Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, and hopefully hearing about what you’ve picked up off your shelf. So here goes!
First Sentence Read: “The fog came without warning, swift skeins of milk-white vapor curling across the Yorkshire countryside, ethereal init’s beauty.”
First Sentence Read: “Lady Taylor had bugs in her walls and not the kind that had jointed legs and crunchy bodies.”
I have been on a huge historical mystery jag and am trying to mix things up with the second novel in the sci-fi series by Jessie Mihalik. I hope it starts quickly because I’ve got my eye on another historical! Lol. Sometimes you just get in that mood for a certain genre, you know?
What kind of book are you in the mood to read today?
Most book bloggers started reading as children and have a huge catalog of books that are favorites, or struck a chord for a certain time in our lives. Have you ever gone back and re-read a novel that you just loved when you were younger but now you see all of it’s faults and frailties through eyes that have lived a little. Or you notice how women, ethnic people, or children may have been treated poorly even though at the time that book was written those things weren’t questioned? How does that affect what you think of that long loved book?
Recently, I read a post from another blogger who was talking about a much loved science fiction novel that she’d read over and over throughout her life but as time went on she realized, ‘wait a minute’ some of these things this author says in this novel just aren’t right! Does that mean I shouldn’t like this novel anymore? Do I overlook those things because it was acceptable at the time it was written? If I’m thinking these things does the author who wrote them cringe at their own words? Do they wish for a do-over? Is it acceptable to re-write a novel written ages ago to make it acceptable for today’s readers? I’m not talking Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, or Gone with the Wind- all books that have been re-hashed, re-printed, and gone over in schools ad nauseam. Also all books that have a few cringeworthy moments.
We live in an age where we try so hard to be politically correct. Bloggers focus on books where diverse characters are highlighted, explored, and celebrated. Would we like The Wizard of Oz more if the Lollipop Guild had been female gay rights activists and Dorothy was fighting for equal rights against the tyranny of a misogynistic Wizard? Hmm, maybe I’m onto something here!
How would readers feel if some of their favorite books were re-written? Would I still love that book? I really don’t know if I would. There’s something about an emotional connection to a book because it was read at the right time. Maybe when “that” book was written and popular it was that books moment to shine regardless of how I now feel about it 20 years later? If it was a piece of art and I was looking at the painting at age 12 and again at age 25 I wouldn’t have the same viewpoint. The same thing applies to a book. My life’s experiences no longer allow me to view it in the same way and I guess I’m ok with that.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite book that you’ve re-read and thought “well, wait, did she really just say that?”
If you read all the way through this post, thanks for listening to the thoughtful ramblings of a bookaholic.
The first two days at the Booklovers Con have come and gone and my good intentions to post pictures every day has fallen by the wayside because of my need for sleep. Sorry guys! However, today I’ll give you two days of pics to satisfy your book loving needs!
I’ve met some really great authors and taken a few pictures to share. The first night was the kick off party with a Jazz Fest theme, after all we are all in New Orleans! We paraded into the ballroom to a great jazz marching band.
There were authors stationed around the room and I bee-lined towards Christine Feehan to say hi and take her pic.
I’ll admit that I didn’t want to stand in line for food but there were food trucks galore and the band was fab. My sister and I ducked out to eat at a little Vietnamese place we spotted down the street. Yum!
Thursday was chock full of events. A Harlequin author signing and Indie author soirée were fun! Although the lines…not so much. Lol.
I really learned a lot from a workshop for bloggers and publishers and will endeavor to meet some new goals!
The evening wrapped up with a pretty amazing Fairy gala with a full dinner. The costumes and decorations were pretty spectacular!
My sister and I were VIP’s ( we won it in a lottery) and got to sit for dinner at a table with an author. I sat with the wonderful fantasy author C. L. Wilson and she sat with Amanda McIntyre. It was a great hour spent getting to know these authors.
At the end of the day I had a pretty good book haul! Not as much in the past and definitely a smaller amount of swag, but you know what? The experience has been so much better and more intimate!
I’ll try to get out one more post possibly Sunday from the airport! We are packing in the fun at the BLC19!
Spring is here, the flowers are blooming and even though today was 50° and I am wearing a sweater you can tell by the smiles on everyone’s faces that winter is over. Unless you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, then Winter is Coming. I couldn’t resist, sorry!
For those of us who celebrate this time of year for religious reasons, may you have a blessed holiday!
For those of us who are looking forward to seeing what kind of candy is in our Easter baskets… what number from the graphic below is your favorite Easter candy? Feel free to share your favorite from your own country if these aren’t familiar!
I am a Cadbury mini eggs gal myself!
May your Easter basket be filled with the blessings of your season, and chocolate! Happy Easter from the Reading Chick!
I am always on the lookout for articles on this month’s best of list in genre’s I love to read, aren’t you? It’s hard to not click the link to see if I’ve read any of the books on the list or to discover a book that hadn’t been on my radar but looks too irresistible to overlook.
I’ve liked the Bookish page on Facebook and will admit to getting lost in their articles, must read lists and book giveaways. Did you know Friday March 8th was International Women’s Day? A day to celebrate women, a group I am proud to be one of, and I didn’t even know about it! I think women should always be celebrated but I guess I’m biased. Bookish created this very cool, empowered graphic to honor literary bookish women. I wanted to share it with all of my fellow book bloggers.
I may be a few days late, but as I said above, women should be celebrated every day! Happy International Women’s Day!
I know, it’s already almost mid February and I’m a little late with my wrap up post. 2018 finished with me sick as a dog and 2019 began with that same damn cold. So, after finally being healthy for a few weeks I’m just getting back into my regular posting. Thank goodness for scheduling a few out in advance! So, here I am ready to talk about what happened on my blog in January. First Up!
Great January Reads!
Ache for You (Slow Burn #3) by J. T. Geissinger
‘This is a very sexy slow burn novel. Kimber and Matteo’s chemistry is off the charts but because they are adversaries it’s set on a slow simmer through most of the book. I’ll admit that I love slow burn stories and love the engagement of the characters leading up to the big moment usually more than that big sex scene. Although in this book, that also was pretty great. ‘
Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
‘I love YA action novels and Song of the Current hit the right note for me. It did start off a little slow but that was to be expected as the characters and world building needed explanation. As soon as she pushed off down the river and opened that crate the story took off and the adventure began. ‘
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
‘I love a fast moving plot and Ignite the Stars was quick, emotional, and fun. It’s hard to believe this was Maura Milan’s debut novel. It seemed like every character had their own hidden battle they were fighting. I’ll admit that Brinn was probably my favorite character, but Ia was a close second. They were both underdogs, and I do like to root for the underdog. ‘
What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd
‘What Doesn’t Kill Her was even better than Dead Girl Running, and I loved that novel! There was some great dialog between Rae and Kellen that provided comic relief to what would’ve been a non stop action novel. Those moments of warmth between mother and daughter allowed the reader to build a deeper connection with Kellen, and I cared even more when she and Max reunited as a couple. ‘
Blogger to Blogger Series
We met a couple of great book bloggers on my Blogger to Blogger series last month. If you didn’t have a chance to hear how they answered my 10 questions please click the link below.
Even though I was under the weather for the first couple of weeks of January, I did try to rebound with a couple of posts on my Sunday series.
I think I missed the mark with the first as I was trying to get my fellow bloggers to tell me what question they were dying to ask J. K. Rowling. I only got a couple of responses. Maybe not that interesting? Who knows! If you want to take another shot at it, please click on the link below.
Who are we kidding, eliminate it? Nah! However, there are a few book that I’m hoping to read in February. Let me tell you about a couple!
Circle of the Moon (Soulwood #4) by Faith Hunter
Synopsis: Nell can draw magic from the land around her, and lately she’s been using it to help the Psy-Law Enforcement Division, which solves paranormal crimes. Joining the team at PsyLED has allowed her to learn more about her powers and the world she always shunned–and to find true friends.
Head agent Rick LaFleur shifts into a panther when the moon calls him, but this time, something has gone wrong. Rick calls Nell from a riverbank–he’s naked, with no memory of how he came to be there, and there’s a dead black cat, sacrificed in a witch circle and killed by black magic, lying next to him.
Then more animals turn up dead, and team rushes to investigate. A blood-witch is out to kill. But when it seems as if their leader is involved in the crime, the bonds that hold the team together could shatter at any moment.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.
But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
Oh gosh, there are so many more!
What books are you looking forward to reading this month?
Book Bloggers are an opinionated lot. When we find a trend in fiction that we love we talk about it to death until one day that love turns into dissatisfaction, the tide turns, and we start talking about how much we hate that trope. I guess that’s human nature but well, I hate it. Just because the newness has worn off doesn’t mean we should get rid of it. There are still many things to love!
THE LOVE TRIANGLE-
I’m not sure why this trope has become unpopular? There is nothing better than the exploration of a character seen through two people’s eyes. One of my favorite examples of this is….
This series is a favorite for so many people, yet it started out as a love triangle. Through Tamlin’s eyes we saw Feyre’s weaknesses and her fight to overcome them. Through Rhys’ eyes we saw her strength. Yes, Tamlin didn’t treat her very well, but without that plot point would we like Rhys as much as we do? Would we like them together? In fact, wouldn’t it be interesting if Tamlin overcame his ways and fought to recapture Feyre’s love? I’d almost like to see a return of the love triangle. It might bring a spark back into this now overwrought love story.
THE FAIRYTALE RE-TELLING
I’ll be the first to say that I am overwhelmed by the number of fairy-tale re-telling novels that were re-leased over the last couple of years. Some were not so good, but when one is written well, the fairy-tale re-telling is so much fun! I read quite a few last year but these two stood out because they were different.
The Wrath & The Dawn is a re-telling of Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights. The prince marries and kills his princess every night until he marries Scheherazade and she keeps him up all night telling a story with a cliff hanger that keeps him coming back. The Wrath and the Dawn’s Shazi marries the prince for revenge, but falls in love. It’s full of intrigue, romance, and Renee Ahdieh’s beautiful prose.
Hunted is a re-telling of probably the most re-told story, Beauty and the Beast. What makes Meagan Spooner’s rendition different is that she mixes Russian folklore into the main story of Beauty and the Beast. It is beautifully told and Yeva is a strong heroine. Interestingly enough, both Yeva and Shazi from the Wrath and the Dawn, survive by telling stories, so maybe there is a touch of Scheherazade in Yeva as well!
Not to speak ill of fairy-tale re-tellings, but I have read plenty that did NOT hit the mark. But as with all novels, they are subjective and I’ve read plenty of reviews for those books I didn’t really care for where those readers were overjoyed with the outcome. That’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it?
THE HISTORICAL RE-TELLING
My discovery of this trend is pretty new and so far I am loving it. Admittedly, I know enough about history to think, ‘hmmm, this sounds familiar’ and then look it up. Wikipedia has become my best friend! I have just read two YA novels back to back that followed this trope that were done really well. My reviews are scheduled to post soon, but here’s a brief note on both.
The Dead Queen’s Club is the story of King Henry the VIII and his six wives, in a high school contemporary setting. Henry is a charismatic young man, popular, and has a steady stream of girlfriends. Two of whom are dead. Cleves, our protagonist, is his best friend and also one of his exes, who is determined to figure out who was responsible for his girlfriends deaths. Her voice is snarky and there are plenty of past and present cultural and historical references. It was a roller coaster ride and I really enjoyed my emotion sickness.
Set in Elizabethan England our heroine is a Catholic whose father was killed for his faith. Wanting revenge, she joins a treasonous plot to kill the queen. Little does she know, that play (written by Shakespeare -‘Twelfth Night’) was a plot to capture the assasin’s. I loved the historical references, the treasonous plot, and of course, Shakespeare.
HEROINE WITH POWERS THAT SAVE THE WORLD
Admittedly, this trope is usually found in YA fantasy novels, although I’d love to see a contemporary heroine have super powers and save the world. That could be a great twist! Admittedly, I have a soft spot for fantasy novels, and LOVE to root for the underdog. So, while many of you hate to love our heroine’s that save the world, if done well I find myself believing and rooting for them almost EVERY time. I’m a softy, I know! Here are a couple that struck the right chord.
Our heroine Britta is a Channeler and has developing magical powers. Through this two book series (well, there is a third but it’s unrelated to these main characters) we see Britta go from fearful of being discovered a Channeler, to solving the mystery of what happened to her father, finding her best friend and crush and absolving him of the crime, to saving the king. She doesn’t save the world, but through her actions she brings Channelers out in to the open, ending their persecution in her country. Oh! I should mention that these two books also use the Love triangle trope. It’s kind of minor, but does add some tension into Britta and Cohen’s relationship that was probably needed. That sub-plot would’ve been as dull as dishwater otherwise!
There are any number of other YA novels that use this trope, and actually combines the Love Triangle and Heroine with Super Powers tropes to success. The other one that jumps out at me is the following…
Yes, the Red Queen. Every book blogger who has read this series has an opinion. BUT, this first novel was very well done. A political thriller that pits those with common “red” blood against the elite, those with “silver” blood. Our heroine, red blooded Mare (God, I hate that name!), has the powers of a silver blood. She becomes the face of an uprising, the fixation of an evil King, and the lover of a fallen hero. This series has it’s ups and downs, but as a whole, Victoria Aveyard writes a spirited political thriller with a heroine that always sacrifices herself for the greater good. I haven’t yet read the last novel because King’s Cage kind of pissed me off, but it is overall a good series. Oh and I love Maven. You gotta love an evil Prince/King.
There are so many other YA trends and tropes that we book bloggers just love to love and love to hate. It depends on our mood, how many we’ve read in a row, and as always if the character and plot draw us in. In my opinion we shouldn’t be too quick to write off a book just because the trope has been overdone. There are still some GREAT books out there that we don’t want to miss, right?
What’s your favorite or most hated YA Trend or Trope? Or are you like me and secretly like them all? Let me know in the comments!
If you are a book blogger chances are you’ve read Harry Potter or if you aren’t a fan of YA Fantasy, maybe you are a fan of her pseudonym Robert Galbraith and his Cormoran Strike series. I have not read The Casual Vacancy but I know there have been many discussions on the strength of that novel and where it fits on her catalog of books.
We all have an opinion! Is Harry Potter the greatest thing since sliced bread? What house would you be in if you were enrolled in Hogwarts? Will Cormoran and Robin EVER get together? Those are all natural questions as fans of her fiction and there are no greater fans than book bloggers, right?
With your permission, let’s imagine that we have an exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling….What would you ask??
In the comments below list ONE question that you have always been dying to ask J.K Rowling. Come on, I know you have ONE?
Here’s mine: Ms. Rowling, as you conquer each genre you choose to write in, how do you come up with your next challenge?
Hi Teri, congratulations on the release of your debut novel Girl at the Grave. It is being released as a Gothic YA Mystery. Would you please give a little bit of insight over what inspired you to write Valentine’s story?
I’m a very visual person (I grew up in a family of artists), so for me a story usually starts as an image in my mind. This story started as the image of a little girl in the 1800’s, with wild curls and dirty feet, looking through a schoolhouse window. The teacher tries to draw her inside, but she runs away. I wondered why that little girl feels like an outcast and decided her mother was hanged for murdering a prominent man. And suddenly I was writing a murder mystery, which excited me because I love mysteries.
My first draft of GIRL AT THE GRAVE was quite different than the final printed story. The first quarter of the book was Valentine’s childhood (seeing her mother hanged, then learning to fend for herself), then the story jumped to her teen years, with some romance and new murders in town. I sent out queries to agents, and one asked for a revision and resubmit, with a suggestion to make it either a full children’s story or a full YA story. Which seemed so obvious, suddenly. I spent about six months completely rewriting it as YA, cutting the childhood chapters and changing the teen story quite a bit. The story continued changing as I went through revisions with my editor. But, at its core, it remains the story of that little girl and how she overcomes the shame of having a mother who murdered someone and facing her own mistakes.
There were a ton of mysterious elements in Girl at the Grave, but one that stood out to me was the house she lived in. It was an old partially burned down estate yet you imbued the rooms with a rather gloomy life so that it almost became another character. Did you have a real life setting that you based this house on? Or as some authors do did you create a picture board of houses for inspiration?
When I write, I always have a clear picture of the setting in my head and have fun putting it into words. But I don’t want the descriptions longwinded. My goal is to create a rich atmosphere in as few words as possible, mingling descriptions with action and dialogue. Honestly, creating a setting is the fun, easy part of writing for me. I have other challenges, but thinking up settings and characters brings me joy.
I didn’t base the Barron estate on anything except my own imagination—no picture boards or anything. In the first draft, the main house was fully burned and uninhabitable, and Valentine and her father lived in a small carriage house on the property. But I had to keep inventing reasons for her to wander out to the burned ruins—and then it came to me—she should be living in that creepy house! So much more fun.
When I read Girl at the Grave I was surprised that adults played such a large role in the novel. Did you ever discuss tweaking the novel so that it became more YA than General Fiction? It could so easily have been labeled a Gothic Mystery novel with a young woman in her early 20’s.
I love YA—both reading it and writing it, even watching it in movies. It’s such a pivotal point in life, where everything seems more intense and hopeful and scary, when choices are made and life turns one direction or another. My initial idea for GIRL AT THE GRAVE included much of Valentine’s childhood, from age 5 through her grammar school years, then jumped to her teen years. So, for me, it was always a coming-of-age story. I eventually cut the childhood chapters and focused on the teen years, making it purely YA, but I never saw it as an adult story.
Let’s discuss the love triangle. YA readers either love them or hate them. As you wrote the novel, how many times did you change your mind about who Valentine would choose, Sam or Rowan? Is there anything you wish you had done differently with those relationships?
Ha! (I’m going to try to answer this without spoilers.) This was the biggest surprise for me after the book was published—that people see it as a love triangle. I honestly didn’t see it that way as I wrote. For me, it was very clear from Chapter 1 which boy she wants—which boy will be The One—and the story is how she gets from point A to point B. She doesn’t feel worthy of him because of social standing and a past mistake, so she thinks she has to settle for a more reasonable choice. But I thought it was pretty clear that she doesn’t really want that other choice. Valentine redeems herself and then DOES feel worthy of the boy she loves—and makes a surprising choice. So, yeah, two boys in her life, but for me it was more of a line with a little swerve as the story hits a crisis point, not a triangle. But—oh my! People have strong feelings about love triangles. Hopefully, as one reviewer wrote: “This is one love triangle that actually doesn’t suck.” I’ll take it!
As Valentine unraveled the mystery there were so many twists and turns my mind changed frequently over the outcome and I was completely surprised in the end. What is your process for keeping it all straight?
The quick answer to your question is—I keep it straight in my head. I do make feeble attempts to outline, but I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer by nature, making it up as I go. For me, the joy is being creative, wandering one direction, then another, exploring the possibilities. As soon as I map out exactly what should happen, I change it. Since GIRL AT THE GRAVE was written without a book deal or deadline, it evolved slowly. I remember making a few noble attempts to map out every detail, but I never followed those notes.
However, that said, with my current manuscript I DO have an agent, editor, book deal, and deadline, so I did outline ahead of time so I can write faster. I tried Post-it notes and didn’t like it; moving one note led to unsticking and re-sticking a dozen more. Then I tried index cards, which are easier to slide around on the rug, but I didn’t love that method either. What IS working for me is writing rambling thoughts in a notebook that I never read again. That loose, sloppy handwriting helps my brain think through the story. THEN I type up a pretty outline. THEN I write ten chapters, allowing myself to wander in unexpected directions. When the story has detoured (and I know the detour is the right choice), I stop typing and go back to the sloppy notebook so I can think through the details—then I type a new, organized outline—then I go back to writing the manuscript. Rinse and repeat. It has been a nice mix of outlining and exploring.
Did you always know who the murderer was or did you change your mind as you wrote the novel?
I knew who the murderer was from the beginning. Hm, this question makes me realize for the first time that most of the mystery never changed at all—not the reasons for the murders or the way they were done. What DID change were the characters. Valentine’s personality changed quite a bit. And in the first draft, which included a lot of her childhood, Sam was a mean bully, not a friend. I added more characters, like Birdy, and reduced others who didn’t add to the story. But the murder mystery remained as first imagined.
Teri, thanks again for answering my questions! My last question is about your next project. Are you working on your next novel and if so, can you tell us anything about it? Genre? Release date?
Whelp, I keep missing deadlines, haha, but the plan is to send this manuscript to my editor at the end of January 2019, and it will be published in 2020. It’s a Young Adult murder mystery, but quite different from GIRL AT THE GRAVE. Lots of atmosphere, because I love that, but a different era, different place, different tone. It’s actually been a delight to write. I adore the characters and setting and can’t wait to share it with the world. More details coming soon—title, synopsis, cover. People can follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter on my website to get the announcements as they’re made (user name TeriBaileyBlack).
Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in Southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.