do you plan to get out?

Hmmm…that would be the Shifting Fortress from book 3 of “The Familiars.” (Since the villain in book 4 didn’t actually have a lair.) Getting out would be really hard, as the Fortress transports itself from place to place. I guess I’d have to team up with Skylar, Gilbert and Aldwyn and have them rescue me.

3. You are transported into a fantasy realm and given a mythical creature as a companion and best friend… which mythical creature do you get?

What’s the criteria for this? Who would be assigning the creature, and based on what? Okay, I’m probably overthinking it. If someone else was giving me a companion, though, it would probably be something like a griffin or a small dragon. (I’m not even sure how I came to that conclusion, with the non-existent qualifications. See, this is why I need to know!)

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4. In a strange series of coincidences, you end up needing to take the place of your favorite fantasy hero or heroine. Who are you?

Okayyyy… I am either Almathea of “The Last Unicorn,” or Susan Sto Helit of “Discworld.” Because I have wanted to be Almathea since I was about 7 years old; and when I first read “Soul Music” several years ago, I decided it does not get any better than your grandfather actually being Death and being called in to learn the family business.

5. To go along with question #4, now that you are that character, is there anything you would do differently than that character, now that you are running the show?

As Almathea, I think the only thing I would’ve done differently was to kill King Haggard earlier, and turned the Prince down quicker, so that I wouldn’t have gotten sidetracked from my all-important mission of saving the other unicorns so easily. As Susan, I think I’d probably be a little nicer to the Death of Rats in the beginning.

6. If you were yourself in a fantasy novel, what role do you think you would play in the story?

I’d better become the queen of all things, but have a super-extroverted and energetic assistant to carry out all the major tasks — like, you know, running the world — so I’d have plenty of time to wander my castle accompanied by my pet talking ocelot, hiding from people and acquiring the best library on the planet. Oh, but still get to tell people what to do when they came to me for advice — which they would, of course, because I’m the wise and lovable autistic queen.

7. One morning, as you are going about your daily business, you pick up an everyday item and a voice booms in your head with prophetic words about your future. What object is it, and what is your prophecy?

A book. The prophecy is that I’ll discover a far more beautiful world than I ever thought existed.

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8. You are transported into a magical realm and turned into a mythical beast…what beast/fantasy creature do you want to be?

I am a unicorn. This is a fact, for those of you who doubt it. I actually spend my free time galloping through pixie-filled meadows and healing injured stray cats with my horn.

9. If you could read your way into any fantasy realm, but the catch is that you can never leave, would you? Which realm would you choose?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. I’m not sure I’d like not having the option to leave. If I was in magical creature form, it’d probably be easier to stay indefinitely. And in that case, I’d have to say “Warriors,” or the Afterverse of the “Beaumont and Beasley” series.

10. As you are going about your normal day, you discover that you have a magical power. What is it?

To see into the future. And not just that, but the ability to make people believe me that I really do know what’s coming and how to change it.

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Fantasy fiction, Young Adult fiction

Mid-Month Mini-Reviews: Catching Up

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Good morning! This post sets out to do just what it says on the tin. My TBR has done an interesting thing, and actually increased itself through various turns of coincidence, fate, or maybe I ticked off a leprechaun and he decided I was going to be out of luck. I had it well under control. Then a few things happened…

First, I was at the library (in fact not getting a single book for myself, only picture books for Muffin and DVDs for White Fang), and the librarian suggested I read this nonfiction research book on linguistic studies — Thirty Million Words. Now, I appreciate her thinking of me, since she knows I have kids with speech difficulties, and I am interested in finding out what research is being conducted in this field. The one little hitch, however, is that now I have a lengthy, wordy, scientific-y title added to my TBR. With a time limit. Because she wants me to participate in the book club she’s forming to discuss this work. Hey, cool! Seriously. (Except for the time limit part.)

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So, I have begun reading Thirty Million Words, and it does promise to be an engaging, in-depth discussion on speech and language development. It will just take me a little while to make some progress…

Last week, I was preparing to dive into Thirty Million Words, when White Fang shoved his school library selection at me and declared, “You need to read this!” The latest in a long line of titles that has made him react this way. Since he needs it for a school project, I had to read it fast and get it back to him. (Hey, at least I got to add another completion to my Goodreads challenge!)

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It’s called Titans, and it’s a YA novel that I’d never heard of. White Fang picked it out for his independent reading at school because he just finished The Scorpio Races at home, and therefore noticed this cover. He said both titles had some elements in common, but largely were very different stories, and he loved them both. I concur with the first part. I’ve read some reviews that unfairly slammed Titans as being a “direct ripoff” of The Scorpio Races, and that just isn’t true. There’s no romance in Titans, the narrator has sisters instead of brothers, and living parents, and it’s set in more or less 21st century Detroit, Michigan. Yes, Titans focuses on an unorthodox horse race (the horses are made of metal and are basically machines), and there’s a lot of money at stake for the narrator, who’s hoping to save her family from eviction. But that’s where the similarities to The Scorpio Races end.

Titans incorporates a lot of the culture of horse racing we know today in the Kentucky Derby and the high-end circuit, with all the gala and pagentry on and off the course, as well as including several secondary characters that are nothing like the residents of the island of Thisby. And the narrator doesn’t have any love interests, rather she has a solid, female best friend who wants to be a fashion designer. Their relationship is so refreshing to see in a YA work, because there’s absolutely no chance of a guy coming between them, and Astrid and Magnolia are loyal to each other to the end. I totally applaud the author for that.

My personal quibbles with Titans were based on pacing and style. I just felt there were too many scenes that seemed to be included simply to draw out the spaces between the action and moments of important character growth.

Anyway, I pushed through it, and I did appreciate the climax and conflict resolution. So I’d still recommend it.

The other fiction I’ve been carrying on with is the Midnight, Texas books.

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I usually don’t read paranormal romance-ish novels, and I was not a fan at all of the True Blood TV series, but I did watch the adaptation of Midnight, Texas, and enjoyed it enough that I figured this trilogy was worth a go. Don’t judge a book by its multimedia versions. I liked the writing much better than the screen portrayals. The characters were great, the style was casual and relaxed, easy to get into the narrative and follow the motivations and plot. And — a major twist for this genre — the language was PG-13 for most of the pages, there was very little sexual reference, and even the violence was toned down. That was a pleasant surprise for me, as I’ve practically stopped reading adult fiction because of these factors.

Warning: This series won’t be for everyone, as there is a gay couple, mention of polytheistic religions, and some very unpleasant stuff with serial killers, vampires, white supremacists, and even demons. Although I was so floored by how ungraphic the author kept most of her writing on these subjects, and I thought that the ethical and philosophical debates she presented regarding people’s moral and social choices were appropriate for the content, not soapbox-y, and in some cases intensely heartstring-tug-y.

So, while I know some of you won’t give this series a second glance, I really enjoyed it.

White Fang is on a Stiefvater kick. A couple weeks ago, he had nothing new to read (I know, what travesty), so I offered him my copy of The Scorpio Races. I think I’ve created a fanboy…

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He got all teary-eyed on the last page, and when I mentioned Maggie Stiefvater has written several other books, his face lit up. He’s now devouring the first in The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he’s onto the next…

On an unrelated note, I am getting ready to have exploratory surgery to try to nail down the cause of my health issues. This isn’t a major operation, but it still will require some down time, so if I temporarily vanish in early March, this will be why. I’m trying to schedule out some posts, so it won’t seem that I’m actually gone for very long.

Also, there is a slim chance (since all the other tests are showing I’m in generally good health, apart from the unexplained pain in my side that comes and goes) that they’ll uncover something not great with this procedure. Yes, my saying this is mostly being paranoid and anticipating the worst. Still, right now not everything horrible has yet been ruled out, so I’d appreciate any prayers you might offer up on my behalf…

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