Review: The sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with another review for a book I read while participating in Readathon by Zoe, which was last weekend on October 14th. This is a book I was eagerly looking forward to, and I knew it would be perfect for a readathon because it is a collection of poetry.

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Summary

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I read and reviewed Rupi Kaur’s first collection of poetry a couple months ago, and I really enjoyed it. A number of the poems resonated with me, and several others I thought would be beneficial to my mom, especially considering what she has gone through this year. So after finishing it, I passed it on to her, and then she ended up passing the book on to another person who she thought would benefit from it.

So basically knowing that Kaur’s second collection of poetry was coming out, I had expectations that it would also resonate with me, and I can say that I was not disappointed. Now, I don’t believe I had as many “wow” moments with this collection as I did with Milk and Honey, but I still definitely thought that it is a well put together selection of poems.

What is so interesting to me with Kaur’s poetry is that the ones that hit me the most powerfully are not the poems that are a page long or a couple pages long. No, it seems the ones that pack the most punch to me are the ones that are only a few lines long. The fact that she can say so much in so few words is remarkable.

Much like with Milk and Honey, I found myself bookmarking certain poems so I could read them…usually to my boyfriend. Of course those were poems that typically had to do with love, romance, relationships, etc. They were poems that in some ways made me think of him, so I had to share.

But I definitely think that Kaur is a poet worth reading. This collection continued with similar style, structure, and art as before. And it was a bit longer, which was awesome, but still read rather quickly. As I mentioned before, there are a number of poems that are only a couple lines long. I am trying to read more poetry, and I’m glad this is an author who was recommended to me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this lovely collection of poetry from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. I actually got my copy at my local grocery store so it’s basically anywhere books can be found.

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Comic Mini Reviews: Monstress Vol 1 and Vox Machina Origins #2

Hey all, Dani here.

As this post goes live I will have taken a pause in my reading for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon to host a session of Dungeons & Dragons. For once my boyfriend is getting to play, because I’m the Dungeon Master this time around. If everything goes well, we won’t run the session for 12+ hours so I can get a few more hours of reading time in later.

But anyway, I’m back with a couple more comic mini-reviews so let’s just get started.

Summary (Monstress)

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Summary (Vox Machina)

Scanlan and Grog loot a shark-man temple in the swamp outside Stilben. Returning to the city, they’re almost killed by assassins and then almost arrested by the Watch! What the hell is going on in Stilben? And what does this pompous sorcerer want?
• Based on the hit show from Geek & Sundry!

My Thoughts

Ratings: Monstress (4 stars) and Vox Machina (5 stars)

I read Monstress last week during Readathon by Zoe, and the artwork is stunning. The story plot was intriguing and I did read this rather quickly because I didn’t really want to put it down for too long. What ended up reducing the rating for me was that the world-building and how that connected to the plot was so wonderfully complex that after reading this first volume, I am still really trying to wrap my mind around all of it. A lot of the information was practically dumped on us over the course of the first volume and it felt like a bit much. I’m still really looking forward to reading Volume 2 though.

Vox Machina: Origins #2…well, after my post yesterday, (and the couple of other times I’ve posted about Critical Role), I’m sure you are all aware of how much I love these characters and this story. With the adventures of Vox Machina now concluded, it is so wonderful to have these monthly comics that tell the whole story of how they all met and formed their now legendary adventuring party. These comics tell stories from before their original home game began, and seeing the characters in the very early days is so fascinating. This particular issue follows Scanlan the gnome bard and Grog the goliath barbarian, and it is just as wildly entertaining as I would expect from these two. Scanlan is awesomely charismatic, and Grog’s low intelligence is still wholly endearing. And I’m glad we got to see Tiberius Stormwind in this issue as well. I imagine that the next issue will bring Vex, Vax, and Keyleth, and Scanlan, Grog, and Tiberius together for the first time. I am sad I have to wait a whole month to read the next installment.

Where to Buy

Monstress: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository

Vox Machina: Amazon, Dark Horse Dark Horse, Comixology

End of a Journey: Vox Machina

Hey all, Dani here.

My post today is somewhat related to books, but mostly pertains to storytelling and creativity. Stories have an impact on all of us. This is something we know as readers. We connect with these tales and these characters, and for the stories that impact us the most, it all feels completely real. Sometimes the characters in these tales, these adventures, start to feel like friends, and when the journey ends it is bittersweet. Hopefully everything worked out and they had a relatively happy ending, but we’re also sad because it is over.

This is what I have been dealing with for the past week. I have been watching the web series Critical Role for two years now. Every week I would spend 3-5 hours watching the newest episode. It is a Dungeons & Dragons show, where a group of nerdy voice actors have moved their home game into a studio at Geek & Sundry and are streaming it so we can all watch it.

Critical Role, following the journey of adventuring party Vox Machina, came into my life at the perfect time. Things were tense at my house with my ailing grandmother living with us and the tension that caused between my parents. I didn’t have any sort of social life aside from my coworker friends who I basically only saw at work. My only refuge from the negative aspects of my life was books…and then this show.

And after 115 episodes, the story of Vox Machina came to a close. For episode 114, which was the big boss fight, and then episode 115, which was the recovery from the fight and then the epilogues of the characters, I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to watch. I laughed, I cried, I worried, and I absolutely cried some more. I’m sure I could actually look up how many hours the show has run for total, but it is roughly somewhere between 350-600 hours. That is a lot of time to spend with a group of characters.

I really felt like I knew them. And of course, I have met them…twice. I went to a live show of an episode in August 2016, and then my boyfriend and I went and saw them this year at GenCon.

I own so much merchandise for the show: shirts, and dice, and Major Arcana Tarot cards, and an apron, and posters, and pencils, and the campaign setting book for the world created in the story.

This show is what really got me to talk to my friends and start playing Dungeons & Dragons. And because of playing D&D, I met my boyfriend.

So to say that Critical Role has made my life so much better, so much richer, and so much happier is truly an understatement.

Here we are a week later and I’m still watching recap videos of the final episodes. I’m still staring at the amazing fanart that other Critters have drawn. Obviously I’m also reading the new Vox Machina origin comic series–which issue #2 came out this week, and naturally I’ve already read it. I have a couple more comic mini reviews coming very soon.

I’ve also started to rewatch it all from the beginning.

I know that a new campaign will be starting soon and the cast of voice actors are creating new characters for it. I realize that the new campaign will be in the same world roughly a generation later, and so some of Vox Machina could show up in the future.

But I still feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to some dear friends. I’ll never forget their stories, their legend. I’ll never forget how much all of this means to me. Some days, though, I’ll just have moments where it hits me that the story is over (for now). I don’t like goodbyes. It is why I have several book series where I haven’t finished the final book, because I’m not ready to let go.

It all has me thinking about the stories that connected with us and impacted us the most. What book/series did that for you? Or maybe it was a movie, or a TV series, or a music album. Let me know what stories you hold near and dear to your heart.

Recommendations: Paranormal

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so today’s recommendations post was actually difficult with the parameters I set for myself with this series of posts. I wanted to keep it narrowed down to books I’ve read since I started this blog in January 2016. Paranormal turned out to be the genre where I had to break those rules.

Why? Well, because I’ve read very few paranormal books lately.

I guess first I should start with what makes a story paranormal. We have generalities we accept for fantasy or science fiction or romance, but paranormal is sort of a genre covered within the overarching genre of fantasy. However, paranormal books are usually categorized by the inclusion of paranormal or supernatural beings. Most notably these include vampires, werewolves, witches, and ghosts.

Where the lines get blurred considerably is that a lot of vampire or werewolf literature that takes place around present day typically is categorized as urban fantasy because of the setting having such an important role in the story. So, a number of the suggestions I have here are more of a historical setting.

The first book I’m going to recommend is actually the book I am currently reading. I’m about halfway finished and so far it is pretty darn interesting. That book is How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. This is the story of a girl named Samantha Mather, a descendant of Cotton Mather. She and her stepmom have just moved back to the family home in Salem after selling their home in New York City to continue paying for the medical care of Sam’s father, who is in a coma. Sam’s arrival in Salem apparently restarts an old curse involving all those descended from someone involved in the Salem Witch Trials, and Sam has to team up with some classmates as well as a ghost who is haunting her to find a way to stop it. So, really, this is kind of a perfect book to be reading right about now. And the sequel, Haunting the Deep, just came out this month. It apparently focuses on the sinking of the Titanic, and ghosts still play an important role.

The only other “contemporary” story I have to recommend is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. There are clairvoyants, there are ghosts, and there is an awesomely atmospheric setting and tone to this tale. I need to read it again so I can finally continue on and finish the whole series.

Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster. These are the first two books in the London Steampunk series, and they feature vampires and werewolves, obviously in a historical steampunk backdrop of London. And yes, these books also technically are classified as paranormal romance, but I still find the setting and the plot outside of the romances to be rather compelling as well.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal takes place during World War I, and it follows a protagonist who is a medium for a special group known as Spirit Corps. Whenever someone dies on the battlefield, their spirit reports to a nearby circle of mediums and gives a report that details where they died, how they died, and any important information for the war effort. Things become complicated when it becomes apparent that the Germans are specifically targeting the Spirit Corps. This is such an interesting tale, and I definitely recommend it.

Dead Iron by Devon Monk is for people looking for a sort of steampunk western novel. The main character in this one is a bounty hunter who also just happens to be a lycanthrope. Add in some monsters and other oddities, and this is definitely an adventure I’d suggest trying.

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett is another paranormal romance, this time set in the 1920s, and the main character is a spirit medium who gets caught up with a bootlegger when she is hired to banish the ghosts haunting him because of a hex. Writing up these recommendations reminds me that I really want to finish the rest of this trilogy.

Finally, I recommend The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. This trilogy follows a spell-casting scribe, an alchemist, and a monster-hunter who are the best defense against supernatural beasts such as lycanthropes. This was an interesting read and I loved the dynamics between the three main characters. I definitely plan to reread this one in the future.

Okay, so next week my recommendations will be for romance reads, but what would you all like to see after that? Contemporary, historical, poetry, memoir, classics, diverse reads, graphic novels, or something else? Let me know in the comments.

Ten Times TBR Purge

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, yes, I should have had this posted a couple hours ago. I wish I could say that I have an amazing excuse, but the truth is that I got distracted with prep work for the Dungeons & Dragons session I’ll be running this weekend. Writing down events and details for monsters and encounters and such can be quite time consuming.

Anyway, I’m back with another of these lovely TBR purge posts. I have the notes for these planned out for the rest of my TBR list, and I should be able to get all the way through my Goodreads to-read list by the end of the year.

Let’s just jump into today’s list of 30 books from my to-read list.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers. I loved the first book in this trilogy, and I’m mad that I haven’t continued on with it yet. Obviously I have to keep this one.

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff. I enjoyed reading the first book to this trilogy, but never got around to reading book two. Of course, I can also say I’ve enjoyed the other books by Kristoff I’ve read, so this one is a keeper.

The Angel Stone by Juliet Dark. I loved the first book in this trilogy, but the second book was disappointing, so I just don’t really see me picking up this third book any time soon.

The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa. When these books were first released I just wasn’t really in a vampire mood, though Julie Kagawa is an auto-buy author for me so I bought the books anyway. Since then my issues with this trilogy have stemmed from an inability to get matching covers for all three of them. That’s a weird reason to have not read them yet, I know, but I can’t help myself sometimes. I still want to read these books though.

Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre. I remember thinking that this one sounded interesting, which was why I bought it, but I just haven’t really thought of it since then. For now I’m just going to take it off the list, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never read it.

Blood Trade, Raven Cursed, and Death’s Rival by Faith Hunter. Well, I’m keeping all of the Jane Yellowrock books on my to-read list, so these ones are staying.

Magic Triumphs, Magic Rises, Magic Breaks, Magic Shifts, and Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews. Another urban fantasy series I just can’t get rid of. I flew through the first one and wanted to keep going, but got swamped with other books. I imagine in the future that I’ll just binge read through the series.

Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher. I guess I’m just not really in the mood for this one right now.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I think I had made it a few hundred pages into this one before other reading obligations distracted me and then I just never got back around to it. Nevertheless I adore Sanderson’s writing and world-building, so I’m definitely going to be reading this one.

Gifted Stone by Kelly Walker. I have read every book in this series except for this one, and this one is really just a story/novella collection, so it isn’t entirely necessary for my enjoyment of the series. Since I read them a while ago, I don’t see me turning back for this collection.

Third Grave Dead Ahead, Fifth Grave Past the Light, and Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones. I have no idea why the fourth book isn’t in this part of the reading list, but no matter what I will most likely get around to reading these at some point. I do own them in e-book. But for now I am taking them off the list until the mood strikes to binge read the series some more.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I’m just not really in the mood for this book right now, but maybe at some point in the future I’ll change my mind and add it to the list again.

The Winds of Winter, A Dream of Spring, and The Lands of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin. Who knows when the last two ASOIAF books will be released, but I’m still going to keep them on this list. I will read the whole series eventually.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger. I loved reading Soulless, but haven’t read any of the other books in the series, nor any of the spinoff books/series. Until I catch up, I can safely remove this book from my reading list.

Crimson Frost, Spartan Frost, Midnight Frost, and Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep. To continue with this series, I would have to go back and reread the first book. That being said, I can take these off my reading list until I decide to read the first one again.

Tarnished Knight by Bec McMaster. I’ve only read two books in this series so far, but I really enjoyed them, so I’m keeping this one on the list. The next time I’m in the mood for a steampunk paranormal romance, I may pick this one up.


Okay, well that’s it for today. I managed to take another 13 books off of my reading list, which I think is pretty good.

Oh, and for those of you keeping up with my reading progress, work canceled the mandatory work day on Saturday, so now work won’t interfere with my participation in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. However, now my boyfriend and our friends are getting together for Dungeons & Dragons, the campaign I mentioned I was prepping for earlier. So that will probably take up the same amount of time work would have anyway. I’m still going to see how much reading I can get done. Expect a readathon wrap up post next week where I talk about both the Readathon by Zoe I did last weekend and the upcoming Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon.

Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Hey all, Dani here.

And today is a wonderful Happy Book Birthday to author Kevin Hearne for his first epic fantasy novel. I’ve talked about Hearne before, mostly gushing about his Iron Druid Chronicles books. I would like to reread the first three books and then continue on with the series, so I’ll probably have reviews for the whole series up in the future. But today I am not here to talk about his wonderful urban fantasy series. Instead I am here to talk about a book I have been anticipating since the moment I first discovered it thanks to following Hearne’s social media accounts.

It’s time to dive into my review for A Plague of Giants.

Oh, and I should also thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this book early. Being granted an e-galley did not influence my rating or opinion in any way. After all, I planned to buy this book long before I requested it from NetGalley.

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Summary

From the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology—complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts

MOTHER AND WARRIOR
Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons—all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY
Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.

REBEL AND HERO
Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all—if it doesn’t destroy him first.

Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine—and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This was a complex story with so many perspectives to follow. Coming from someone who adores reading big epic fantasy books with complicated stories, it may be saying something that I had times where I struggled with this one.

I really enjoyed Fintan the bard, and his kenning–or magical ability–to project his voice over long distances and tell stories. That plus seeming stones that allowed him to look like the person whose story he was telling was really interesting. The problem is that the POV of Dervan is also in first person. So you jump from Dervan who is watching the bard, to the bard’s tales, which are also in first person. Sometimes it makes it difficult to remember which of the 11 characters you’re following in that moment.

Primarily this book is about the orations that Fintan the bard is giving. In fact, the story spans over 19 days as Fintan goes out to tell these stories, typically telling three smaller bits of the overall story each day, and rotating through the various people whose tales he has collected.

The world-building is great, and I loved the wide diversity of the world in general. Add into that the magic of the kennings and things get even more interesting. The people of the world commonly accept five different kennings, but through these tales it is suggested that there may be a sixth and perhaps even a seventh kenning.

Learning about these different people from all different lands in the world was an adventure, and while sometimes I felt like it was taking me a while to get through the book, I did overall like what I was reading.

This does not have the same feel as the Iron Druid Chronicles, which definitely have an easier urban fantasy flow to them. Instead, the first book in the Seven Kennings trilogy sets up a vast magical world with plenty of political complications and other issues. I may have to read this book again to fully grasp some of the developments and such, but I look forward to seeing what happens in the next book.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. I ordered my copy from Barnes & Noble and it is a signed copy.

The End of the Year Book Tag

Hey all, Dani here.

I have a whole section in my blogging notebook with book tags I have either been tagged in or that I just decided I wanted to do, but just haven’t had the time to get them all answered and posted. I suppose that’s why today’s tag is one that I actually saw a whole month ago on Sofii’s blog (A Book. A Thought.) and am just now getting around to posting it myself.

I’m going to try and be a bit better with getting these tags completed in a more timely manner. Especially with NaNoWriMo coming up, I want to try and get as many of my November posts prepped ahead of time so I can just focus on novel writing.

Anyway, this is a fairly short tag, but let’s go ahead and jump in.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

So many! My currently reading list on Goodreads has like 20 or so books on it, which is just ridiculous. But for a few answers to this, I really need to finish Windwitch by Susan Dennard, because I love the Witchlands and really enjoy the story, King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard, which I’m honestly losing interest in but I’ve come this far in the series so I at least want to finish this book, and A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, because I have this habit of not finishing series as I don’t want them to end, but it was announced that there would be more books in this world, so I think I can finish this now since there is more to come.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Usually around this time of year I like to settle in with more epic fantasy reads. As the cooler weather tends to keep me inside more, having lengthy books to enjoy is always great. But, to answer this question, I have heard that The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken is a sort of spooky Halloween-y type read.

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Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Well there’s The Empress by S.J. Kincaid (Oct 31), Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines (Nov 7), and Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes (Dec 12).

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, and Bonfire by Krysten Ritter. Plus so many others, but this question asked for just three.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Well, I had never heard of All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis a few months ago and now it ranks up there as one of my favorite books, so of course there could be a book in the last couple months of 2017 that rockets to the top of my favorites of the year list.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Vague plans for now. I always start my Goodreads reading challenge at 75 books, even when I’ve had to increase it one or two times every year. I’m starting to make a 2018 book releases list, so some of my reading plans will be based on new books. And I’ll likely participate in the April and October sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, plus who know what other readathons/reading challenges throughout the year.

Well, that’s about all for today. If you have not yet done this tag and you would like to, then consider yourself TAGGED!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

This will be my fourth time participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. I didn’t do that well back in April during the last session because where I work declared a mandatory work day for the day of the readathon. Well guess what folks? They did it again. Yep, I’m scheduled to work this Saturday, October 21st.

I’m still going to try and read some books though. We’ll see what happens.

What is nice (provided that I can actually focus on reading), is that from the time the readathon starts where I am until I have to go to work is a whopping 6 hours. That is the potential for finishing two or possibly three books. Of course, I also know that my boyfriend will be home as well, so it is more likely that I will only read one book, maybe two before work.

But if things go well then I think I should be able to read a book while I’m at work. Then after work I should still have about 10 hours left in the readathon.

No matter what though, I just want to finish reading at least two books. My best session of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon was last October where I think I read like 9 books, which was insane.

Anyway, for those of you who are a bit confused, you can find out all the details for this readathon here. What is really fun is this October session of Dewey’s marks 10 years of holding the event, which I think is pretty spectacular. As with most readathons, the goal is to read as much as possible in one 24 Hour period. Where this one differs from many other 24 Hour events is that all around the world we start and stop at the same time. So for me in Ohio, USA, I start at 8am on October 21st, whereas someone in the UK would start at 1pm on October 21st, and somebody in California, USA, would start at 5am on October 21st.

There are all sorts of reading sprints and challenges throughout the event, so you can follow along all over social media. Just use the hashtag #readathon to keep up with all the news.

Okay, let’s just go ahead and get this TBR out of the way.

Is this super ambitious considering I’ll be working for 8 hours of the readathon? Why yes it is, but I’ll see how well I do. I mean, there is a middle grade novel, a novella bind-up, and a YA contemporary on the list, and those should all be fairly quick reads. I do know that Gentleman’s Guide and Last Magician are both longer reads, but I’ve heard great things about them both.

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

Hey all, Dani here.

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and boy have I missed it. Honestly, aside from these blog posts, I have not done much writing lately, and I certainly have not done a whole lot of creative writing. And I really miss it. I’ve told myself that I need to set up a schedule and block out some time for writing every day and then I just don’t hold myself to it.

Thankfully I have the month of November to get me back into the rhythm of writing regularly.

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Okay, firstly, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event where each November participants attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel over the course of 30 days. Sounds pretty intense right? Well, honestly, sometimes it can be. Thankfully there are thousands of other writers attempting the same feat so you never really feel alone. You can even join regional forums based on where you live and you’ll be connected with other writers near you. Typically this also includes a person (or people) called Municipal Liaisons (MLs). These lovely people are the ones who organize meet-ups, a kick-off party, write-ins throughout the month, and a wrap party once it is over with.

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006, and it has just been such an enriching experience. In 2008 I became a Municipal Liaison, and I was one of the many founding donors for the Camp NaNoWriMo program, which is basically NaNoWriMo but in the summertime. I have written so many words and learned so much these past years and I’m so glad that I get to keep going.

This year would have been my tenth year as an ML, but sadly because of so much stuff happening in my real life, I missed the sign up deadline, something I never came close to missing before. So this year I get to watch as my co-ML runs the region on her own…well, officially anyway. Everyone knows that I’m not going anywhere, and am more than happy to answer questions and offer up advice and inspiration to any who need it.

But in some ways I’m actually glad that I just get to focus on my writing, instead of planning write-ins and pep talks, and spending a lot of time on the regional forums or on my region’s Facebook page.

In basically every previous NaNo, I wrote a fantasy or paranormal story, typically with just a hint of romance in it. But this year another story wants to be told, and it means a bit more of a challenge for me. See, events of my life this year have inspired me. At the beginning of this year I went to a friend’s house to start a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and there I met the amazingly wonderful and geeky man who has become my boyfriend.

So I want to write a geeky romance story, a story of two people who met while playing D&D and then bonded over board games and movies and other nerdy hobbies.

But I also know that I want the D&D campaign within the book to play a significant role too…so I plan on intertwining a fantasy story through the novel. It should be interesting at the very least.

I have basic sketches of most of the characters already finished and a general idea of the contemporary plot. I’m still thinking about the fantasy campaign story. Over the years I have learned that I can’t do a lot of writing down ideas and such because then I’ll struggle with writing the actual story in November. So I just come up with a few loose ideas and then fly by the seat of my pants the rest of the way. It works for me. Some people spend all of October drafting up elaborate outlines, and that’s fine too.

What I’m trying to do now is to come up with a good title I can use during this first draft process. I told my boyfriend that I don’t want something that is too ridiculous or cheesy, but the only thing that keeps coming to mind is “Roll for Romance.” He laughed and told me that was a perfect title and I should use it.

I guess unless something better comes along, that’s my title. I plan to draft up a quick book summary soon, and then I’ll be ready to write.

And look guys, I’m making more progress with my library/study. I should have it all finished just in time for NaNoWriMo to start, so that’ll be nice. Having a dedicated writing space can sometimes help the mind focus on the task at hand. I’ll just say here that my books aren’t fully in order yet, because I still have about half of my library to move from my mom’s house, and I still have a few more bookcases to assemble.

So are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let me know, and good luck! And if you have any suggestions for my book title (or if you really like Roll for Romance, let me know those as well.

Fantasy Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

The last two weeks I have posted up recommendations posts, first for Banned Books and then for LGBTQIAP+. Today I’m back to recommend some of my favorite fantasy reads (of the past couple years). In the future I might have to do a fantasy recommendations post where I talk about some of my faves of all time, but I’m trying to keep these posts limited to just books I’ve read pretty much since I’ve started this blog (so 2016-present).

I’ll also just go ahead and state the obvious, in that fantasy is a rather large genre, and it can cover urban fantasy, epic fantasy, adventure fantasy, etc. etc. So for the post today I am just doing a broad fantasy genre, but if anyone would like a more selective fantasy list, then let me know your preferences in the comments and I’ll make more specific fantasy recommendations in the future.

Let’s get started with this list of fantastic fantasy reads.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger is a book I discovered this year, and I have to say that I was pretty impressed with it as an urban fantasy read. I loved all the history that was created for the magical alcoholic beverages, and including the recipes for them as well was just a fun bonus. I would gladly read more books in this setting.

First Watch by Dale Lucas. This book definitely had an interesting feel to it, because it was like watching a fantasy buddy cop show. But this book is straight up fantasy, not really urban fantasy per se. Yes, technically urban fantasy is a fantasy story set in an urban setting–either real or fictional, but I tend to think of urban fantasy as something like the last book I talked about, which was set in Chicago. The Fifth Ward series is set in a fantasy realm and follows members of the city watch. Regardless it was just a fun adventure and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a fantastic fantasy heist adventure following an incredible cast of characters, and I could talk on and on about how great they are and how diverse and all of that, but I’ll just stop now and suggest that you go pick it up for yourself. It does not matter if you have already read the Grisha trilogy or if this is your first Bardugo book. I think you’ll enjoy it regardless.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco was a book I was lucky to get early thanks to NetGalley, and it blew me away. I loved the story with in a story aspect, and the world and culture were described so well. I was intrigued by the characters and got so wrapped up in everything that the ending came too soon. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the sequel.

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White. Okay, this is a book I have wanted to reread since the moment I finished it toward the beginning of the year. This is a re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice if dragons and wyverns and hobgoblins existed in the same world. It was the book I didn’t know I needed in my life until I became hopelessly obsessed with reading it. I sincerely hope that White writes more in this world because it was so interesting to me. Of course, whatever she writes next, I already know that I will be getting a copy.

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. For months all over Bookstagram I saw so many people talking about Elise Kova and how wonderful her books were, so I decided to give her a try, and thankfully I was approved on NetGalley to read this book early. I must say that I was impressed with the worldbuilding and the characters. The pages flew by so quickly and I very much enjoyed the experience. (I only made it a couple chapters into the sequel so far–I feel like a bad reader).

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I enjoyed the bond Safiya and Iseult had in this book, though I wished that there was a lot more time with them together, and sadly they stay parted in the sequel as well. But the Witchlands intrigue me, and I like learning about the different witcheries and the political issues in the world as well.

Borderline by Mishell Baker. I read this book during my first Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and it was absolutely amazing. I loved the complexity of the characters and the diversity. Having the main character Millie be a double amputee and have borderline personality issues made her look at things differently. Then toss in some of the fair folk and other supernatural beings, and a government organization to monitor their presence in our world and it was just an entertaining adventure.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. Around the time this one came out I heard a lot of people saying it was sort of like a YA answer to Game of Thrones, and I can understand why they would say that. The politics, intrigue, violence, and story have that similar vicious feel to them. And much like with GoT, be careful about getting attached to characters because they may die soon. But I loved this great epic style fantasy read at a YA level. I’m going to be sad that the series is ending this year.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Kell is a traveler who can traverse between the parallel Londons–Red London: full of magic, Grey London: non-magical and similar to our 1800s era London, White London: where magic went wrong and is draining the land, and Black London: well, people just don’t talk about it. Things get complicated when Kell smuggles something from one London to the next, and it starts to cause issues. He also teams up with Lila Bard, a young woman from Grey London who dreams of having her own ship. I don’t want to say much more about it, but I do highly recommend that you give this series a try.

Well, I think that’s it for now. Next week I believe my recommendation will be for paranormal reads. Let me know what you’d like to see next down in the comments: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Romance, Historical, Poetry, Memoir, Classics, Diverse Reads, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade,….


Oh, and I just got this in the mail today and it is BEAUTIFUL!! I really can’t wait to read it because I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this fantastical tale.