book blog

Book Blog: Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling by J. Michael Straczynski

Posted by on Jun 18, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling by J. Michael Straczynski

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an early copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

I’ve read many writing books. Straczynski’s new release approaches the subject of writing from a fresh angle: his own life, with his diverse experience in Hollywood and in publishing, as he discusses the tenacity and work necessary to “make it” within the industries–and then how to hang after that. His tone is easy and conversational, and the book is a fast read.

I’ve adored the man since I was a Babylon 5 fan as a teenager, and this book increased my esteem for him even more. As a writer myself, one who is definitely at the “trying to hang on” stage, this book felt both timely and personal. Straczynski gets it. Even with all his success, he’s still working hard because he loves what he does, as challenging as it is at times.

He begins with a Stephen King quote that I hadn’t seen before: “In the end, you don’t even do it [writing] for love, although it would be nice to think so. You do it because to not do it is suicide.”

That sets the tone for the book. Everything here is for people who NEED to write, even though it’s hard, enough though life and rejection grind you down. Even more: even when writers grind down themselves. As he notes, “A writing career can survive rejection, ridicule, starvation, and loneliness, but fear or complacency will kill it every time.”

He doesn’t claim to possess any shortcuts or special methods. He actually, with exasperation, describes people he’s dealt with time and again who insist otherwise. When it comes down to it, the book is about tenacity and hard work. Other writing books address that, sure, but Straczynski’s words really resonated with me. This is the kind of volume I think I’ll reference again in the future when I need his honest outlook to motivate me.

Read More

Book Blog: A Master of Djinn(Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark

Posted by on May 28, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

master of djinn

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received a galley of this book via NetGalley.

P. Djèlí Clark is one of the best historical fantasy authors out there right now, and his debut novel proves it yet again. I’ve enjoyed his novellas set in this same magical, steampunk-tinged Cairo as well as his Nebula-nominated Ring Shout, but this novel is even better because it delves deeper into the setting, into the characters.

The set-up of the book uses the formula of most mystery novels: it begins by showing a murder, though the victim’s perspective. It then switches to the investigation. Fatma is a dapperly-dressed woman, one of few who work within the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. She’s called to the scene of a disturbing mass murder that reeks of magic, and soon encounters something she finds even more disturbing: she has been assigned an enthusiastic new partner. The gruff detective wants no part of this arrangement, but together they start an investigation that abounds in dark magic, conniving angels, and powers no human should command.

The book doesn’t shy away from the horrors of colonialism, homophobia, and racism. The world feels realistic, even filled as it is by djinn and spirits and old gods reborn. Fatma is a fantastic heroine–a rare lesbian lead character. She’s smart, impeccably-dressed, and I couldn’t help but root for her from the very start. The plot of the book has many twists and turns, and while I predicted the identity of the Master of Djinn early on, that didn’t spoil my enjoyment one bit.

I hope there are many, many more books set to come in this world.

Read More

Book Blog: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

Posted by on May 7, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

the last fallen star

The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

out now in print and ebook; BookShopB&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Rick Riordan has done wonders for the lit world, not simply through his own books, but his support of other authors. I’ve read several middle grade books in his new Presents line, and there hasn’t been a bad one in the bunch. Graci Kim’s fun yet meaningful romp The Last Fallen Star is an incredible new novel inspired by Korean mythology and set in Los Angeles.

Riley is a relatable, great heroine from the start. She was adopted into a family of Gom, witch healers, but has no magic herself, much to her vexation. In an incredibly pleasant twist to familiar tropes, Riley has a fantastic relationship with her family, including her almost-the-same-age sister, Hattie. In fact, Hattie loves her so much that she’s willing to do forbidden magic to split her magical power with Riley. Of course, everything goes wrong. The Gods and the supernatural get involved. Hattie is in terrible peril. Riley ends up on an urgent quest to save Hattie before her sister is lost forever.

The pace of the book is fast and punctuated by moments of humor and levity, but what I loved most was the story’s genuine heart. The people here feel real and complicated. There are major messages of belonging and family, but they are not heavy-handed or suffocating. Plus, hey, the book is loads of fun, and a great way to learn about Korean mythology and culture. I not only want to read the next book in this series, but I want to read more of Kim’s writing, too.

Read More

Book Blog: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Posted by on Apr 30, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I read this as part of my Norton finalist packet.

What a fantastic YA book! Elatsoe has an urban fantasy vibe, kinda, but spins everything in a brilliant, original way. A big reason for that is the dynamic, smart heroine, Elatsoe aka Ellie. She’s still a high schooler but she has big dreams of becoming a paranormal PI. She knows the paranormal well, as she was raised on the stories of her incredible Lipan Apache ancestress Six-Great, and her near-constant companion is the ghost of her beloved dog, who she raised herself. When her cousin is in a terrible car accident, he reaches out in a dream to tell her this was no accident, but murder. Ellie goes along with her parents to take care of her cousin’s widow, and finds herself investigating not the murderer but an entire creepy town.

I loved how smart this book was. Ellie is a kid, sure, but she is competent, and she is respected for her competence by her parents and those who know her. That is so refreshing! That doesn’t take away from the tension in the book, either, because Ellie still has a lot to learn. This is a story packed with twists and turns, and the world Little Badger established is endlessly fascinating. I mean, I tend to avoid books with vampires because I feel they have been so overdone, but the way they come across here feels fresh and new, and I LOVED a scene where Ellie and her mom banish an unwelcome vampire.

I hope there are more books set in this world. I would love to visit here again!

Read More

Book Blog: The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

Posted by on Apr 23, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

midnight bargain

The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

out now in print and ebook; BookShopB&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken? 

I checked out this book from my library as part of my reading of Nebula finalists for this year.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. LOOOOOOOVE. It hits all of my sweet spots. A regency-inspired original world, with magic! Women striving for independence against societal expectations! A central romance with a guy who is a respectful, smart, supportive person, not a jerk! Smart heroines! Everything about this book is glorious and wonderful, including an ending that delivered a multitude of surprises and immense satisfaction.

Read More

Book Blog: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Posted by on Apr 16, 2021 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

dictionary of lost words

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Brilliantly written, thoroughly researched, deeply emotional. The Dictionary of Lost Words is an incredible work of literary and historical fiction.

The lead character, Esme, grows up with the Oxford English Dictionary. Motherless, curious, she spends many of her earliest days playing and observing beneath the desk of her father in the ‘Scriptorium,’ set up in a shed on the Oxford grounds. It’s there she finds the abandoned slip for ‘bondmaid’ and begins collecting more words. At first, she steals discards from the Scriptorium, but as she grows up, she realizes there are lost words everywhere–words deemed too crude or low class to be included the decades-long labor of the dictionary, words especially used by women and the dismissed of society. She collects her words along with life experiences.

This is a profound book, truly. It’s about words, and people, and love, and loss. It’s never preachy, but the messages are there. The way everything is delicately laced together is a marvel. The end of the book made me weepy more than once. There are some terrible tragic turns, and then–the very ending is a surprise culmination that resolves everything with stunning sweetness.

Read More