Monday, December 11, 2017

Top Ten Books of 2017



Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish




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I can't believe I let myself wait TWO YEARS between reading the first book and this one.  The Girl of Fire and Thorns was one of my favourite books of 2015 - and for good reason.  It has racial diversity, landscape diversity (a non-Western based fantasy!), different body shapes, incredible world building, fantastic character development...I mean it has EVERYTHING I've been saying I want in fantasy!  So it's no surprise that this book was just as amazing.  





Tales from Shadowhunter Academy - Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

It was a tie between this and Lady Midnight, but this one tugged at my heartstrings more.  It seems that despite my contentious past with The Mortal Instruments series and my more or less disinterest with the Tessa Gray series, I have somehow managed to fall in love with the characters and world building so much I keep trying everything set in the world - and I'm glad I have. The Bane Chronicles, as well as the end of TMI series, and the start to this new series have all been highlights of my year over the past two years!




The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)

This series is my favourite discovery of the year. I binge read all thirteen books in something like two weeks.  It was AMAZING and started this whole crazy paranormal/urban fantasy phase I haven't come out of yet.  (In fact I'm planning a separate post on this later).  One of my favourite things about this series (and urban fantasy in general) is the diversity you find.  This series allows for characters to play around with the differences between physical love, romantic love, and platonic love - and a lot of that gets blurred and characters aren't put in specific boxes and I LOVE that!  Besides, of course, that this series is a ton of fun with solid world building and character development.  Out of the six urban fantasy series I've read so far (I have a ways to go!) this is hands down my favourite of the lot.




Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven


This was one of the first books I finished this year, and I knew even then that it was extremely unlikely I was going to read anything at all that would topple it from the #1 book I read all year.  I rarely have an actual favourite book of the year - I think the last time that happened it was in 2015 and I'd read Neal Shusterman's Unwind.  Not only was it unlikely that I was going to find a book I enjoyed more, it seems unlikely I'll find another book like it at all.  It's so hard to find words to describe this novel - it's such a quiet, introspective book.  It's...apocalyptic and post apocalyptic slice of life, which is not a combination I thought I'd ever find, and apparently I love it.  (I have read one manga that has a similar feel and subject matter, but no novels).  If you know of any other books like this, please recommend them!





Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Adichie

Purple Hibiscus

This is certainly a diverge from my general reading, but it was utterly absorbing.  Adichie was at the Baltimore Book Festival this year which is why I made an extra effort to make sure I didn't just get the book and have it linger on my shelf for years (which is what usually happens to anything that's not a fantasy novel).  Sadly I wasn't able to see her - the tent was absolutely PACKED, but I have hopes I'll get the chance to meet her again.  In the meantime, I know the book is a decade old by now but I can not recommend a non-fantasy based novel more.  It's set in Nigeria in the 1990s, when it was going through huge political strife.  In some ways it reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird - narrated through a child's eyes (although the main character is a teenager, she is a naive teenager so she feels young) which gives it multiple levels to navigate - personal, intimate and larger scale politics.




Simply Perfect (Simply Quartet #4) - Mary Balogh

Simply Perfect (Simply Quartet #4)


I love Mary Balogh's series - every novel I've read features a character with a disability (she has a whole series that focuses on soldiers back from the war) and at least from my perspective she's always treated every character with sensitivity.  It always feels like everything was researched, and it wasn't ever used to play up pity or used as a prop.  Now, as an able-bodied person I am obviously not an expert on the matter so I could be 100% completely wrong on this.  But beyond that, this story was just so well written and the FEELS are real.




Mercy Thompson Series - Patricia Briggs

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I've been meaning to get to this series for AGES. And man did I do that in a major way - I am fully caught up with the series (and I only started it last month).  A paranormal fantasy with a new set of world building rules I haven't seen yet, with a half-Native American main character, and a gay werewolf bff?  Sign me up!





Dead Beat (Harry Dresden #7)

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7)

Guys this book was SO FREAKING EPIC. I have complicated feelings on this series sometimes, but at the end of the day it's still completely addicting and this book took the series up to a whole other level.  I'm still not caught up - only up to book 10 so far, but it's my favourite of the whole series so far.  And can I just say James Marsters is an amazing narrator?





The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Angel's Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)

I didn't quite love this one as much as I loved The Shadow of the Wind, but it is always a treat to read Zafón's writing.  It's lush and the gothic feel is upped from the last novel.  It's my goal to be able to read this in the original Spanish, but in the meantime I'm looking forward to reading the last book in the series...in English.




The Silver Metal Lover (Silver Metal Lover, #1)

This is one of my favourite Tanith Lee novels to date.  I think it such a shame her books are almost entirely out of print.  This was one of her most famous works (possibly actually her most famous work?) so I think this one is still in print, so go get your hands on this!  Tanith Lee was one of the most underrated yet hugely influential authors in science fiction, fantasy, and especially in horror.  Her stories almost always feature nonconforming women - in all sorts of different ways. Sex, sexuality, power, gender - it's all there.





What were your top ten books of the year? Leave me a link below!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Five Books with Bisexual Characters

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)

Kushiel's Dart is probably one of my most recommended reads and one of the most mentioned series on this blog since I first discovered it in 2013.  There are so many reasons to love this book - its detailed world building, beautiful prose, balls-to-the-walls action (after the opening which is a slow build), but one of the things I love most about this is it's uncompromisingly sex positive and diverse characters.  (Can I also say that's it's the only high fantasy novel I've read that's completely sex positive? How is that so rare? I READ A CRAP TON OF FANTASY GUYS.)  Sex is actually an important part of the world building, which sounds weird (or trashy) I know, but I promise you it's not and it makes for some of the most interesting (and fun!) world building I've read.  The politics are intense - so if you like George R.R. Martin but wish there were less rape scenes, this is the book for you.  This book also has MORE THAN ONE BI CHARACTER.  Which I love - bi representation is both mostly nonexistent, or when it's not features a character who is evil and/or unfaithful.  Jacqueline Carey not only crafts these wonderfully flawed characters, by having more than one bi you get to see more than one representation.



Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1)

What? Did you think we were done with Jacqueline Carey? This series also features not only a bi main character, but more than one bisexual character. Can I reiterate how rare that is?  And this series shows just how talented Carey is as an author - it is completely different than her Kushiel series.  Where her Kushiel series is immense and dark, this series is significantly shorter and just plain fun.  Sadly I get the impression that maybe sales weren't doing so hot so she wrapped the story up really quickly in the third book, but if you're looking for something really fun I definitely recommend this!  (I would also like to add that all of her books have racially diverse characters too, and I think trans characters?)



The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare/Sarah Rees Brennan/Maureen Johnson

The Bane Chronicles

*squees* Oh Magnus my darling fantabulous character!!  Even if The Mortal Instruments was not up your alley (and it had some SERIOUS ups and downs for me) you MUST read these collection of short stories.  Besides the fact that SRB the Queen of Ripping Hearts Out and Stomping On Them was involved, Magnus is just one of the most delightful characters I've ever read.  This is ridiculously funny, and heart breakingly sad and ughhhh guys did I mention Magnus is basically the best?



The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

There's a reason that people were all over this ship well before it actually appeared on screen.  The chemistry between all of the main characters is so compelling, and Stiefvater has some of my favourite prose of all time.



Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)

Two years ago (maybe even a year ago?) I would never have picked up a series like this. I kind of sneered internally at paranormal fantasy (especially the sexy cover kind)...who even knows why. It would appear that any time I think I'm over a snob phase it turns that secretly I'm still harboring a few.  That being said, if you look at this list it's pretty clear what genre you are most likely to encounter a bisexual main character.  Paranormal fantasy wins that by a long shot.  Some of that may be because I don't read a lot of literary fiction or contemporary literature.  But it's no surprise that over the past year my reading of paranormal fiction has sky rocketed, as has my respect for the genre.  If you're looking for a series with some fantastic character development, racial diversity and well and some kick ass bisexual characters, this is the series for you.  Bonus?  They have multiple spectrums of sexuality - where someone might romantically love someone, but not physically attracted to the gender, and that is even more rare than finding a bisexual main character.


The only sad thing about this list?  I couldn't find more than 5 books with a bisexual main character.  So help me out - send me your recs!  (Bonus points if they're non-white or a dude, Magnus is my only character who fits either of those)

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Day in the Life #50 Elizabeth's Eventful Summer Part 2


Aaaand we're back!  ....a month later.  At least I'm being constant in my inconsistency?  Last post we talked about what was kind of a crazy summer -  a $2000 migraine, sprained ankle, and public nudity to start with.  Luckily the end of my summer was (mostly) better, namely because I got to go to Mexico City which has been a dream of mine since high school.

I mentioned last post that my grandmother originally had been planning on coming with us, but was unable to because her cancer came back.  The good news is she's currently getting treatment and it hasn't been making her sick.  As much as I wish she had been able to come on the trip, my cousin and I still had a great time!  It's pretty awesome her parents were chill enough to let her come with me (she's 15) since we were in a foreign country, but Claire is pretty level-headed and we had access to data (and therefore GPS) as I am NOTORIOUSLY bad with directions.

Our hotel was downtown near the Zócalo (which unfortunately was under construction)  so our first night we went straight to the hotel and then walked around the area to get an idea of the layout, and more importantly to eat tacos.  SO MANY TACOS GUYS.  Like more tacos than I even knew existed (sadly I've already forgotten most of the names).  And tacos are basically the most amazing thing ever so I was in heaven haha!  Basically this whole trip was actually eating, I just didn't take pictures of the food because I suck at that.  The best thing I had were the chile rellenos, which is somewhat ironic because I don't even like chile rellenos usually.  I will say that as freaking awesome as the tacos were, the best tacos are still the tacos al pastor we get on our camping trip.

View of the square (minus the construction) from the rooftop bar at Las Sirenas

 
The Zócalo is the main central square in Mexico City, and it's been around as a main gathering area since Aztec times.  This is also the center of the historic part of the city - so it's got all sorts of gorgeous architecture, and they actually recently discovered a whole bunch of buried ancient artifacts.  It's also got the Palacio Nacional where some of Diego Rivera's most famous murals are painted. I've always liked Kahlo's style of painting more, but when you actually see the mural in person instead of in a book it's really, really awe inspiring so I'm really glad we were able to see that.


This is just one panel of not even the entire wall, and it goes across two more walls. This wall is like the size of my apartment.



We arrived on a Friday, so we spent the weekend at Chapultepec park.  One of the best things about Mexico City is its transportation by the way - the metro is so easy to use, it's cheap, and convenient.  And if for whatever reason you can't use the metro, Uber is all over the city as well.  But back to my main point.  Chapultepec is pretty much the go to destination for families and couples on weekends (especially Sundays).  It's MASSIVE - it feels like it's triple the size of Central Park.  It's got all these roads for running or biking, lots of forest for couples to sneak out in (seriously I can not emphasize how many people I saw making out) It has the the Chapultepec Zoo, which is free except for special exhibits like the butterfly garden.  It's a pretty nice zoo - well, pretty nice is an understatement.  It's so massive that we spent basically all of Saturday at the zoo or wandering around outside to eat food.

It also has the Museum of Modern Art, so we went back on Sunday when pretty much all the museums are free (they're all free Sunday for Mexican citizens).  Modern art is mostly not up my alley, but it does have a permanent exhibit of prominent Mexican artists that is brilliant.  It has the famous Frida Kahlo painting that is double self portrait and she is cutting her heart out, and some gorgeous paintings of volcanoes (I believe by Dr. Atl), as well as paintings by Mexican artists throughout history.

 This is a fountain in the center of the National Anthropological Museum

Then we head to the big project of the day: the National Anthropological Museum.  THIS PLACE IS MASSIVE.  We spent hours and hours and hours there and still didn't see everything.   I had to sit down for a portion of it because I was still recovering from my sprained ankle two weeks prior.  (Remember that?) My cousin was in heaven - she wants to be an anthropologist.  It's seriously one of the most amazing museums I've been to in my life.  It's one of those times I'm reminded both that the US  didn't give a crap about preserving Native American history, and that most of what our Native Americans worked with was biodegradable.  Not the case with Mexican history (although, needless to say, it is a complicated one).  The museum was established in 1790, so it's already older than most (all?) of our museums.  It goes through all the civilizations - Olmecs, Aztecs, Toltec, etc. and most of those civilizations have intricate stonework and metalwork/jewelry, so you've got a huge variety work that are centuries old and it is seriously awe inspiring.  Even if you aren't into anthropology, I promise if you go to Mexico City it is the one thing in the city you NEED to make sure to go to.

To be honest, I don't know exactly what we did Monday, other than discover that Monday is Mexico's version of Sunday, so most things are closed.  So here's a picture of the Metropolitan Cathedral near the Zócalo that I may have taken a picture of on Monday!

Also from the rooftop bar at Las Sirenas

  
Tuesday we went to Teotihuacan to see the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which is one of the biggest tourist draws in Mexico, for good reason.  They were built in 200 BC and the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest ancient pyramid in the world.  The ruins spread for a few miles and have informational placards to show you what the layout was and how they think the building were originally used.  It actually wasn't as hard to get to the top as I though - it's most strenuous at the bottom, and there is this crazy part where it's basically a ladder cut into the stone instead of stairs, but it's not nearly as intimidating as people made it out to be.  Even if you don't make it to the top though, it's a beautiful view no matter what tier you are at.


 I would like you to note the compression wrap on my left ankle.  This proved to be somewhat fortuitous, because on the way down I managed to slip and give myself a severe level 2 sprain and that wrap came in handy.  You want to know what the difference between a severe level 2 and a level 3 sprain are?  A level 3 is when you've torn ALL your ligaments/tendons.  Severe level 2 is when you only tear most of them.

This was only a couple hours afterwards so it got EVEN BIGGER. Who even knew ankles could do that?? 

So needless to say, that was the end of my Tuesday and most of my Wednesday.  This is where I was both very lucky that I had someone with me because there is NO WAY I could have made it through the rest of the trip without someone to help me.  I ended up having to take an ambulance back the bus station because we were a couple miles from the parking lot.  Upside? Mexican ambulances are super fancy (leather seats!) and free.  (Which is great because long story short, but I had applied for Medicaid in July as I didn't think I'd have a job in August. You know what they did instead?  CANCEL MY HEALTH INSURANCE ENTIRELY.  For a month. And a half.)  And also that my 15 year-old cousin is responsible, because she had to wander downtown Mexico by herself to get us food and to get me crutches. We did end up going to the ER on Thursday since I couldn't bear any weight still so I got an x-ray.  Good news, didn't have a broken foot, bad news had to wear a walking boot for a month.  You know what else is awesome though?  Mexico has socialized health care so I got that x-ray for free (which I'm not 100% sure on why as I'm not a citizen but I'm not going to question it) which is great because DID I MENTION MY HEALTH INSURANCE GOT CANCELLED DUE TO NO FAULT OF MY OWN?  

Also crutches are the work of the devil and I will never use them. Ever.  Wednesday we went to Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela which is the big craft market and is FREAKING AMAZING.  We got some serious swag.  The downside? I maaaay have been too excited about being mobile again (sort of) and given myself some wicked sores (that have now scarred so I can remember having these forever yayyyy) in the process.  Thursday we took it easy and went on a bus tour since my foot wasn't having it, so we got to see some monuments and parts of Mexico City we wouldn't have seen otherwise which was pretty cool, made a short stop at Plaza Garibaldi but I wasn't up for a late night so we were there a little too early, and we finished the evening off with an impromptu search for churros and chocolate which was wildly successful at El Moro which was delicious and a great way to end the trip!

So going to Mexico was everything I'd hoped it would be, was even worth my boot, and on the upside I'm not wearing the boot anymore!  My ankle is still crazy swollen though, so it looks like this one is going to be a long recovery.  My left ankle is like 98% back to a full recovery, so baby steps!  No links today, I'll save it for the next post :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Day in the Life #49 In which Elizabeth has an eventful summer



Ohhhh man so much has happened since I last posted!!  So...we're going to divide it into two posts.  When I last posted, I was recently out of a job so I'll go with my newest news first - I HAVE A TEACHING JOB!!!

Or more specifically, I have three.  Which still isn't enough to bring up to full time, but at .9 I'm pretty close.  (All that means is that I teach at different schools different days, and that Thursday I only work half the day).  But I have a salary! And benefits! And I can actually put stuff in savings and travel during the summer and yaaassssssss everything is great!  I've never taught elementary, so we'll see how I do with that but all of the administrations at all 3 schools were really, really welcoming so I'm feeling very good about this decision.  Even better?  Because I long term subbed last year for 8 months, they are counting this year as my 2nd year and even though I'm not full time it counts towards my tenure, so at the beginning of next year, I'll be tenured!  EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL GUYS!






But uh...actually everything isn't awesome so we may experience emotional whiplash here.  My grandmother's cancer has come back, which is obviously really upsetting.  The good news is that she's got a high chance of recovery and the chemo she's starting is the gentler one she was hoping for.  And since for the past month she hasn't known what is going on it's a relief for her to be able to move forward.  So....it's been a stressful/emotional time waiting to find out the results, but I'm feeling optimistic now we know what's been going on.



In more entertaining medical news, I've had...an eventful summer let's say.  In June I experienced my first (and hopefully last) migraine.  Of course, I didn't know that's what it was.  I completely lost vision in my right eye, had a minor head ache, and felt completely disconnected from my body (I didn't recognize the sound of my voice and was reallllyyyyy slow trying to respond to customers. Or maybe it just felt that way).  So I figure I should probably call the nurse hotline for my insurance and see if I need to schedule a doctor's appointment or if it's fine if I wait and see if it happens again.  When the nurse's response is like "Uhhh....you need to go to the ER immediately.  I'll call you an ambulance" it's a bit unnerving to say the least.  An ER exam, EEG, EKG, MRI, and $2000 later, it's been determined I had a migraine.  I mean, not that I'm complaining, it's not like I WANTED it to be a stroke.  Good thing I have money coming in now!

It was important I got that figured out because I was leaving for Wisconsin like...the next week and needed to know whether I was able to drive or not, so luckily that all panned out.  I don't know if my long time readers remember waaaaay back in 2014 I was a teaching assistant at a music camp for high school students in the beautiful remote area in Wisconsin.  Well, I was asked back and I'd had so much fun the last time I was there I willing made the drive from Maryland to Wisconsin.  It was beautiful of course, and the kids were great (one of the oboists won the concerto competition!), and the faculty is just a really amazing group of people so it's really fun to work there. AND I had been really exciting because I had a car with me this time so I could go hiking whenever I wanted!  ...theoretically.  I had extra duties this time, so I wasn't as free as I thought I'd be, but I finally, FINALLY get to go hiking.  And I get ten steps in....and I sprained my left ankle.  (What, you thought the medical entertainment was over?  We're only halfway there.  Remember it's the left ankle - that's important. Hold on to that thought until my next Day in the Life post).  Literally. TEN STEPS.  I could see the entrance from where I fell! So that put an end to my hiking dreams.  Also, turns out I'm old - that ankle still isn't fully healed and it's been a month and a half.  It wasn't that bad of a sprain either!  So...I'm working on PT exercises and whatnot. Yay....


Egg Harbor also has the BEST. FIREWORKS. EVER.  That photo?  Yeah there's no zoom on that.  The fireworks come down to like....basically your face. 




Fast forward a few weeks, and I'm preparing for my trip to Mexico City.  Know what you don't want on a 5 hour flight to California and then a 4 hour one to Mexico City?  A UTI.  Luckily I e-mailed my doctor and she set me up with an appointment in the lab and a prescription.  All good right?  Well I rushed out of the house that morning, which usually means I put on a dress since that's quick.  Since I had a UTI I didn't wear any underwear as it was uncomfortable.  This is important for later.  When I went to get my lab done, it turned out I had a blood test I hadn't gotten done yet so I went ahead and got it done.  Now, I notoriously avoid blood tests.  Turns out I forgot why - it's not the needle.  After feeling like that it was surprisingly easier than I remembered, I head out to the lobby to get my medicine.  Where I got....very dizzy.  And then promptly passed out.  In the middle of the lobby floor. Where there were many other patients.  Remember how I wasn't wearing any underwear? Yeah....I came to as they were pulling my dress back down over my hips.  IT WAS GREAT.  On the upside, now I remember why I hate blood draws - I pass out 9/10 times.

In any case, I feel like this post is ridiculously long so I'll end here.  And besides, Mexico City deserves its own post! 


Author News

Lish McBride shares her experience with Terry Pratchett & the Appropriate Hug.
Elsa Sjunneson-Henry talks about featuring protagonists with disabilities in her writing.
Ursula Vernon aka T. Kingfisher has a print kickstarter.  
Tamora Pierce was interviewed about Harry Potter and YA Fantasy.
Cindy Pon talks about writing through the lens of an artist.
Tamora Pierce's first Numair book has a cover - and you can preorder!
Jessica Johnston launched The Pushpin - aka a place you can get prints from your favourite graphic novelists and illustrators!
Jo Walton reminisces on why she rereads.
Heather Demetrios talks about teen dating violence and crappy home lives.


Blogger Stuff

Emma Cosh created an infographic to navigate Terry Pratchett's Discworld.
Katherine DM Clover points out that the galleon is out of control (inflation in Harry Potter).
Yash discusses reading aromantic and asexual representation in(to) texts.
Sara Kramer writes about how Tove Jansson can change your life.
Kritika talks about The Queen of Attolia and soft pretzels.
Jessica Ferri asks Which Jane Austen Character Are You? (based on your Zodiac) (For the record, I am NOT an Emma *hmph*)
Gillian reminisces on growing up with Harry Potter.
Jared Shurin asks why 2006 was such an epic year for epic fantasy.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Top Ten Book Read in 2017


I feel like this year's list of awesome books is rather more...eclectic than usual.  Which reflects my reading habits pretty accurately I suppose, but I for once have more than just YA fantasy on here! (Let's be real, it's still mostly YA fantasy)



Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey

This book is hands down the most fun book Jane Austen ever wrote.  All of her books feature her wit, but this book is freaking hilarious!  It's silly and fun, and of all the Austen heroines, Catherine Morland is definitely the one I'm most similar too.  You can tell this was the first novel Austen wrote - it's got a lighter feel and it's a little less polished than her other novels, but this definitely a new favourite.  And now that I've read this one, I've officially read all the Austen novels!




Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

I've mentioned my...rocky relationship with Cassandra Clare's writing before, but I think after reading the Bane Chronicles (which now that I think of it I think I still have a few to finish - hence it not being on this list) and the last book in The Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare has solidified herself as an author I will always read. I might not always love the writing/where the story goes, but over the past few books she has consistently surprised me. Usually with a big dose of gut wrench.  (I blame her friendship with Sarah Rees Brennan). She's also probably the biggest name in paranormal fantasy who consistently has representation of both multiple races (a main character too if you count The Bane Chronicles!) and different sexualities. (Feel free to correct me and then educate me with all your recommendations where this is also the case).  She also has world building that for me rivals Harry Potter in that we've got a world within a world full of different cultures and I LOVE that.  

But mostly Magnus Bane.



Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

This is by far my favourite book I've read this year, and I don't see that changing at all this year. (Especially given the fact I'm averaging two books a month instead of a book a day at the moment).  The writing is gorgeous, and the characters are interesting and well-rounded.  The premise while not novel exactly stands out from others in the genre because of how it is executed - the time jumps, slowly drawing together how the characters are all interlinked, the fact that while it is post apocalyptic there isn't one set society or culture that has emerged.  It's just some really fantastic storytelling, and I know this is one I will be buying and rereading.



Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Goldenhand (Abhorsen, #5) 

I have been waiting for this book for YEARS. Literally.  And it is everything I ever wanted and I am so happy!!! What else is there to say?

 

Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2)

Ok I know Elizabeth Hoyt has been around for ages, but I'd never read anything of hers before and she is definitely going to be a new go-to romance author for me.  It's got the happy ending and balls and everything I like in my romance novels, but the characters are really well fleshed out and there's a big story line outside of the romance which is something I really like (and that's a theme with all of the romance novelists I enjoy).  What really sets this one apart is that the big story line in some parts are much bigger than the romance line which is unusual.  I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!



Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, Vol. 1 (Saga, #1)

The art is top notch, the characters are an interracial couple (if not in the sense like my own relationship aka they are rather more...interspecial, but the sentiment still stands) with an interesting premise and world laid out.  Count me in!



The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee

The Silver Metal Lover (Silver Metal Lover, #1)

I've been in a bit of a Tanith Lee mood these days, and this is one of her big hits (that I can't believe I've never read before).  It's got all my favourite things about her writing (many of which I wouldn't like in any other author - she's my exeption): completely unlikeable characters with complicated relationships that force them to evolve, sci-fi but almost magic realism like aspects, just....weirdness.  That's what I like most about Tanith - the writing gets weird, grotesque at times.  If you've never heard of Tanith Lee, she's both one of the most influential writers of the sci-fi/horror genre, and one of the most overlooked. It is a damn shame most of her works are out of print - this would be a good choice to ease her into her writing (it isn't TOO weird)

 

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

Maggie Stiefvater has hands down the most beautiful writing of any YA author I've read. (And possibly any author - she's in my top 3 for most beautiful prose).  Most of you have heard all the heaps of praise on her, so I won't go on, but if you've been holding back on reading The Raven Boys...what on earth are you waiting for?  Magic realism/paranormal fantasy? Check. Beautiful writing? Check. Characters that will stay with you for days afterwards? Check. GO READ NOW.



The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)

While I liked The Wrath and the Dawn, it didn't do much for me so I hadn't been planning on finishing the series.  Then for whatever reason I decided to read this and I am SO glad I did.  Beyond the fact that it's an Indian/Arab inspired fantasy (can we PLEASE have more of this?) I felt like the characters really took off in this one. 



Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
 
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) 

This book was so close to being flawless for me. I definitely liked this series more than her Shadow & Bone one, and I love that she's expanding her world by writing more books set in different parts of the world she's built so I am absolutely down for more of her books! 


And that's my reading year so far!  How has yours been? Leave me a link in the comments and I'll stop by!

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Day in the Life #48 (In Which Elizabeth Returns from the Dead)



Guys I have missed  this (and you all!) so freaking much!  I've been too exhausted to post, but I've at least been thinking of the blog so I know I'm not ready to put it down forever which is good :)  I know it's not Sunday, aka the day I traditionally post my Day in the Life posts...but I also haven't posted in literally 6 months so who even cares about a schedule at this point?  Unsurprisingly, a lot of things have happened:


1. I taught high school..and I actually liked it.  After all that fuss I made!  There's way less preps - I only taught 4 different courses (a total of 6 classes though) instead of the 10 different courses I taught at the middle school. The kids are challenging in a totally different way.  It's challenging in the sense you've got to make sure your lesson is engaging enough (but not overly stressful) to keep kids in a room, but you spend a lot less time dealing with classroom management than you do with middle schoolers.  It's not necessarily easier, exactly, just different.


2. I took a class to my first ever assessment which was SUPER STRESSFUL.  For those of you who don't know (or call it adjudication like we do back home) that's when you have to travel with your kids and play in front of judges and then that score is what your school is known for.  Trust me, these scores matter a lot.  Teachers in the entire state have access to those scores and judge you as a teacher accordingly.  And unfortunately we did really, really poorly.  In my defense, we only had 20 kids in the band (most bands are at least double if not triple that size)....and four of them were unable to go to assessment. THAT'S ALMOST A QUARTER OF THE BAND.  And that included 2 of my 3 trumpet players which meant that 75% of our pieces no longer had a melody.



Needless to say it was a disaster.  On the upside, last year they scored the lowest score too so I literally couldn't do worse. (And we scored the second highest score on sight reading which was a great improvement, so that's something)


3. I have now taught middle school band and orchestra, high school band and orchestra, steel drums, computer music, African drumming, and American rock.  If there's one thing I've learned in the past year, it's that once I stop the initial panic (wtf even is that instrument how am I supposed to teach it?!?) I am capable of doing anything that's thrown at me. 


4. I was offered a job at the high school I taught at. 





5. I found out two weeks ago I no longer have that job.  It turns out there's this thing called "priority transfers".  Basically what happens is if a school has had to cut a teacher's position or hours, the county is required to find a spot for that teacher and they get first dibs.  And that's what happened to what was originally my job.  What's really shitty though, is that I was never told this. I literally had no clue that could happen. So instead of continuing to take interviews in other counties just in case, I stopped applying for things....seeing as I'd been "hired".  So now it's so late in the game I can't interview at the other counties since they've completed those interviews.  And I'm out of a job. So instead of having a salary and benefits starting in August...I have literally nothing.


I...may have been watching a lot of Parks & Rec to console myself. What? It's totally normal to watch Parks & Rec twice. In a row. In the span of a month. 

On the upside, I can get my name on long-term substitute positions in other counties, build my contacts, and hopefully I'll get long term substitute jobs in the next year and something will work out the year after that.  Either way I'll be certain to get my applications in all the counties and take all the county interviews this time. The last five years have taught me that I'm resourceful and adaptive and I will always find a way to make ends meet. So I'd rather take those skills and wait another year with no salary instead of jump at the first school that makes me an offer.  (I interviewed at a school and if they do offer me the job I'm going to turn it down since I don't think it would be a good match between the two of us).  Did I mention the contract you have to sign?  Yeah, you have to commit to a school for a minimum of three years. You break that contract...you can't teach in the state of Maryland for a decade. So yeah, I want to make sure I'm in a place I feel at least a little certain I'm not going to hate because that is a loooooong time with no guarantee of being able to transfer out afterwards anyway.


6. I'm going to Mexico City with my grandmother and cousin at some point this summer!!!!  Going to Mexico City has been a dream of mine since I was in high school and traveling with my family is THE BEST and I'm SUPER CRAZY EXCITED ABOUT THIS.  I'm also going to be in Wisconsin for a couple weeks which is gorgeous so I at least have an awesome summer lined up!


In summation:  I don't know what I'm doing next year job-wise, but it's all going to be fine and I have a plan (which is more than I can say for most of my past life). And in the meantime I'm going to have a freaking awesome summer and I have an adorable cat who is cuddling with me so basically everything is the best right now.

Now: I have done my best to at least check in a couple times a month and read some post...but considering I've been stock piling posts for the link round up for 6 months this is a decidedly meager selection.  Hopefully I'll be back on my link collecting game next post!

Blogging Links

Cassie drew the American Gods as cats.
Gillian discusses When the Movie is Better Than the Book.
The Book Wars put together a shout out for #DiverseBloggers.
Heather asks why diverse books aren't published?
The Tor staff put together a list of the most important books they were given for Christmas.
Gillian asks if you review with your head or your heart?
Heather muses maybe the problem is white thinking.
What type of book reviewer are you? Take Cait's quiz to find out!

Author Links

Intisar Khanani shares her family's history: A Heritage of Seeking Refuge.
Megan Whalen Turner talks fantasy inspiration and her new Queen's Thief book!
Ursula Vernon always has entertaining wildlife photos.
 
Nonbookish Links

Mari discusses Fish Parenting and Disability: Finding Nemo.
La La remembers Chris Cornell.
Dana asks How Gay is Your Geek TV?



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Bookish End of Year Wrap Up



Hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner



Number Of New Novels Read: 82
Number of Re-Reads: 19
Genre You Read The Most From: Unquestionably fantasy - I read very little science fiction, a handful of contemporary novels.  Possibly my next highest genre was romance.  You can see how my year went.





best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?


This is a little harder than usual this year.  I read books that I really enjoyed, but I didn't have many stand outs.  I think I'm going to go with The Bone Knife by Intisar Khanani since it's pretty representative of my reading year - I read ALL of her books this year.



2. Book You Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?



Definitely Spy Glass. It's the third book in Maria V. Snyder's Glass trilogy (which is a follow up to her Poison Study trilogy).  I had gotten really into this world and binge read all the books up until this one.  Spy Glass ranks with the handful of other books that have truly enraged me, and I still have not forgiven this book it's trespasses because it ruined all the great things I'd felt about all the other books and I am still not sure if I'll ever be able to pick up the next trilogy.



 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  


My Lady Jane - I don't know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't what I got. This book was so freaking fun and hilarious!!


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?



No question, it's Intisar Khanani.  It's not often that I binge read an author's entire catalogue because I love their works so much!


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?



Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - It's everything I'm always wanting.  It's a book featuring a minority without it being ABOUT being said minority (in this case, a gay main character).

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?



Poison Study series - As much as we had an explosive break up, there's no denying this series managed to get me to binge read like crazy for a reason.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?



Thorn

11. Most memorable character of 2016?


Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go.  For more reasons than the obvious - he was the perfect depiction of a dog: easily distracted, fiercely loyal, and so, so innocent.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?



The Knife of Never Letting Go.  Add to this any question about what the most soul crushing/made you cry/shocking - the answer to all of those is this book.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 



Ready Player One - I just thought it was something else entirely!  Some sort of heavy, very serious science-fiction novel.  Note to any of non-blogging friends who try to recommend me books:  

1.  Never try to make the selling point of a book that it is NOT YA.  

2. I'm sorry, but this is YA.
3. Don't feel so ashamed for enjoying a YA novel that you repeat over and over #1 to try and cover it up.  

15. Favourite Quote from a Book You Read in 2016?


"Being good-looking and interesting and having the heavy-lidded gaze of a romantic tapir does not excuse writing a foolish book." - The Perious Life of Jade Yeo


16.Shortest & Longest Books You Read In 2016?


Ten, Nine, Eight          Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)
10 pages; 882 pages


18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

John Thornton and Margaret Hale from North and South



20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously



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21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:



Strange Library - Let's just say I've struggled with Murakami's works in the past and was pretty ready to give up.  Nafiza recommended Strange Library so I decided I would give him ONE MORE CHANCE, and I'm so glad I did because I really loved the writing of this one!


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?



Ravi from The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo.  This maaaaay or may not have been directly impacted by picturing this everytime he appeared on the page.


tumblr_no0q6wgeZU1uo157yo1_500.gif

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?



Poison StudyMaria V. Snyder has managed to create a world where there are two countries - one based on a capitalist democracy, the other on communism, and I'm so used to finding the former glorified and the latter vilified that I was pleasantly surprised to see that she managed to make an argument for both systems.  Both systems in this book have big drawbacks - in the communist country, rules are strictly enforced without mercy and lives are micromanaged, but everyone has job security and a purpose, and they are rewarded based solely on their abilities - not gender or age.  In the democracy, there are beggars and homeless and the council is very slow to act on anything, often taking months even in situations that are perilously time sensitive, but the people have the freedom of choice.  It was really interesting seeing that dichotomy, and I think being fairly accurate in what the benefits and drawbacks are of each system, and it's something I've never really seen in a fantasy novel before.


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?


My Lady Jane





27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo - This is one I would never have found on my own.  Yash recommended it for one of our reviews and I'm so, so glad she did!  This was definitely one of my favourite reads of the year and I've been recommending it ever since.




book-blogging


2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? 

I have veered away from reviews in the last couple years - they started to take the joy out of reading for me. I did finally write a post about my favourite book of last year though!  Or you can head to my super-ragey reaction to Spy Glass, which was very cathartic after the awfulness of the book.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Downside to having such a big reading/writing drought the past six months is that I have little to no discussion posts.  I think I had a grand total of one this year?  Be aware though, spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go are in said post.




And that's it for my 2016 book wrap up!  I won't be on the internet for the rest of the year, but I'll see you guys in the new year and look forward to reading all your year end posts!