entertainment, reading

Why Magical Realism and I Don’t Get Along

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This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Recently, I tried reading magical realism for the first time (I started with the acclaimed The Weight of Feathers by Anna Marie McLemore), and my attempts have generally fallen quite flat.

Maybe it’s because of the way my brain is organized, but I tend to take in information very methodically and concretely. I don’t do well with abstract concepts. I understand metaphors and symbolism, as they’re referring to or representing something that is tangible. But I get really hung up on parables or “tall tales” that either don’t seem to connect to anything relevant in the rest of the story, or are so overblown exaggerated that they just appear ridiculous.

Having been a fantasy reader since I was very young, I am fully aware that in speculative fiction, things are not always what they first seem, and that characters will often have to rely on a faith in the unknown or unproven to get through the plot. None of this bothers me.

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What bothers me is when I honestly have no stinking idea what’s going on as I read.

Case in point: The Weight of Feathers. The premise indicates it’s kind of a modern Hispanic Romeo and Juliet, where one family is represented by birds and the other by snakes. Apparently they’re both circus performers. O-kay…I think. The first few chapters, I felt like I was following along. But by the middle of this book, I was utterly lost. Did the families actually transform into those animals or not?? Why were they feuding unless it was because they were natural enemies in their creature states?? To say I was frustrated and not invested by the time I finished is an understatement.

It’s precisely why A Monster Calls made me upset and angry. By the “big reveal” climatic scene in the last few pages, I still couldn’t determine what the monster really was — a true walking tree, a manifestation of the narrator’s feelings about his mother’s illness, or a crazy dream? It meant that what should’ve been an emotionally charged book left me feeling robbed, because I simply could not wade through my confusion and anxiety over this confusion. I needed more than possible Freudian theories.

While I remained in a fog after these experiences, I mistakenly ordered Anna Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty from the library. I say “mistakenly,” because I didn’t realize it was by the same author as The Weight of Feathers — I went by the cover alone. After getting about 25 pages in, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish Wild Beauty. Sure enough, I made it to about 70%, then threw in the towel. It was deja vu all over again — did the flowers actually sprout from the ladies’ bodies, or were they just excellent gardners? When it was said their lovers “disappeared,” did they in fact vanish into thin air, or (much more likely) they just left?

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So, despite bloggers raving about McLemore (and Patrick Ness), I won’t be trying any more of their works. I simply don’t have the patience for muddling through, vainly hoping to comprehend something that should be set forth in quantifiable terms.

Enter my latest bookdragon struggle: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. This one still sticks in my craw. I like Maggie Stiefvater, I was excited she had a new book coming out, I even pre-ordered it. However, I actually had to read this twice in about as many weeks for the overall meaning to begin to penetrate.

I am a well-educated person. I have an IQ of 143, for crying out loud. I know a lot about various world religions and spiritual belief systems. So why did I keep getting knocked down by the theories and prose of All The Crooked Saints?

Between pages 10 and 100, I put this novel aside about 5 times. I literally felt that I knew what was going on, then the narration took me on a totally different path (not in a good way), and it was starting to grate on my nerves. I pushed through, and even after reading the epilogue the second time, I’m still a bit tangled in bookdragon yarn of sad puzzlement. Why were the Sorias not allowed to speak to the pilgrims (when doing so would’ve healed them a lot faster?) What was the “darkness” that the pilgrims and Sorias experienced? The result of sin? A curse brought about by their sin? Or are we talking purely symbolic inner darkness — guilt, low self-esteem, etc.? I’m sorry, folks, but I need cold, hard facts.

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I also have to admit, a little selfishly, that I’m concerned about authors who were writing fantasy and now are tending more towards magical realism. This is an issue because I love the former but not the latter, and the latter is becoming increasingly more prevalent in bookstores and libraries. Am I about to start losing some of my favorite authors?

As a reader, not a publisher or editor, I’m aware I don’t have much say. And this bothers me, too — is traditional publishing the latest entertainment industry to fall prey to only releasing what’s trendy, instead of what their audience is asking for?

Hopefully 2018 will be the year of lots of cool new fantasy authors, determined to buck the trend. I’m over here, eagerly awaiting what non-allegorical myths, legends, and magical creatures you’re about to release on the world of fiction.

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Fantasy fiction, reading, Young Adult fiction

January Mini-Reviews: What I Liked, What I Didn’t, and What Brought All the Feels

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Yes, it is officially the new year, a new month, and we’re back to the routine of raving and flailing over our latest reads!

In November and December, I made time to focus on something that was not writing or preparing for holidays, and polished off a few things that had been on my TBR for most of fall.

There was excitement, disappointment, and some confusion in the whole experience.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer:

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This was a bit of a wash for me. It was the first time in quite a while I’d tried a Marissa Meyer (since I got to about page 25 in Cinder and was just completely, “What the blazing apricots is going on?!”). I noticed Renegades was rather thick, and got a bit apprehensive, as long books and I do not really go together. I ended up DNF-ing. By page 175, there just wasn’t enough going on that didn’t feel cliche or recycled. This novel could’ve taken the established superhero vs. supervillain genre and really shaken it up, but there were no new thoughts or ideas that I could find.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer:

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Yes, another Marissa Meyer! I actually didn’t realize that when I ordered it from the library. Nor did I know it was a graphic novel — and I don’t read graphic novels. SIGH. The moral of the story is: Library catalogs need to have their materials marked more clearly, and: Readers should do as much research as possible on a title before they request it.

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr:

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Okay, this was just odd. I liked the way it was set in ancient Greece (historically, not mythologically), and how the author split the narration into prose and poetry to show different POVs. And this is a MG novel, so I figured it would be pretty easy and fun.

Wow, was I wrong. Nothing happens for most of part one. The book draaaaags on, explaining wilderness survival in ridiculous amounts of detail, and I can’t see your average 5th-grader being interested in that. Then, when a significant plot advancement finally does occur, the rest of the book turns into an ancient version of The Hunger Games. Huh?!?! So, Dragonfly Song gets a no from me.

This Savage Song by VE Schwab:

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For most of 2017, I’ve been hearing lots and lots about VE Schwab. Well, maybe I started with the wrong series, but after not finishing This Savage Song, I’m (weepingly) not very impressed. A few months ago, I accidentally read Our Dark Duet first — I didn’t know it was the sequel. Anyway, now informed of my mistake, I obtained This Savage Song with high hopes.

Gah. I found the writing to be endless repetition of the same descriptions of Kate and August; stressing that Verity City was infested with monsters (which were rarely seen before page 200); and that Kate wanted to be a bada** gangster like her father (but whyyyyyy?!?!) and August was a monster who wanted to act like a human (but whyyyyyyyy?!?!). I didn’t feel the author provided enough details on the characters’ motivations or ambitions. And there was so little information on what actually triggered the new territories forming, the monster apocalypse, and why society was still set on taking selfies at high school after literal soul-sucking blackness had invaded.

So, I’m a bit sad.

Also, why is this cover so much better than the one I got?!

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater:

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This was the first book I bought in months. I was very excited for it, and I even made myself wait to start it until I’d finished my library books. All the Crooked Saints is very interesting, unique, and it’s not that I didn’t like it or wouldn’t recommend it. Buuuut. It doesn’t read like a Stiefvater novel. Yes, her trademark lyrical prose and humor are very there. However, I had a really tough time getting going with it. I actually had to read it twice to figure out what was really going on under the surface of the premise. And it took me until about halfway through that second reading before something clicked for me that it didn’t previously, and then some of the motivations made SO much sense.

I also realized something: That, for me, it’s much better to concentrate on Stiefvater works told in the first person. The way she wrote The Raven Cycle and All the Crooked Saints is very far removed from how immersed in the main characters’ heads/feelings she was with The Wolves of Mercy Falls and The Scorpio Races. Her standing-back-and-acting-as-1930s-radio-show-host style of narration in this new release makes connecting with her characters a LOT harder (at least for this reader).

Plus, this title relied heavily on the magical realism element, much more than The Raven Cycle (which is saying something, as it featured prominently in that series). Magical realism and I, it’s becoming apparent, are doomed to never co-exist. I just have the bloody hardest time figuring it out, and it gets really distracting to me from the actual story. Maybe this is why I had such a struggle with All The Crooked Saints overall.

Warriors: Legends of the Clans by Erin Hunter

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Well, it’s probably no shock that I LOVED this. It delivered ALL THE FEELS. Legends of the Clans is a companion novella to the canon series. These short stories expanded on some of the characters that we didn’t know very much about, and tied in to the canon beautifully. I had a massive, stupid grin on my face one page, and then tears were streaming from my eyes the next. 10/10 for ripping out my heart once again, Erin Hunter. (Seriously, keep it up!)

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family, Parenting, reading, Young Adult fiction

Why Adults Should Absolutely Read YA

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Well, nothing like going in, guns blazing, with a hot topic discussion post at the start of the year!

First, how are you all? Did you survive the holidays? Thinking about emerging from the turkey dinner stupor to face the world? Still hiding under piles of discarded wrapping paper with bows and tinsel stuck in your hair?

Well, however you find yourself, I shall welcome you back! Let’s get right to it, then!

A few weeks ago, I read part of a rather irksome/disturbing thread on social media; the jist is that there are a lot of people over the age of 21 who strongly feel that anyone who is old enough to legally drink, get married, join the military, and live on their own should not be reading Young Adult fiction.

Excuse me?? Number one, when were the Reading Police established?! Number two, what is wrong with teachers, parents, pediatricians, school counselors and adolescent therapists knowing what our kids are reading?

And even more, what about those authors who write what our kids will be reading? How can they possibly know what their audience is interested in, or lacking, if they don’t connect with 12-17-year-olds?

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Years ago, parents could just let their kids pick up a novel from the YA/juvenile section in the bookstore or library, and be pretty confident that the content would be acceptable for their age. There were plenty of authors that tackled tough subjects like death, disease, drug use, sex before marriage with tact and in a way of presenting facts and both sides of the debate.

Nowadays teen readers are apparently told to go get stoned, get physically intimate, drive too fast, skip school, turn the air blue with their language. Don’t any of these authors have kids themselves?! Would they really want their own precious darlings behaving this way?

As a parent and a YA author myself, I take this responsibility very seriously. I’m not at all naive — I’m totally aware that nowadays many adults consider kids knowing all kinds of sexual lifestyles, swear words, and various political views to not be a bad thing. Well, I — an informed adult — disagree. It’s one thing to be well-educated; it’s another to instill harmful perspectives on young minds that are still forming their views and ambitions.

Warning: The Invisible Moth is officially jumping on her soapbox.

Encouraging teenagers to wait to have sex because they are too special to give their body to just anyone is showing we love them and believe in them to become solid, confident, well-adjusted future wives and husbands. Telling them the consequences of unprotected sex reinforces that we want them to remain healthy and emotionally whole. 

Warning them against using drugs and too much alcohol helps them develop self-care habits that could last a lifetime. Discipline and high self-esteem will provide our future doctors, teachers, parents, leaders with the power to change society, for the better, for generations to come. Showing them that a clean path can also be fun sets them on course for a productive, respect-filled life. 

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Okay, stepping off the soapbox.

Now, here’s why the idea of anyone “grown-up” reading YA is silly is just: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

1.) YA fiction is simply FUN. Since most children/adolescents aren’t past the point of wanting to believe — at least a little — in mythical creatures or flying cars or that you can access another world through your closet, the possibilities in a YA book are endless. 

What adult in the 21st century (with reality being so damn hard most of the time) wants to only read about fictional characters whining that they can’t get a date? Who cares?! Get out of your own grumpy head and go read about storming the castle and saving the endangered race of beautiful talking unicorns! Dream about being a hero! Don’t lose that passion!

2.) YA fiction provides an escape. Yes, most of us know very well that animals don’t really speak human, hypogriffs aren’t legal pets, and we’ll probably never get to live in a magical library. So?? Let us pretend for a few hours!

Children who regularly use their imagination often grow into big people who invent new technology, new medicines, the prototypes for hovercars, more effective academic systems, tools and inventions that make our lives better. LET US IMAGINE.

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3.) Parents and teens reading together is valuable. In recent years, too many high-schoolers don’t communicate or bond with their elders. Yes, this is a problem, trust me. Concurrently reading the same book or series with your 14-year-old is important. Find a subject that interests you both, and take it from there.

White Fang and I have both read and discussed Harry Potter, Warriors, The Illuminae Files, and Beaumont and Beasley, among others. This activity also gives you a great starting point for discussing tough issues, and encouraging your kids to do their research and develop their own points of view.

4.) Not all of us with a certain date on our birth certificates enjoy reading stuff aimed at that age group. I flatout find most murder mysteries/romances/spy thrillers downright formulaic and dull. Yes, I know that I’m somewhat of a square peg in a round hole in this instance. But it’s a fact, and it’s not changing anytime soon.

While I don’t necessarily want to read about being in high school, either, there are plenty more fantasy and speculative fiction choices among the YA sections than the adult. Plus lots of fantasy YA authors still take care to keep their language and explicit content to a minimum, whereas for adults, apparently ALL the barriers have come down. That just isn’t my thing.

5.) If you don’t have a long attention span or not much free time to read, novels aimed at juveniles are usually less than 400 pages long. This is a big deal for me, since my spare time is certainly limited, and if I can make it to the end of the paragraph without losing my place, then, wow, it’s an awesome evening!

Also, since I currently carry all my library books literally on my back, there is just no way in Hades I’m attempting to haul the latest 650-page New York Times bestsellers. No way, sir.

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6.) Whether it’s my personality, my mindset, worldview or whatever, I simply relate better to characters in YA. If you present me with an adult character who’s narrating about whether they can squeeze in an extra 10 minutes at the gym, or if they interpreted the fine print in their car lease properly, I will be either falling asleep or using the book as a footstool.

Whereas, show me the elf who’s hoping to return the enchanted sword to its sacred mountain before the kraken’s released, and I’m on the edge of my seat. Any night I spend reading Warriors will result in big stupid grins and lots of tears on my face. Finding out a secret about a beloved Clan cat will resonate with me for months.

7.) Reading about characters who aren’t jaded yet, full of hope and plans and enthusiasm, makes you want to have that again. Remember when you were in kindergarten, and making an extra blanket into a cape was the most natural thing? When you looked to the skies with an unending sense of wanting more?

Go for that, whether you’re 25, or 30, or 40.

Save the unicorns! Rescue the flying cats! Storm the castle!

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blogging, reading

One Bookdragon’s New Year’s Resolutions

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2017 was a slightly frustrating year for me as a reader. There were a lot of books that I DNF (when previously I hated doing that), some authors I had been enjoying that I’ve written off (ha, sorry), and I faced the very real problem of hitting a slump.

So, hoping to avoid such travesties in 2018, here are my bookdragon’s new year’s resolutions:

I shall finish what I start. Yes, I am going to force myself if necessary to finish every book I begin reading. This should probably mean a) conducting a lot more research before adding titles to my TBR and b) not letting myself be swayed by hype. Sometimes the hype is well-deserved. But unfortunately, it mostly just increases the weight on my back as I trudge through the snow from the library. (Spoiler: it isn’t worth it.)

ARCs will be few and far between. Unless I or the author make a specific request. I love the concept of ARCs, especially for indie authors. But I, as a reader, don’t have the time, energy, or desire to commit to taking part in the evaluating-advance-copy-for-a-review bit this year.

There will be no pressure to review absolutely everything. Yes, it is very helpful in the community if you explain in particulars what you did or didn’t like about a book. However, not every rating on Goodreads has to be a 4-paragraph, beautifully-detailed mini-literary critique. A couple of sentences highlighting what you feel to be the title’s biggest pros/cons often work just as well.

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I am not going to guilt myself into leaving my comfort zone. Trying to suffer through romances, contemporary YA, or historical fiction anymore is not my idea of fun. If you love these genres, please don’t throw anything. I appreciate really well-told stories of any kind. Though reading all of them ain’t my cup of tea. Some authors’ styles and I don’t mix; sometimes the content makes me twitch (even when the seedier elements are necessary for the plot); and pure fluff just doesn’t float my boat.

So, yes, I’ll be reading a lot of fantasy, historical fantasy, and speculative fiction. And your point is?

Instead of attempting to begin all the new series, I will complete the ones I’ve commenced. I am behind on WarriorsThe Familiars, Apprentice Cat (all of which White Fang is champing at the bit for me to get to), and he’s going to force me to read Obsidio when that’s out. Plus, at the rate Kyle Shultz is hoping to publish his next titles, I better get ready!

More buying, less borrowing this year. It’s because I want to encourage myself to finish everything, and embrace quality over quantity. At the library, I have a greater chance of being impulsive — and all that literal trudging-and-hauling is getting old. Spending money on shiny new novels feels special, and I’m much more likely to limit my purchases to those selections I expect to enjoy and wish to savor.

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My Goodreads challenge goal will remain low. This year, I set my challenge at a very reasonable 20 books, and thought it would probably take me till around October to hit that tally. I reached it in April. It was intensely satisfying to see the numbers keep climbing (“You have read 30…40…60 books out of 20!”), and I did begin pushing myself a little too much, just for that emotional rush. But my back suffered (remember, all that library requesting), as well as my emotional state when I’d raced through hyped new releases that I thought were terrible. Again: not worth it.

Hype and I will have a distant, skeptical relationship. This is how I always used to feel about a title that supposedly the entire world was flailing over. Now I have learned the hard way that this approach is the best for me. It honestly irks me when I spent the time and mental effort to plow through a book that just makes me want to fling kumquats afterwards. Especially when I had a feeling before even opening the cover that I wasn’t going to like it. (Note: Listen to your gut, moth.)

Reading shall be for enjoyment first, for blogging or reviewing or “not missing out” second (or even not at all). I read novels for fun — not as competition, not to be up on something trendy. I’d very nearly forgotten that. When I, as a writer, take in someone else’s wonderful and engaging fiction, it helps me recharge creatively, and pushes me to want to do the same myself. All of this is much more important than a tally on a social media page. 

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reading, The Invisible Moth, writing

Year-End Wrap-Up (How Did This Happen?)

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So, as we are all painfully aware, we just days away from the end of 2017. Hence, I’m going to finish up this calendar page with a recap of all kinds of stuff I did in the last 12 months.

Okay, not really. Because although I know I was very busy, I cannot remember 89% of what I actually did. My guess is I must’ve been even busier than I realized, which is why so much of it is a blur.

Well, there are some things I can concretely tell you:

  • I set my Goodreads challenge at 20 books, and somehow managed to read 68.
  • At last count, my blog was up to 240 followers, and Twitter had climbed to 195.
  • I published not one, not two, but three (!) books.

Also, White Fang started high school, and Muffin started preschool, and believe me, this was a big deal.

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Yes, I went from just being a blogger who was frantically trying to finish a novel someday, to being a writer who had not only finished a novel but had it printed.

And it was getting pretty well-received, which really made my year. That led to boosting my confidence high enough to start working on the immediate sequel.

And, I shared some of my short stories and flash fiction on the blog, and that went over pretty well. So I decided to put the major ones together in an anthology.

My Goodreads page rather quickly went from being just a reader to being an author with a bibliography.

This is really such a huge thing; sometimes I still can’t believe it.

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There’s a massive rush in walking into your local library and seeing something you wrote on the shelf.

So, apart from that… Hmm, did anything else happen in 2017?

Oh, yes — I won NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row, and I gave a talk on self-publishing to a small group at said local library.

The latter will most likely lead to future engagements (huzzah!).

Here’s how I felt about the former:

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NaNoWriMo was brutal this year. One, I hadn’t completely finished my last edits for Volume 2, and was, in fact, trying to do those on a few days here and there in November, around my NaNo project. (This is highly not advised; I don’t recommend attempting it to anyone.)

Then I discovered (after writing nearly 39,000 words on my NaNo draft) that I didn’t like the way the story was going at all and would probably end up scraping it entirely.

But after coming that far, the idea was just loathsome. So, I decided to be a NaNo “rebel.” Since I wrote brand new 4,000 + words in the final edits of Volume 2 between November 2nd and somewhere around the 18th, I included those in my tally. Then I wrote two potential first chapters for How To Be A Savage at roughly 2500 words each, and (praise the Lord) I was done.

All of this has made me seriously question whether I want to participate in NaNo next year. But, thankfully, that’s 11 months away.

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In other, non-writing things — as already mentioned, I did manage to read a lot this year. More than I’d read in a 12-month span since well before Muffin was born. To be fair, I owe a lot of that to him, since now he gets regular bedtime stories (in fact he grows quite concerned if we suggest skipping one night), and while we also re-read a ton with him, I also get to try new picture books that I hadn’t read with White Fang.

And, oh, yeah, if you’re reading 10 new titles a month to a small child, that certainly helps advance that progress bar on Goodreads.

Most of the YA/MG selections I chose were, however, sadly disappointing. There were some real gems as well (happily). Some of my top favorites for 2017 (regardless of publication year) included:

  • The Beast of Talesend, The Tomb of the Sea Witch, and The Stroke of Eleven by Kyle Robert Shultz
  • Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
  • Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria by Rahma Krambo
  • A Matter of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance
  • Girl Online by Zoe Suggs

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Oh, yeah, and somewhere along the way, White Fang went from watching The Thundermans and Henry Danger to watching The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead. Guess that has something to do with him going from being 13 to being 14.

So, now, here we are, another year gone, and definitely a lot accomplished! Here’s to a healthy, productive, and happy 2018!

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Fantasy fiction, reading, writing

2018 Most Anticipated Releases

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Okay, first: Obligatory moment of screaming incoherently because it is nearly 2018. I literally feel like approximately 57 days were removed from 2017 in the middle of the night sometime around Easter and no one announced it to the public. How do you explain where this year went otherwise?!?!

Anyway, in an effort to be supremely positive about this sad, sad turn of events, I shall look forward with delight to new releases I get to rave over with that flip of the calendar page!

Beaumont and Beasley continuations and spinoffs:

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Kyle Shultz has announced his official plans for 2018 publishing, and there is a lot to be excited about. He’ll be going ahead with his concepts for taking his “canon” series, Beaumont and Beasley, in new directions (I love it when authors are brave and try something new), as well as a prequel for The Beast of Talesend, and a spinoff featuring Malcolm Blackfire (the dragon who will be my husband one day, so SQUEEEE!!!), and he’s started a sort of Wild West series on Wattpad. (Although I am incredibly behind on that, since I currently do not Wattpad.) Almost everything will eventually be out in paperback, and I am definitely looking forward to those!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black:

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I am beyond falling over with anticipation for this one. Since (finally) finishing The Darkest Part of the Forest last year and loving it, I am quite eager for Holly Black to write more fairy stories. Years ago, I tried her first fairy-related book, Tithe, and didn’t really care for it, but there was so much storytelling potential waiting in the wings of that and her Curse Workers trilogy. So I hung on and kept an eye peeled, hoping that one of her titles would finally grab my interest and not let go. Now I honestly feel that she’s matured as an author, found her style and honed it, so The Cruel Prince is high on my list.

A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews:

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Here’s an interesting sort of confession — I may not actually read this. Why?, when I know the author, and Goodreads has exploded over how much people are dying for A Thousand Perfect Notes to hurry up and be printed already? Well, it’s the content of the plot. I simply don’t read novels involving abusive parents, because it features high among my personal triggers. I’ve actually already discussed this some with the author, and since she understands the ASD struggle herself, this will hardly be a surprise to her. However, it does not one whit distance or deter me from recognizing this shall be a huge release, and hopefully the internet can hold itself together in the meantime as the rest of you flail joyously!

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes:

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To say I am excited about this novel can be related thusly: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! It’s a historical fantasy, centering on Bonfire Night, which is one of my favorite British holidays, and the fact I have to wait until spring for it to be even close to being available is just: AAAAAAAHHHHRRGGHH!!!!!! I have not yet read anything else by this author, but I’ve heard very good things, and the concept is totally my cup of tea — hence the non-stop screaming until I get my hands on a copy.

(covers not yet confirmed) Volume 3 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes and How To Be A Savage by Daley Downing:

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What? Did you really expect me to get through this post without hollering about my own 2018 titles?

As of yet, there is no title or even cover art for Volume 3. It shall come to be eventually, when Kyle and I have survived the holidays and life throwing Other Stuff in our path. And no teasers yet, since Rulers and Mages just came out, and very, very few have had a chance to finish it.

How To Be A Savage will release first, anyway. I’m taking a break from an intense work schedule on my Order world to focus on my failed NaNo project that I’m now revamping into something awesome. As of now, there are no notions or schemes for the cover; I’ll cross that bridge sometime in January.

And there we have it! Now, let’s all run around panicking for a minute (or 23), because none of us are prepared for the new year!

Have fantastic holidays, moths!

blogging, Mental Health, reading

This Bookdragon Says No More…

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So, the other day, I was picking up my holds from the library, and something a little strange happened. As I loaded the titles into my bag, I realized that I only remembered requesting one of them, and why. (It was due to the blogisphere screaming about how good it was. Valid reason in spades for it ending up on my list.)

However, that was only one of five holds I checked out that day. Now, this concerns me.

Sure enough, when I got home, I looked the others over, and not a single hint of recognition came.

I could just read them, anyway. I’m aware of that. But I do not possess a Time Turner, meaning I only get 24 hours in a day, and approximately 16 of that needs to be spent caring for children, the cat, the house, writing, cooking, running errands. And the rest should be taken up by sleep.

So, I need to carefully select my reading material. If I truly don’t care if I read it, it should go back to the library.

Or, ideally, not arrive in my house at all.

Some bookdragons have a VERY big issue with the idea of not reading all of the books, that have ever been published, since, like, the beginning of timeI have no such qualms. If I’m not interested in the plot, it’s longer than 550 pages, falls into a genre I usually don’t like, or belongs to an already long series that I never started, chances are it will never get added to my TBR.

And this makes my life a LOT simpler. Could I be missing out on some really cool stuff? Yeah. But I’m willing to take that risk. In some cases, I’ll just watch the movie. (Shush, this is not heresy.)

Apparently, I recently forgot some of my cardinal TBR rules.

Time to go back to the drawing board and consider where I may have strayed off the path.

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Literally judging a book by its cover can be quite dangerous. In the past 18 or so months (ever since I started scouring other book blogs to see what the flavor of the week was), I’ve brought home many novels with downright lovely covers…and a terrible story. This has resulted in so much frustration — that could’ve been avoided.

The fear of missing out is a real thing — even for autistic bookdragons. When you already feel like the whole world is engaging in something fantastic and you’re over here on the outskirts wearing a face of confusion and despair, life is hard. So you decide to remedy that by reading the books “everybody else” is loving. Well, guess what — just because it’s a bestseller doesn’t mean you will like it. Exhibit A for me: The Hunger Games. And it made me sad, because the rest of the movies were coming out, and people were so excited…

Then, about a year later, I started finding more and more bloggers were being brave and admitting they hated the dystopia craze — particularly The Hunger Games. This made me feel SO much better. And it renewed my drive to apply more self-discipline and less social guilt.

Lots of books combined together in the same tote bag are heavy. And I walk to the library and back. More than once, I’ve nearly given myself a hernia attempting to carry 8 picture books, 5 YA novels, and 3 DVDs the three-fourths of a mile to my house — in all kinds of weather.

The initial rush I received by checking out that big stack was quickly replaced with, “Oh, my God, I cannot do this anymore, how am I going to make it up the hill, what was I thinking, somebody help me PLEASE!”

My health is kind of important…

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Reading one book you really enjoyed is MUCH, MUCH more satisfying than ploughing through 4 books you feel really meh about. Yes, this is actual, certified truth. Despite the fleeting moment of glee that resulted from seeing how high my Goodreads challenge has climbed, the pressure I ended up putting myself under to more than double my original goal was NOT worth it. While this course began accidentally, the stress became real.

When you read primarily for fun, this is not okay.

The road less traveled is quite worth peeking down. Books that will never reach the bestseller lists can still be awesome. I used to read a lot of them, and was generally happy that way. Yes, there are utterly amazing bestselling novels, too. But don’t feel the need to box yourself in.

Being slightly pickier is an advantage. Yes, it is. You could discover your next favorite book by refusing to stick to what came out in the past 12 weeks, and checking out what was super-hot 5 years ago. (Think about it — you’ll be a trend-setter!)

It also means that you won’t have to spend money you don’t have, trying to acquire 17 brand-new releases in approximately 17 minutes before the pre-orders sell out.

See? The beauty of simplicity.

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