Tag Archives: books

Curiouser and Curiouser

I wasn’t planning on writing anything tonight, despite my neglect of my blog, until I logged in to like something on another page and noticed the most popular search was “romance witch magic.” It made me laugh, and feel a little paranoid, because earlier this week I was at the library, and wandered into the library store, and bought three books that I might not have usually bought. I also accidentally squashed a spider who happened to be hanging out around them. Sorry about that, spider. Two of them were signed by the author, which was cool, and then I just got the third because it was by the same author and I thought if I liked the other two I’d regret it if I didn’t get it.

So, normally I don’t say anything about books I haven’t read, but the likelihood of that particular search coming up after I’d bought these was just so odd, I have to say something. The author is Yasmine Galenorn. They’re paranormal romances from Berkeley Press, and the first two that caught my attention were Witchling, and Changling, because they go together and are also the ones that are signed. The other is also Berkeley, and is called Dragon Wytch. I do have to admit that I find the y instead of an i kind of a funny thing, but I’ve done it as well in writing just to make something look different. The problem is, I think a couple other authors have done this as well, and frankly, it just looks a little funny. In terms of covers, the women show some cleavage and thigh, but less than a lot of covers. Not having read them, I think they suit the titles, frankly. They’re about sisters, and Witchling and Dragon Wytch seem to feature the same sister.Dragon Wytch

Well, looking those up on Amazon to get the covers was a little depressing. I have less than half the series. LOChangelingL.

WitchlingWell, that’s nice and even, isn’t it. If I were more organized,

I would have put the links to them. I’m not that organized. But, for anyone looking on books about witches, magic, and romance, I’m guessing these have them.

A Few Odds and Ends

I have posted a new link on the side for the “It Gets Better” project. They have a good blog on tumblr and on the web. I’m reblogging this from their web site (June 10th, 2013):

trans children

They support, as their pledge says: Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other bullied teens by letting them know that it gets better.

Dan Savage and Terry Miller have a video up on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo

It’s very cool.

On another completely different note, I am delving into the Regency era. I ordered a lot of 23 Georgette Heyer books (the woman who in essence started the Regency novel as we know it today). No pun intended, but that’s a lot of books. I also ordered a book by a woman who studied Georgette Heyer for her Ph.D. Her Ph.D, folks. That’s fairly serious business. But, she wrote it up, all of her research and notes on the Regency period (roughly 1811-1820)–it all makes perfect sense once I figured it out–the period between poor mad King George III, when he was no longer able to rule starting in 1811, with the Regency Act, until his son came of age in 1820 and became King. Seeing that, according to wiki, King George III had fifteen children, it’s a wonder both he and the queen consort didn’t go mad.

I found a page that looks to have a lot of potential but haven’t completely scoped it out yet:

http://www.writersandeditors.com/for_editors_57430.htm

There’s not a lot out there on being an editor. There’s a lot on self-editing. There are books on technical editing and scientific editing, but not so much on editing fiction. I’m guessing there are so many books on self-editing now because of the rise in self-publishing and the fact most people can’t afford to hire editors to go over their books.

SF Signal-MIND MELD: LGBT Themes in Fantasy and SF – Recommendations

I found this in the fanzine SF Signal, which I was unaware of (shamefully), and the recommendations are really good and interesting. Definitely worth checking out!

Blatant Self-Marketing

I realized I could add a link for my book to the side of the page, which doesn’t blend in very nicely.

Now, I linked to the Kindle version because I think the price for the paperback is outrageous ($18.50). I wrote it and if I hadn’t and was looking at it to check it out, I don’t know if I’d buy the paperback. The Kindle version I’d chance. (As I have been chancing way too many Kindle books considering the fact I’m not working and shouldn’t be buying any).

I do have to admit that I am torn right now. I am in the process of revising the current edition (slowly, it’s not happening at the speed of lightning or anything). I’m having trouble with the second book because the first one doesn’t fit right in some places (I had never intended to write a sequel, then there were several, and now Aithin is sort of a precarious foundation). I have people telling me they like the first edition (because, really, I have hundreds and hundreds of people swamping me about this. Not.)

I’ve taken a side step into another project for a bit, since I finished the story for the other project. I used to think that once you’d finished something, it was set in stone. In this age of electronic publishing, it isn’t. I still don’t think that should be taken advantage of unless absolutely necessary, simply for ethical reasons–I don’t think it’s fair to readers. I think I would still offer the first one (the original) for free, and allow the new one for free for a while as well–I would definitely want anyone who had bought the first one to have a copy without having to pay for it. That seems fair, doesn’t it?

OK, very sorry, Edith (Piaf) I need to change you off from iTunes. Now it’s Mozart. I simply can’t settle on anything today. Maybe I should just play the sound machine. Mozart isn’t doing it either. Sound machine it is. Better.

I can’t even remember if I’m supposed to sell anything from my page. Officially, I’m not. I’m have to link to amazon so they can sell it. Or lend it. Anyway, nothing is anywhere near being done on that front yet. so no need to worry for a long time yet. That would be the last edit for that one, though, unless I miraculously picked up a publisher, in which case I imagine it would be subjected ruthlessly to the delete key. I’m reading the in-house rules for editing and finding out I’ve been formatting some things wrong all this time. I’m glad I at least know that now!

Sorry for such a boring post. It’s been an odd day. This morning the internet, my mail, everything was completely messed up. I was tired so took a nap. Woke up, and it was like the Elves and the Shoemaker–everything worked. Except for my ‘My Y!’ page, which I’m a little afraid to mess around with, with the though it might have been part of the problem, and maybe I should find an interesting page somewhere and make that my homepage. Hmmm.

2nd Half of my Favorite Books of 2012

Series: His Fair Assassin**

#1: Grave Mercy

#2: Dark Triumph (4/2/13)

LaFevers, R.L. YA, assassins, convents, nuns, weapons, poisons, mystery, intrigue, romance
I was able to read this as an eGalley before it came out, and I was unbelievably excited about it. I think part of what caught my attention was the tagline, “Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” It may sound a little corny, but the premise of the novel is a convent who takes girls and young women in, rescuing them from abusive or other bad situations, and teaching them to be assassins. They learn everything depending on their talents, Ismae, our heroine (it gets interesting when your heroine is an assassin) is exceptionally good at what she does. The nuns of the convent of St. Mortain, the ancient god of death, wait for a sign from him to send out one of their assassins. Or, when things are slow, when there are problems in the capital and the Duchess needs protection. Ismae ends up in the retinue of Gavriel Duval, the Duchesses’ brother, as his lover, which she is not happy about, but they decided it was the best way to get her into the castle with a reasonable excuse. And boy, are there a cast of characters there, all scheming and plotting and trying to win the Duchesses’ hand in marriage. This book is so incredibly well written—the characters are fully fleshed out, and you truly feel for them when things go wrong. All the struggles for power are illustrated beautifully, circles within circles until it is no longer clear who the Duchess can trust. I liked the contrast between the convent taking in girls who are powerless vs. the situation the Duchess is in. Yes, her life is much better than the girls who enter the convent, but no one listens to her despite her position—everyone wants her to marry so a man can speak for the Duchy. She is not considered worthwhile or smart enough to rule on her own, and until she marries, will be constantly vulnerable to attack from numerous enemies. This was a very different kind of book than the ones coming out at the time, the fluffy somewhat no-brainer romances with various fallen creatures, etc. etc. and it was so refreshing that not only was it different, it was good. The sequel is about a new character, one we were introduced to briefly in Grave Mercy. I had wanted to see more of Ismae, but this could be interesting as well. I highly recommend this one.
Series: Lumatere Chronicles

#1: Finnikin of the Rock

#2: Froi of the Exiles

#3: Quintana of Charyn (4/9/13)

Marchetta, Melina YA, royalty, rightful heirs, adventure, travel, romance, relationships, family
I do have a confession to make here. The third book came out in September of last year in Australia, so I bought it then because I was unwilling to wait until April 2013. When I do anything like that it always involves this odd little ritual of calling my bank and telling them I’m going to be buying something from Australia, in this case. If I don’t, they put a hold on my card because they think someone has stolen it and the purchase is dubious. I had to do it before I went to Canada for a week too. Now, while I appreciate their concern, I’m slightly insulted by the fact they don’t think it’s possible that I could have popped over to Australia and bought it in person there. That would never, ever happen (it would be fun), but they don’t have to remind me of that fact. I can dream. I picked up Finnikin of the Rock on a lark because it was in the shelf in front of me at the library. I devoured it in one day. I loved everything about it, the way it was written, the way the character interacted so believably, all the little mysteries that started to clear up, the willingness of people to give others a second chance even when they had done something awful, with the knowledge that it still wouldn’t be forgotten, just shelved. The world Marchetta creates is so lifelike and real, the groups of people so distinct. I know she does a lot of research looking for places she thinks resemble what she imagines her world to look like (so she gets to go to some pretty cool places). None of the characters are flawless. They can work to remedy their flaws, but they still never get rid of them completely. There are fantastic characters in the last book, two of my favorite being the estranged elderly twin brothers who live across the courtyard from each other, come out to see each other every morning, then go back inside. Quintana is quite the character herself, very complicated, and as more is revealed about her childhood, etc., it’s easier to see that yes, she still may be a little crazy, but there’s a pretty darn good reason for it. This is also a book about forgiveness, and realizing the consequences of one’s actions—things happened in the first book that had long reaching effects they were never aware of until the third book. I absolutely love these books, and Marchetta has written others as well, some of which have won prizes and are very well acclaimed. I have tried to read those, but I can’t get into the real world stories, for some reason. I think it shows her talent that she can do an excellent job in YA fiction, even though it’s not my taste, and then write a YA fantasy series written so differently I have no issues with it at all, and that these are some of my favorite YA fantasy books (although there is a lot of crossover these days).
Flame of Sevenwaters Marillier, Juliet Adult, myth, druids, fey, magic, relationships, family, love, second sight, betrayal
This is the latest installment of the books beginning with Daughter of the Forest, the one that first addicted me to Juliet Marillier. A couple of generations have passed since then, and Sorcha, the main character of that tale, is the grandmother of the heroine of this one, Maeve. Maeve was in a fire ten years earlier which disfigured her face to a degree and rendered her hands useless, so she is dependent for help with nearly everything from her wonderfully portrayed maid (who is more of a friend). She has, however, an incredible gift with animals, which is possibly some consolation from losing her dog Bounder in the fire that injured her. Returning home for the first time in ten years (she had been living with her Aunt and Uncle—her Aunt, her father’s sister, is a Healer of some renown and they had hoped she might be able to help with Maeve’s hands). Coming home is as awkward as she was afraid it was going to be, with the exception of a few people. Maeve starts out as a character who seems to have settled for her lot in life—she’ll never marry, never have children, and lead a solitary life dependent on others. She doesn’t seem particularly self-pitying, and if she does, it’s more out of anger than anything else, why can’t she have those things. She overhears some of the men at her father’s talking about her and how her hands make their skin crawl, and it shatters any hope she had been building up. Her 7 year old brother Finbar, a boy who will most likely grow to be a very strong seer, is fascinated with her. Maeve worries he is too serious for a boy his age—he has a tutor/ bodyguard, Luachan, a druid her Uncle Cíaran (the interim head druid) chose. A terrible event has taken place—a large group of men from the neighboring Lord’s lands has disappeared, including his two sons, while they were traveling through her Uncle’s lands. Everyone at Sevenwaters believes it is Mac Dara, who kidnapped Finbar when he was a baby to try to get his own son to come home, but they try to keep the fact that Sevenwaters has this mystical/magical place within it for fear others wouldn’t understand. This time, Maeve is drawn into the forest, with no one to depend on but herself and two wild dogs she has tamed and named Bear and Badger. She realizes she does pretty well on her own, and gradually starts to piece together that everything isn’t right in the forest. The story is interesting, and the characters well-drawn. For anyone familiar with the Sevenwaters series, it’s like coming home again. I’m a sucker for happy endings. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, because others might not be. Terrible, terrible ending. Death, destruction, the end of civilization as they knew it as Sauron drags them into a new age…oh, wait, wrong book. It works as a stand alone book, but really these are best if you start from the beginning and read them in order, because they build on each other. This is a review gone horribly wrong. It’s a good book, definitely worth checking out.
A Monster Calls Ness, Patrick YA, adult, death, coping, guilt, resolution…
I don’t want to say too much about this one. I kept seeing it mentioned and finally put a hold on it at the library. It was not at all what I expected. I think everyone will have their own, personal reaction to it—reviews seemed to range from “best book ever” to “this book wouldn’t have helped at all, it sucked.” It’s a book I would want to give as a gift to someone who might need something like it, but I would be hesitant. It’s written in a spare style but isn’t so bare bones it has no flavor to it. The emotions of the characters are muted—the characters themselves are muted. The story isn’t complex and full of riddles and mysteries to be solved—it’s very straightforward. Not jarring, but flowing like thick cake batter toward its imminent resting place in the pan. (there’s a reason I’m not a poet). It doesn’t seem like it’s pulling you in, but it is, and when you reach the end it’s such a feeling of relief, to say what you feel out loud. I don’t know what else to say—if you have been a caregiver, a relative, a friend, a child, of anyone who has had a long term terminal illness, I would suggest this book. It might not have the same resonance for you as it did for me, but maybe it will.
For Darkness Shows the Stars Peterfreund, Diana YA, adult, dystopian, freedom, genetics, loosely based on Persuasion by Jane Austen, luddites, technology
I didn’t expect much from this, truthfully. I had read the author’s unicorn books (well, one and a half of them) and hadn’t really gotten into them. Then I heard it was loosely based on Persuasion and decided to check it out, which is a little ironic since that’s one of the Austen books I haven’t read. Now I want to, though. The novel has an interesting structure—the narrative goes along, and then there will be letters between Kai, the worker boy on the farm, and Elliot, the privileged daughter of the owner of the farm. They were friends since childhood until he decided he couldn’t stand it there anymore. She couldn’t run away with him, and that was the last she saw of him. She thought. While her father and older sister are supposed to be running the farm, Elliot is actually the one doing all the work, and a little more. She has been trying to genetically modify wheat so it will produce more, ensuring their workers won’t go hungry and possibly even having a little left over to sell. Her family is Luddite, as are all the landowners, and such meddling is prohibited. Her father discovers it and plows it under to keep anyone else from finding out—he’s going to put in a race track. Knowing they desperately need money, Elliot looks through her father’s correspondence and finds a letter from a well known adventurer, looking to rent the dock her grandfather owns for however long it takes for them to build a new ship. Elliot completes the rental agreement, even though it means moving her grandfather out of the only home he’s ever lived in to make room for the new tenants. Elliot’s grief, frustration, and disbelief at her father and sister’s behaviors are completely convincing. All of the characters, even those with minor roles, are fleshed out just enough to make them believable and real. Elliot truly does care for the people who work for her family, but her view has always been from the view of being the privileged one. When their new tenants arrive, Elliot is at a complete loss at the identity of one of the Captains. Ultimately, this is a story about moving forward and forgiveness, both on a personal and a technological level. The acceptance of things beyond our realm of imagination. The door-stopper stubbornness of the hero, as in the Austen novels, to do anything to indicate his true feelings that makes you want to whack him over the head with a broom—see, the writing really does pull you into the story, when you want to start hitting characters with cleaning implements. Not that Elliot isn’t stubborn herself. There is just enough detail to make everything seem real—to get really angry at the “bad” guys and cheer the “good” guys on.
Series: Sarah Tolerance**

#1: Point of Honor

#2: Petty Treason

#3: The Sleeping Partner

Robins, Madeleine E. Adult, mystery, alternate historical setting, fallen women, brothels, private investigators
These are all well-written, interesting reads. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of Sarah’s world as an investigator with her Aunt’s in the bordello. Sarah fights to be respected for her choice of profession, and the fact that she is as smart as any man who might be doing the job. She’s clever and quick thinking, and is able to fend for herself. Occasionally her business ends up involving her Aunt’s in some way, usually not in a good one. I’m not a huge mystery fan, but I really liked these (the third was the one I read this year). The dialogue is engaging, and by the third installment I felt like taking her brother and shaking him—yes, he’s in politics, but she’s still his sister. Maybe because I’ve been so much into family ties lately. Robins doesn’t go overboard with anything, it’s all just right. One thing that might be a little confusing—the first two are published by major publishing houses. The third is published by an Independent publisher, which is why it’s more expensive than the first two. It’s well worth the money, and the knowledge that by going to an independent publisher Robins had more creative control, along with the wisdom to know people did want more of Sarah Tolerance, is a good thing. I think authors get pushed into the “it has to be commercial” corner too much. I didn’t list publishers on here, because most of them are mainstream, but a few aren’t, and I think that’s a good thing. Robins is a talented author whose work is well above average and completely enjoyable. I highly recommend all three.
The Replacement

The Space Between

Yovanoff, Brenna YA, dark fantasy, fairies, alternate worlds
The first thing I thought when I started reading these was, “this is really different.” If you’ve seen a picture of Brenna Yovanoff, she looks like a woman who would write about sweet, happy romances, with rainbows and unicorns (ok, maybe that’s taking it too far), not dark, scary, dystopian worlds with dolls missing an eye or a limb lying in puddles. With incredibly unique and original stories that grab your attention and keep you reading, sometimes because you’re too interested to stop, sometimes because you’re too afraid to stop—what will happen to your hero or heroine if you leave them alone? Will the words squirm around and rearrange themselves if you close the book? This probably sounds creepy, and the books are creepy—these two aren’t a series, I just read both of them this year, but they are in chronological order as to publication. Given all this, the sense of atmosphere is very well developed, as well as the characters. The amazing thing is that while they are so different from everything else out there, her own books are so different from each other. They do follow the general main character gets into trouble of some sort/needs help getting out of it/someone will help but there’s a cost/eventually everything’s sorted/relatively happy resolution. That’s pretty much what all stories are. There’s the saying that there are only a certain number of stories in the world (5? 7? 11? Something like that) and it’s up to authors and storytellers to recreate them in different ways. Yovanoff has gone above and beyond—maybe I was just so disturbed it just felt different. I think that’s legitimate. The story is still there, in its cohesive state. The characters are still there. Sometimes they notice their environment, sometimes they do. The times they do are a validation of what we’re reading that seems so unreal, but the characters are seeing the same thing, so for this delineated world, that must be the norm for that particular spot. At times it feels as though the characters are just floating along, being propelled by the story until they take a hold of it again, when they’ve finally figured something out that allows them to take control. I think I should stop there. I found these both to be well-written novels, in artfully constructed worlds, each with their own separate voice. Or maybe that was the bug hiding in the spine of the book calling “help me, help me!”

My Favorite Books of 2012

I should probably add some notes here, various caveats, etc.—these are definitely based on my tastes, which I don’t expect others to necessarily like. Some are truly meant to be read as adult books, some as YA, but there is such a crossover between the two genres (sometimes it’s interesting to go into a bookstore with some specific titles in mind that you think are YA and see if they show up in the adult section as well). I’ve been an a bit of a Steampunk kick this year, but there aren’t as many on here as I would have thought. I think it’s partially because I’m not looking in the right places, and some of the ones I’ve been finding that are fairly decent are just Kindle books. I did read some series that I hadn’t heard about before until the latest one was released, so that was fun—more fun than reading the first one in a series and knowing you have to wait a year or more for the second one. I’ve starred the ones I really liked a lot. These are in alphabetical order, not in order of preference—it was easier than flipping through the sheets I printed out.

After further consideration and the realization that, as usual, things were getting longer than they should be, possibly without imparting any useful information, I’m going to post this in installments. That means, I suppose, if you are interested, you can read them, or if not, just look at the titles of the posts and skip the ones regarding my books of 2012 (I’ve never done anything like this, so I don’t really know what I’m doing and just going about it my own way). I started it as a table in a Word file, which is why it looks like a side bar from a science textbook.  The ones I’m including are the ones I really, truly liked (there are quite a few that I liked, but not enough to put down as something that would reveal to the world the inner workings of my soul and what books effect it. It’s a little confusing, but I decided to list all of the books in the series, either because I read all of them this year, or I read the last book in the series this year and wanted to list the previous books. They are all books I either gave four or five stars to on Goodreads. I don’t tend to give many books five stars, so I was surprised at the number of books I did–there are some very good books, I thought, that came out this year.

When I’m finished with the more in-depth ones, I’ll just list the rest I liked enough to mention, just so they don’t feel left out. 🙂

So, some of you may shudder, some may be slightly interested–here is the first installment of my best books for 2012, in all its World-tabled glory.

Title Author My (hopefully) Brief Comments
Series: Magnificent Devices

#1: Lady of Devices

#2: Her Own Devices

#3: Magnificent Devices

Adina, Shelley Steampunk, adventure, urchins (street, that is, not the purple spikey ones).
The third in the series is out, I just haven’t finished it yet. I liked this series because the protagonist is a strong female, there is a nice cast of characters, the plot moved fairly quickly, and there are little twists and turns that keep it interesting. The world is very believable. The inclusion of a group of former street urchins/pickpocketers/thieves that she is trying to reform so they can get real work—they’re all pretty bright kids—is interesting because she takes it upon herself and is willing to work at it until they trust her. There is even a flying chicken in a box. Truly.
Series: Ephemera

#1: Sebastian

#2: Belladonna

#3: Bridge of Dreams**

Bishop, Anne Fantasy, magic, evil forces trying to take over the world.
BoD was the one I read this year. I have to admit that the Black Jewels series is my favorite of Anne Bishop’s, and it took awhile for these to grow on me. A series where world-building is literally taking place in the author’s world-building—the realm has been split apart and can only be connected through magically constructed bridges that don’t always take you where you think they will, but sometimes to where you deserve to go. Only certain people have these powers. Sebastian, Belladonna, and, in the third book, Belladonna’s brother Lee. Wizards are trying to upset her power and her bridges are disappearing, so he sacrifices himself and ends up in an asylum. It sounds odd, I thought so at first as well. I liked this one enough that it made me reconsider the first two and want to read them again all in order.
The Dark Unwinding Cameron, Sharon Steampunk, historical, first in series.
I was really pleased with this one—it’s the first in a trilogy (of course). Catherine Tulman lives with her aunt and cousin in London, where she is basically her aunt’s accounting slave. Her cousin is set to inherit everything, and she is constantly reminded of that fact and she is only allowed there at his generosity (little brat). Her aunt becomes concerned that her uncle, on whom their financial legacy rests, is becoming unhinged and is spending all of his (their) money, so she sends Catherine to see just how crazy he is and wants him placed in an asylum. She discovers that he isn’t crazy, just eccentric, and a brilliant inventor of these interesting little steampunkish creations. And clocks, he loves clocks. Unlike the other estates in the area, he has moved all of his workers into the walled area of his estate and takes care of them. He and Catherine take to each other immediately, and she knows there is no possible way she can commit him to an asylum—it wouldn’t be fair to him or to the people he takes care of. In the meantime, as with all geniuses, there are those who would pray on his innocent eccentricities and steal his work. Catherine falls in love with one of the young men who live on the property—her uncle simply takes lost people in and provides for them. I liked Catherine as a character—she is young and not always sure what is best or what to do, but she’s not sure how else to do things. She has been so stifled living with her aunt, her aunt has managed to suck most of the curiosity and interest in life out of her, but it’s still there, and it reawakens at her uncle’s. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next one in this series
Dragonswood**

Dragon’s Keep

Carey, Janet Lee Fantasy, YA, witch trials, rival princes who are brothers, dragons, good plot twists.
Dragonswood fooled me completely with it’s cover. It’s a beautiful cover, but it looked so much like many of the other covers for YA romancy-type novels I thought that was what it was going to be. I was instead surprised by the plot, which was sometimes horrific (witch hunts), to the Dragonswood itself, where there lives, well, a real dragon. Dragonswood is guarded by a warden, who turns out to be the younger prince—his older brother is away fighting in some war. Their father has died, and everyone is waiting for the older prince to return home. Meanwhile, the truce between dragons, humans, and the fey is becoming strained as humans start to forget about the importance of the interrelationship between the three races. The treasure from the castle has been stolen and no one knows by whom or where it is. Tess is a good foil for the younger prince as they challenge each others’ beliefs (she was accused of witchcraft and threw herself in the nearby lake after finding out her two friends had been tortured and had said she was a witch). She was rescued from the lake by tortoises and a dragon. The royalty share kinship with the dragons, so far as to actually have, in some cases (as in the younger prince) actual spots where there are scales instead of skin. This is considered an abomination. The plot becomes more complicated when the older prince returns—it turns out the woman heading the inquisitions, burning of villages and witches—is the woman he was in love with. The characters were fairly well developed, especially Tess and Garth, and Garth proves to be a worthy adversary to his older brother in terms of getting what he wants to protect the woods where the dragons live. If I’d been reviewing these as I’d read them, I’d remember more details, but I liked this one and it’s prequel, Dragon’s Keep, quite a bit (in the latter, the princess is born with one whole finger as a dragon’s claw instead of a finger, and she’s forced to wear gloves to cover it, as well as go through all sorts of awful treatments her mother’s advisors think might get rid of it). I think she’s Garth’s grandmother—I don’t remember the exact connection. The strongest themes are tolerance for other being (including other humans) and to accept differences—there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with difference, it’s just…different.
Series: Fire and Thorns**

#1: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

#2: The Crown of Embers

Carson, Rae YA, coming-of-age, subterfuge and plots against the main character, family relationships
These are pretty amazing books. Elisa, the heroine of the books, makes an incredible transformation from the beginning of the first book, where she is a chunky, still growing, still learning and not very self-confident girl, to one who can deal with whatever gets tossed at her, mostly because she’s stubborn, doesn’t want to get teased, and wants to prove she can do what everyone else can. So, while she bewails her fate at having to leave her father’s home where there are no challenges and life is easy, leaving is the best thing that could have happened to her. She is very close to her nurse, Ximena, who is truly her best advisor. Elisa faces bloody violence, the subterfuges of court, a husband who doesn’t love her and who keeps a mistress openly, kidnapping, and a whole host of problems she doesn’t know how to deal with, surrounded by people she doesn’t know and unsure of who to trust. An interesting issue that I only remember being brought up in one other book that I am trying to remember is the fact that part of Elisa’s transformation is brought about by tramping through the desert after being kidnapped. As she comes more to terms with who she is and what she can do, she loses the weight, it serves almost as literal emotional baggage. Even though she’s “acceptably thin” at the end (a little annoying) it’s because she’s gone through a transformation. Princess Ben—that’s the other one, a sort of fairy tale, that deals with the princesses’ weight issue, especially when her parents die and she has to learn how to run the kingdom—for her, food serves much the same purpose as it does Elisa—comfort. Small deviation there, just remembered that. CoE concentrates more on what it’s like for Elisa to rule, and how she continues to grow and learn through her experience. I think I forgot to mention she has a godstone in her belly button, which makes some villainous type people want her for the sole reason she does. They want the godstone, not her necessarily attached to it. They are both very good reads, the middle book doesn’t suffer the “middle child” syndrome, and the third, I think, is coming out the end of this year (The Bitter Kingdom?).
Series: Graceling Realm**

#1: Graceling

#2: Fire

#3: Bitterblue

Cashore, Kristin YA, coming-of-age/coming to terms with one’s own Graces and how to use them, friendship, coming of age, attempting to rule when everyone around you seems to be insane.
I’ll start with the fact that I think these are some of my favorite books ever. I didn’t think I would like them as much as I did, with them switching characters and such, but I did. And Katsa and Po and their friends all show up in Bitterblue. Fire turns up at the end, much older than she was in Fire. Bitterblue is about waking up from a nightmare, both while awake and asleep, that has spread over the realm for the previous 35 years while Bitterblue’s father, Leck, was King. He is one of the most twisted, cruel, and inhumane characters, as is revealed through the course of the book, I think I’ve ever seen. He reminds me of a mad neo-nazi scientist. He had the power to control what everyone thinks, so for the entirety of his reign, used this power to convince everyone that things were fine, while in reality he was forcing his main advisors to do terrible things and then making them forget they did it. These are the same advisors Bitterblue has when she becomes queen, and she knows there is something wrong with the way they act, the way they hide her away in her tower and inundate her with paperwork. They don’t want her to find out any of the truth, and if she leaves the castle, she might. So, what would any frustrated, thwarted young queen do who believes everyone is lying to her do? She sneaks out of the castle at night and starts to learn the truth, which is dangerous. She starts to question her advisors, who either go blank, have an attack of the nerves, go get drunk, or simply leave. Bitterblue discovers just how deep the lies go, and how they are still being perpetuated by her own advisors. She’s a strong character by the end, and has her friends to help support her. Cashore’s writing is smooth and brilliant as it was for the first two, and the relationships between the characters are believable and at times heart-wrenching. While they are trying to topple other kingdoms with bad rulers, she is counting on them to help her save hers. The old starts to fall away and Bitterblue is able to replace and fill positions with younger people who will be better able to rule the realm she wants it to be—with an educated populated that isn’t mistreated by their lords. There are some really interesting characters—Death, the librarian (it’s pronounced Deeth, he insists) and his cat are unforgettable, and it’s endearing the way he helps Bitterblue when he realizes she isn’t like her father, ready to fling books into the fire, but values them as much as he does. I was sad to see this series end, but I’m curious as to what Cashore will come up with next.
Series: The Seven Realms**

#1: The Demon King

#2: The Exiled Queen

#3: The Grey Wolf Throne

#4: The Crimson Crown

Chima, Cinda Williams YA, different kinds of magic (earth magic and the kind learned at school), resolving differences between groups of people who have a common tie in Raisa, the realization that when you’re the one in charge with the power, sometimes you’re the loneliest one because of that.
Another ending series, the whole of which was altogether enjoyable. The Crimson Crown is the culmination of a lot of groundwork in the first three novels of the series. Raisa is now about to be crowned queen, both of the nobles and the clans. Neither side is sure of the other, as the nobles don’t trust the clans and the clans don’t trust magic, even the few of their own who have studied it and are accomplished wizards. All three sides compete to present a possible husband for Raisa, who only loves one man, who only loves her—Han Alister, a man taken in by her father, head of an important clan, who sends Han to learn to be a wizard. He doesn’t want Raisa to marry Han, he wants her to marry someone else he has chosen to take over the clan after him, Windwalker. And the wizards want her to marry Micah Bayer, another Wizard—the Bayers have been ruling over the Wizards for a very long time, and there are some that would be more than happy to see them overturned. The Wizards and the clan refuse to trust each other until they have no choice and are betrayed from within by their own commander, and then enemies to the East. Their leader also wants to, you guessed it, marry Raisa. She’s gotten to be awfully popular. She knows with fair certainty that the men, other than Han, want to marry her to use her as a pawn, and at times she’s not too certain of Han, either. When you end up under siege in your own castle, I’d be pretty suspicious of everyone as well. This is an excellent conclusion, where good pretty much triumphs and evil pretty much loses, but not without losses and a good deal of grey remaining. The air is so thick with lies at times it’s almost palpable, and while we’re reminded that Raisa is still queen with responsibilities to think of what’s best for everyone, she’s heartbroken at the same time, and it takes a lot of prodding from her friends to get her out of her sorrow and into a place where she can make decisions again. Raisa learns how truly difficult it is to keep peace, which is all she wants, when there are so many opposed to her who are ready to battle each other at a moment’s notice, even her own family. The writing is strong, characters are well developed (I actually did feel sorry for Micah Bayer in parts—I do think he wanted to break away from his father, he just didn’t have the strength), but changeable as they need to be in order to try to accomplish what they need to do, whether it be supporting Raisa or the enemy. Or an enemy that isn’t known to be an enemy who’s supporting Raisa—The Crimson Crown felt much more complicated than the ones before it in the series. It had to fill in a lot of gaps from the past, break long held beliefs on the clan’s part, and still end up with Raisa prevailing. Well, hopefully. One relationship that is definitely intriguing is the one between Han and Crow, which progresses significantly. Altogether, I feel satisfied with the conclusion, not left hanging anywhere, and will have to read them all back to back at some point so I get everything instead of having read them over the course of four years.
Series: Avian Shifters**

#1: Duck!

#2: Magpie

Dare, Kim Adult, m/m relationships, character growth and maturing, finding one’s place in the world, interesting system of hierarchy depending on avian shifted form.
In a serious shift (no pun intended) from the earlier books on this list, both of these are m/m romances with some BDSM in them. I thought they sounded a little odd, but I generally trust the opinions of the person who recommended them on Goodreads, and she was right about these. Granted, you have to be interested in m/m romances, which I am—I say because I have gay characters in my novels, but I’m actually starting to like the well-written ones because they’re just as good as anything else out there, they’re just a very marginalized niche genre. What initially fascinated me about these two books is the way the avian society is organized. They live mostly in human form, but they know, usually, what species of bird they are going to be from when they are young to when they shift officially to avian form for the first time in front of the council. In the case of Ori, the submissive character in Duck!, he doesn’t know what he is; he was raised among humans, only learned he was a shifter about six months earlier, and has been dubbed an ugly duckling, occupying the lowest rung in the nest. Each species has a specific task, and since no one knows what he is, he’s given menial tasks where he is tormented by his co-workers (crows, I think it was in this case). They are caught red-handed when they have thrown dishes at Ori, who is trying to clean them up, when a high ranking Hawk happens to be passing by, Raynaud. In an interesting part of their culture, all species have their species sign tattooed on their wrists that they use as a form of introduction, and everyone immediately knows where the others stand. Ori doesn’t have a tattoo, because no one knows what he is. Raynaud takes him to work at his home, and their master/slave relationship commences. Where Reynaud is very sure of himself and his place, Ori is in constant motion, always cleaning things and fixing things, expecting to be passed along to another “owner” at any time. They end up falling in love, and when the time comes for Ori to shift in front of the council, he shifts into a very rare Swan, the highest ranking of all the avian species. Immediately, he is whisked to the palace and given a huge living space which makes him extremely uncomfortable—in fact, the whole thing makes him uncomfortable. He just wants things to go back to the way they were with Raynaud. Raynaud, in the meantime, is going through a period of guilt that he was treating Ori as a possession when he was a Swan, a King. Ori doesn’t care. Finally the council agrees to let Reynaud work with Ori, basically to make sure he keeps himself out of danger, and their relationship continues under that guise. Magpie starts a little later than Duck!—I’m not entirely sure how long, because Ori is much more sure of himself in this one, but he isn’t a main character, more of a very influential side character. The two main characters are Everet (who is briefly seen as a character helping Ori once he becomes King in Duck!), a Raven who is part of the security team for the nest, and Kane, a drug-addicted young Magpie who will do literally anything for his next fix, and has been for the bulk of his teenage years. They meet when Everet is called to bring Kane in for thievery, at the request of the owner’s club he was “working” in. Kane has been beaten horribly, and looks on the brink of death. Everet tells the Elders he will take responsibility for rehabilitating Kane, which they think is impossible and a waste of time. Magpies will always steal. Kane takes more steps backward than he does forward, and is a huge challenge for Everet, who is unwilling to give up on him—early on because he thinks Kane has potential, and as the novel progresses, because he starts to fall in love with him. Kane continues to frustrate until Everet finds a solution, at least temporarily, of him spending time working on the cleaning crews, because Kane loves to clean things to make them sparkle. He does so well that eventually Everet has a huge surprise for him—he takes him down to a vault, where Ori is waiting, and in the vault is all the silver from the nest, silverware, teapots, everything. If Kane does well at his job, then he can come and polish silver with Ori, who has a hard time not being able to clean anything in his position as King of the Nest. Kane and Ori start to become friends, and Kane realizes he doesn’t have to steal, all of his treasure is right here. His family turns up and tries to ruin things for him, things don’t look so good for awhile, then he is saved by Renaud, Ori, and Everet. I like that the characters work hard (even when they don’t want to, which is probably why they end up having problems again) but even when they screw up, they have managed to make enough friends to help them. One of the other aspects of these books I really liked is that while there is some BDSM, there’s not much, and they feel like love stories—real love stories, not fake contrivances like some other books out there I could name that don’t involve avian shifters, which makes this one cool as well. In Duck! there is also the question of what happens when the dominant partner is suddenly inferior status-wise, and how that is resolved. There is a lot of very badly written material out there covering these themes, and it’s nice to know that Dare spent the time to make these both very loving stories. Yes, they do get explicit, but that’s part of their purpose. They aren’t raunchy. And I liked the covers as well, very tastefully done, and much sexier than the usual in your face, here I am covers. Highly recommended for those into m/m relationship stories.
Series: Nightrunner Series**

#1: Luck in the Shadows

#2: Stalking Darkness

#3: Traitor’s Moon

#4: Shadows Return

#5: The White Road

#6: Casket of Souls

Glimpses (short stories)

 

Flewelling, Lynn Adult/YA, mystery, intrigue, espionage, magic, definite character growth, even for Seregil, who has been around a long time and still manages to change in small ways as he learns he can trust other people, m/m relationships, interesting characters, political maneuvering, royal family infighting and bickering for power leading to betrayal.
Casket of Souls is the latest in Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. This series centers on two characters, Seregil and Alec, and their friends. They are very well developed characters, as are all the supporting characters. I’ll stick to Casket of Souls as it was the one published in 2012. Alec and Seregil have been working together as thieves and ‘information gatherers’ since the first book in the series, when Alec tried to steal Seregil’s coin pouch. Since then, he has taken Alec under his wing and trained him to be an expert thief and housebreaker, and where to look for important documents. When they are at home in Rhiminee, Seregil, who is very widely known for his eccentricities and outrageous behavior, also acts unbeknownst to the people who ask for help from the Rhiminee Cat. They inevitably fall into some sort of danger or plot and return to one of two places, Seregil’s former mentor’s tower where he apprenticed unsuccessfully to be a magician under Nysander’s tutelage. The other place is Seregil’s friend Micum Cavish’s house where he lives with his wife and growing number of children. This series does involve a relationship developing between Seregil and Alec, which they don’t even discuss until the end of the second book, so I was very disappointed to see in some of the reviews on Amazon that people still reading the first book were making comments such as, “Was reading this and enjoying it then realized it was one of those kind of books and threw it away in disgust.” Their relationship is mostly subtle, sometimes made fun of by relatives because they are so in love—they are essentially bound together. There is nothing explicit—Glimpses—a collection of fan art and short stories written by Flewelling elaborate on some of those experiences, Alec and Seregil’s first time together, for example, but those types of scenes don’t come up in the series itself (but if you’re into the series, Glimpses is a really nice companion volume). Anyway, I found it annoying that someone could be genuinely enjoying a story and then realize there’s a m/m relationship in it so out the window it goes. Casket of Souls finds Seregil and Alec running into a group of players (theatre) who are taking audiences by storm, and at the same time find out information that the Queen is plotting against the Princess, who is already engaged in a war. Then a plague starts to spread. I read this so long ago—I wish I remembered the details better. The main player has something to do with it, capturing souls in bottles and using them to keep eternally young. Nysander’s apprentice at the time of his death, Thero, who started out as an arrogant somewhat one sided character novels ago, is now a magician of some repute who Seregil and Alec know they can count on as much as they did Nysander. Thero is still arrogant at times, but he’s also developing a sense of humor and has fallen in love with the princess the Queen is plotting against, supplying her with ways to contact him if she needs help (this mostly happened in the previous installment in the series, when a diplomatic trip was taken to Seregil’s old homeland that he was exiled from thirty years earlier for being caught in a relationship with another man. He’s uncomfortable with the trip, but Alec meets his family, and they all like him. Thero is working with Princess Klia on her mission, spending most of his time with her, and they fall in love. I went backward instead of forward, didn’t I? I think it’s important to mention in here somewhere that Seregil is Aurënen, an almost Elven type race, and Alec is half-hâzadriëlfaie, another clan of elvish type people who are more secretive than Seregil’s clan. Everything is sorted at the end of Casket of Souls (sorry, that has to be one of the worst reviews ever—if I wrote the reviews right after I read the book it would be better—I originally read this in May). Sadly, there is going to be only one more book in this series. I have become quite attached to the characters, so even while I might not always get the plots straight, the writing and development of the characters are so good I do really feel unhappy there is only one more book. Oh well, I can always start them over.
Series: Havemercy**

#1: Havemercy

#2: Shadow Magic

#3: Dragon Soul

#4: Steelhands

Jones, Jaida, & Bennett, Danielle Mechanical, sentient, fighting dragons who can talk and interact with their riders, a widely varied corps of personalities. Do I need to say anything more than mechanical, sentient, fighting dragons?
I’m just going to come right out and confess I read these almost a year ago, but I really, really liked them at the time. The idea was very clever, I thought. Dragons that were built with a specific member of the flight corps in mind, in one case, the dragon had been built for one man’s brother, but his brother had died and he was genetically close enough that he could ride the same dragon. The dragons and the riders learn each others’ personalities—despite the fact they have been engineered, the dragons are sentient and learn. The series starts with the whole corps having been disciplined for their appalling behavior at an important event which involved women and large amounts of alcohol. It is decided, then, that they need “etiquette training,” and a young professor is sent in to teach them, supposedly, everything they are supposed to know. Naturally he meets with resistance and insolence, a naïve professor and a hardened flight corps—no problems here. There are characters that are lost through the course of the series, some of which I was surprised to feel sad about even though their characters were at times annoying—they all fit a purpose within the corps to make it a cohesive group, and their loss changed that. Steelhands centers on one young corpsman who has lost his hands in the battle in the previous book, and has new ones made from the same metal the dragons are constructed from, and how he learns to adapt as everything is different now. Two of the original Dragon Corps have decided to stay in the desert where the final battle occurred, but they begin to uncover mysterious and disturbing things about the dragons, which they report back to their old commander. Despite the fact that the Dragon Corps could generally be referred to at the beginning of the series as a very motley crew of men, they were a motley crew of men who depended and trusted each other to cover their backs, and they genuinely cared for each other. The idea of the importance of human interaction and relationships continues in Steelhands. Jones and Bennett have created a wonderful world populated by interesting people and creatures. I was lucky enough to have found out about the series when Steelhands was released, so was able to read all of them at once (one after the other, that is). I think sometimes that’s the most marvelous way to read books—to suddenly discover a new series that already has a few books out and just become inundated in their world, which was easy in this case. The characters are so different, yet fully realized, there is just enough description where is doesn’t become tedious, and the world-building is such that it makes perfect sense that these dragons exist. I’m hoping Steelhands isn’t the last one in the series, as I’m curious to learn more, but if it is, I’m very happy to have read the ones that are here.

Continuity

I have been sick. Sicker than I have been in a very long time, with chills and a temperature up to 102 (which may not sound like a lot, but since I have a hard time registering a normal temp on a thermometer, it’s something significant). I’ve been on antibiotics since Monday evening and am finally starting to feel human again (if that is indeed my classification). At least, I feel like I won’t get knocked over by a chair, so I can handle, I hope, children tomorrow. So, when not sleeping or trying to drink as many fluids with electrolytes as possible (not even fluids are good enough any more, but I guess I had sort of dehydrated myself with the whole chills/fever thing) I started to go over some of what is later on in the series to make sure the stuff in the second book matches up.

What the hell was I doing? I can forgive the bad typing, because it wasn’t so long after my nerve injury and I hadn’t really learned to retype without my left little finger. It is embarrassing how many wrong words are there (they’re not being used for there, as an example), sentences that make no sense, and my favorite, Geoffrey meeting someone for the first time three times within the span of only about 20 pages.

The horror of it all! That’s what first drafts are for. It would probably be useful if I used an outline. I’ve never been an outline type of person. I used to want to do continuity for movies. I would have been terrible at it. I would have made the movies that people would talk about, remember the scene where the blood stain was at the middle of the shirt and then it was at the top? Or, didn’t there used to be a large tank of tarantulas on that table? Why is there an angora rabbit there now? It never would have worked.

And ages. I have sat down I don’t know how many times to figure out character ages. Part of the problem is I can’t decide exactly how much past the first novel the second one is set. That would help. Still, it should just be running numbers up or down, but then that doesn’t work. It’s worse when you go back to their childhoods and try to figure them out from then. I don’t know why this is such a problem for me. It’s not rocket science. I wasn’t good at math but this isn’t even really math, it’s just ages. I have whole charts of those written up too. I have family trees written up.

Another one of my favorites is because of how many times I changed the ending, all of a sudden, Adrian just has an assistant, like magic. Here’s the assistant I intended him to have, and it’s more fully fleshed out in one of the endings I cut. I’m not sure if I should fix any of that now I just concentrate on the second one. I think that’s the most abrupt shift where it’s really obvious something has been cut and not fixed.

I do write notes, and generally a chapter outline, mostly to help me keep time straight (you know how that timey wimey stuff can get) which keeps exact track of how many days go by in each chapter (or more likely, how many chapters go by in a day). I’ve had situations where the mighty Octopus of Time rears its ugly head and somehow manages to keep one group of characters going at one speed and another group at another until they’re about a month apart. Simultaneously. Pretty cool, eh? I told you there was timey wimey stuff involved. Except there isn’t any time travel in any of the books. There is an incident with a clock, but that doesn’t count.

I spent a whole afternoon drawing up a seating chart for a council meeting just so I’d know where people were sitting. There are scattered maps in my notes, lists of names. Sometimes my angst written notes with possible directions to go, or who can I kill? The latter not as often as you might think. I killed off so many secondary characters in the first one now it’s more centered on immediate family, and I don’t want to kill any of them right now. Actually, in a ending I cut, I did kill Brion, but that was from an illness, not assassination or anything. That one got a little too wild. So Brion lives. I just did something else to him instead. But then after all that was taken care of things just started to get weird and I think I’m going to have to cut back again.

I think I need to go through some of the cut scenes and pull out the parts where, say, Elvan has a little more active role before he becomes Adrian’s assistant? Little things like that.

I think that’s about all I am capable of today.

Resurgences: Not Necessarily a Good Thing

I have been noticing this, unfortunately, in some of the current young adult literature that I’ve been reading, thankfully not too many of them, and in more conversations around the elementary school I work in. I’ve tried to catch the kids who use it, but they inevitably disappear into the crowd, and as I’m working with a kiddo in a wheelchair, I can’t very well just leave him there without anyone watching him. But then my SO mentioned that he’s been hearing it more lately as well, in conversations, probably mostly on the bus, since he works with older students with disabilities (18-21) and rides public transportation a lot. Not that I mean to insinuate anything about people riding buses, because there are students (although they use it fairly freely as well, from what I’ve heard), people who don’t use cars, etc. riding.

After a long time of people trying to stamp the word out, not just in the name of political correctness, it’s come back, and I’m worried it’s going to start to come up more and more unless people do something about it. I’ve been upset to see it in the young adult novels, especially. It’s a word that carries a lot more connotation than the people and kids using it so cavalierly realize.

Retard.

Language changes over time. Sometimes terms are dropped because their meaning is no longer useful in its original context, as it’s become so mixed into everyday language it’s now useless in medical terms, which is what mental retardation used to be–a medical term. In some places, that’s still what having a developmental disability is called. In the medical sense, it means simply that the growth of the brain and other related functions have been retarded, slowed, and aren’t where they are supposed to be. The “mental” was gradually dropped in the field, and simply “Retardation” was used. The public in general started to use it, not in the medical sense completely, but simply as a word, an insult–that’s the important thing here–to use on someone they thought had done something stupid, or, in many cases, threw the word back at someone who was developmentally disabled in this context. It had nothing to do with a medical term and everything to do with being cruel, misinformed, and uncaring.

People don’t even think about it. It’s just an everyday word they use, similar to “lame,” which also originally had a medical use. People who use it do so without realizing that they have no right to do so. I would hesitate to say that, in a way, that word belongs solely to people with developmental disabilities, if they deigned to use it as such, much the way the N word belongs to the people who use it among themselves, but it doesn’t belong to anyone but them. I don’t know if that’s a similar case or not. I don’t think I’m really qualified to say.

Mental Retardation has mostly been dropped in the medical field except maybe in some cases of diagnosis, but usually the term that’s used is Developmentally Disabled. Who knows how long it will take before the general public find some way to make that an insulting term and the people working in the field have to come up with something else.

The fact that the term “retard” is making a return in the 21st century is depressing. It makes me wonder if it will ever find its way out of the vernacular. It’s a hateful word, whether joking around with your friends, or when using it against someone with a developmental disability. People who are developmentally disabled can no more change the way they are any more than the people bandying the term around so carelessly can change the fact they have green eyes or brown hair. It’s just a fact.

It’s also a fact that just because someone has a developmental disability doesn’t make them any less loving, caring, or sensitive than the person using the word. Think about that for a minute. What if you, careless word-slinger, were sitting in a wheelchair, relied on others to care for you, and you couldn’t talk, but you understood every single thing that people around you said, and there wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it? How would that make you feel? Sure, people with developmental disabilities do things that look strange sometimes. They may shout, wave their arms around, make strange noises. You may see the people working with them making gestures with their hands at them. That’s American Sign Language, the only way some people can communicate, and the way many of us hope and pray that we’ll be understood by the person to try to figure out what they want or need, because, you know what? We have a hard time figuring it out sometimes as well. The inability to communicate is probably the main reason you see so many people with disabilities behaving in a way that you would call them a “retard” for. If there was one superhero power in the world that I could have, it would be to communicate with everyone, even you, to try to make you understand why what you’re doing when you call people “retard” is so hateful. Try not talking for a day and see how you feel. Try to get help from someone without talking and see how you’re treated. Some of the kids we work with can talk, but they’re hard to understand. Sometimes I think they get made the most fun of, because they want to play with you on the playground just like any other kid. And if I hear you call any of my kids in my classroom “retard,” I _will_ stop you if I am able and ask you why. You’ll probably just make fun of me and think I’m just some crazy (another medical term that’s escaped it’s medical background–it’s funny how many of those there are) lady working with “retards.”

I know I switched this to elementary level. That’s what I know best. And I know that if it isn’t stopped here, along with all the other bullying that takes place, chances become slimmer and slimmer that things will change as they progress through school and end up becoming uncaring, unthinking, unkind adults. Unless they happen to end up in an accident, say, a traumatic brain injury, which puts them exactly in the situation as the kids they taunted and the word they threw around so carelessly years before.

I am not saying this to sound overly dramatic, but sometimes it nearly brings me to tears of frustration that I can’t figure out what someone means when they are obviously upset to the point that they are biting their own hand or hitting their head against the table. Part of it could be their diagnosis, but if we could just understand… I just wish I could help people understand that yes, what they say or write is important, especially when the audience is an impressionable one, such as a young adult one.

I write–not for young adults but for adults, in a fantasy setting. Even then I think about what sort of moral position am I taking here. Why can’t I just write whatever I want and throw out that mental censor altogether? Many things get by the mental censor, and are pulled out later. But some stay in. I would hope that writing for adults, they would be responsible enough to know, OK, book does not equal reality. I think many young adults are completely competent to do that as well, but they’re still formulating who they are (not that that ever really stops, I just think it settles some and then gradually morphs as we age). I’ve read many of the articles from critics saying young adult books are garbage and shouldn’t even be read. I think that’s piffle. If I were a teenager now, I’d sure want to read something to escape the world we live in. I do as an adult–read to escape, that is, or write to try to create a world that I like better.

I do read YA novels, but I am pickier now. There are the formulas that some books fall into: YA goes to school for misfits who have strange unexplained powers, meets and falls in love with opposite gendered person (are there any YA books out there where there are same gendered relationships? I’m sure I could find some if I looked). Forces of evil need to be destroyed by them, will it destroy their relationship… Mistreated YA ends up with magical powers and a guide comes to help them that they inevitably fall in love with, lots of YAs falling in love with vampires, fallen angels, lycanthropes, etc., that they shouldn’t be, etc. Some of them are so similar I read some of it and don’t read it unless the writing as I’ve looked through it seems better than the rest–but there are so many cookie cutter YA books out there. Not that there aren’t some exceptional ones as well. I wish there had been such a selection when I was a YA. Not that the same cookie cutter phenomenon doesn’t happen in adult fiction as well–take what you know sells and beat it to death.

I diverged from my topic some. I meant to say that I do think YA authors do have a little more responsibility than adult authors, and that may sound a little unfair. I don’t know that I’d even say that except I have a much younger sister, 23 years younger than I am, and she and I have discussions (ah-hem, sometimes verging into somewhat heated discussions) about YA books. She’ll be 21 next month. She’s been home-schooled and not exposed to a lot of the pettiness that occurs in our public education system. But man, she is tenacious. She will grab an idea and hold on to it like a terrier. I guess what I’ve been trying to do is get her to be a little more open minded and not dismiss a book because of ONE description she thought was stupid. She writes fanfic, which I never did, so it’s a world I don’t really understand. She bears grudges toward certain authors I won’t name that now she won’t read at all because of things they did when writing fanfic before they became published authors (that may give it away there, I don’t know). But it seems like she’s still coalescing, thinking about things, and it’s hard sometimes to tell what are ideas she’s come up with on her own or whether they’re one’s she’s just read somewhere else. That’s what I mean by responsibility. Our dad taught Special Education, and now I work in the field. If she didn’t have that exposure, I’m not sure what she’d do re: the word “retard.” She’s a pretty kind person–I don’t think she’d use it. But there are a lot of YA in her place, still forming, and who knows what they would do.

Something would have to be earth-shattering to change an adult’s mind, I think. More than just a book. I have read blurbs on books that say “It changed my life,” and maybe it did. I have had books effect me profoundly, but they mostly emphasized things I already believed. I think I would have to visually see something, in person, for it to change my life.

But I don’t know what to do about this resurgence of the word “retard.” Try to stop anyone you hear and explain why they shouldn’t? I don’t know. It’s used out of ignorance, and the only way to fight ignorance is education. I think that should come from everywhere. Who knows, their parents might use it as well.

Incidentally, and completely off this particular abandoned medical term, since I use it so often in my posts, there’s another one that I think is a mix of a medical and a law enforcement, that was used, I think, in the early to mid 1900’s (I could be completely off with the dates). Significant other. This one sort of cracks me up, because it’s taken the complete opposite meaning as it’s original intention. Before it was abandoned as a medical/law enforcement term, in the case of a suicide, the person considered the most likely as the one who triggered the suicide was called the significant other.

That raises some interesting questions. Does this mean now, when we refer to our significant others, that we are really with the person most likely to drive us to kill ourselves? Possibly a question I shouldn’t ask. Maybe I should come up with a new title to call my SO. I don’t think he’s going to drive me to suicide, though. Nor will he ever, in any case or situation, lead me to calling him a “retard.” We are in complete agreement on the subject.

Beard Beanie

The title was inspired by my SO, who said it as I was struggling to come up with something to call this post. Supposedly something for someone who doesn’t have a beard. Interestingly, I was reading and ran across the word beard and was determined that it was a typo, because it didn’t make any sense whatsoever. I have, while looking up word definitions for Helena, found that some words have obscure meanings, so I looked it up. Sure enough:

Beard: to one’s face, in open defiance

Now everyone who hasn’t learned anything new today has. All courtesy of the fact I was reading a Jennifer Roberson novel that used a weird word.

I have, literally, been reading like a rabid weasel. If rabid weasels read. They might just froth all over the pages and then eat them. And most of these were library books. I don’t think the librarians would believe me. I have been vaccinated against rabies, although I haven’t had a booster lately, so whether or not I would be safe is a reasonable question.

I have to say, as I emerge from my reading haze (oh wait, I did go to work today, I was alright there) there were a couple that I thought were particularly, well, if not good, then engaging. “The Greyfriar,” the first book in the Vampire Empire series (the second, which is already out, is “The Rift Walker,” which I haven’t read yet) was more entertaining than I thought it would be, as I’m a little _______ (insert word of choice) for vampires right now. But the vampires were slightly different enough to be interesting. The library has ordered “The Rift Walker” and I had some credit so ended up buying it along with “The Greyfriar,” so I liked it enough to buy it, which says something, I suppose.

“Angels of Darkness” was an interesting (I am going to have to see how many times I use the word interesting in this) collection of four novellas–I like Sharon Shinn, and she’s the reason I checked it out of the library, but the other three weren’t bad either (I can’t remember the names–they’re known in the Paranormal Romance community). Sharon Shinn returned to one of her pre-existing worlds, Samaria, for her contribution. All four include either vampires or angels or both–the first included both and I thought that was an unusual idea. It may have been done before and I just haven’t read the books.

I finished reading the “Tiger and Del” series by Jennifer Roberson, consisting of six novels, not too horribly long. I liked them. Not jumping up and down and screaming liked them, but they were enjoyable. I liked the relationship between Tiger and Del and how it grew through the books. It was more obvious with Tiger than it was with Del, however (at least, that’s what I thought). They are both sword-dancers, who fight for a living. Tiger is Southron and Del is a Northern, and they both have secrets that are worked out through the course of the series. It’s interesting–Melanie Rawn just had a new book come out, “The Diviner.” The main reason I bring this up is because she and Jennifer Roberson and one other author worked collaboratively to write a novel called “The Golden Key,” which was really good, at least, I liked it a lot, along with Melanie Rawn’s books up to that point. I couldn’t get through “The Diviner,” despite the fact it wasn’t terribly long. I suppose I should read some of Roberson’s more recent work before I come to any conclusions. There are a lot of readers who are pretty upset that Melanie Rawn never finished one of the trilogies she started–she wrote the first two and then stopped and didn’t write anything for years. I’m sure she had her reasons. But the things she’s written since then just haven’t been as good as the Dragon trilogies (2) and the Exiles novels. Along with “The Golden Key.” I think it may have been Mercedes Lackey who was the third person involved in writing that.

“The Girl of Fire and Thorns” I liked quite a bit–the main character, a princess named Elisa, is being married away at the beginning of the book in a strictly political marriage. She is, as she states herself, fat. She also possesses a godstone in her navel, making her the chosen one for that century, and she doesn’t understand why she would be the chosen one since she’s never done anything great and doesn’t see how she ever will. She does. I’ll just leave it at that. She’s a much different girl at the end of the novel, who has been through heartbreak and betrayal, learned to survive, and learned more about herself. I said I wasn’t going to say anymore, didn’t I? Oh well. There is much mention of God in this one, but not much made of the religion itself, although a lot of weight is put on faith. That one’s by Rae Carson.

Maria V. Snyder’s latest is “Touch of Power,” and it’s vastly different than her Magic Study trilogy or the Glass trilogy (I don’t know what the official name of that one is). The main character, Avry, is a Healer, one of the few left after a great plague. Healers are believed to have been responsible for causing the plague, and she had spent three years on the run, moving from place to place because inevitably she gives in and heals someone, usually a child, and is then turned in by someone who finds out, thus the need to flee. It’s the first of, I imagine, a trilogy. There are a lot of subplots that intertwine pretty well, I think. Avry is a strong character from the start, but she learns more about defending herself physically with weapons and she has a quick mind. In this novel, there are three main forces vying for power, and as the reader learns more about them and their history it becomes even more interesting. The next one isn’t coming out until 2013, as this one just came out earlier this month. I probably should have just waited until they were all out, but couldn’t help myself.

So those are the ones I read over the weekend (three day weekend). I spent the first two days in pj’s and didn’t leave the house. I guess the first sort of leads one to expect the latter, doesn’t it? I have walked across the street to put mail in the mailbox in my pj’s and robe, but I think that’s as far as I’m going. There is an actual reason for staying in pj’s, though. I have had this ridiculous cold for three weeks now. I went back to work for four days, then was out for three (a friday before and the Tuesday and Wednesday after a three day weekend). I suppose I was sort of like Bubble Woman after being at home for a year and not having been around kids. My immune system wasn’t quite up to it. There are 500 or so kids attending the school I work at, so there are bound to be some things floating around, waiting for innocent victims to attack.

The only other thing of note that has happened is that Helena’s school’s talent show was Thursday evening. She was 34th out of 38th. At first, we thought it was because she’d signed up to go that far back, but I think they assigned people when they were going to go. At the beginning there would be some that were just ho-hum (but I have to give them credit–I never had the courage to sign up for a talent show) and then scattered around were these really good ones (and I do mean really good, bordering on amazing, in the case of a few of them), and then the last bunch were all good, sort of like a “we appreciate you sitting through the two+ hours you’ve been sitting here” and they put her in there. All the girls were doing these really strong, loud, powerful songs, and then there were these guys doing loud guitar things, and then Helena did “Feeling Groovy” on her acoustic guitar, singing and playing her accompaniment–I only wish they had put the mike a little closer because she was singing a little quietly, although we could hear her from the back, because, not meaning to sound like I’m boasting or anything, although I am biased, she did _so_well! She had said which song she was going to do, and I thought it was a little odd, but it was perfect, sort of like a little nice calm between all the loudness–her singing was spot-on, and she has such a sweet, true voice that is perfectly in tune, and she played beautifully. It was so nice. I think it made a lot of people feel happy, too, because that’s just sort of what she radiates, especially with a song like that. I am so proud of her. That took a lot of courage. She is always good at everything she does like that. I think it’s one of her special talents. She was in a play a while back, and she was definitely most people’s favorite part. I hope she always keeps that now that she’s officially a teenager.

Alright. I am either going to find something to eat or read. Neither of which involve rabid weasels. Or look up gyms. As in exercise and fitness. Things one does not normally associate with me. My PT says I really need to, though, because I only have a few PT visits left for the whole year (the _whole year_) and I need to work at keeping my strength up (along with hoping I don’t do anything else requiring PT). Of the two I have looked at so far, both recommended by people at work, one of them incorporates a lot about nutrition, so I don’t know how I’d explain that I don’t really eat much, and since I’ve been home after work, I’ve had toaster pastries (“healthy” pop tarts) and a cup of black tea with milk and creamer. I even use the nasty creamer now because it’s fat free. Because of my gallbladder. But how much fat is in toaster pastries? See what I mean? And the other gym has a class (you have to sign up for it, of course, but it scares me anyway) called “Boot Camp.” I just want to go in a few times a week, get on an elliptical, a bike (preferably a recumbent one), a UBE if they have one… I am leaning toward that place, though, and think I will try their 7 day trial coupon. They have separate gyms for men and women, which is what my co-worker really likes, and I think is pretty cool as well. I suppose that could be a post of it’s own right there. I don’t like it when they make you call for prices, though, even when they have a web page. I don’t like talking to people about that. I want to know up front without talking to anyone. What am I going to do, haggle with them? As for the YMCA, they are one of the most expensive places. I was a little surprised, actually. I’m digressing though.

But since I am, I just want to state for the record that while I like Greek yogurt, and I like figs, I do not like fig Greek yogurt. That was one of today’s discoveries. Some things just should not meet, and in my mind, figs and Greek yogurt are two of them. End of statement.