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Dungeon’s and Dragon’s Book List-Rangers

Fighters learn the basics of all combat styles. They must be at home with most weapons and some magic. They must also be adept with using shields and every form of armor. Beyond that some fighters specialize in a specific style of combat. Not all soliders are fighters something draws them to the lifestyle of being a fighter. For this post I’m going to showcase traditional fighters as well as characters who are protective of their friends in tough situations.

Tami from the The Flower of the Witch

The Flower of the Witch by [Enrico Orlandi, Jamie Richards]

Tami has traveled long and far from his home in the south, forbidden to return until he has become a man, in this coming-of-age story.

Defeating monsters and saving princesses has not been enough, and now he must find the fabled flower of the witch, but in his quest Tami inadvertently sparks a feud between the villagers who shelter him and the demon Yabra! And when the conflict comes to a head, Tami will have to choose between proving himself as a man, and protecting the villagers he’s come to love.

Available for the first time in English, Enrico Orlandi’s exciting tale of adventure and compassion is a timely reflection on identity, responsibility, and the true meaning of maturity.

Amazon;The Flower of the Witch

Talin

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left . . . with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

Amazon: Skyhunter

Erik and Hesekiel

Though Aedhan also plays a role in protecting the village it’s really Erik and Heskiel who fit the trope, going from town to town finding strange things and investiaging mysteries.

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

Posted in Author Recommendations, Yallfest

Worlds from Words, the Art (and Science?) of Worldbuilding

This was a great panel and one of the more useful ones for me. The panel was moderated by Veronica Roth who is most famous for her Divergent series, Jennifer L Armentrout, who is famous for her Lux Series along with many other paranormal romances. Traci Chee, who is famous for her The Reader series. Somaiya Daud who is famous for her Mirage series. Jordan Ifueko who is famous for her breakout hit Raybearer and Samantha Shannon who is famous for her The Bone Season series.

When asked how much research they do Traci Chee noted she did the least work possible for her fantasy books such as the Reader. But that she was more detailed and exact with her books like We are Not Free, because she was dealing with real people’s lives and experiences.

Jordan Ifueko said she started with myths and lore because that informs who a culture is. She notes that she starts with mythology she finds it easier to find out how characters would react once you know what they believe.

Somaiya Daud, says she likes to get into the weeds of history on Scrivener, she says she likes to save her worldbuilding knowing she isn’t going to use it in the story. She pointed out she had a two thousand year time line where only two events appear in the story and that she’s big on historiography. She said she had an inner Toliken in her head.

Jordan Ifueko talked about how Raybearer was coded as real world cultures, but where the power struggles didn’t come from issues of European colonization like they did in the ‘real’ world.

Somaiya Doud also talked about how she based a lot of her stuff is how folktales are told in Morocco. vs how North African women actually are. She talked about having familiar cultural markers then making up stuff around it so people from that culture see the familiar marker in story. Doud also talked about adding information the same way Dragon Age does via like a codex system.

The whole panel agreed that the one religion fantasy trope was unbelievable. Because the one thing people fight about in the real world more than anything is religion. So it would totally happen in a fantasy world.

Image by ejaugsburg from Pixabay

Posted in Author Recommendations, Yallfest

Dark Stories Shine Bright

This panel was great moderated by Marie Lu most famous for her LEGEND series with Kalynn Bayron, who is famous for her book Cinderella is Dead. Z Brewer who is famous for their newest book Into the Real, Jay Kristoff who is know for many projects such as the The Illuminae Files he worked on with Amie Kaufman, finally Adam Sass we had famous for Surrender Your Sons.

Marie Lu asked about what they were currently working on,

Z Brewer is apparently doing some video game type stuff at the moment which sounded super interesting.

Adam Sass is working on a rom-com and a story on teen fugitives.

Kalynn Bayron is working on an MG paranormal project.

They all agreed that dark stories were a good place to work through your own issues or larger issues like the patriarchy.

They had some thoughts on how to build a villain. The panel noted that you should be able to see the story from the villain point of view. Think about villainy itself, why are women always the villains. Also think about morally grey characters. Are there villains’ who are being evil for evil’s sake?

Heros in dark stories deserve agency and demand to be respected, survival in a dark story is not enough.

Z Brewer or Adam Sass said queer people often process trauma through humor which I thought was just an interesting note from the panel.

When writing dark stories you need to remind yourself your characters will have some kick ass scenes beating the villains’ at the end even if they are in a dark place at the moment.

Z Brewer also noted that self care during/after writing the book was important.

Kalynn Bayron pointed out the importance of thearpy.

Finally when asked about the MG/YA line for dark stories, the authors agreed that for MG it can’t feel as personal, there needs to be some sort of shield mechanism either through point of view or the way the story is framed. They all agreed that MG can have the same themes just make them more I hate to say softer but assessable.

Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

Posted in Author Recommendations, Yallfest

How to Plan a Series

Moderated again by the wonderful Brendan Reichs. This panel was filled with some big names such as Stephanie Garber who is most famous for her Caraval series. Marie Lu who is famous for her LEGEND series, though I’m currently enjoying her Skyhunter series as well. There was Tochi Onyebuchi is famous for his War Girls duology. Finally we had Garth Nix, a fantasy name whose been working for years and basically has too much work to pick from, but is probably most famous for things like Sabriel.

The panelists were talking about how subconsciously they will know its series even if they don’t know consciously yet.

Onyebuchi talked about how if he still had really cool content that didn’t fit into book one that meant that there needed to be a book two.

Reichs asked them how they kept track of details.

Garber said she kept notes.

Onyebuchi praised the features of Scrivener when when writing characters and linking all character details

And Marie Lu pointed out she never reread her old stuff, which became an issue sometimes when she was writing books related to her universe she created. She also asked the others if they ever had a character who just wouldn’t go away, she pointed out Thomas from Legend as one who was supposed to be a throwaway character.

Garber talked about a character she wrote for book to for the Caraval series who ended up taking over the book, and how she ended up having to pull back and make him a minor character.

Garber asked the other panelists if they ever cheated with their work, ie. brought someone back who should by their universes rules be dead, mess with details a bit?

Lu said she tried to keep it solid eariler in the series but felt like it was okay to mess with it later in the series.

Onyebuchi compared it to Marvel ret-con and didn’t see a problem with it.

Someone I don’t remember who, said to avoid the sagging middle you beat the characters up in the middle.

Lu also said readers expect different things from different books in the series, with the first book, they want a fun fast read, with the 2nd they want more of the characters and more emotional arcs, and with the 3rd they wand a resolution.

Reichs asked about how do you deal with the fanbase hating your ending, the consensus was that you can only make yourself happy. You can’t make all your fans happy no matter what you write and that you can only hate something that you love.

Finally some last advice on writing a series was to put breadcrumbs you can follow if you want to revisit the book, nothing huge the fans would see but enough you can pick up on and link another book off of. Marie Lu also suggested something called an ID pass where you put as many of your favorite tropes that make you happy in the book and do a pass looking to see where you can fit those. The main idea of the panel seemed to be put everything you love into the book or books that you are writing.

Posted in Blogtober, Reviews

Stritch Scratch

Stritch Scratch

So I really haven’t been scared by a book since Katherine Arden’s work last year, Scritch Scratch was scary, and then extra scary and sad once you found out the twist. Lindsay Currie did a great job with her historical research mixing that with middle school drama, and all the while making a believable yet tough to solve ghost story so props to her.

Summary

Claire’s father does ghost tours of Chicago, and she wants absolutly nothing to do with them. She’s a scientist and the stuff her dad talks about is just paranormal foolishness, right?

But one night she gets stuck helping her dad with a tour and some of the stuff he’s talking about starts to seem a little too real, she’s ready for the tour to be over and she thinks she’s made it through especially when she see a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the busy, there is something off about him, especially since at the end of the tour, he’s just gone.

Claire tries to think nothing of it at first, she must be imagining things, letting ghost stories she heard on the tour get the best of her, but then the scratching starts, then the whispers in the dark, the number 396 appearing everywhere she turns, and the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire realizes she’s being haunted and she’s got to find out what the boy from the bus wants before it’s too late.

Review

This novel was scary for several reasons, one because Currie didn’t fall into the trap that horror authors often fall into of revealing the ghost/monster/scary thing too soon. She did a great job at hinting at it, and the main characters could feel the effects of its presence which made it all the more creepy. It had the lead character doubting herself, which is great in horror because then you’re not sure whether to believe in the ghost or not either.

Even when the characters as a group are pretty sure the ghost is real, it stays mysterious enough that its mystery isn’t easy to solve, keeping the readers guessing till the very end. I also have to shout out all the historical research Currie did for the book to make it history meld with fiction. A+ on that front.

Amazon: Stritch Scratch


Posted in Author Recommendations, Blogtober, Recommendations

Best Creepy MG Reads

So it’s basically Halloween in my mind. I mean I love Pumpkins, fall and everything October, so I’m so happy the spooky season is here. I’m fairly hard to creep out but I love books that go for mystery not gore, that’s why I tend towards more MG here are some of my favorite picks.

1) City of Ghosts

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41xU0no0bYL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

This first book in Schwab’s Cassidy Blake Series all of the books are creepy I just found this book more creepy than the second one, the third and final book of the series comes out in April 2021 and I literally cannot wait that long.

Plot

Cassidy is just looking forward to a vacation at the beach. She needs a break from the ghosts that demand her attention both around her city and at school. Her break with her family is blissfully free of ghosts, except for her best friend, Jacob, who happens to be corporally challenged.

See Cassie almost died (did die but she doesn’t like to think about) about a year ago. Since then she’s been able to see ghosts. Another side effect of her almost dying, she and Jacob seem to be tangled up. She’s the only one who can see him, and he can read her mind. It works better than one would expect, they’ve set up a series of rules that govern their friendship. After all, being friends with a ghost needs some ground rules.

Yet another side effect of her almost dying Cassidy has been able to pass through something she calls The Veil, which separates the world of the living from the dead. She goes to the world of the dead to take pictures and find out if ghosts stories are true.

But her connection with The Veil and with Jacob are about to get a lot more complicated. Instead of her vacation to the beach, her parents let her know they going to be traveling to Edinburgh, Scottland to film their new TV show called The Inspecters. Cassidy’s parents are ghost hunters who can’t actually see ghosts but have written books on some of the world’s most haunted places.

Cassidy is apprehensive about going to Scotland, after all, which its rich and often violent history, she knows the city will be full of ghosts like she’s never seen before. But Cassidy doesn’t know how much of a surprise she’s in for when they arrive in Edinburgh and Cassidy meets a girl who like herself can cross through The Veil.

However Cassidy doesn’t just attract the attention of this new girl, now that she’s in Edinburgh, she’s caught the attention of one of the cities’ most powerful ghosts. Cassidy must face this ghost and win because she doesn’t realize until it is too late what the ghost really wants from her: her life.

Amazon: City of Ghosts

2) Small Spaces

Truly terrifying and delightful, I’m looking forward to re-reading it again soon. Probably some of the best mystery and scares I’ve seen done in middle grade that I’ve read.

Plot:

Ollie is reeling over losing someone in her family the year before, she wants to shut everyone out. She doesn’t even want to take part in things she used to love. They remind her too much of the person she lost. But soon she’ll find herself becoming part of a mystery after she finds a woman about to throw away a book by a river.

Ollie saves the book and starts reading it, forgetting her grief for a moment as she gets caught up in the story of a woman named Beth, two missing brothers and the mysterious ‘smiling man’.

Things get even weirder as Ollie goes on a class trip and discovers that the story in her book might be real. She finds the graves of the people she’s been reading about in the book. When the school bus she and her class are riding on breaks down, she wonders if the ‘smiling man’ might be real as well. Especially when her watch that has previously been broken starts a countdown to nightfall and flashes the word RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates Coco and Brian decide to take the warning seriously, getting off the bus and heading into the woods, with a field of scarecrows watch them from the farm. The scarecrows aren’t what they seem, and neither is the farm, leaving Ollie, Coco, and Brian in for a night of terror as they try and solve the mystery of ‘the smiling man’ and Ollie’s book while making it out alive.

Amazon: Small Spaces

3) Stritch Scratch

So I really haven’t been scared by a book since Katherine Arden’s work last year, Scritch Scratch was scary, and then extra scary and sad once you found out the twist. Lindsay Currie did a great job with her historical research mixing that with middle school drama, and all the while making a believable yet tough to solve ghost story so props to her.

Plot:

Claire’s father does ghost tours of Chicago, and she wants absolutly nothing to do with them. She’s a scientist and the stuff her dad talks about is just paranormal foolishness, right?

But one night she gets stuck helping her dad with a tour and some of the stuff he’s talking about starts to seem a little too real, she’s ready for the tour to be over and she thinks she’s made it through especially when she see a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the busy, there is something off about him, especially since at the end of the tour, he’s just gone.

Claire tries to think nothing of it at first, she must be imagining things, letting ghost stories she heard on the tour get the best of her, but then the scratching starts, then the whispers in the dark, the number 396 appearing everywhere she turns, and the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire realizes she’s being haunted and she’s got to find out what the boy from the bus wants before it’s too late.

Amazon: Stritch Scratch

4) Frozen: Forest of Shadows

I love Frozen everything and when COVID is over I want to get a Frozen tattoo, so when I heard this book was coming out I was happy I didn’t expect it to be creepy though however it takes some mysteries left unsolved by the movies and brings them forward in very intriguing and spooky ways.

Plot:

Elsa has established herself as queen and is about to go on her first royal journey to several neighboring kingdoms. But as Elsa seems to be feeling like the perfect queen Anna feels like Elsa doesn’t need her.

Anna has been trying to find a way to convince Elsa to take her on the royal journey. But every time she tries to ask something comes up, and just when she seems to find the perfect time to ask, a mysterious illness strikes the kingdom, forcing all of Elsa attention to the sick animals and worried villagers.

When Anna finds a mysterious hidden room filled with magic spell books that she and Elsa’s mother collected and translated along with other mysterious old artifacts, Anna thinks she may have found the answer to the illness in a magic spell. A magic spell that is supposed to make your dreams come true.

The spell, however, ends up turning a nightmare into reality and causes more trouble than Anna could have ever imagined.

Filled with myth and all sorts of cool new creatures and people, this book is a great link between Frozen and Frozen 2. I also especially love how much it focuses on emotion and how our emotions can change our perception of reality.

Amazon: Frozen II: Forest of Shadows

5)Dead Voices

I’d almost say this novel is creepier than the first because of the villains, they both are scary however I find this one more personally terrifying.

Plot:

Having survived possessed scarecrows in October, along with beating the evil ‘Smiling Man’ Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready for a quiet winter break with Ollie and Coco’s parents at a newly opened ski resort Mount Hemlock Lodge.

But things start off weird, Coco sees what she thinks is a ghost on the road during their drive up the mountain and this shakes her up. But she’s not the only one, on their first night there Ollie starts having dreams of a strange frostbitten girl who is looking for her bones.

But when a snowstorm traps them in the lodge, they try to make the best of it, setting up board games and roasting smores, only to be interrupted by a ghost hunter, Mr. Voland, who claims the lodge has a sinister history.

Despite the owner’s denial of the possible ghosts, Ollie is intrigued, especially when the ghost hunter claims he can help Ollie connect with her mother. Brian and Coco, aren’t so sure but they want to support their friend. When Mr. Voland helps them escape from a malevolent ghost, he starts to earn their trust.

However, the little girl in Ollie’s dream warns her not to ‘listen to the dead voices’ and her mother’s old watch, which helped the group escape from the ‘Smiling Man’ warns her to BEWARE. There are even more questions about who or what they should help and trust.

And when the propane and generators start acting up, and the kids realize things might not be as they seem and they are in for a long night of ghostly adventures. They are about to find out that while they didn’t give a second thought to the world behind the mist after they escaped the ‘Smiling Man’. The shadow world may not have forgotten about them.

Amazon: Dead Voices

Image by Mircea Ploscar from Pixabay

Posted in Princess Reads, Recommendations

Princess Reads: The Little Mermaid

Some of these are directly inspired some of them just remind me of the basic story, such as To Kill a Kingdom, which is sort of a reverse Little Mermaid situation.

Sea Witch

Sea Witch by [Sarah Henning]

Summary

A cross between Wicked meets the “The Little Mermaid” this is the captivating origin story of one of literatures most iconic villianiness.

After losing her best friend Anna, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing village. She’s had to hide her talent all the while mourning her loss and deeply feeling her guilt.

But when she meets a girl who looks almost identical to her lost friend and the two girls catch the eyes of two charming princes Evie feels like her life is finally turning around, and that she might have a chance at a happily ever after.

But magic isn’t always fair and her new friend can’t stay with her, or on land, without Evie’s help. When Evie uses the power of her magic to save her friends humanity and her princes heart. She discovers too late that some bargains aren’t worth the price.

Why I Picked It

Got to love a good villian orgin story

Amazon: Sea Witch

Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch 

Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch (Villains Book 3) by [Serena Valentino, Disney Storybook Art Team]

Summary

The third novel in Serena Valentino’s (Fairest of All, Beast Within) “VILLAINS” trilogy, featuring the story of the Little Mermaid from the perspective of the sea witch Ursula.

Why I Picked It

Same reason gotta love a good villain story.

Amazon: Poor Unfortunate Souls

Fathomless

Summary

Celia Reynolds thinks her power is pretty much useless. She’s the youngest in a set of triplets who can see the past present and future, being the youngest, Celia is stuck seeing the past. She thinks her power has no use until she meets Lo.

Celia doesn’t know who Lo is or more accurately who Lo was, once a human now almost completely a mermaid, a term too pretty for the soulless monster she’s becoming.

Lo is having a problem figuring out who she is or who was. Now almost entirely a mermaid she clings to the shards of her former self, even though she’s just as tempted to not fight being a mermaid even though it mean a dark sort of immortality.

When a boy named Jude falls off a pier into the ocean Celia and Lo work together to rescue him. Celia and Lo form a friendship with Jude but they soon find themselves competing for Jude’s affecting.

Lo realizes she needs something more if she’s to regain her humanity. She needs Jude to fall in love with her so she can steal his soul.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

Why I Picked It

If you include mermaids you have to include sirens. Plus Lo needs a mortal to fall in love with her like Ariel does.

Amazon:Fathomless

To Kill a Kingdom

Summary

Kind of a reverse Little Mermaid, Princess Lira is leathal siren royalty who hunts the hearts of princes. She’s revered across the sea. But when she’s forced to kill one of her own, her mother the Sea Queen, turns her into the thing she hates most, a human.

Now with her song taken away from her she must deliver deadly siren hunting Prince Elian’s heart to the sea queen by the winter solstice or remain a human forever.

Why I Chose It

The story just reminds me of a reverse little mermaid.

Amazon: To Kill A Kingdom

Atlantia

Atlantia by [Ally Condie]

Summary

Rio has always dreamed of leaving her artifical city of Atlantia behind, but when her twin sister makes a choice that strands her below, her future of seeing the world above is ripped away from her. Now with the last person who knew about her siren nature gone Rio embarks upon a dangerous path, after all she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by an unlikely mentor Rio formulates a plan that ends up with her asking questions about her mother’s death, her destiny, and the systems that divide the land and sea. But if she and her city are to survive she must find and speak the long hidden truths.

Why I Chose It

Again any story with mermaids ends up reminds me of sirens.

Amazon: Atlania

Pokémon for Little Mermaid.

Seek

I chose this Pokémon because seals were often confused for mermaids.

Brionne

I picked this Pokémon because one of its signature moves is dancing and Ariel wanted to be a human and dance.

Seadra

This little Pokémon reminded me of Flounder.

Tune in soon for our next Princess Reads

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Posted in Author Recommendations, Recommendations

International Women’s Day

I realize I’m a few days late on this one,  I have no excuse. However, I’m going to blame the time change here in the US. I’ve had a headache since Sunday, it’s been annoying.

I’m going to write about my four favorite authors, and while I do feature some white writers I feature some writers of color as well.

Of course, few writers of color are never enough and I’m going to be doing a series featuring more women of color authors and minority authors, over the next month or so. 

Shannon Messenger

Image result for shannon messenger author

If you haven’t noticed by the fifteen thousand reviews I’ve done of her books. Shannon Messenger is one of my favorite writers. Definitely my favorite middle-grade writer. She’s the author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, which is on its eighth book with more to come in the next two years. She is by far the author I’ve re-read the most.

Saadia Faruqi

Saadia Faruqi

Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. Her book Meet Yasmin!, the first book in an early reader series about a Pakistani-American girl. Meet Yasmin! is also my favorite picture book series because Yasmin is so genuine. I’ve only read the first book because that’s all my library has, but it was enough to make the series and the author a favorite.

Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine, Sept 2010

Gail Carson Levine is one of the big names in children’s literature. She’s inspired generations of writers with her feminist classics like Ella Enchanted and Fairest. She’s also still writing today with her upcoming book A Ceiling Made of Eggshells. One of my favorite classic writers. I love her stories, my favorite probably being Fairest or Ella Enchanted.

Hena Khan

Hena Khan

Hena Khan is a Pakistani American writer. She is the author of the middle-grade novels Amina’s Voice and More to the Story and picture books Golden Domes and Silver LanternsUnder My Hijab, and It’s Ramadan, Curious George. I love her middle-grade books and love how she brings her culture into her books.

I’m going to be featuring more Women of Color and Minority authors because even though there are some on this list one can never talk about underrepresented authors enough.

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels