Monday, September 18, 2017

Soak Up The Moment



*leaps back into the blogosphere and pulls each and every one of you into an epic group hug*


I AM BACK!!! And goodness have I missed all of you! I mean, I know I’ve only been gone for two weeks. You guys probably didn’t even notice my absence… Ahem. But I still missed all of YOU! Namely because, for once, I took an actual hiatus. See, usually my “hiatuses” just mean me not writing my own blog posts but still very much reading all of yours and keeping up on social media. But this time I took a for reals full two weeks social media hiatus. I barely even opened the twitter app! *GASP* I know, right???


As a result, I have approximately 909823847 emails, blog posts, and all that other fun stuff to catch up on and I may or may not be drowning in it all. BUT I SHALL CATCH UP. Though I may not be commenting on all the posts because, well, I only have so much time. But I will be reading every single one of your lovely posts I missed, even if I don’t get a chance to comment! (Because normally I’m sooo good and persistent at commenting on everything… AHEM.) And if you sent me an email and it takes me 3459 years to reply, I apologize!


Not only do I have the last two weeks of stuff to catch back up on, but I shall soon be jumping into NaNoWriMo plotting since we only have a month and a half left before it is upon us (you’re welcome for the panic attack I just provided, always here to help). Plus I have some beta projects I’m doing that also probably need to be tended to before the ever time-sucking NaNo takes over.


Needless to say, I’m feeling a leetle swamped. So the question is, was taking two full weeks away from everything even a good idea?


YES. The best idea.


Because you know what? Life isn’t about being up to date on blog posts and keeping my inbox clear and organized. Life is about living. And yes, I’m a writer. All these computer things I do basically is my livelihood. Not to mention the pathway toward my dream career. But there’s still so much more to life than a computer screen.



On September 3rd, I headed out to spend a week with my best friend of 17 years, and then she came back home with me to spend nearly another week in my town. And I didn’t turn on my laptop not a single day for the first entire week, and still barely touched it the second week. I could have used my laptop some. I could have taken a bit of time to keep caught up on things so I wouldn’t be so swamped when life returned to normal. My current self would be a little less overwhelmed. But you know what? I’d also be regretful.


I’d regret that I took time away from my friend to do something that really didn’t matter, that could totally be done later. Instead, I soaked up every second I had with her and just relaxed.


And that’s when it hit me. I spend far too much time worrying about “getting things done” so I don’t have to “worry about it later” instead of just enjoying the time I have. But that’s silly, because there will always be things that need to be done. No matter how hard I work, there is always stuff to do, a constant stream of things to catch up on. I can’t just forever be fully “done”. But I worry myself to death trying to get “caught up” on things, and then miss out on LIFE. The world will not explode if I wait a few days (or even weeks) to answer that email. And yet I seem to live like it will.


(And yes, I totally wrote a post very similar to this same topic back in February titled Moment by Moment, but it takes me about 346 years to actually learn these lessons, so here I am, learning it all over again. And forcing you to read my rambles about it once more. Because my blog is often where I braindump and sort out my thoughts and you all have to suffer through my rambles with me. *cackles*)



My friend and I only get to see each other about twice a year. (We used to live in the same town, but her family moved when we were 13 and yes, it stinks but we make the best of it.) Because we only get so much time together, I try my very best to soak up the time I do have with her. Spending hours of our time together on the computer does not fit into that equation. Not to mention, sometimes we just need breaks from the computer! Whether it’s your career or not, we can’t spend our entire lives in front of a screen.


During my week at my friend’s house, even on some days when she had to work, I used my time to just relax. Instead of snagging my laptop, I picked up a book. Instead of tweeting, I scrolled through Pinterest (because Pinterest unwinds me and is my happy place). I used any free time to just do things that relaxed me, tasks I loved and that caused no stress. Yes, I LOVE blogging and connecting with everyone on social media and writing. It’s one of my greatest joys, literally my livelihood. But sometimes we need a break from even those things and to just allow ourselves to be blissfully lazy now and again. Sometimes watching an entire season of Gravity Falls with your bestie (yes, we totally did that *cough*) is way more important than being on top of emails.


After my week in her town, we came to my town and spent basically every second with friends here. One of our dearest friends is literally moving this week to somewhere that’s 11 hours away. Many states away from me! *sobs for an eternity* (And let’s not even talk about the fact that her sister, my other dearest, dearest friend may end up moving eventually, too.) So yes, I’m now about to go through my other dear friend moving away from me. (Because having one friend move wasn’t fun enough. Eheheheheh…heh. *sobs some more*)


As a result, I spent the past week soaking up every single second I had with all my friends because I knew our time together was limited. And I didn’t want to waste a single second of it.


Now, I’m not saying by any means that we shouldn’t be productive. Making careers and working toward goals and living intentionally to achieve our dreams is so, so, so important. (And something I’ve been thinking a lot about as well.) Sometimes we do need to set aside time to work, or to turn down that lunch date to instead edit the next chapter of your novel because there’s a deadline looming. That’s just life. Being productive is a beautiful thing, and something I admire in people. If I had the chance to watch an entire season of a television show in one week with a friend every week I’d prooobably have to decline. But, as I said, since I only see this friend a couple of times a year (and we both just really love TV shows and spend about 96% of our time together fangirling over things) it was something I was perfectly happy doing.


No, we should definitely not spend every moment of our day doing recreational activities. But what these past couple of weeks taught me is that we should soak up the time we do have. I very intentionally let loose any fears and stress for the future during my hiatus and just enjoyed my time with friends. I soaked up each moment, and now have those memories to treasure forever.


Sure, I’m ridiculously behind on things now, but I don’t care. I wouldn’t trade these past weeks for a cleared out inbox for anything in the world.



As they say, the present is called the present because it’s a GIFT. The future is unknown and can worry about itself. But the here and now, it’s what we have. And it should never be taken for granted. Don’t get me wrong, we should certainly set goals for our futures and reach for our dreams, but that doesn’t mean we should be missing out on the moments we’re living now. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s that. Lately time has just been flying and I’ve been in regret of all the time I’m wasting. And I think the source of that is because I’m so constantly focused on the future, I’m not being still and just enjoying the now.


This hit harder than ever last year when someone very close to me passed away. In fact, there were multiple deaths of acquaintances last year. And as I’ve seen people pass away and experience friends move miles from where I live, I realize more than ever, the present really is a gift. We don’t know what we’ll have or not have in the future. But this moment, right now, we do have.


So let’s choose our priorities wisely. Let’s enjoy the moments we have. Let’s soak them up. Let’s let loose our stress and fears for the future and live intentionally, seeing the moment we have now for the beautiful gift it is.


(Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be spending the next few days catching up on all those millions of things I’m behind on and probably ignoring my life because actually applying the lessons I’ve learned is not my strong suit… *cough, cough, COUGH*)

 

Sorry for the braindump and the serious turn this took! The post was really just supposed to be a quicky one letting you all know I’m back and sharing some thoughts I’ve had but…well, my “thoughts” tend to be longwinded, so here we are. But now I want to hear your thoughts! Do you soak up the moments as they happen, or, like me, are you so worried about the future and getting things done you let the present pass you by? I’M SO GUILTY HALP. What tips do you have for enjoying the present and not worrying about the future? Any good ways to find the balance of living in the here and now but still being productive? (Because I am on an eternal search for this balance!) ALSO. What’s been going on with you??? Like I said, I’ve been cut off from everyone for two weeks. I’VE MISSED YOU ALL. Tell me how life is going. I want to hear it all!!!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

{Notice} Brief Hiatus



Heeeey, guys!


I’m dropping in for a quicky announcement. I won’t be posting for the next couple of weeks at least. I’m off tomorrow to spend a week with my bestie (who lives out of town), and then she’ll probably come back with me and stay with us for a while. Thus obviously I’m not going to spend hours of our time together putting together a blog post. I was going to try to be on top of things and pre-write some posts but… Me? On top of things? HAHAHAHAHA!!! Ahem, so yes, that didn’t happen.


But you guys will be okay without me, right? Riiight?


I also probably won’t be commenting on blogs or emailing or much of anything like that during this time. But I assure you, I’LL RETURN. Probably in the latter half of September. You can’t get rid of me! *CACKLES*


 

 

I hope you all have an amazing first part of September! (Except hooooooowwwwwwwww is it September??????? *mini panic attack*)

Monday, August 28, 2017

{Book and Audiobook Review} The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz



 

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

Perfect for fans of Doctor Who, Once Upon A Time, Indiana Jones, or The Dresden Files, the Beaumont and Beasley series features high adventure in a world where fairy tales are history.


Amazon | GoodReads | Author's Website | Author's Blog


______________________

 

So you’ve probably already heard me shout from the rooftops that everyone should read this book. Because…EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. But in case you haven’t, I’m doing a proper review today because, well, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. Annnd I’m doing something a bit different. I’m not only reviewing the actual book, but I’m also reviewing the audiobook. Because, yes, I did read the book AND listen to the audiobook within a few months of each other and I have zero regrets because, as we’ve learned, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. Sooo you’re basically getting a double review of the same book ‘cause I’m skilled like that.



THE RUNDOWN


The Beast of Talesend is book #1 in the Beaumont and Beasley series and is, essentially, a Beauty and the Beast retelling…sorta.


Imagine a 1920s detective-story and then set it in a world where fairytales aren’t just stories…they’re the world’s history. Add a heaping cup of humor, loveable (and hilarious) characters, magic, and a downright fun ride of a plot, and you’ve got yourself this book.


I told you everyone needs to read it.


It’s written in first person, which isn’t always my favorite but I honestly couldn’t imagine this story any other way. Being inside our main character’s—Nick Beasley’s—head and having his dry witted narration made the story.


Speaking of which…


CHARACTERS


Oh my gracious goodness, THE CHARACTERS. I just want them all to be my best friends.


Nick: As I said, Nick is our main character and narrator and AGH. I just couldn’t handle his dry wit. He’s a skeptic about the whole “fairytales and magic are real thing”. The world has moved on from that, and he’s made it his career to prove there is no such thing as magic via his detective agency. So when he gets turned into a beast (not spoilers, it’s right there in the blurb), well…he’s a little taken aback, to say the least. My favorite thing about him is how he just takes everything in stride in a pessimistic, longsuffering way. His whole mentality is basically, “Oh…I’ve been turned into a beast and everything I believe is completely wrong. Well, that’s just great.” He’s so calm and logical and pessimistic about things. I absolutely loved being inside his head and seeing his reactions to all the insanity that happened to him. Poor Nick…


Cordelia: Lady Beaumont…excuse me, Lady Cordelia is one of my FAVORITE types of characters. The first time we see her she’s throwing a roll at someone because she can’t stand their silly hat. And…that basically describes Cordelia through and through. She’s one of those whimsically chaotic beans where you just never know what they’re going to do next. And she is the perfect balance of being totally fiery and sassy but still has a good heart. I completely and totally adored this girl. Oh, and she’s also magic. So yes. She’s epic. And then you toss this wild girl with the logical Nick and ooooh the fun dynamics. Literally one of my top favorite character dynamics in fiction EVER. I LOVED THEMMM.


Crispin: CRISPIN. CRISPINNNNN. Probably my favorite character. Because CRISPIN. He’s Nick’s younger brother (though everyone in this book is in their 20s, just FYI), and he’s a riot. Where Nick is the more stern, logical type, Crispin is fun, happy-go-lucky, optimistic, and rather flighty. Sadly, his part isn’t too big in this book. (Thankfully, he plays a much bigger role in the sequel, The Tomb of the Sea Witch.) But he’s still there enough to make you fall in love with him. He’s just adorable!


All of these characters were so fun and unique. I say Crispin is my favorite but…I think I love them all equally. And they’re amazing just themselves, but then you throw them all together with their utterly different personalities, and you have one of the most fun casts I’ve ever read about. I want to be part of the Lady Beaumont and Brothers Beasley team!



OTHER THINGS I LOVED


-THE WORLD, GUYS. It’s set in an alternative version of London in a 1920s detective-style setting. Which I’ve always loved, but then turn that it into a world with fairytales and HELLO ONE OF MY NEW FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME. It was just a blast how so much of the world’s history was based off of fairytales. Buuut the fairytales may not have played out as everyone thinks. *wriggles eyebrows* The magic system was also very fun and cleverly done. I just utterly adored the very 1920’s-esque setting with crime bosses and detectives and all that classic stuff MIXED with magic and fairytales. It worked so well!


-HUMOR. HUMOR EVERYWHERE. This was honest to goodness one of the funniest books I’ve ever read in my life. I was constantly bursting out loud with laughter. The narration is hilarious, the characters are hilarious, the plot itself had some completely hilarious parts. Just…THE HUMOR. Basically every other sentence was quotable in this book.


-The plot itself. It’s not all just laughs. Oh no. There’s some seriously epic and complex stuff going on. Some Beauty and the Beast stuff, some magical artifacts, some gangsters, some end of the world threats. Fun times, fun times. I especially liked a bit involving a magic mirror because I have this weird obsession with magical mirrors in fiction (I don’t even know why, there are just so many fun things you can do with it). And that was a huge part of the plot which made me super happy. IT WAS SO EPIC. The whole thing was action-packed and a wild and amazing ride from page one to the end.


-The whole mix of the fairytales being set in one world. There were sooo many references to different fairytales and things. The way they were woven into the world was brilliance. I’m allllll about fairytale crossovers, please and thank you.


-THE EPILOGUE. Which gave promises of one of my other top favorite stories playing a role in later books. BUT THAT’S ALL I’M SAYIN’ *zips lips* But like I said, soooo many epic crossovers.


THINGS I DIDN’T LOVE


HA. Do you think I actually have any complaints? Noooo! Seriously, this book was borderline perfect. Which is something for me to say because I am a picky reader and usually always have something to whine about. But this story was like all of my favorite things wrapped into one.


Oookay, I do actually have one mild complaint. It was super short. 126 pages total—practically novella size. And I much prefer more lengthy books. But, honestly, this somehow managed to be in depth and give us enough time with the characters to completely fall in love with them. So the short length worked. Buuut I could spend eternity with these characters so even if it was an 800-page monster I’d still probably be complaining it was too short. XD


Fortunately, it’s just book #1 of a whole series so we definitely get more of the Beasleys and Lady Beaumont and their crazy adventures. THANK GOODNESS.


THE AUDIOBOOK


Like I said, I not only read the book, but I also listened to the audiobook…just a few months after reading the book. Which I ain’t complainin’ about one little bit! I was honestly considering a reread of the book already because it’s just THAT GOOD. So getting the audiobook was perfect, because it was a way to immerse myself in the story again but in a fresh way.


I’ll be honest, I never really listen to audiobooks. I’d much prefer to just read the story. Mainly because I’m not auditory at all, in that I can’t retain anything I hear and I have the worst time paying attention to things I’m supposed to be listening to. But since I already knew this story, making the reread an audiobook worked great.


And ooooh my goodness. THIS AUDIOBOOK.


Firstly, it’s narrated by a British guy. Which that alone will make you want to listen to it. But he also does all the characters’ voices, and it’s so fun! The voice fit the story perfectly. A lighthearted fairytale like this just calls for a British voice doing all the voices. It really brought the story to life in a whole new way.


What I really loved about it was how calming it was. It felt like a parent reading to their child before bed. Fun but calming at the same time. I always felt so relaxed during my listens. I discovered it was the perfect stress reliever.


Then there was the way the epilogue was done. It gave me chills, in the best way possible. Buuut you’ll just have to get the audiobook to know what I’m talking about. *cackles*


But seriously, if you’re into audiobooks or just like to be read to and need something to relieve stress, I highly recommend this audiobook. It was so good!


CONTENT CAUTIONS


Not a thing. This book was perfectly clean and family-friendly. There was a good bit of action and a smidge of violence, but nothing too graphic. Just typical fantasy violence. I’m perfectly comfortable recommending this to any and all ages. And I AM. I firmly believe young ones, teens, and adults alike would adore this story. It’s one of those stories I can’t really categorize into any age genre. It’s lighthearted, so good for young ones. But the characters are in their twenties, so perfect for the slightly older crowd. I don’t know. JUST READ IT.


CONCLUSION


If you’re into fairytales, 1920s settings, humor, amazing characters, or just want a quick and lighthearted read, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU. It’s clean, it’s hilarious, it’s got deep characters and a fun plot. There’s just nothing not to love!


Buuuut really, I could have skipped all this talk and just summed up this whole review in one sentence: EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.

 

SPEAK WITH ME. Doesn’t this book sound amazing? (Yes.) Are you going to read this book? (Yes.) Have you already read this book? (Hopefully.) If so, FLAIL WITH ME. And, because I’m curious, how do you feel about crossovers? (I love them, if that wasn’t clear.)


(Note: I received a free digital copy of the audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Beautiful People - Larke {August 2017}

 

Visit Sky @ Further Up and Further In or Cait @ Paperfury to join the BP linkup!


Guess what I’m doing today?
No, really, guess. I now it’s sooo hard to tell. It’s not like the post title and giant banner there gives anything away.


You’re stumped, aren’t you? All right, I’ll tell you. I’m doing…


BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. Aren’t you surprised????


And today I’m excited because I’ve chosen the ever mischievous and snarky fae boy Larke from my Beauty and the Beast retelling, Burning Thorns. (It just hit me…Larke the Snark!!! XD Ahem…sorry.) The last time I did a BP for him was back in MARCH 2016!!! OVER A YEAR AGO. He was having none of that. He does so like attention. So we’re back today to answer more questions. And yes, I’m allowing him to help answer them even though that never ends well…


(His answers will be in normal text, mine are in italics.)


__________________________


The steady footfalls behind Larke hesitated, and he turned to find [Marigold] looking ahead, the before redness in her cheeks now drained. He halted the pulling vines.

“It’s big,” she said.

He followed her line of sight to the castle tucked between the trees before them. “Unlike you humans, we fae aren’t small minded.”

“No, just big headed.” And the fiery spirit returned. Good, she’d need it.

He moved on, waving at the vines to follow.

“Is he in there?” Marigold skipped up next to him, moving ahead of the vine’s pace and causing them to drag along the ground at her sides.

“Hopefully.”

“If he eats me, I’m going to strangle you.”

“Well, that’ll be an interesting occurrence.” A patch of white and green stood starkly above the black ash, and Larke frowned at the bush of white roses blooming defiantly in the midst of the dead. “I don’t think you have to worry. It seems our Dragon has gone soft.”

“Why are we even here?”

“I thought it’d be a nice gesture to visit.”

“Visit? The Dragon? And do what exactly?”

“Chat.”

“Oh, that sounds like a great plan. Why don’t we have tea with him as well? And what for dessert? Charred flesh? Human eyeballs?”

“Their tongues are much tastier.” He cast her a glance from the corner of his eye, and had to bite down on his own tongue to fight back the laughter at her horrified expression. Grabbing one of the vines, he gave it a tug. “Come on.”


__________________________


. . . LARKE . . .

 

1.) What are they addicted to/can’t live without? 


Mmmm… Myself.


Larke, seriously??


Think about it! How could you live without yourself? It’d be impossible. And you’re always with yourself, so obviously we’re addicted. Why else would we spend so much time with us? Besides, I like myself.


Yeah, well, I think you’re in the minority there.


 

2.) Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.


Oh, let me start! Negatives: Controlling, manipulative, and stubborn.


Positives: A good leader, charismatic, and I stand firm in my beliefs.


Did you just turn the negatives into positives?


Yet another positive—turning the bad into good.


Pffffft. That’s literally the opposite of what you do!


That’s your opinion. It’s all about perspective.


 

3.) Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?


Like this strawberry pastry in my hand? Well, you can’t make me get rid of it, so there!



*rolls eyes* How about your bitterness towards a certain someone?


That “certain someone” deserves exactly what they got.


Like I said. Bitterness. Needs to go.

 

4.) If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?


I don’t know. 5? I like to keep things semi-tidy but messes don’t bother me all that much.


Obviously not, since you’re always making horrifying messes across the
kingdoms!


*he grins* I like to refer to it as organized chaos.


Psh.


 

5.) What most frustrates them about the world they live in?


Rules. Why does there have to be any? People are so set in their ways and following order. But why can’t we just do what we want?


There has to be rules, Larke. Otherwise people like
you go around causing your “organized chaos”.


You just don’t know how to have fun.


 

6.) How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?


Oh, let’s see here now. If I were to dress up I’d choose a tunic with gold thread that’d blind everyone who looked at it. My shining smile already blinds people, but may as well give the added bonus of blinding clothes. I’d want a cloak, too. Obviously. A big bright one. Probably gold also. Oh no! Red. Yes. A gold tunic and red cloak that makes a satisfying whooshing sound when I walk, of course. And obviously some shiny black boots to finish off the look.


*snorts*


What?


Sorry. I just had no idea you were so into dressing up.


Everyone deserves to get fancy now and again.


I suppose you
do like attention.


I wouldn’t want to be dressed like that all the time. Most of the time I’m perfectly comfortable in my green tunic and worn boots. It blends in nicely with the Forest.


So you can be sneaky and cause trouble?


 

7.) How many shoes do they own, and what kind?


Currently…one pair. The aforementioned worn boots. I used to have quite a few pairs before my life took a very…unexpected turn.


 

8.) Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?


Why yes! I just recently acquired one. She’s quite a handful, but what is one to do?


You can’t just drag me along like a dog!” Marigold said, shaking her bound wrists at him.

Larke’s lips stretched into a wide grin. What a wonderful thought. Not exactly the ideal pet, but he could make it work. “Come along, Goldie.” He tugged on the vines and she stumbled forward.

She opened her mouth and spewed out what he was pretty sure were very unladylike words, but he didn’t pay much mind. Nothing but yaps of an unruly puppy after all.

-Burning Thorns


That does not count! You can’t have a human as a pet!


But why not? They’re such amusing creatures.


LARKE. What sort of pet do you really want? Excluding humans!


I don’t know. I like puppies. Having a faithful dog follow me around could be fun.


Really? No Forest creature?


For shame! Forest Folk aren’t the type you have as pets. How degrading.


Oh, but having a human as a pet is fine?


Of course.


*grooooans*

 

9.) Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?



Oho, do I have a story to tell you! You would resent a person, too, if they forced you down into the—


NOPE. SHHHH. SPOILERS. We’re skipping this question!


But for 100 years I was—


LARKE, STOP.


But—


NO.

 

10.) What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?


I…have no clue what a fridge is. But as for my pantry, I don’t actually have one. I just hunt and scavenge for my meals now. I did have all the food I could ever want before that thing happened that I’m apparently not allowed to talk about. *he shoots me a glare*


Yep. We’re leaving it there. I think you’ve subjected yourself to the people enough.


Everyone loves me.


*coughing, choking noises*



. . .


So…there we go. What did you guys think? (Though please don’t give him a bigger head than he already has, gracious.) Do you have any more questions for Larke? I’m sure he would be happy to answer them… Also, have you joined in the Beautiful People
linkup this month???

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Writer’s Brain Disease



There are many different types of writers.
Some write on occasion as a hobby, others make it their career, while many write all the time simply because they love it. We all have different goals and dreams and reasons why we write. But whether it’s a hobby or your full-time career, I’m afraid I have terrible news. Once you’ve started on that writing path, your brain forever changes.


Writing is like a plague. The moment you begin dabbling into it, it creeps into your brain and spreads and spreads and spreads. Then, next thing you know, it’s happened.


You have Writer’s Brain.


I am sorry to say there is no stopping the infection from spreading, and there’s no cure once it has taken root. That moment you label yourself as “writer”, there is no going back.


“But wait, Christine!” you’re probably crying. “Is there any hope at all?”


Um…no. If you’re gonna be a writer, the disease is going to infect you. You’re basically doomed.


BUT. Knowledge is power, yes? And, as with any disease, it’s good to be knowledgeable about what exactly is affecting you and what symptoms you’ll be experiencing. That way you won’t get caught off guard and can take actions accordingly.


So, because I love you all, I’m here to explain exactly what Writer’s Brain is and the side affects that go with it.

 

DEFINITION


WRITER’S BRAIN
/ˈrīdərs brān/

noun

A disease that affects primarily those who have taken up writing in which the brain’s thought process of literature, media, people, all means of entertainment, and the world in general changes drastically.

Ex. “She couldn’t enjoy reading the book due to her Writer’s Brain wanting to rewrite the poorly written sentences.”

 

In short, it changes your view of EVERYTHING.


And you may not even realize it. Self-awareness of the disease can often come gradually. But, eventually, it will hit you. At that point, there’s no going back. So we may as well rip off that band-aid now!


Let’s look at how the symptoms affect every aspect of our lives.

 

WRITER’S BRAIN
AFFECTS THE WAY YOU:

 

. . . READ . . .


Before you were infected with Writer’s Brain, you used to just read a book and that be that. But once the disease hit, reading became a vastly more complicated endeavor.


Now that your brain is solely focused on words and plot structure and characterization, it automatically searches for these things whilst you read. Used to, you’d read a book and merely did or did not like it, and that be that. Now, your silly brain pinpoints every. single. minute. detail. on why you did not like the book or why you thought it was the greatest creation to ever be produced and wonder hoooow did the author come up with such brilliance. Because now you understand what exactly it takes to write a book.


You discover every single typo because, hey, just a bit ago you spent 3 hours scouring your own manuscript for those pesky things. You notice the way dialogue is written, or how world building is weaved into the story, or the exact structure the author chose to write the book. You can often foresee what will happen next, because you noticed the author mentioned that knife on the table so it’ll be used to most likely stab that guy in a moment. Or that person is probably going to end up being the villain judging by the way his character arc is spiraling downhill. You notice patterns and writing tricks and basically EVERYTHING EVER.


Once upon a time, your conversations may have gone like this:


Person: So what did you think of that book?

You: I loved it! I was totally hooked on that plot and got very attached to the characters.



Now it probably goes something more like this:


Person: So what did you think of that book?

You: IT WAS GENIUS. The author’s ability to foreshadow blew my mind. And the way they used fragments to get the heart pumping was perfection. Although the pacing may have been a bit too fast. But Character A’s motivation that led up to the climax was so relatable and made me completely fall in love with them. And I couldn’t get over how unique the third act of the book was structured. The writing style was beautiful, too. Although some of those typos did distract me from the story. But still, I kept taking notes because wow, such genius.

Person: …….


WE CAN’T HELP IT, OKAY????


Reading is no longer reading anymore. It’s accidental research because you can’t help but notice every. little. thing. Your brain is just wired that way. I’m so sorry. Because sometimes you just want to read. But noooo. Now you have to pick apart every itty bitty detail. You’ll find yourself even mentally rewriting poorly written sentences! Or even the whole book.


Side affect of Writer’s Brain. There’s nothing we can do about it.

 

. . . WATCH TV . . .


This is really about the same thing as reading. Although you’re not looking at sentence structures, you’re still seeing how a team of writers chose to layout a plot, bring their characters to life, etc., etc. And, once again, instead of turning your brain off to settle in for some relaxing entertainment, your new Writer’s Brain switches to research mode and analyzes every slight detail.


“Oh, that facial feature that character just did was so expressive. I need to figure out how to describe with words.”


“Wow, the dialogue is so sharp and witty. Gotta take notes on that.”


“This is such a good fight scene. I need to pay close attention to each movement so I can properly create my own fight scene in my story.”


“Whoa, they ended that episode with such an amazing cliffhanger. I’ll have to remember that for when I end my chapters.”


It never ends, guys. It never ends.


But your Writer’s Brain is not just gathering research. It’s picking up IDEAS. And this applies to both reading and watching TV. Ideas from something simple like, “Hey, I really like this genre this show is set in. I want to write something like it.” To ideas from the smallest things. Like that person in the background wearing the yellow hat in that one scene that literally has no name or lines but your crazy Writer’s Brain suddenly has a plot bunny sparked by them and next thing you know you have an idea for a 10-book series, a prequel novel, and at least 3 or 4 companion short stories. All because of that one background character with the yellow hat.


Sometimes you’ll get a bunch of different ideas from the most random things and put them all together into one novel. Like that inspiration you had from that one book and your favorite TV show and sheesh! you even got a great idea from an iHop commercial that would fit in this novel. Yep, you’re not safe from watching commercials either. You’re never safe again. Once the Writer’s Brain has infected you, it is wide open for the plague of plot bunnies.


Like I said, you’re doomed.

 

. . . VIEW PEOPLE . . .


Our Writer’s Brain doesn’t just change our view of our sources of entertainment. Oh no, it doesn’t stop there. It changes our view of actual, real life PEOPLE in our lives, too. Which is dangerous. Because often us writers go into full-on stalker mode and creep everyone out.


While sitting in a coffee shop, we may study everyone there. Because, oh wow, that guy with the beard looks like he’d be perfect in your new dystopian novel. Hm, that couple in the corner are having an awfully lively conversation. What could they be talking about…? *cue your Writer’s Brain coming up with an entire short story based off of them* That girl at the register has such a cute fashion sense. I want my protagonist's clothes to be based off hers.


#Stalker


But it’s not just studying strangers. You’ll probably creep out your friends and family, too, when you begin to notice everything about their personalities and their mannerisms and understand their motivations for things and can tell them offhand exactly what Myer-Briggs personality type they are. Or describe the exact facial expression they made last Tuesday when they were talking to the cashier in the grocery store about ripe fruit.


We writers are intuitive people. It comes with Writer’s Brain. We just can’t help it.

 

. . . LOOK AT SCENERY. . .


You and your family are going on vacation to the mountains. Wonderful. Some relaxing time to just unwind and— WHOA. Look at the creek right there, with the sharp boulder above it. What if a character was running from the authorities and slipped and hit his head on that boulder? OH. And over there, that hollow tree. A fairy could live there and heals him and then they find treasure down in the valley between those two mountains and—


Yeah. No turning off the Writer’s Brain. Everything you see is story potential. Everything.

 

. . . EXPERIENCE MOMENTS . . .


Interesting experiences aren’t just stories to tell your friends now. Just like watching TV or reading or even sitting in a coffee shop, everything you do is now research.


Oooops. The knife just slipped while I was chopping vegetables and now my hand is bleeding all over the counter and I’m experiencing horrifying pain. Well hey, now I can describe that hand wound scene in my novel accurately!


Oh, look at that, I just burned my hair with the curling iron. I guess now I know what singed hair smells like for that chapter with the fire.


Ouch. I just slipped, fell off the porch onto concrete, and am lying here with half of my body broken. Huh. Now I know precisely how my character felt when I made him leap off that building.


I mean, it’s not just injuries we experience that we view as research. It can be fun things, too. Like riding a rollercoaster or taking a trip to Paris or horseback riding or singlehandedly eating that entire cake in one sitting. But let’s be real, we injure our characters a lot, so…


. . .


I think you get the idea. Everything in our lives is now viewed via the Writer’s Brain filter. The world is no longer the same. Everything is story inspiration and research.


But it’s not just that. Your entire imagination and thoughts are centered around STORY. When you go to bed, you fall asleep by playing stories in your head. When you’re brushing your teeth, you’re plotting the next scene in your WIP. When you’re waiting for your lunch to finish cooking, you’re using your phone to research common ways wars are started (#truestory). Your life is now 100% centered around your novels.


Honestly, I often wonder what non-writers even think about. Seriously, all my thoughts are focused on my WIPs or my next blog post or new plot bunnies or how to fix that problem in that one novel and just…WRITING and STORY. If I wasn’t a writer I literally have no earthly idea what my brain would occupy itself with.


Because I have Writer’s Brain. And it’s an incurable disease.


But guess what? You know how I said there’s no hope at all and we’re all doomed? I LIED. Well, I mean, no, you can’t get rid of Writer’s Brain. That’s impossible. If I got your hopes up…sorryyyyy. BUT. It’s not just an incurable disease.


It’s also a superpower.


Because you are more intuitive and have a deep understanding of people. You enjoy scenery more, because that creek with the sharp boulder isn’t just water and a rock to you. You can take every experience you have, even the bad ones, and appreciate them because #RESEARCH. Books and television are so, so much more than mere entertainment.


The entire world is a blank page just waiting to be discovered and painted with stories by you.


Sure, it can be annoying when you’re trying to read and instead you’re taking mental notes on the author’s three-act structure. But it’s also fun to understand storytelling. When I was younger, if I didn’t like a character or something I’d often wonder why. It honestly confused me. Because wasn’t I supposed to like them? Or shouldn’t I enjoy this story? What’s wrong with it anyway? Well, now I can usually answer those questions.


I love how I can scroll through pinterest and be inspired to write an entire story by one little picture.


I love seeing a new place and thinking it’d be the perfect setting for a novel.


I love having story after story after story rolling through my head 24/7.


I love having a Writer’s Brain.


Maybe it makes us seem a bit odd and occasionally creepy and awfully eccentric.


But hey, that’s just the burden we superheroes have to carry. *winks*

 

Tell me, do you suffer from Writer’s Brain? Do you experience any or all of these symptoms? Are they an annoyance or fun to you? And do you have any symptoms to add to my list? Speak with me! Together we can support one another with this incurable disease.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Why I Believe Cinderella is a Good Heroine

 

Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.

-Cinderella (Charles Perrault)


In this day and age of “strong female characters” and “girl power” and “being one of the boys”, characters like Cinderella get a lot of shame and hate.


After all, Cinderella was a pushover. She was weak, cowardly, never stood up for herself. Not someone little girls of this age should ever look up to or strive to be. Right?


I’m about to be a bit controversial. Are you ready? Here we go…


Cinderella is one of my favorite heroines.


“Say what now?” you’re probably exclaiming. “CINDERELLA? That weak little mouse? Why would you look up to her?” I’m glad you asked! *smile, smile* I’m here to tell you allll the reasons why I have, in fact, always saw Cinderella as a wonderful role model. *cracks knuckles*


It’s true, Cinderella is not your usual protagonist. She didn’t stand at the front lines and charge into battle to save a kingdom. She didn’t rescue a planet or bring down a corrupt government or battle a kraken or any of those things most female protagonists do these days. On the surface, it appeared as if all she did was let people push her around and then put on a pretty dress and got married. When you look at the story from that mindset, I can totally understand why people think it’s poison for their little girls.


But the story of Cinderella is SO much more.


So let’s debunk some of these problems people have with our girl Cinderella…


 

PROBLEM #1:
WAS SHE A WEAK PUSHOVER?


At first, Cinderella does seem like a pushover. I mean, she let these three crazy women come into her home and turn her into a scullery maid. But what other choice did she have? The stepmother ruled the house. And what was Cinderella going to do? Leave her home and go live on the streets? Poison her new stepmother and sisters? That certainly wouldn’t be very heroic. (Though I could see that happening with the protagonists we often get now, especially with TV shows…)


Let’s be real, most of us in that situation would be angry and bitter. I know *I* would. I’d be furious. I’d have turned into a bitter raincloud.


But what did Cinderella do? She didn’t stomp around and gripe about those horrible stepsisters and wicked stepmother. She didn’t seek revenge. She didn’t let anger fester and fester into her heart until she became a bitter, harsh woman.


No, sweet Cinderella did as her dying mother told her in Grimm’s version.


“Dear child, remain pious and good.”


Or Disney’s spin on it, if you’d rather.


Cinderella remained good.


Because that’s what Cinderella is. She’s good. Bitterness hardens the heart into something ugly and selfish and cruel. And so many of us could have fallen into that in that situation. But Cinderella chose goodness.


Even after all she had been through, and she married into the royal family and had all the power in the world, she did not seek revenge. In Perrault’s version of the tale, she forgave her stepsisters and showed them kindness.


Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great lords of the court.


And Disney nailed it at the end of their live action movie, when Cinderella told her stepmother she forgave her. That was one of the most powerful, poignant scenes I’ve seen in a movie in a long, long time.

 

Chills. It gets me every. single. time.


Cinderella chose to love over hate. And you know what?


That is strength.


Can you imagine the kind of strength it took to choose to love that stepmother and those stepsisters? To forgive them? To refuse to give way to bitterness and harden her heart?


Cinderella is strong. Just because she had a broom in her hand instead of a sword doesn’t mean she’s weak. She is one of the strongest female protagonists I have ever known.


Speaking of brooms…

 

PROBLEM #2:
WASN’T SHE A LITTLE TOO
OBSESSED WITH PRETTY DRESSES?


Cinderella? You mean the girl who slept in ashes every night and wore rags? No, I most certainly do not think she was too obsessed with pretty things.


Cinderella was not afraid to get her hands dirty. And she worked hard. In most of the movies, all the servants were let go, leaving Cinderella to take care of EVERYTHING. By herself. And she did. She kept that household going and didn’t give up when it got too hard. She didn’t whine about a broken nail or getting dirt on her skirts. She did what she had to do. No matter how horrible things became.



Yes, she liked pretty dresses. But who on earth wouldn’t be excited about getting dressed up nice for one night (or three, depending on which version we’re talkin’ here) after being in rags day after day after day?


I love Cinderella’s femininity. I love that she wasn’t afraid to get dirty but also enjoyed pretty things. You should never, ever, ever be ashamed of being girly.


My favorite color is pink. (It wasn’t that long ago that my blog theme was pink. You guys remember that?) And a lot of people would blanch at that. Apparently pink these days is an evil, forbidden color and is destroying girls everywhere???? Yeah, no, I don’t understand it either. God made pink, people. It’s a gorgeous color! And you think I’m going to be shamed in liking it? Do you think it’s wrong to enjoy dressing up pretty and being girly? Noooo. God made females to be feminine. He wants us to embrace that.


And hey, I can wear a frilly pink skirt and watch a Marvel movie at the same time. So there.


And yes, I know I was talking about Cinderella here. I am actually getting to a point! And it is this: People are hating on Cinderella and the whole “princess culture” in general because I guess liking sparkly ball gowns is wrong?


Being feminine is not wrong.


And guess what? Princesses aren’t all about sparkly ball gowns. (In fact, Hayden Wand did a spectacular post on this very subject of the “princess mentality” and you should all go read it.) The majority of Cinderella isn’t centered around the glitz and glamor.  Its true focus is on the grit and grime, the cruelty of humans, and the strength to rise above it and choose goodness.



The stepsisters were too obsessed with pretty gowns and the shallow things in life. Cinderella was not.


Which brings me to…

 

PROBLEM #3:
ALL HER DREAMS CAME
TRUE ‘CAUSE SHE WAS PRETTY?


Is that the message of Cinderella? Because, after all, she arrived at the ball all decked out and beautiful, caught the Prince’s eye, and lived happily ever after. So the message is you only get things you want if you’re gorgeous?



In Grimm’s version, it states the stepsisters were very beautiful girls. But Cinderella got the Prince, not them. Because, sure, Cinderella was beautiful on the outside, but she was even more beautiful because of her beauty within. (I know that’s cliché, but it’s true.)


Now, I’ll be the first to admit, the Prince’s character needed development…a lot. (Another thing Disney fixed so wonderfully in their live action movie. Kit was perfection.) But fairytales aren’t big on details. They’re very short stories after all. But still, I personally believe what really drew the Prince to Cinderella was the goodness shining out of her. She wasn’t like the other girls. She was different. Not focused on the glitz and glamor. Not shallow and conceited.


The very core of the Cinderella story is that true beauty is found through kindness, goodness. Through gentleness, patience, love.


No, Cinderella’s dreams did not come true because she happened to have a pretty face. Think about it, I highly doubt a fairy godmother would have helped a girl who sought to poison her stepfamily. And would the Prince have been drawn to her if she had chosen anger and bitterness, and harshness oozed from her being?


It was because Cinderella chose love over hate that she got her happy ending. The story of Cinderella is much like the Christian walk should be. Where we choose to reflect Christ-like behavior, and though it’s not easy, and there is much suffering through the journey, it’s so worth it. Because, in the end, as Cinderella got her Prince, we receive our Prince of Peace.



I’m not saying the Cinderella story is perfect. The plot holes. Oooh, the plot holes. (Why did the glass slippers not disappear at midnight when everything else did?) And in the Grimm’s version the stepsisters cut off their toes and heels to try to fit the glass slipper on their feet. (I personally like Perrault’s version much better.) Fairytales can be messed up, guys! They’re too short and illogical and seriously morbid a lot of the time. But they also have hidden gems of wisdom within their words. Because that’s the original point of fairytales, to teach children lessons about life. To teach wisdom and truth and good vs. evil.


To me, the character of Cinderella reflects all the qualities we are called to be in Ephesians 4:1-3:


I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


I have admired Cinderella since I was very, very young. Because I am prone to anger, I can get bitter. I speak my mind during times when I really, really should have just stayed quiet. And I can be horribly selfish and shallow. And so I always looked up to Cinderella’s patience, gentleness, and grace. Because of her I strive to be a better person. And isn’t that what all our heroes and heroines should accomplish?


I was so, so proud of Disney for choosing to keep the gentle essence that has always been Cinderella instead of turning her into this tough girl female protagonist that is typical for modern day media. Her quiet strength is refreshing.


Now, don’t get me wrong, female warriors are perfectly fine. And I love the feisty ones. I literally just a few weeks ago talked about my favorite types of characters and listed the feisty girls as one of my top favorites.


BUT. I really, really don’t like how the sweet, gentle characters are disappearing. How femininity is looked down upon, and how kindness is considered “weak”. Hating someone is easy, but choosing to love…that’s where true strength comes in.


I want more characters like Cinderella. I want characters who inspire me to rise up and live in “gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”


And that’s why I believe Cinderella is a good heroine.



~ ~ ~


ALL RIGHT, GUYS. This was probably my most opinionated post to date. (I hope you didn’t mind. But Cinderella and this issue has been on mind since I was like…5 or something, so. This post was bound to explode out of me eventually.) Which means I’m now dying to hear YOUR opinion. (I don’t bite, I promise.) What do you think about Cinderella and heroines and this day and age of not having Cinderella-like protagonists anymore? I WANT TO HEAR ALL YOUR THOUGHTS. (Also, important here, who else thought the live action Cinderella movie was complete and utter perfection???)


P.S. If you did actually like this post, back in April I did a post about my thoughts on the Beauty and the Beast story. Who knows? Maybe I’ll turn this into a whole Christine’s-opinions-on-fairytales blog series. Because…I really love fairytales and have a lot of opinions apparently.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

10 (Not as Well Known) Fantasy Books To Add To Your TBR



Yes, it is Saturday and not Monday. BUT DON’T WORRY. I haven’t completely lost my mind. (Though I usually am doing good if I even know what day of the week it is…) I’m purposely posting my weekly post a couple of days early. Becaaaause… Today is the 63rd birthday of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring! To celebrate and to end The Silmarillion Awards you may have seen sweeping the blogosphere this month, Jenelle Schimdt and many others are throwing a big fantasy celebration today in which we can rave about Tolkien and/or fantasy on our blogs or anywhere on social media! Thus the Saturday-instead-of-Monday post.


Last year I did a post on what Tolkien means to me, and around the same time also posted about how fantasy is infinite and why I love to write it. I didn’t want to repeat myself, sooo I decided to go in an entirely different direction this year.


Instead, I’m going to pile up everyone's TBRs (“to-be-read piles” if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about) with delightful fantasy books. Because it’s not like your piles are already so large they’re probably going to crush you any day now. Nooo. You need even more books.


YOU’RE WELCOME.


I’ve purposely chosen to not list the over popular books, because, well, you all already know about Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Peter Pan, etc. (Though if you haven’t read those then WHY ARE YOU READING MY BLOG??? GO READ THOSE BOOKS INSTEAD.) Annnd I would list Howl’s Moving Castle but I’m pretty sure I manage to squeeze my utter unhealthy love for that book in every post I write, so… I’ll try to stick to some I may not have mentioned here before.


There are so many amazing books in the world, and as hard as we try, we don’t always know about all of them. Thus I’ve chosen some not quiiite as well-known and/or pretty obscure books to share. Because some books just deserve more love than they get! I’m also making this a variety of different types of stories so there will (hopefully) be something for everyone.


(And because I’m nice, all titles link to their GoodRead’s pages.)


. . .

 

THE BEAST OF TALESEND
By Kyle Robert Shultz


I just read this a few weeks ago and OH MY GRACIOUS, GUYS. THIS BOOK.

Imagine a 1920s detective story set in another world where fairytales is the world’s history instead of boring politics. Then add a grumpy detective who is determined that fairytales aren’t actually real, a mad girl who happens to have magic, and the grumpy detective’s happy-go-lucky brother all working together to stop a crime lord from ruining the world. And there you have this story! I KNOW, RIGHT?


It was seriously one of the most unique and FUN settings I’ve ever read. AND THE HUMOR. This book is chock full of hilarious mishaps. But it’s also just fascinating! I loooove 1920s detective settings. I always have. So add that in a fantasy world and you make A VERY HAPPY CHRISTINE.


Oh, and did I mention this was a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST RETELLING???? Because YES. It’s probably my favorite B&B retelling to date!


Just…just read this story.

 

BEAUTY
By Robin McKinley


This probably isn’t all that obscure, but I never really see anyone talk about it? SO HERE I AM TALKING ABOUT IT.


I’ll be honest, I haven’t read this in…probably a decade or so? o.O BUT. I do remember absolutely loving it.


This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling as well (I’m obsessed, okay?). But what’s kind of neat about it is…it’s not exactly a retelling but more a novelization of the very short original Beauty and the Beast story. It’s like the actual story but lengthened and elaborated into a full novel. Which I thought was fantastic! Because I, for one, always wish fairytales were longer than like…3 pages. Not to mention wish they were sooometimes a bit more logical. Heh. So with Beauty, you get just that! The Beauty and the Beast story in a lengthened, logical format. Not to mention it has this slightly dark, chilling feel which I love. Especially for fairytales.


If you’re a fan of the Beauty and the Beast story or just dark fairytales in general, I’d definitely recommend this one!

 

BONES OF FAERIE
By Janni Lee Simner


I had never heard of this, but one day my best friend and I were secondhand bookstore shopping (like we do) when she found it and thought it looked intriguing. She read it right away and then proceeded to yell at me to read it as well (like good bookworm friends do). So I did. And then I understood why she demanded I read it.


This book was fascinating. I read the whole thing in one day (something I sadly can’t do much anymore these days, but I could not put it down!).


What absolutely made this book shine was the worldbuilding. The gist is, faerie folk came into the world and there was this huge war between humans and faeries, and it devastated both sides. So now people are living without much technology and lots of the world is taken over by faeries. (Such as trees that come alive and try to eat people, and all sorts of fun.) The world just had SO. MUCH. EPICNESS. I was blown away by the worldbuilding.


Honestly, the story itself was almost too simple for the huge, fascinating world it was set in. It’s mainly a story of a girl going on a little quest to save her village. And it’s good. But, it also was so simplistic. I wanted this humongous, epic series to go with this world. (Though it is a trilogy and I haven’t read the other two books yet, but I think they stick with the simple storyline as far as I can tell.)


Still, the story was fun, the writing beautiful, and the world so dangerous and creepy and intriguing. Fair warning though, it is quite a dark book. It’s not exactly the feel-good book of the year. There’s a smidge of domestic abuse, and, if I remember right, a guy isn’t dressed in one scene. But otherwise it was clean and fine.


I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves evil, creepy fae and chillingly dark and unique stories.

 

A DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS
By Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder


This one is a bit different because it’s intended for a much younger audience. BUT THAT’S NEVER STOPPED ME FROM READING A BOOK BEFORE. #NeverGrowUp And, come on, look at that title! Do you seriously think I’d pass up a book with that title? I THINK NOT.


The story follows Miss Drake, a rather disgruntled but perfectly ladylike dragon, and her new "pet", the clever but reckless Winnie. It’s set in our world but where dragons and all sorts of magical creatures and things exist. Just no one knows it because the magical creatures are good at disguising themselves. Such as Miss Drake can shapeshift into a human. (GIMME A SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON ANY DAY.)


Since this is juvenile fiction, the storyline was pretty straightforward, but really, it added to the charm of the story. And, unlike a lot of books meant for a young audience, this one did not skimp on character development. Miss Drake and Winnie’s relationship grows throughout the story. And there was even some emotional depth as they both had to deal with losses in their lives.


The whole thing was absolutely precious and fun. AND THE ENDING. The ending was PERFECTION.


If I had children, I’d totally be reading this out loud to them. But hey, even in my 20s I adored it. I think everyone occasionally needs a cozy, juvenile read now and again. This one is perfect for that.

 

DRAGON SLIPPERS
By Jessica Day George


I read this book years ago and it became an instant fave. It’s just FUN. It takes a ton of fairytale cliches and flips them over. Such as the damsel in distress refusing help from the knight in shining armor and leaving the dragon’s den herself. XD


Our main character, Creel, is not a force to be reckoned with. BUT she is not a warrior. Instead, she escapes mayhem using her wits, and she’s a seamstress. That’s her thing, she loves to sew, and makes gorgeous dresses and things. I loved how we had a heroine who was both strong and yet still feminine.


The whole story itself is such a fun ride. We go from dragon dens to quaint dress shops to castles and everything in between. And the spin on the dragons themselves was my FAVE. Instead of hoarding gold and jewels like everyone expects, these dragons each hoard something different. One collects slippers, another collects dogs…like, live dogs. Yes. A dragon with a brood of dogs, it’s the BEST. Each dragon has their own interest! There’s just so much fun stuff going on!


This story is for all those who enjoy light, fun, and unexpected fairytales. (Also I remember liking the sequel Dragon Flight just as much. I haven’t read the third book yet BUT I NEED TO.)

 

ENTWINED
By Heather Dixon


All right, so I kinda think everyone has heard of this book. I don’t think it’s obscure at all. But I had to add it to the list juuuust in case someone out there hasn’t read it. BECAUSE EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK.


This is a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling (which is my 2nd favorite fairytale after Beauty and the Beast #FunFact), and probably my favorite fairytale retelling I’ve ever read. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS.


The thing about a lot of 12DP stories is it can get overwhelming because there are essentially 12 main characters. But this book magically balanced every single princess perfectly while still giving them each their own personality, and not even confusing the reader on who was who!


The world was fantastic, the magic system was one of my favorites, and the VILLAIN. Ooooh, the villain. Literally one of my top favorite villains of ever. He was CREEPY. But…just…AGH. THAT VILLAIN.


The whole story was just gorgeous and so vivid. I could see everything. Sometimes I’d forget I was even reading. It all felt so real. Each and every character was lovable in their own way, the storyline kept me glued to the page, and the writing made me jealous of its pure gorgeousness. It had a slight dark feel which, as we’ve established, is my favorite for fairytales. And yet, at the same time, it had a ton of light and downright hilarious moments. It was the perfect balance! I honestly don’t think I had a single complaint with this story. And, let me tell you, that does not happen often! This is literally one of my most favorite stories in existence.


BUT. As I mentioned, the villain is soooo creepy. There’s a couple of very chilling scenes and use of dark magic from the villain. I’d recommend this for a slightly older audience (I’d say 15 or 16+) because of that.

 

THE PECULIAR
By Stefan Bachmann


For all you steampunk lovers, this one’s for you!


One day someone brought this to the secondhand bookstore I work at and it looked so intriguing—a steampunk world with fairies? YES PLEASE—I just had to buy it. (Perks of working at a bookstore—first dibs.) I was not disappointed in my purchase!


This one actually sorta kinda reminded me of Bones of Faerie in that there’s a constant feud between humans and faeries (apparently I’m totally in love with the fairies vs. humans storyline???), the worldbuilding is some of the best I’ve ever seen, buuut the storyline seemed a smidge too simple for the epic world. BUT STILL. The plot was still EPIC, even though I feel like it could have been even bigger. (But I’m super picky in that I want a huge, epic, complex storyline so…this is probably just a Christine problem.)


The feel of this story is what really drew me in. It’s so very steampunkish but with all manner of weird fairy folk (TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS), and it just felt so…British! I don’t know, something about the style had this witty, snarky British tone which I absolutely adored. And it also had a slightly creepy but intriguing odd feel to it. To me, it so felt like a Tim Burton movie. Dark and weird but fascinating all rolled into one. (Seriously, Tim Burton needs to pick this one up!)


The characters were all odd and lovable and unique, the setting was just so bizarrely fun, and the strange mystery of it all kept me reading and reading. This book was amazing, guys! BUT, make sure you have the sequel, The Whatnot (which is just as good), on hand because THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING. *collapses*

 

PETER PAN IN SCARLET
By Geraldine McCaughrean


I think I’m an uneducated porcupine, because I had no idea there was an official sequel to Peter Pan until my bookfairy Celti told me about it. But GUYS. THERE’S AN OFFICIAL SEQUEL TO PETER PAN. Apparently there was some big contest for someone to write the official sequel and Geraldine McCaughrean’s story won. AND WITH GOOD REASON.


At first I was suuuuper dubious about this story. I’m a Peter Pan purist and was not sure about someone other than J.M. Barrie himself writing something canon for Peter Pan. Peter Pan was my CHILDHOOD. What if this book somehow ruined it for me???? I’m not a fan of classics being turned into something new. But I thought I’d at least give this book a try. AND I’M SO GLAD I DID.


Geraldine McCaughrean did an AMAZING job capturing the magic of Peter Pan. Honestly, it felt like J.M. Barrie penned this tale, it really did. It perfectly captured his style, humor, and wonder. And the characters were PERFECTION. Wendy especially was precisely the Wendy I know and love. It didn’t try to change anything, it kept true to the characters (most remakes or sequels of classics destroy the original characters, ugh), and felt respectful toward the original story (again, most remakes/sequels/what-have-you so disrespect the original authors). Honestly, I loved every little thing about it. It was a delight, and I happily accept it as canon to the original Peter Pan story.


So if you’re a rabid Peter Pan fan like me, YOU NEED THIS STORY.

 

SENTINEL
By Jamie Foley


This series is a new obsession of mine because OOOOOH MY GOODNESS. IT’S SO GOOD.


Now, this isn’t exactly heavily fantasy in any way. It’s set in a different world where there are specific mental powers, but otherwise it very much feels like our world—cars, cell phones, and the like reign. BUT IT’S STILL SO GOOD.


How do I even describe this book? It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s like an apocalyptic setting with mind powers and government conspiracies and military intrigue and immense amounts of action and suspense and snarky characters for daaaaays. IT’S SO UNIQUE.


Not only is it packed full of action (seriously, get ready for nail-biting, heart-pounding scenes), it’s got humor as well and the CHARACTERS. The characters make the story. Namely our main character Darien, whose constant confusion on what was going on made me crack up. And JET. JETTTT. He’s officially now one of my top, TOP favorite characters in existence. Basically the opposite of Darien in that he’s always in control, deadly, and serious, but will certainly sass you to death if the need arises. HE WAS THE BEST. And then you team them up and SKDJLFSJLJDF. HILARIOUSNESS.


And did I mention there’s mind powers? BECAUSE MIND POWERS. Mind powers are amaziiiing! Some people could control your emotions, others could make invisible walls appear, others could hurl a striking force. Just…MIND POWERS.


Something about this book actually reminded me of the Final Fantasy video games. I have no idea if any of you play those games, but if you do, I think you’ll like these books! Just the setting and style reminded me of the unique setting those games have. (And I loooove the Final Fantasy games, so that was a huge plus for me!)


But anyway, if you like apocalyptic worlds with mind powers and action galore, GIVE THIS BOOK A TRY. And the sequel, Arbiter, is just as good (and has even more fantasy-type things in it)! Maybe even better. I don’t knoooow! THEY’RE BOTH AMAZING. And I’m desperate for the third book but it’s not out yet. *writhes on the floor moaning*

 

VALLEY OF THE DRAGONS TRILOGY
By Donita. K. Paul


(Yes, I’m cheating and putting a whole trilogy. Shhhh.)


Okay, so I’m pretty sure most of you have read or heard of The DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul (and if not, IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITE SERIES GO READ IT.) But I hardly see anyone talk about the spinoff trilogy, Valley of the Dragons. I’d actually highly recommend reading The DragonKeeper Chronicles first. This trilogy kind of felt like it was intended more for people who were already familiar with the complex world, even though this is actually a prequel to The DragonKeeper Chronicles. It just didn’t have quite as much in the way of details and explanations of how the world works (Mrs. Paul’s worldbuilding is #Goals). But anyways. THIS TRILOGY WAS STILL AMAZING. If I’m being honest, I almost enjoyed it just as much as The DragonKeeper Chronicles. Which is saying a LOT.


These books have the most lovable characters and hilarious mishaps and epic plots and the world is amazing. I LOVE THESE BOOKS. I honestly can’t even tell you much about them because the plots are all so crazy and unique and fantastic.


Also DRAGONS. Dragonssss. DRAGONS!!!!!!!! Big dragons and adorable kitten-sized dragons (I’m serious) and just DRAGONS. Mrs. Paul is not shy about dragon-usage with her stories. SO. MANY. DRAGONS.


If you like rollicking fun fantasy stories with hilarious and precious characters, GET THESE BOOKS. They’re clean reads and great for young and old readers alike.


. . .


THERE YA HAVE IT. Some fairytales, some steampunk, some mind powers, some dark fiction, juvenile fiction, DRAGONS. And all fantasy! I hope I’ve succeeded in connecting you to some books you may have not heard about (and made your TBR uncontrollable *cackles*).


And don’t forget we’re celebrating the Fellowship of the Ring’s anniversary today! So if you have something Tolkien and/or fantasy related you want to share via your blog or any other social media outlet, GO FOR IT. And you can use the hashtag #SilmAwards2017. Let’s show our dear fantasy some love!

 

TALK WITH ME. Have you heard of/read any of these books? (Because if so I want to flail with you!!!) Did I list any that piqued your interest? And, IMPORTANT HERE, what are some lesser known fantasy reads you love??? (Because I obviously need even more books out of my hundreds that I don’t have time to read. Eheheheheheh…heh heh…heh. *collapses*)

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