Top 5 Wednesday: Settings I Want to See More Of

topTop 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is hosted by Sam at thoughtsontombs. Sam is actually the one that first got me thinking about the topic of female friendships several months ago and thus spawned two different blog posts of mine which were fairly popular.  If you want to know more about Top 5 Wednesday, you can check out the Goodreads page.

Now most of these places I want to see more of might not be all that rare, I just haven’t read many books set in these places and thus I want more.  There could be hundred out there set in these locales but generally I’m just newer to the genera or I haven’t picked up many books set there.  Also a heads up the locations I have choose are a bit of a hodge podge mixture of things and ideas. 

1. Oceans.  Because pirates.  And whales.  Also Krakens.  Ocopuses, nets, shrimp, mermaids, coral, boats, etc, etc, etc.  More Oceans Please!

2. Canada.  Really, unless you are reading lesser-known Canadian authors (for which I rarely ever do, whoops) books set in Canada are hard to find.  Though since I don’t read as much urban fantasy or contemporary, this could be a limiting factor in my ability to find books set in Canada.  

3. Space.  Yes I know but I’m just getting into SciFi so I haven’t read too many books set in space.

4. Virtual reality worlds.  Again with the SciFi thing, this is a new one and I’ve been eating up books (and anime) set in virtual reality video games.  

5. Complex, original, culturally-diverse, interesting, rich, consistent fantasy worlds.  Finding a good original world that fits all of these things is very hard.  

Honourable mention: Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.  We see a lot of (mostly Euro-centric) medieval stories with a few more recently that have influences outside of the traditional Cis White Male Europe story, but rarely do I see stories (have I ever seen such a story?) set further back in time.  

Got any good suggestions that fall into the places I have mentioned? Let me know!

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Popular books I haven’t read (but might eventually)

listHere are a couple of books or series that are very popular right now or in the last few years that I have not read and don’t expect to read in the foreseeable future.  But that does not mean I’ve crossed them off the list entirely.  

1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – These popular books are on my to-read list, but very very far down. 

2. The Percy Jackson books and all the rest of it by Rick Riordan – I have read the first book and watched the two silly movies, but I don’t expect I will continue with the series even if they are popular. 

3. Game of Thrones by GRR Martin – DNF’ed the first book about 85% of the way through.  Don’t expect I will revisit them but anything is possible.  

4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead –  Not really my thing but maybe someday. 

5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – Not really my thing, but will likely watch the movie.  

6. 5th wave by Rick Yancey – Not particularly interested. 

7. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – another on the to-read list, but fairly far down. 

Book theme songs (past Top 5 Wednesday topic)

Music-Notes-640x1136This was originally a Top 5 Wednesday topic (more info here), however there is really only one song that I instantly associate with a book.  To this day I can’t listen to the song without thinking of the book and I can’t think about the book without thinking of this song.

I found Skinny Love around the time I (finally) got my hands on Mastiff by Tamora Pierce.  First through the famous Birdy cover but I listened to the Bon Iver original version right after the cover and listened to both equally while reading the book.  When I listen to a (great) cover of a song first, before the original version, the cover of the song is the one I typically prefer.  It’s the rule of firsts.  However, this song is one of the rare times that I love both the cover which I listened to first and the original song.

On the surface I don’t these two are really well associated with each other.

Mastiff is the third book in a trilogy that follows a junior member of a medieval police force that attempts to tackle crime in the poorest regions of the capital city.  In this book Beka Cooper deals with a kidnapping case that seems to be tied to the slave trade.

Skinny love is a song about love going sour:

Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

However, both the book and the song provoke strong emotion in me.  Then there is The Thing.  In capitals.  If you have read the book you know what The Thing is.  The Thing is not talked about by members of the fandom as it is very controversial.  I bring up The Thing as it does somewhat tie the song to the end of Mastiff.  

Do any of the books you have read have a theme song?

 

Book Recommendation: Inda by Sherwood Smith

inda-bigSo you want a book series that is like Game of Thrones with the a large, interesting cast of characters spread over multiple locations.  You want a medievalesque setting with political intrigue and drama, but without graphic depictions of violence and death.  You want great descriptions of what is happening without the endless discussion of all the food items being eaten during the scene.

If you want all this and more I think I have a book recommendation for you.  If you don’t want all this and more, I still have a book recommendation for you.  This recommendation is non-spoilery for major plot points but if you are one that wants to know nothing before reading a book, this might not be the post for you as I talk about a theme or two and mention some things about unnamed characters found in narrative.

Meet the first book in a series of four books by the amazing author, Sherwood Smith.

Inda-225x300

Inda by Sherwood Smith

Published August 1st 2006

Publisher: DAW

Pages: 576

Genera: Adult low fantasy with some magical elements

Number of times read: approximately 5 times plus several skims

Inda is named after the main character in this book series. As a second son, Inda is supposed to stay home, as is tradition, to learn to defend his father’s and one day his brother’s lands.  However, due to political reasons to be discovered Inda ends up being sent to the Royal academy, a place traditionally meant only for first sons to learn to fight and to lead.  What happens at the academy and the friends Inda makes ends up having long term consequences on the kingdom of Marloven Hesea and the surrounding lands.

Inda’s journey continues and expands in the rest of the series all of which have been released: The Fox, King’s Shield and Treason’s Shore.

So what makes this series so great?  To start with, it takes place in a large, complex, rich and original world which includes many diverse and different cultures and groups of people.  Just take a look at this map which is hand-drawn by the talented Sherwood Smith:

maps

That is one damn good map.

What are some other things I love about this series?

It’s complicated.  There are multiple story arcs that are complex, interconnected and interesting.  Unlike Game of Thrones were there are a few arcs and characters I did not like or bored me for whatever reason all the arcs and main characters are interesting and have depth.  These novels are complex but not in a way that bogs you down with the details.  Rather these novels have level of complexity that reveal itself after a re-read or three and after you read some of Sherwood Smith’s other works.  Inda has a writing style that is easy to read yet also has a complexity that I don’t see very often in novels.

That’s another thing, this series has many spin-off series and continuations.  All that world building has not gone to waste as Sherwood Smith has written many more novels that explore different parts of her world and even made a nifty timeline to show how the various books fit together (note: some of these books are yet to be released).  If that is not enough, she has extra snipets to be found on her website and elsewhere (linked on her website)  to enjoy!  The Inda series does stand on it’s own, but if you enjoy it as much as I do there is a lot more where that came from!  To go back to the ‘it’s complicated’ point I made, the more books you read the more connections you can find between the books and the deeper you can go in the complexity.

Pirates.  Need I say more?  And yet they are ~complex~ pirates and may make you question what you would call a pirate.

Pirate_shipThis series is amazingly sex positive.  Sex is a normal part of the main society that the series focuses on (and other societies that are introduced) and they way this culture deals with sex is very sex positive.  Children growing up in this society know sex exists, but in an age-appropriate manner (there is an adorable story about this to be found in the books) and coming ‘of age’ – basically hitting puberty, which is described as being different for every character – is treated as a wonderful thing.  To top that off, LGBT characters are plentiful and a normal part of this world, meaning that are not mocked by the narrative and there are many main characters that are gay or lesbian or bisexual or asexual (I can’t off the top of my head think of a transgender character but I could be wrong) and these characters have interesting and complex narratives.  There are characters that are demisexual, basically only having sex with those they have a real connection to and characters that have multiple partners and are in healthy relationships with all of them.  Now, this is an adult book, yet the sex is not graphic for those that are not ready or prefer not to read about it.  The sex is ‘fade to black’ but the narrative of the book does talk about how is having sex with who as it does impact the character’s actions and thus the consequences to the rest of the kingdom.  Sex is not the main focus of the book, though, for those trying to inch away because it’s all about the romance.  It’s not. It’s about the characters and their relationships, which does include but is not limited to sex. 

Fantasy elements exist in this series, but they don’t dominate the story, which is one of my favourite things.  I love books that the presence of magic impacts everything happening in the narrative, but I also love stories that have magic but it’s not the be-all-end-all in the story.  These books are the latter.  The magic is more ‘commonplace’, things like doing dishes or using the toilet.  Then there is also the child spell for people that cannot have a child themselves, it makes a child from both of them (neat, huh? Also sex positive!).

This series is more character-driven then plot-driven, yet that does not make it a slow or uninteresting story; indeed there are several plot arcs to be found.  But a lot of the focus is on friendships and loyalty that extends through time and the consequences that these can have.  There are many, many examples of great friendships to be found throughout this series.  Male-male friendships.  Male-female friendships.  Female-female friendships.  And with all the sex everyone has with everyone there is very little jealously for the sake of drama.  Sure jealously exists but its not the ‘teenage female being jealous of another female and putting her down’ tire old trope that is typically seen.  The characters are interesting, morally complex and everyone has their own character development throughout the series, which considering the vast number of characters is a feat in itself.

neurodivergenceI think I’m going to wrap up the list of things I love with one more point.  There is an author-confirmed neurodivergent character.  Now the autistic character is not stated as having autism in the book, this is a confirmation outside the series.  Some people might find this a plus, others might not.  I think it’s interesting as I didn’t catch this the many times I read the books, though admit I knew less about neurodiverence at the time.  Now I want to go back and re-read the series to see what my thoughts are since I do tend to like being told a character is neurodivergent as its better for diversity, but also coming up with your own interpretations of the text is a marvellous thing.  Additionally, there is a character with a stutter and an apparent learning disability.  Representation.  It matters. 

So what are some downsides to these novels?  Well I mentioned not all the planned or written novels are out yet.  That is a bummer.  There are a few stuck in publication limbo at the moment but hopefully will be out soon.  Yet, this really is not a negative as there are still more then a dozen books set in this world to read.  Another downside is that it can be hard to find some of her books.  Fun story time, I got my first credit card specifically so that I could buy her book “A Stranger to Command” from B&N in the states since I couldn’t find it in Canada.  Now this has to do with publishers and whatnot, but it’s also a problem with libraries (as not everyone can buy books).  A mix of being less well-known and harder to find in bookstores makes is fairly hard to find her books in libraries.  The Inda series is one of her more popular (set of) books so it’s easier then others, but still a downside. 

Finally, there are more male main characters then female main characters, however as I mentioned, these books are very sex positive and also female positive and the female characters that are present are important and interesting.  Also the number of characters with their names, nicknames and titles might intimidate at first, but there are online resources to help with that (check out the Sherwood Smith website) and I personally did not need them when I first made my way through the books.

wistheria

This flower is Wisteria and has some importance in the series

And though I have spent a long time thinking about and writing this review, I still do not think I have done this series justice.  It is just too good, too interesting and complex to put into words how great it is.

Have you read Inda?

Have I managed to convince you to read Inda?

The neurodiverent necklace can be found and bought at Lulus Stampings Etsy shop (found here) which has a wide variety of interesting jewellery that it would be hard to pick from however if there is something you want that you don’t see she also makes custom designs as well!  The image was used with permission.  Please check her out!

I need a makeover!

It’s been several months since I started this blog and though I dropped the ball on it in the past month and a half after the initial honeymoon phase, it’s still going and I think I have gotten my blogging groove back.  However, I think I have out-grown my current blog appearance and am craving a makeover or restructuring.  There are certain things I love about how it looks currently (mostly the layout and colour scheme), certain things I don’t like and mostly I feel like it needs more effort to make it look nice – such as interesting images in my posts to break up the words.

On one hand I’m excited to do this and have a nice, shiny new blog.  On the other hand I know it’ll be a lot of work because I’ll want to go back and change all my previous posts to fit the new theme.

So, it’ll happen as some point soon and if any of you fantastic bloggers out there have tips, hints, tricks or suggestions, please hit me up!

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Literary Fathers/Father Figures

topTop 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is hosted by Sam at thoughtsontombs. Sam is actually the one that first got me thinking about the topic of female friendships several months ago and thus spawned two different blog posts of mine which were fairly popular.  If you want to know more about Top 5 Wednesday, you can check out the Goodreads page.

This topic is important to me as I feel there is an under-representation of good parental figures in YA literature in general, as I have also discussed in past blog posts.

In on real order (aka the order I thought of them), here are my top five fictional fathers:

 

1. George Cooper from the Trickster series by Tamora Pierce – Oh George.  My first fictional crush.  He’s first introduced to avid readers of Tamora Pierce in the Song of the Lioness quartet as a thief and a spy.  While he is not a main character in Aly’s story (his daughter), he is described as a great father and husband just as I always expected he would be.   

2. Keladry of Mindelan’s dad, Piers of Mindelan in the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce – Another side character, but one that is so supportive of Kel’s choices.  In the opening scene of the first book in her quartet, Kel’s mother and father are there telling her to take all the time they need to make the tough choice that she has to make at 10 years old.  They give her the advice and space she needs to make this choice and you know that either way Kel will have loving and supporting parents to fight for her.  

3. Mr. Weasley in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – I think this one will be on a lot of peoples’ lists.  He many not be the best or most attentive of fathers with the number of kids he has and his work and side interests, but you can’t argue that he doesn’t love and do anything he can to keep his children happy, safe and healthy. 

4. Indevan “Inda” Algara-Vayir’s father, Jarend Algara-Vayir in the Inda series by Sherwood Smith – Again, not a major player yet when his son is in very serious danger he risks much to save his life.  Then again when his daughter (and the kingdom) are in danger.  

5. Harry Callahan in the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane – This is the man that basically shrugged hosting several alien wizards on a foreign exchange program.  I love his growth during this series as we see him come to terms with having a wizard for a daughter.  Bonus dad in this series: Kit’s father. Mr. Rodriguez.  

5. Stevic G’ladheon in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britian – shhhh, this list is totally 5 people long.  Stevic is a single father, the first on this list, and one the loves, absolutely, his daughter, Karigan, and wants to do everything right by her.  However, he does not understand why her ‘choice’ to be a Green Rider (messengers of great importance who have a dangerous job.  And magic) and why she leaves him and the business that he built with his own hands, sweat and blood to go do such a dangerous job.  Despite this, there is little animosity between him and his daughter and he does come around eventually.   

5. For step-fatherly love: Suzannah Simon’s new step dad in the Mediator series by Meg Cabot – He has three children of his own but take on a step-daughter with love and pride.  Even when that step-daughter is not all that grateful and has a habit of getting into trouble (because she sees ghosts and often times they are angry and fight back).  I also want to note that while Suzannah’s biological father is dead, he still appears in the books and is super supportive.   

5. For a father-figure: Gershom of Haryse in the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce – Gershom is an important a mentor and patron of Beka’s who encourages her to become a Provost Guard, a sort-of police officer in a medievalish city.  None of his own children had the same enthusiasm about the job s Beka did and so when, at 8 years old, she solves a case that he could not and almost cost him his job, he took in her family and taught Beka more.  There is a level of respect and kindness about their relationship even with the constraints of class that are between them.  

Yup, totally only 5 people here.  *Whistles* 

Reading habits tag

green tag1. Where do you read in your home?

I read all over my home, but I most often read in my bed.  Second most often on the couch, third at the kitchen table, forth and fifth are roughly equal and those are outside and in the bathroom.  

2. Do you use a bookmark or something handy?

Mostly something handy, which is generally the library receipt slip, but I have bought a few beautiful bookmarks recently that I want to start using more.  However, I’m afraid I will lose them in library books when I take them back, so I don’t use them as much as I would like. 

3. Can you stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or page break?

Yes I can stop reading, though my brain prefers a break of some kind, I generally start reading after the break then want to finish the section…. it’s a nasty spiral.  Thus I have learned to stop in the middle of the page.  Also avoids mini cliffhangers.  Plus in science when reading during incubations, often you have to run in the middle of the page to do something. 

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yes, often.  Didn’t realize this was even a questionable thing to do. 

5. Music or TV while reading?

I can read with these things going on, but in general I do not actively choose to have tv or music on while reading. 

6. One book at a time or several at once?

Generally, only one at a time due to reading books fast (within a day for about 60% of books I read) however I am good with keeping track of stories and details, so I’m not bothered by more than one at once. But when that happens that means the first book is doing a terrible job at holding my attention.

7. Reading only at home or everywhere?

Mostly everywhere but I do prefer to read when I know I have more then a 15 minute stretch of uninterrupted time so I don’t tend to read in short 2 minute bursts on say buses or in lines.  

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I do not and think this is a terrible habit for people to have, (talking to you, Mom).  However, I *do* have to watch myself as in the middle of an action-packed scene I will tend to skip paragraphs or look over at the opposite page to see what is happening, something I hate doing and required me to cover up the page to force myself not to read ahead.  Otherwise, if I’m super super bored but want to know how the book ends I will skim.  

9. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

DO NOT EVER BREAK A SPIN!  THEY ARE TOO IMPORTANT AND PRECIOUS. 

10. Do you write in your books?

Only textbooks.