Posted in Reviews

The Sea in Winter

The Sea in Winter

The Sea in Winter by [Christine Day]

Summary

Maisie Cannon has had a rough year, ever since she hurt her leg and couldn’t keep up with her ballet training and auditions the emotional and physical toll that’s taking on her bothers her more than she realizes.

Her blended family is loving and supportive, but Maisie knows that they just can’t understand how hopeless she feels.

But with everything that’s going on with her (ex?) friends ballet successes, troubles in school, and perhaps unrealistic hopes for her recovery. Maisie is not excited about their family midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.

But soon, Maisie’s anxieties and dark moods start to hurt as much as the pain in her knee. How can she keep pretending to be strong when on the inside she feels as roiling and cold as the sea?

Will she be able to get to find a way to move forward with her new circumstances? Or will she allow herself to be stuck in the past?

Review

When I started this book earlier in the year I wasn’t ready to pick it up. But this was definitely the book I needed for right now. I’m in a similar place as the book’s protagonist. Since I injured my ankle in January I’ve struggled with wanting to be in the same place I was before the injury. I often want to have the same level of energy. It’s been a challenge not to push myself to where I was before, and even when I do something

I think shouldn’t make me tired and does, it’s tough not to be angry that I can’t do more. For example, I’ve only been healing for 5 months and I want to think about roller skating, realistically I should be thinking about this 1-2 years out, but my brain is still annoyed with what I can’t do. So I get Maisie’s frustration and I’m trying to redirect my energy into a more positive place.

Amazon: The Sea in Winter

Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

Posted in monthly goals

Preparing for June: How did I do?

In preparing for June I like to go over my May Goals to see how I did for the month. I’ve got a little more energy now that I’m continuing to heal from my ankle. More than I did at the start of the end of April/the start of May when I set these goals Allowing myself to keep a slow pace on healing was the theme of April. I thought I had more energy in the beginning of May, but looking at it now I truly have more energy. I’m reading and writing and doing reviews at almost my pre-injury pace. So I’m happy about that.

1)Try and keep posting ahead of time

I’ve gotten MUCH better with this at this. I’ve been able to start preparing for the week ahead during the weekend and get most of what I’m going to post for the week done.

2) Finishing up my books from previous months

I’ve worked on lots of books but I got distracted by new content. This will have to be another goal for June.

3) Celebrate AAPI authors this month!

I started Joan He’s book and DNF it, I’ve come to find that I just don’t like her style however I’m going to focus back on these authors. I’ve got plenty of books line to read from AAPI authors and plan to make it a focus through the summer.

4) Get back to 10 books a month.

I only read 4 four this month, and I’m still happy with that, reading slump.

5) Look for Readathons for this month/next month

Probably going to find a pride readathon. But honestly I’m not the hugest fan of pride month, I appreciate the sentiment I’m just not a showy person naturally. So I’m more like t-shirts and door mats rather than going all out. But all the support to people who appreciate pride on a more involved level.

Posted in Weekly Wrap-ups

Healing, Reading, and Writing: Weekly Update

Well I’m finally rounding the bend with my healing. I won’t be fully back for a year, but I’m starting to see the results I want here at almost 5 months. I’m going to start taking walks again (short ones, I’m no fool) and generally trying to exercise.

I think since I’ve been healing. I’ve also been writing finally I think after going to The Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival and getting some hints on craft from a variety of really brought out some creative ideas I’d had before I got hurt and brought them to the forefront.

The ideas are very different, one is a full fantasy with politics and court intrigue and romance and magic. The other is present-day murder mystery with music and mental health.

I’ve finally got out of the reading slump I’ve been in I’ve read more in this last week than I did in the whole month of May. My favorite thing read this week was The Sea in Winter, I’ll explain more about why in the reviews.

I also got to go out, I had an appointment near a bookstore. So I picked up some books.

That Thing about Bollywood

That Thing about Bollywood by [Supriya Kelkar]

Amazon: That Thing About Bollywood

and

The Beast Player

The Beast Player by [Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano] Healing

Amazon: Beast Player

Both look very interesting I’ve been waiting on Bollywood FOREVER, so I’m looking forward to reading these. Other than that my week has been pretty relaxed I’m trying to take things easy, I’ve had a lot of appointments but this coming week is appointment-free, so more time for reading and writing and me to look for a good readathon.

Photo by Vaibhav Nagare on Unsplash

Posted in Book Festivals

Dark Fantasy

On this panel about Dark Fantasy were: Rena Barron who is famous for her breakout fantasy The Gilded Ones. J. Elle is famous for her fantasy Wings of Ebony. Finally Kiersten White is famous for many books, including the And I Darken trilogy.

Moderator: How do you decide what readers’ first impression is going to be of your fantasy world?

White: It’s more about the soul of the story.

Barron: Dark doesn’t mean bad it just means unknown.

J Elle: What is the most intriguing entry point into the book? How you want to introduce the reader. The hook.

Moderator: Contemporary or full fantasy?

J Elle: I prefer contemporary fantasy

Barron: You get to throw some magic into the regular world.

White: It’s fun to get stuff from other people’s worlds.

Moderator Why Dark Fantasy?

White: I’m telling the story because it has integrity

Barron: I don’t mean to tell a dark fantasy I’m just trying to tell a story.

J Elle: When you go back to stories at different points in your life you get different answers. Darkness is just exploring the unknown.

White: Writing books is also a personal journey for the author that no one but the author can see but they know it’s there.

Moderator: What is everyone currently reading?

Realm Breaker by Victora Avyard

Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Moderator: When adding element from other cultures how do you do so respectfully?

J Elle: Lightly inspired if not your culture. Let Own Voices deal with it if its a major element of the plot.

White: If you are looking at history be careful of your sources. Why are you using these people as a jumping-off point?

Engage things with integrity, responsibility, and love. Also, throw out any extreme sources from either side of a conflict.

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Posted in Reviews

Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp

Oh Goosebumps, whoever sure who decided to give go-ahead for Marieke Nijkamp to write a comic adaptation had a very good idea. This piece was excellent. I may be a bit bias. I am a huge fan of Nijkamp in the first place. However, I’ll go over the reasons I loved it in the review.

Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp by [Marieke Nijkamp, Yasmin Florez Montanez, Yasmin Flores Montanez]

Summary

Twelve-year-old Blake was shipped off to her weird Aunt in Fever Swamp for the Summer. Lucky for her at least there is the internet and her favorite game Lore Hunter. lake’s never let anything–including her prosthetic hand–slow her down or stop her from crushing her opponents in a game of Lore Hunter.

But when she learns she’s going to meet the person on the top of the leaderboard in Lore Hunter in person, she’s hesitant. What’s she like in real life after all. Lily seems nice but ready for a real-life adventure she wants to go into the swamps to see what’s really there and when her other friend won’t go with her she ropes Blake in for the ride.

Soon Blake finds herself she finds herself in a spooky turf war between werewolves and wolf hunters! But real-life monsters on all sides take danger and fear to a whole new level, and Blake will need to use all of her gaming skills to escape.

Review

I don’t know if there were meant to be racial undertones here. However, most of the werewolves seemed to be people of color. While most of the wolf hunters were white or appeared white. So I thought that was worth noting especially since Fever Swamp brings to me an image of the South in the US and all the soci-political issues thereabouts. Perhaps I’m reading too much in it but Goosebumps books are never written down to kids or teens so who knows.

I really liked the friendship that developed between one of the female werewolves and Blake, it was someone Blake knew from before so the surprise reveal was interesting.

Finally I loved the end of the comic I really hope there is a volume two!

Amazon: Goosebumps:Secrets of the Swamp

Photo by Krystian Piątek on Unsplash

Posted in Book Festivals

Worldbuilding:Setting the Stage

Worldbuilding is such an important part of writing. I went to this panel for that reason and plan to go back review the other one offered when I don’t have Zoom fatigue.

The authors on this panel are known for their worldbuilding. Lisa McMann famous for her work on the Unwanteds Universe. Namina Forna best known for her book The Guilded Ones, the first part of a trilogy. and James Ponti, bestselling author of many books but currently working on the City Spies.

Moderator: How and why do you choose the settings?

James: I think about it like TV. Transportation and getting places without adults

Namina: I knew it was going to be set in an African world because I knew I would use my childhood in Benin as a jumping-off point.

Lisa: Environments and experiences.

James also recommended to start a story bible to keep up with all your worlds rules.

Moderator: Would you like to live your world or any other.

Namina: Any world by Holly Black but get out before things get serious because she’s worried she might die.

James; From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basel E. Frankweiler, because who wouldn’t want to spend the night in the library.

Lisa: Artime.

At the end of the panel, they just had some general advice. Namina pointed out the importance of research because you never know where information will come from.

James pointed out some cool fact he learned from researching with real spies. Like they play Assassin on board a ship before its commissioned.

Lisa pointed out the importance of using something you are familiar with as a jumping off point.

Finally they all agree that the world serves the story, it should help push your story along and that logic within your story matters and that you should always follow your own logic. Finally don’t overcomplicate the world you build.

Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

Posted in new releases

Summer Book Releases: Mental Health, Family, and Grief

Summer is coming and giving us some great new books, lots on mental health which I think anyone who has read the blog for more than a second knows I’m happy about. If this is your first post, I love the discussion of mental health in mental grade fiction. (Covered!)

How to Become a Planet

How to Become a Planet by [Nicole Melleby]

For Pluto, summer has always started with a trip to the planetarium. It’s the launch to her favorite season, which also includes visits to the boardwalk arcade, working in her mom’s pizzeria, and her best friend Meredith’s birthday party. But this summer, none of that feels possible.
 
A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything.
 
Pluto can’t explain to her mom why she can’t do the things she used to love. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city—where he believes his money, in particular, could help—that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again.
 
She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

Amazon: How to Become a Planet

No One Returns From the Enchanted Forest

They say no one returns from the Enchanted Forest―but that won’t discourage Pella. Earthquakes are destroying her village, and worst of all, they’ve caused the Midsummer Festival to be canceled. According to legend, the Earth Queen is to blame for these violent quakes―and the Earth Queen’s tower lies at the heart of the Enchanted Forest. Late one night, Pella sneaks away to find the Earth Queen and give her a piece of her mind. But she’s not afraid―she’s never afraid.

It’s Bix, Pella’s sister, who does the worrying for both of them. She’s the one, after all, who was tasked with keeping her sister safe after they lost their parents. But despite her fears and the very real dangers that lie ahead, Bix will do anything to protect her little sister―even walk into the Enchanted Forest with only a ball of yarn to guide them home.

They say no one returns from the Enchanted Forest. Will Bix and Pella be the first?

Amazon: No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest

Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea

Hazel Bly used to live in the perfect house with the perfect family in sunny California. But when a kayaking trip goes horribly wrong, Mum is suddenly gone forever and Hazel is left with crippling anxiety and a jagged scar on her face. After Mum’s death, Hazel, her other mother, Mama, and her little sister, Peach, needed a fresh start. So for the last two years, the Bly girls have lived all over the country, never settling anywhere for more than a few months.

When the family arrives in Rose Harbor, Maine, there’s a wildness to the small town that feels like magic. But when Mama runs into an old childhood friend—Claire—suddenly Hazel’s tight-knit world is infiltrated. To make it worse, she has a daughter Hazel’s age, Lemon, who can’t stop rambling on and on about the Rose Maid, a local 150-year-old mermaid myth.

Soon, Hazel finds herself just as obsessed with the Rose Maid as Lemon is—because what if magic were real? What if grief really could change you so much, you weren’t even yourself anymore? And what if instead you emerged from the darkness stronger than before?

Amazon: Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea

Posted in Weekly Wrap-ups

Writing, Reading and Cozy Grove

So I’d love to be here telling you I read a ton of books this week, but honestly, I haven’t I did get back to writing on my two main story ideas which I’d been meaning to do for months so I see it as a success.

Also, comment with your 80’s music favorites (before 85) it might be featured in the novel. I’m looking for cute and sweet, happy and romantic, and creepy and murdery music.

I think the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival did it, I love craft writing festivals and am really looking forward to see if there are more to attend over the summer. I’d love to addend Yallfest in person in the fall assuming they have it in person.

Now for why I haven’t been able to read as much, I changed my meds for pain but now that I’m not in pain the main time I’ve been reading is at night so I’ve been falling asleep. So now that I know not to worry about the pain meds. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get more reading done instead of just falling straight to sleep.

I’ve also been trying to read more during day, right now I’m reading Black Widow Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl and The One’s We’re Meant to Find By Joan He. I’m enjoying both for different reasons one is due to my absurd Marvel kick and the other I won and it seems serious and sweet.

Speaking of sweet I’ve been longing WAY too many hours in Cozy Grove. If someone had given me the pitch for the game I would have been like what? But it’s perfect, and sweet and I love the quest, it’s like Lumberjanes and Animal Crossing with bears and I don’t know. Any one else out there addicted.

Well that’s how my week is going see you throughout the week!

Solara

Photo by Nathan Lindahl on Unsplash

Posted in Reviews

Black Widow: Forever Red

So apparently I can’t get enough Marvel lately. Who else is excited about Loki? Because I know I am. Another thing I excited about for the long-overdue Black Widow movie. So to keep up with the fact that I need more Marvel I’ve been reading some of the spin-off books.

Black Widow: Forever Red (A Marvel YA Novel) by [Margaret Stohl]

Summary

The novel focuses on Black Widow’s past in the Red Room. Natasha Romanoff is there to finish off Ivan the man who caused her so many scars when he was running the Red Room. But when she comes to collect she finds Ivan with a new child running some kind of experiment. She manages to kill him or so she thinks and and send the girl to be raised by S.H.I.E.L.D. with the promise to come if the girl, Ava ever needs her.

Cut to eight years later and Ava has broken out of S.H.I.E.L.D protection and isn’t looking back, she’s also got a major chip on her shoulder about Black Widow, who promised to help her as a child but whom she hasn’t seen since. Not to mention the dreams she has of a boy she’s not sure is real, Alexei.

Alex Major is very much real and like Ava on the way to a fencing tournament in Philly. Where they will run head to head into each other, Black Widow and danger.

Before things are over they will run into Avengers and adventure and all of their pasts, and everything is not as it seems.

Review

This was action packed and easily believable as part of the Marvel Universe. I’m reading the sequel now so that should be up soonish too. I especially like Ava as a counter to Natasha, one because seeing Natasha annoyed by teens and people who are like her is its own degree of amusing. Two because Ava is a well written character she may be like Natasha but she’s different and I really like her personality. I also like some of the memories that certain people share when they get their memory back even if it’s bittersweet.

Amazon: Black Widow: Forever Red

Posted in Book Festivals

Unlikely Heroes

This past Saturday I spent my day at the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. This was one of the first panels I attended. The topic was of the panel was Unlikely Heroes: the panelists were Morgan Baden, Rena Barron, and Clarie Legrand.

Morgan Baden is most famous for her Daphne and Velma books, Daphne and Velma: The Dark Deception; Daphne and Velma: Buried Secrets. Rena Barron is most famous for her Kingdom of Souls series for young adults.s and her Maya and the Rising Dark Series for middle grade. Claire Legrand is best known for her New York Times bestselling Empirium trilogy, which includes Furyborn and Lightbringer.

Moderator: Where do you what a hero should be like comes from?

Barron: Viewing habits growing up. and all superheroes can be deeply flawed and can be slowly better.

Moderator: Are you trying to write characters as heroes as you are writing them?

Legrand: I set out to write complex female protagonist if they happen to be a heroes it happens.

Barron: If the character is thinking they are a hero things are different. Heroes make rash choices because of family and country.

Moderator: Does every story have a hero?

Not sure who brought this up: Do hero and protagonist mean the same thing?

Claire Legrand: Every story has multiple heroes. The antagonists think they are the heroes. This is a good way to add empathy to the villain to show why they think they are the heroes.

The panel then got into the discussion on why some readers found certain characters unlikeable. The authors agreed that these characters were just complicated or messy characters. That the dislike was something deeper, they questioned why readers didn’t like them. They asked why we wanted to see an unlikeable character. That perhaps unlikeable characters are expressions of our own biasas.

They noted that you could write as many unlikeable characters as you want, just make sure your story has a counter

It was a very interesting panel about the inner workings of character and what to do when a book presents you with an unlikely situation.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash