It’s going to be a busy weekend, so I might not get the goal post up tomorrow. So, I’m going to share the rough sketch for the Charms of the Feykin cover. As you can see it’s a really rough sketch, but I love the look of the spear and the way the champions are […]
I am currently posting a series of videos on my BookTube channel (Elizabeth Tyree (Soul Stained Ink) in which I recommend books across age levels. As I was making lists and starting to film, I realized that there was one series that gets a LOT of hype but that I just really didn’t want to recommend people read. When I started really thinking on the whyfors of that decision, I found a few reasons behind it so…let’s count them down (shall we, yes we shall).
Top 10 Reasons why:
I didn’t recommend The Shadow Hunter books for fantasy and/or YA readers.
10) The world is not something incredibly new or exciting. Yes, Cassandra Clare did some interesting things with it. However, the idea of Nephilim, protectors, supernatural wars, and the mist that keeps mere mortals from understanding it all is a well-worn path. While that is not a turn off (and I actually like the books well enough) there isn’t enough of a different spin here to make it worth my effort to suggest.
9) The characters often flip their own personalities. They seem, in a few places, to be people who don’t know their own temperaments. Things that should be handled one way by a character, are most decidedly not. That is confusing, especially for new or slow readers.
8) Rampant Bullying. Think about this…There is a constant feel of bullying coming from the Nephilim, the vampires, the Fey. They all bully each other and seem to really LOVE bullying Clary and Simon as they come into the new knowledge of the Shadow Hunter world.
7) Unhealthy Relationships. Clary and Jase. Clary and Simon. Clary and the Lightfoots. Jase and the Lightfoots. Clary and her parental units. The List could go on and on. The relationships in this series are not typically good and/or healthy. They’re abusive, in multiple ways, and they’re often treated as inconsequential (except for the homo-sexual…who is bullied by himself. That was the only true feeling relationship I spotted).
6) Speaking of unhealthy relationships….EVERYTHING having to do with Jase and Clary’s forbidden love trope. Neither of them handles it well and, quite frankly, it’s a bit pathetic.
5) The evil being depicted is a fallen Nephilim. Yet another trope being trampled to death here. While he has a few decent lines, the use of him and his little minion boy falls quite flat for me.
4) The parental units or lack thereof. Seriously, the way they treat their parents and guardians and get treated in return is just ridiculous. To be fair, 75% or more of the books don’t even include parental type units.
3) The way magic handlers are, well, handled. Let’s see…Magnus Bane is flamboyant and insane and affects this personality but basically just makes it seem ok to do whatever want, to whoever you want, for whatever reason you can come up with. Consequences are a very real thing, no matter who you are or want to be!
2) Confusion, difficulty, and dismay…The books, especially the first two, are very difficult to get in to for many people. The storyline is convoluted and difficult to follow in places and it has discouraged many a reader. Though, to be fair, some people have found the struggle to help them move into the joy of reading. The writing style is hard to handle, drags, and often doesn’t provide the promised size of pay off.
1) OVERHYPED this series is severely overhyped. It is everywhere you look. New series are being spawned left and right, following The Shadow Hunters all over the world and through the ages. People talk about this series A LOT. I don’t know that it deserves the amount of hype it gets. However, the fact remains that most people will have heard about Cassandra Clare and her Shadow Hunters. I wanted to recommend something people probably wouldn’t have already heard all about.
Middle Grade fiction about grief and grieving with a large dose of science thrown in for good measure. Ali Benjamin did a WONDERFUL job with this, check out the book and watch my full chat below.
In the past few months I’ve discovered an author that’s been around awhile, but that I’ve only just discovered. Since then, I’ve read multiple books by this middle grade author and can honestly say that he is my new favorite author.
Chris Grabenstein is a funny, interesting, and intelligent author from Buffalo, New York. He co-writes the I FUNNY, HOUSE OF ROBOTS, TREASURE HUNTERS, and JACKY HA-HA books with James Patterson, as well as writing many of his own, fabulous, works. My current favorite is a three way tie between Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, and Dr. Libris Library. You can find Mr. Grabenstein at Goodreads and at chrisgrabenstein.com.
I caught up with Chris this past week and he very kindly answered a few questions for me to pass along to you. So, without further ado, here is Author Chris Grabensteins Interview.
WONDERLAND is based on my memories of visiting my grandmother every summer in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’d pack up the car and hit the road, stopping at places like South Of The Border and Weeki Wachee Springs (mermaid shows!). While staying at an extended stay motel in Michigan, helping my wife take care of her father, I remembered how much I used to LOVE staying in a motel when I was a kid. Swimming pools! Snack vending machines! Toilets sanitized for my protection. So, I wondered, what if I was a kid who LIVED in a motel!
When writing for ages 8-12, I have to watch my language. No, not that way (even though I do). I have to be more aware of the vocabulary I am using and, if I use a word that may not be in a fifth graders lexicon, put it into a context where the meaning can be understood. I also write for short attention spans because I have one, too, and get bored easily in the long descriptive paragraphs that most readers tend to skip anyway.
When I was writing one, maybe two, books a year I was definitely a pantser. Now, as I attempt to write or coauthor 5-6 books every twelve months, I craft a very tight outline with all the major beats, twists, turns, etc. planted. I find that my working on the outline for a week or two, I save a month or two one the back end with rewrites.
No real superstitions. Just a very boring, self-disciplined work ethic.
Follow Elmore Leonard’s TEN RULES FOR GOOD WRITING
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
Edward Eager’s KNIGHT’S CASTLE, HAMILTON, and UNDERGROUND AIRLINES.
Hello! As the title might make you suspect, I have a few things to go over with you today. The first and foremost thing for us to discuss is that the blog will be changing. I’ve spent the past couple of days setting up an “Author’s Blog” here on WordPress and any strictly writing posts, including glimpses at and excerpts from my writing, will be posted there. I will share the odd post on Here There Be Dragons but if you don’t want to miss out on those posts, it might be better to subscribe to Soul Stained Ink (estyreesoulstainedink.wordpress.com). This blog will continue to be used for book reviews and posts about everyday life.
Speaking of reading! I’ve been given a personal challenge, both by some friends and by my own pride, to read George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. As I have a Mass Market Paperback edition, this book is slightly over 800 pages. So I thought, WHY NOT MAKE IT A READ_A_LONG/BUDDY READ? SO…If you would like to read-a-long with me or just follow my journey, please feel free to join my new Buddy Reads with Beth Goodreads Group! If you don’t have a Goodreads or prefer not to join the group, that’s fine! I’ll be attempting to remember to post weekly Game Reads updates on this blog and I’ll have updates and chats on my BookTube channel if you’d rather go watch my face talk about my thoughts on the book.
You can also keep up to date on Twitter (twitter.com/writerbaby13), where I’m sure I will be lamenting my choice to do this!
I am also getting ready to do a series of book recommendation videos, which I will link on Here There Be Dragons AND I will recommend a few books in the same genre/age level to just you guys, something special for you 😉
Finally, I am contemplating starting a newsletter that would include writing and life updates, perhaps images, and snippets from current works in progress. If that is something you might be interested in receiving via e-mail please leave me a comment letting me know! If several of you might enjoy that, I will get it set up and linked for subscriptions soon.
I hope that you all have a wonderful and blessed week. Don’t forget to check out Soul Stained Ink, the blog and/or the BookTube channel, and get your copy of A Game of Thrones ready!
Written By: Lynne Cox
Illustrated By: Brian Floca
Published 2014 by Schwartz & Wade
Children’s Picture Book
Based on a True Story
Author and swimmer Lynne Cox was on a trip to Christchurch, New Zealand gazing down at the waters of the Avon river when a boy asked if she was looking for Elizabeth, their elephant seal. Once she heard the story, Lynne knew she had to share this with the world! After some research and seeking permission from the town of Christchurch, Lynne brought us this beautiful book.
Brian Floca, a Caldecott award winning illustrator, created a beautiful look of pencil and watercolor looking images that marry the story and illustrations wonderfully.
This book follows the true story of Elizabeth, the elephant seal. Normally, elephant seals live in the cold waters of the ocean and no one is quite certain how or why Elizabeth wound up in the Avon river, but wind up there she did! A beloved member of the community, Elizabeth was quite happy to sun herself in Christchurch until the day she discovered her new favorite spot, across a busy road. The people of her town were afraid for her life and had her towed out to sea…three times. Elizabeth continued to find her way home.
The end of the book has some information on elephant seals that is very interesting and a great addition. I always love when authors include facts in the back of their books because it can lead to some amazing conversations with your child or students. If you are a teacher working with students on either book reviews or science presentations dealing with animals this book could be something wonderful to help them along. I highly recommend this book for all ages!
Cover/illustrations – 4.5/5
Story/Writing Style – 4.5/5
Relatability – 5
Characters – 5
Things to learn – 5
Star Rating – 4.8
I’m beginning an overhaul of my first self-published piece: Dragon on My Neck. I absolutely adore this book. The characters are large pieces of myself and I cringe every time I think about this re-write…but then I read bits and pieces of the book and cringe even more. I was a totally different writer 7 years ago! My writing has evolved and matured and is (hopefully) much smoother and just all around BETTER at this point. This writing maturity has come from living more, reading more, writing more…and, more specifically, writing more pieces of the over arching story of The Stone Dragon Saga. So, perhaps, knowing what I know now will help me to create a more streamlined book? Or maybe I will trash the rewrite and keep the original? I don’t know yet, but I do have a question for you, my friends:
As a writer, do you ever go back and completely re-write something like this? If you are not a write, but a reader, do you ever wish the author had rewritten a book?
Let me know!
This past week was a doozy in the world of words I like to surround myself with and snuggle down in to.
First of all, I joined a Buddy Read/Group Read of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which began for most of us on Monday, June 27th and is continuing on as people read and discuss at their own rates (One of the readers set up a thread on an existing Goodreads group) and so we are all still delving into the book even if we’ve finished as more of our compatriots comment on the different sections. I, myself, completed this book around Wednesday and absolutely adored it (rating around 4.5 stars, but I bumped it up to a full 5 or Goodreads). I own the beautiful floppy paperback version and also borrowed the audio book from Overdrive. It was fabulous, though the physical copy makes it a bit easier to follow the fluid and jumping time frames.
In the middle of reading The Night Circus, a read-a-thon started up…one that I have been anticipating and refining my TBR list for over the past 2 months. The #SmoresandMayhem Middle Grade Read-a-thon ran from July 1st – July 8th and had only one ‘rule’: each book must focus on a story that takes place during/in/around summertime.
For #SmoresandMayhem I managed to read 5 1/2 books (and DNF 1 more).
I re-read The Babysitter’s Club Super Special 1: Babysitters on Board (By Ann M. Martin) and High Wizardry (By Diane Duane). I haven’t read either of these books in so long that it was almost as though I read them for the first time. I remember loving the BSC book and feeling a bit MEH about the wizarding book and..my feelings haven’t really changed, except that I’m more outspoken about them now.
Along with those two I also completed Deep and Dark and Dangerous (By Mary Downing Hahn), The Wish in the Bottle (By Morna McLeod), and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (By Chris Grabenstein) (this was read on audio book and it was AMAZING. Listen to it!). I quit on The Girl who Circumnavigate Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (By Catherynne M. Valente) within the first two chapters. I have handed it over to my mother in order to determine if this is a book that I really do need to try to read again later, when I’m not still on a high from reading a couple of 5 star books prior to picking it up. I’m having the same issue with my 1/2 read book, The Westing Game (By Ellen Raskin)
The cool thing though, is that all the only physical library book I checked out for all of this was High Wizardry…meaning that I knocked out 6 books from my little TBR bookshelves. I’m down to about 45 now!
With all of that reading going on, I did kind of neglect my #HotandSticky Summer Writing Challenge work. I’m still a bit ahead of the game, but not by much with three days of 0 word count so far this month. Today’s (Friday, July 8th) ending target total word count 19,032 and my total current word count is 22,169. I definitely need to get my booty in gear again!
Unfortunately, I’ve lost over half of the original Sylvester outlines and have changed the story so much I’m now stalled in it trying to remember what I wanted so I know what to change (I hate it when I get all switch happy and forget what happens!). So I switched to writing the new children’s chapter book, a sequel to the recently finished Paulonious Punk (which hasn’t even been properly edited yet!) but the past couple of days has just felt like trying to pull cold taffy so all the myriad of picture book ideas, the children’s book, the 5th in the dragon series, the 2 NA/A fantasy stories, and the 2 rewrites are all just being left to their own devices. Normally one will speak to me and the rest get put aside for a bit but right now, right now I’m woefully falling behind. I better get over this soon, though, because I get CRANKY when I don’t write. It’s worse than PMS…it’s SWS (stalled writing syndrome)..and Midol does NOT help! (Coffee, Coke, Dark Chocolate, Chips and Salsa, 90s alternative music, and Netflix binges…these help. Please send some and save my poor family).
All that being said, here is a clip from the children’s chapter book. I’ve only just begun but I really enjoyed this scene, I hope you do too!
That afternoon Pauly called an emergency meeting of the adventuring club. With Fredrick and Mark Finkle still out of town at their lake house for the summer, Pauly, John, and Grandpa were the only official members available, but a quick vote allowed Sarah to tag to along too. If she got too annoying they could stick Grandma with her and ask them to bake cookies or something.
“This is gonna be SO GREAT,” Pauly exclaimed before remembering his role and sheepishly banging his small gavel on the president’s podium (a miniature dinosaur with flat top hair do and a mouth that would open and burp bubbles when you tickled its left ear). “I officially call this meeting to order! Is there any new business to attend to?”
“Yes,” Grandpa Punk solemnly raised his hand and waited to be called on. “Thank you, President Pauly,” he cleared his throat. “THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME!!!!!!!”
This caused the entire group to dissolve into a laughing it that was so loud and long it disturbed Grandmother Punk, who was in the process of baking and became afraid that her desserts would fall apart if the laughter continued.
When they had sobered up and managed to settle down a little, Pauly posed a serious question.
Fetching the club’s brand new “adventure notebook” (a pleather bound journal with the picture of a mountain on the cover) from its place of honor on top of the cluttered old desk in the corner, he began, “I think that we should each write down what’s going on and our thoughts and stuff about it from now until the end of the trip. That way we have a…a….a.”
“A reckoning of events for posterity,” Grandpa suggested with a smile.
“Exactly, a whatever it is that Granpa just said,” Pauly straightened his spine and schooled his facial expression into one of solemn thoughtfulness, “All in favor?”
Two ‘ayes’ and a ‘yupyup’ rang out among the many inventions and tools of the fort/shop.
“It has been decided,” Pauly intoned seriously, “So it shall be done.“ He passed the notebook and feathered pen to his second in command. “Johnny, will you start us out please?”