Genre disappointment

I was going to review a mystery/thriller that I finished not too long ago, but I’ve decided not to review this particular book. It wasn’t poorly written, full of typos, or incoherent. So, why am I not going to review this book, you ask? Three words: mental illness stigma.

Now that you’re probably rolling your eyes and preparing to unfollow my blog, let me give you a bit of my background. Around twenty odd years ago, I was diagnosed as having bipolar type 1, as well as an anxiety disorder. Actually, let me back up: I was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy, an unspecified sleep disorder, major depressive disorder, and the lovely generalized anxiety disorder. Eventually, bipolar 1 replaced the mdd diagnosis. Then came the pills; lots and lots of them. I was a minor when all this started, so I had very little say in my own treatment (remember, this was twenty years ago). Chances are, if you can name it, I’ve been on it at some point. Mental illness treatment is seldom linear, and in my case, I was also being put on different medications for epilepsy (oddly enough, I’m currently on a mood stabilizer that also acts as an anti-convulsant. Go figure). There were upsets, bad side effects (one antidepressant actually made me suicidal), and several hospitalizations.

I don’t write any of this in an attempt to receive anything remotely resembling pity: I’m here, I’m currently doing well, and my mental illness is simply one part of the person I am- and not even the most defining part. However, it does play into why I’m so bummed about the book I finished recently.

This book, which I will not name, had an interesting premise, unique characters, and a fantastic setting. It moved at a good pace, and had several twists and turns that kept me reading. But, once again, as has happened quite often recently, the murderer’s sole reason for committing the crime was simply “mental illness.” And with that, this book lost me. I feel that, not only is it lazy writing for a character’s complete motivation to be thrown on ye random mental illness (in the case of this book, it was undefined, but I’ve seen a lot of schizophrenia and borderline personality disorders filling in that blank lately), it can be harmful to those who are just beginning the very long road to getting help with mental illness.

I read because I love to visit different places, see through different eyes, and experience new things. If I’d read multiple books describing violent, irredeemable monsters as having a mental illness back when I was still struggling horribly to just continue, it would have broken me.

Now, of course authors are free to write anything they want. And of course, people reading my ramblings might think I’m overreacting (maybe I am), but I want to try something: I want any of you who are still with me at this point to comment with a mystery/thriller or fantasy that portrays mental illness in a healthy light. I’d love to read those books. And, maybe- just maybe- I’m not the only one.

So, weigh in please: let’s get a good list going. And I promise, the next blog post will be back to my semi-regularly scheduled broadcast.

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The Fairy Tale Book Tag

This one is fun! It’s also a lot more thought provoking than I thought it would be. I originally saw this here on this great blog: bookishwisps.

Here are the rules:

  1. Answer as many questions as you can!
  2. Tag five fairy tale lovers.
  3. Creator of the Tag Adele of Dellybird

Have fun!

The Questions

1. Beauty and the Beast

“He’s no monster…” A character that makes mistakes but redeems themselves in the end.

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Wow, there are some seriously terrible mistakes made! Hal, in particular, comes to mind when I think of a character who redeems himself.

2 – Sleeping Beauty

“One upon a dream…” A book that put you to sleep

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I tried so hard to get into this book, but it just…never…started. I ended up not finishing it. Look at the fantastic cover, though!

3 – The Little Mermaid

“Nothing gave her greater pleasure than to hear about the world of human beings up above” – A book that excites you or is full of adventure.

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Anyone who loves fantasy needs to read this book! The setup is fantastic, the story is interesting, and the battle scenes are epic! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. I could go on at length about this book, but I already did in a previous post, so I’ll refrain.

4 – Cinderella

“Perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take is to be seen as we really are” – A book where a character is mistreated.

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I was first drawn to this book by the somewhat eerie photographs; writing a book around them was a very unique idea. I’d really love to ask Ransom Riggs how he was able to come up with the story he did, based on just a few odd photos. Kudos to him for creativity! I must say, though, that poor Miss Peregrine, among others, wasn’t treated all that well by the villains in this series.

5 – Peter Pan

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away, and away means forgetting” – A book that you will never forget!

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I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1 about twenty years ago. Reading Kay Redfield Jamison’s account of her life with bipolar was an incredible experience for me, partially because she’s incredibly successful in her field, despite having mental health setbacks along the way. There were a few times where I had to just stop reading and sit for a minute because I had that “Finally, someone understands what it’s like!” moment. I’ll never forget that.

6 – The Ugly Duckling

“It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, for the most essential things are invisible to the eye” – A book or character that you love but others don’t see the same way.

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For some reason, this one seemed to slip under the radar. It’s very well written, with a bit of a spooky feel to it, which I really liked. I would absolutely love to read a book of short stories based around the Hinterland (read the book; you’ll know what that means)!

7 – The Princess and the Pea

“She had felt one pea all the way through twenty mattresses and twenty more feather beds” – A book or character that made you uncomfortable.

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Neither Victor nor Eli are what you’d call nice people. Their moral compass seems to be skewed. Unfortunately, even though the writing was superb, I was unable to finish this book because there was a lot of self-mutilation which really bothered me. If that sort of thing is something you can handle, please read this book and tell me how it ends. I’m dying to know!

8 – Little Red Riding Hood

“Oh Granny, what big teeth you have!” – A book or character that wasn’t what they seemed.

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I refuse to give anything away, but I will say this: I guarantee you’ll be surprised. Read this book!

9 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

“I’ll take a chance for her” – A book with great friends.

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If you have a friend as loyal and considerate as Charlie, you’re a very fortunate person.

10 – Alice in Wonderland

“Who in the world am I? – A book about identity or a character who questions themselves.

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I’m about three quarters of the way through this book and the main character, Jetta, definitely has some questions about who (what?) she is. Some of the tidbits that I’ve read about her throughout the book are very intriguing. So far, this has been an excellent read.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Feel free to write your own post – I’d love to see more answers!

The Liebster Award

2019 liebster award

Thank you so very much for nominating me for this award,  waytoofantasy. This is my first award nomination, and it made my day!

The Liebster Award Rules

  1. Acknowledge the blog that gave it to you and display the award
  2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  4. Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nomination
  5. Give these blogs 11 questions to answer

    If there was a book that ticked all the boxes of stuff you liked, what would it be about or have in it?

    This is a hard one, because I like so many different kinds of books. As long as the story is cohesive and the characters are believable and interesting, chances are I’ll find something to like about the book. That being said, I love dragons, a bit of a dreamlike quality, magic, an original plot line, and I love it when the characters are so well written that it feels like the ending of the book isn’t really the ending, like it’s just continuing off the page.

    What’s the last TV show/movie you watched and loved?

    Killing Eve. It’s about a female MI6 agent who has the theory that an extraordinarily dangerous killer is actually female, instead of the male everyone is looking for. What ensues is a fascinating game of cat and mouse-but who’s the cat, and who’s the mouse? Since watching it, I’ve learned that it’s based on a book series called Codename Villanelle. I’ve added it to my ridiculously long tbr list.

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    Have you ever written a book or thought about writing a book?

    Many times, especially children’s books. But honestly, I wouldn’t be a very good author. I’d get ahead of myself and my story would end up not making much sense.

    What’s your favorite comfort food?

    I love cheese and crackers, and tortilla chips and cheese. Hmm…there’s a bit of theme here. Usually after a long day, though, I want an iced coffee based drink that tastes absolutely nothing like actual coffee.

    Describe an ideal day.

    Whatever I’d be doing would be with my husband and kids for at least half the day, then just with my hubby for half. I’d love to go somewhere new and find cool little bookshops (I think the idea of driving across country and looking for little bookstores that have a book cat would be wonderful), and hidden gem restaurants, but I also would love to go hiking again. I moved from a state that had beautiful mountains to a state the has the ocean. While the ocean is pretty, I’m not a beach girl and I really miss hiking.

    What is your most prized book in your collection and why?

    Ooh, this is a hard one! I have a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends that is the first book I remember picking out to buy myself. I bought it at an elementary school book sale, and it has the principal’s initials on the inside to prove that it was paid for. It’s a little trip down memory lane. Or, it could be Goblins by Brian Froud. Years ago, my husband and I went to see a move: he said he needed to run to the restroom, and ran across the entire mall to the bookstore, bought the book for me, hid it under his coat for the entire length of the movie, and surprised me with it afterward. It made the book twice as special.

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    Vanilla or chocolate?

    Neither, really. I prefer mocha or cappuccino flavors.

    Do you have pets, if so tell us about them.

    I don’t, although I’d love to have a couple of cats.

    What is your favorite genre of books to read and why?

    I’m partial to fantasy. I love the feeling of leaving the ordinary behind. There’s something special about going on a literary journey like that.

    Why did you decide to start blogging?

    I love talking about books, to the point where I’ll almost waylay someone to ask what they’re reading or to recommend a favorite. Not to be too self-satisfied; I’m pretty decent at recommending books that I think someone will like based on their personality, and I’m not wrong often. My husband encouraged me to start a book blog so that I could make new bookish friends, get suggestions, and basically just discuss all the amazing things about books.

    What is your dream job?

    I’m kind of already doing it: I’m a stay at home mom to two wonderful kids. If I ever go back to a job that actually pays me (I keep saying I need a raise), I would like to be a book editor.

    11 Random Facts About Me:

    1.  I have trichophobia, which is phobia of hair, especially loose hair. I hate touching it. Being a hairstylist is my nightmare job. Oddly enough, I love having my hair done. But, guess what: Tesla had it too. I figure this just means I‘m a genius (laughs at self).

    2.  I homeschool my oldest. He had a disastrous foray into pre-k, and homeschooling him works better for his learning needs. I can go at his pace, which is fantastic: he was reading at an eighth grade level in first grade.

    3. Despite being a rather quiet introvert, I love hard rock and metal music. There’s nothing quite like singing along to my angry songs after a hard day.

    4. I’m a major Browncoat. Firefly is amazing, and so is Serenity. I have even read the comics, despite the fact that my brain struggles to process the small print with the big colorful artwork. Which leads me to my next “about me”, and the reason I struggle to process comics:

    5. I have grand mal epilepsy. I was diagnosed with it years ago. Thankfully, at this point it’s mostly under control. I just have to be careful to avoid strobe lights, smoke machines, and to try to get a decent amount of sleep (again, I’m laughing: I have a toddler who still wakes up multiple times a night).

    6. I despise green beans. I even have a patented “green bean face.” I’m an adult, so darn it, I don’t have to eat them! Bwahaha!

    7. I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons. It’s fun, and I love using my imagination. Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I can’t still be creative.

    8. I love Frostbeard Studios’ literary candles. At the moment, my favorites are Winter Keep, Sherlock’s Study, and Stay Home and Read.

    9. I have three siblings. My youngest also blogs: she’s a mommy blogger.

    10. I don’t actively watch sports on TV (we don’t get channels, but do quite well with streaming movies and TV shows), but I get way too excited when I do catch a hockey game. It’s a wee bit intimidating if you don’t know me.

    11. I collect dragons. Figurines, artwork, plushies, you name it. I love them and have for years.

    Nominations:

    @RoseMarie https://booksandstuff.blog
    https://lightofthebookworm.com/
    https://princessandpages.wordpress.com/
    https://theelvenwarrior.com/
    https://spasciuti.com/
    https://crooksbooks.blog/
    https://manisbookcornerblog.wordpress.com/
    https://bionicbookwormblog.wordpress.com/
    https://likeherdingcatsblog.wordpress.com/
    https://adancewithbooks.wordpress.com/
    https://thesecretlibrarysite.wordpress.com/

    My Questions:

    1.What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year and why?

    2. Would you rather meet your favorite book character, or your favorite author?

    3. What movie/show do you think is better than the book?

    4. What do you like to do, other than read (and talk about books, and hoard books, and sniff books…)?

    5. Do you prefer sweet or salty?

    6. How do you describe why you like reading to non-readers?

    7. Do you have a yet-to-be-realized dream?

    8. What’s a book genre that you never read?

    9. What’s something about you that might surprise people?

    10. Who is the least likable character you’ve ever read?

    11. What’s your favorite genre and why?

My Five Favorite Magic-users in Literature

I saw a similar post on waytoofantasty’s blog and loved it, so of course I had to add my own. Fantasy wouldn’t be the fantastic genre it is without the addition of an epic spellcaster. Here are some of my favorites – and be sure to check out the original awesome post here: waytoofantasy

Raistlin: The Dragonlance Chronicles, Legends, the Raistlin Chronicles, and many others

For me, Raistlin is the epitome of what a mage should be. He’s cunning, enigmatic, incredibly strong, and fascinating. Raistlin is also flawed, narcissistic, and grows more as a character than many other characters I’ve read throughout not just the fantasy genre, but any fiction.

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Marco: The Night Circus

I love Marco’s particular brand of magic! It’s incredibly unique; in fact, I’ve never read a book where magic is written quite like his. He’s also a great character. I like his quiet strength, as well as his creativity.

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Magnus Bane in The Mortal Instruments:

Oh goodness, I love Magnus! He’s so vibrant, fun, andhe’s removed enough from the goings-on (in the first few books that is), to have a very interesting view of things. He’s my favorite character throughout Cassandra Clare’s many series.

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Morwen in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles:

She’s hilarious! She has so many cats, and not a single one is black; she wears robes because they’re comfortable and “serviceable”, doesn’t have any warts, but does have a sign above her door that says, “None of this nonsense, please”. Her matter-of-fact personality is so much fun to read.

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Merlin (of course):

Merlin is a given for me. His personality varies based on who’s writing him, but he’s always wise and incredibly strong. Plus – Arthurian legends rock!

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What do you think? Who are your favorites in literature?

Unpopular Opinions Tag

The Orang-utan Librarian did a lovely book tag called Unpopular Opinions (you can find hers here: https://theorangutanlibrarian.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/unpopular-opinions-tag-2/) . Since I have many of those, I just had throw in my two cents’ worth.

A Popular Book or Series That You Didn’t Like: Nope, no, uh-uh. Sarah J. Maas is not an author I enjoy. At all. To each their own, but I definitely feel like she’s a very overrated author and I wanted to smack the main character the entire time.

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A Popular Book or Series that Everyone Else Seems To Hate That You Love: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. I’m right there with you, Orang-utan Librarian: this book is great! Eerie, with a dark fairy-tale vibe, I quite enjoyed it. I’d love to read a book of short stories that take place in the author’s Hinterland. Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!

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A “One True Pairing” That You Don’t Like: I really don’t mind most canon relationships as long as they don’t detract from the story. Hmmm…I can’t think of a single one. Moving on!

A Popular Book Genre That You Hardly Reach For: I don’t read romance or erotica. It’s not my thing.

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A Popular/Beloved Character That You Do Not Like: Snape. He was a Deatheater (basically the KKK of the wizarding world), he only decided to change his ways, so to speak, because he was in love with another man’s wife, and he was just an all-around jerk (and kind of a lousy teacher. Ha ha!).

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A Popular Author That You Can’t Seem To Get Into: Ah, this is where I lose blog followers. Ha ha !
I’ll narrow it down to two:

Gillian Flynn. I hated the movie Gone Girl, and I found the one book I read that she’d written (Dark Places) to be predictable. She’s an author that I feel writes the most messed-up things, not to further a story line, but just because she can. However, that’s a very unpopular opinion.

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John Green: He’s the Hallmark commercial of the fiction world. You know, going into the book, that’s he’s going to do his level best to make you cry. Not my thing.

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A Popular Book Trope That You’re Tired of Seeing: “I hate him, but I love him, but I hate to love him, but he loves this girl, and this girl loves a different girl…” ad nauseum. Oh- I also hate it when the main female character thinks it’s attractive when ye random guy she just met messes with her hair, or tells her how to wear it. That’s not hot. That’s creepy and possessive.

A Popular Series That You Have No Interest In Reading:

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Both of these series, are ones that I know are too harsh for me to be able to get through. I stay away from certain subjects for my own mental and emotional well-being.

The Saying Goes “The book is always better than the movie”, But What Movie Or TV Show Adaptation Do You Prefer To The Book? The Fellowship of the Ring. The book spends so much time describing places that I’d often lose track of what was happening. The movie was able to show those places without slowing the story down.

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I tag anyone who wants to participate! Have fun!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

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Um…this is going to be a rather convoluted post, simply because this is a book genre that I don’t normally read. I’m trying to read outside my comfort zone this year. It’s going to make for some interesting reviews.
In the 1820’s The Montrose family leaves Boston, amid a scandal, to move to Willow Hall, a big house in the country. The family consists of the parents, the oldest son (whom we never meet), and three daughters; Catherine, Lydia, and Emmeline. The story is told from the point of view of Lydia, the middle daughter.

What is described as a ghost story is actually a family drama, with a large dose of romance added in. That is far from the usual type of book I read, so I can’t really compare it to others in the same genre. But maybe that’s a good thing?

The author is very skilled at creating an eerie atmosphere, and the first few chapters were engrossing. Unfortunately, the ghost story aspect ended up being left by the wayside in favor of relationship drama and romance. The romance seemed to be going for a Pride and Prejudice vibe, so if you go for that sort of thing you might be jazzed. I honestly didn’t care about it at all, though.

I liked the youngest sister, Emmeline, and the leading man, John Barrett, but I couldn’t stand either of the oldest sisters. It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to reach into a book and smack someone as much as I wanted to wallop Lydia. She had an irritating martyr complex that grated on my nerves. The oldest sister, Catherine, was selfish and narcissistic. There was never any explanation for the reason she was that way, so she came across as a very underdeveloped character.

There were some parts of Catherine’s storyline that were very difficult for me to read about. I don’t want to give anything away, but be aware there is some serious unpleasantness throughout the book.

If you enjoy period romance, including longing glances, misunderstandings, and “propriety be damned”, then this book is for you. There is a review on the back of my copy of the book that compared it to Kate Morton’s works. I quite enjoyed The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Morton, so I would suggest you read that as well (or, dare I say, instead?).

Have you read this? What are your thoughts on it?

Chinese New Year Book Tag

 

The Lunar New Year started last Tuesday. Apparently, 2019 is the year of the pig. I saw this great tag from Lauren at Narrative Paradise,(tag created by Kay at Hammock of Books) and now I’m taking part. So, here goes:

My Zodiac Animal: I don’t really do the whole zodiac thing, but according to google, I was also born in the year of the pig. Oink, oink.

1. New Year/ A book with a phenomenal beginning: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The beginning of this book gives me chills. It’s so beautifully worded, it will suck you right in.

” The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed trough the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of the night. If there had been music…but no, of curse there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.

Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. they drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing these they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. it made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.

The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone heart that held the heat of a long-dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. and it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.

The man had true-red hair, red as flame. his eyes was dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things.

The Waystone was is, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the other inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”

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2. Chinese New Year/ A Book By an Asian Author: The Girl King by Mimi Yu. I have yet to read this one, but it looks intriguing.

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3. Lunar New Year/ A Book Set in Space: Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I’ve raved about this book many times, and I will probably never stop. It is so well done!

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4. Zodiac/Year of the Pig/ A Book With an Animal Sidekick: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Does a familiar count as a sidekick? Either way, the mountain cat Camden, is a fantastic addition to the book.

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5. Lucky Color Red/ A Book With a Red Cover: The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. It’s a biography that I’ve just started, so I don’t have an opinion about it yet, aside from thinking the cover is striking.

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6. Firecrackers/ A Book Exploding With Action: The Black Company by Glen Cook. It’s high fantasy- meets a military novel in this book series.

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7. Red Envelopes/ A Book You Can’t Wait to Open: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Since falling in love with The Night Circus, I’ve been hoping the author would write another novel. It comes out November fifth, and I am so excited!

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8. Delicious Food/ A Book that Made You Hungry : Redwall By Brain Jacques. I want to sit and eat with Constance the Badger! I don’t even know what half of the stuff described in their feasts are, but it all sounds delicious.

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9. Gathering With Family/ An Amazing Fictional Family: I have to go with the Weasley family (minus Percy. He’s a booger). They’re all so warm and welcoming.

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That’s it. Happy Chinese New Year! Feel free to join in the fun!

Here There Be Dragons: My Favorite Dragons in Literature

For those of you who don’t know me personally, let me say: I love dragons. As in, I have a collection of dragon-related paraphernalia that includes not only figurines and such whatnot, but a beautiful stained glass window dragon. So, when I saw this awesome post at https://iwontsayiminlovewithreading.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/if-you-like-books-with-dragons-than-you-will-love-these-books/ , I had to get in on the fun.

Here are some of my absolute go-to’s when I’m needing a toothy fix:

The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman: These are my favorite fantasy books ever. I’ve actually dog-eared my original copies so badly that I had to buy a second set and that’s saying something because I’m very, very careful with my books. Full of adventure, amazing characters, and of course, dragons, these books are a must-read for any fantasy reader. Incidentally, this series contains my favorite dragon in literature.

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Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.

No one expected them to be heroes.

Least of all, them. (taken from Amazon)

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen: This might be the most unique fantasy book I’ve read in recent memory. It’s a fast read, and a ton of fun. I can’t say much more without giving some interesting surprises away, but this one makes the list.

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Set in 1917, an undergraduate is given a special book that he is told was the reason for his professor’s murder and so must now protect it with his life as he goes on a journey like no other to places that are only supposed to exist in history and dreams. (taken from Amazon)

Dragonflight (The Dragonriders of Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey: For anyone who’s ever wanted to fly on the back of a dragon, this book is a must. A classic for many dragon-lovers, it has to be on the list.

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On a beautiful world called Pern, an ancient way of life is about to come under attack from a myth that is all too real. Lessa is an outcast survivor—her parents murdered, her birthright stolen—a strong young woman who has never stopped dreaming of revenge. But when an ancient threat to Pern reemerges, Lessa will rise—upon the back of a great dragon with whom she shares a telepathic bond more intimate than any human connection. Together, dragon and rider will fly . . . and Pern will be changed forever. (taken from Amazon)

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli: Finally, a YA with dragons in it! I haven’t found too many of those recently (another reason I loved iwontsayiminlovewithreading’s post. She had several suggestions). The dragons aren’t as a big a part in this first book as I expected, but they are there and they move the plot along nicely.

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In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm.

When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. (taken from Amazon)

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1): I love this series! Oh, wow, the dragons in this book are so much fun! Kazul, the main dragon, likes cherries jubilee; another dragon has allergies. It’s a blast to read, and perfect for older elementary school readers.

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Princess Cimorene, the daughter of a very proper king, runs away to live with a very powerful dragon, Kazul. (taken from Amazon)

Okay, that’s a terrible description, but don’t let it discourage you: this is so much fun to read!

Dragon Champion (One of the Age of Fire #1) by E.E. Knight: I loved this one! It felt a little bit like a dragon’s version of Watership Down. I’m totally simplifying it; suffice it to say, it’s worth checking out.

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High in the mountains, deep in the safety of a cave, a brood of dragons is born. The four young ones are among the last of a dying breed—the last hope for dragons’ survival. But hope shatters when a murderous group of slave-trader dwarves breaks into the cave, leaving a wake of death and destruction…

Only young Auron, a rare, defenseless gray dragon, manages to escape. Armed with nothing but his claws and a boundless determination to survive, he sets off in search of his kind. But to find other dragons—or, at least, find out who’s killing them off—Auron will have to search a world of mercenary elves, vicious humans, and dangers of all kinds. Finding allies in the strangest places—and finding himself along the way—Auron is about to make the trek of a lifetime. (taken from Amazon)

A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and Richard Woods, illustrated by John Howe: I love, love, love this one! Full of gorgeous art, this book talks about the role of dragons throughout mythology, in different cultures, and in modern literature. It’s a fantastic book.

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Finally… She’s written The Book on Dragons.

Anne McCaffrey is as renowned for her knowledge of dragons as she is for her New York Times bestselling novels. In this beautifully designed hardcover, McCaffrey focuses her attention on the fantastical creature’s existence throughout history. Her words are complemented by the stunning color portraits by John Howe, noted for his success with several J.R.R. Tolkien calendars and maps. (via Google Books)

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien: My list wouldn’t be complete without the quintessential dragon, Smaug. This book is an amazing example of a sweeping fantasy, and Smaug flat-out rocks.

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Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum. (taken from Amazon)

So, there’s my current list. What would you add? Do you have a favorite dragon?

Picture Books for Wiggly Kids: Books for Littles #1

Recently, I was asked to come up with a list of children’s books that are great for little wrigglers. I’m not in any way an expert, and can only go from my experience with my own kids, but I love children’s books and I’m happy to add my two cents.

First and foremost, I would like to say that each child is different. When my oldest was little, storytime had him sitting in my lap, pointing at the pictures and turning the pages. My youngest likes to run back and forth, sometimes even hanging over my shoulder to look at the pictures. And that’s okay. It’s about spending quality time with your child, sharing your love of books. If quality time looks like jumping up and down dancing to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, well, then, you’re getting exercise. If it looks like a quiet cuddle while reading Peter Rabbit, that’s great too.

But I digress. Here are some books that my wiggly child loves:

Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton: This one is great because it has a little song that can be sung and wriggled to while getting ready for bed. Plus, Sandra Boynton books are always so cute. Jamma, jamma, jamma, pj!

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That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems: You can’t go wrong with anything by this author,but this one is my little dude’s favorite. It’s a bit on the macabre side (Spoiler: the fox is outfoxed and the goose makes delicious soup!), but it’s written in a fun way and the dialogue is simple enough that kids with shorter attention spans don’t have time to get bored.

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Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Scott Nash: This is perfect for getting your child moving. If you’re like me and have zero compunction about looking silly, dance along.

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I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt, illustrated by Cyd Moore: I have to include at least one “I love you” book, and this one is perfect. The hilarious dialogue, combined with the fun illustrations, keeps my little mover interested.

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Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles: a Sound Primer by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Allison Oliver: There are a bunch of board books in this series of “classics”. We love this one and Frankenstein (a body parts book, of course) the most, but they’re all great. This one is filled with fun sounds and cute pictures. It gets a little noisy with my toddler tornado, but it’s a blast.

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While this is in no way a complete list, these are some fun ones that my little wriggler loves to at least slow down for. Happy reading, dancing, singing, and cuddling!

Amazing Science Fiction Books

I love a good science fiction book. I think the genre is much broader than a lot of people originally think. I honestly am not a huge fan of the space battles and little green men type of books, but these sci-fi books are right up my alley:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: 

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This is one of the first books in the science fiction genre and opened the door for much of the gothic sci-fi. It’s introspective, eerie, and all-around incredible. The fact that it takes place on earth made it very easy for me to suspend all disbelief and just get into the story.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown: 

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“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he toils willingly, trusting that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. (taken from Amazon)

This series is brutal but brilliant.  It’s a part action, part militarist novel, with incredible world(s) building. No character is untouchable, and I was on the edge of my seat almost the entire time.

Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card: 

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The human race is at War with the “Buggers,” an insect-like alien race. As Earth prepares to defend itself from total destruction at the hands of an inscrutable enemy, all focus is on the development of military geniuses who can fight such a war, and win. The long distances of interstellar space have given hope to the defenders of Earth–they have time to train these future commanders up from childhood, forging them into an irresistible force in the high orbital facility called the Battle School. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In Ender’s Shadow, Card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean–the one who became Ender’s right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers. Bean’s past was a battle just to survive. His success brought him to the attention of the Battle School’s recruiters, those people scouring the planet for leaders, tacticians, and generals to save Earth from the threat of alien invasion. Bean was sent into orbit, to the Battle School. And there he met Ender…. (taken from Amazon)

It makes much more sense if you read Ender’s Game first (you really should; it’s one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read), but I like this book better. It’s a parallel novel, telling the story from the perspective of Bean, who was my favorite in Ender’s Game. It starts with his origin, which is engrossing, and moves on to join with the events in Ender’s Game. It’s wonderful.

The Coldfire triology by C.S. Friedman:

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Over a millennium ago, Erna, a seismically active yet beautiful world was settled by colonists from far-distant Earth. But the seemingly habitable planet was fraught with perils no one could have foretold. The colonists found themselves caught in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a terrifying natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, drawing forth a person’s worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams and indiscriminately giving them life.

Twelve centuries after fate first stranded the colonists on Erna, mankind has achieved an uneasy stalemate, and human sorcerers manipulate the fae for their own profit, little realizing that demonic forces which feed upon such efforts are rapidly gaining in strength. 

Now, as the hordes of the dark fae multiply, four people—Priest, Adept, Apprentice, and Sorcerer—are about to be drawn inexorably together for a mission which will force them to confront an evil beyond their imagining, in a conflict which will put not only their own lives but the very fate of humankind in jeopardy. (taken from Amazon)

A delicious blend of sci-fi and fantasy, the series is like nothing else I’ve read. My husband introduced it to me years ago, and I’ve read it at least twice more since then because it’s that good.

Steelheart  (The Reckoners book #1)by Brandon Sanderson:

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How far would you go for revenge if someone killed your father?
   If someone destroyed your city?
   If everything you ever loved was taken from you?
   David Charleston will go to any lengths to stop Steelheart. But to exact revenge in Steelheart’s world, David will need the Reckoners—a shadowy group of rebels bent on maintaining justice. 
   And it turns out that the Reckoners might just need David too.

This superhero- meets- spy novel is a lot of fun. It’s fast-moving, and incredibly creative. Brandon Sanderson is an incredibly talented author, and this book is one-of-a-kind.

Honorable Mention: 

Fray by Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, and Andy Owens (graphic novel):

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Hundreds of years in the future, Manhattan has become a deadly slum, run by mutant crime-lords and disinterested cops. Stuck in the middle is a young girl who thought she had no future, but learns she has a great destiny. In a world so poisoned that it doesn’t notice the monsters on its streets, how can a street kid like Fray unite a fallen city against a demonic plot to consume mankind? Joss Whedon, the celebrated creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, brings his vision to the future in this unique tale. As inventive in the comics medium as in that of television of film, Whedon spins a complex tale of a skilled thief coming of age without the help of friends or family, guided only by a demonic Watcher. (taken from Amazon)

This is so stinking good! Enough said.

What are some sci-fi books I’ve missed? Have you read any of these?