Recommending an Author, with a twist!

RecommendIf you have read more than 2 blog posts on my blog then you would know I love, love love Tamora Pierce novels.  Since she is tied for favourite author and I have already recommended a series by the author she shares that honour with (Sherwood Smith) I thought I would be good (and past time) to do a recommendation for the Queen that is Tamora Pierce.  However, I wanted to do something a bit different and hopefully interesting and had the perfect inspiration while watching a video by Lala from Books and Lala.  In the video she discussed 5 things she hates in YA literature and every single point she brings up is something Tamora Pierce doesn’t do and it further highlighted to me how great an author she is.  So I thought I would share!

1. Underdeveloped and Bland Female Protagonists.

Tamora Pierce started writing when she couldn’t find the types of stories she liked with female lead characters.  There were many male led adventure stories out there, but not many female led adventures.  So she wrote her own.  And each story centers contains not only an interesting female lead (she does have male PoV characters in certain books, but females dominate) but each book she creates has many important, unique and interesting female main and side/minor characters.  Her characters have a purpose, thoughts, values, wants, needs, goals, personalities etc which makes them individuals within the larger story.  Her characters are not the typical (as Lala said)

bland, brunette, a little to skinny, eyes a little too big, a little klutzy, a little nerdy, has a couple of friends, has never really dated and doesn’t have super strong opinions about anything

type of character.  Keladry of Mindelan from the Protector of the Small series is tall and muscular, has several friends and grew up in a culture that didn’t stigmatise gay or lesbian relationships and so is confused when someone else uses the possibility of being gay as an insult (has opinions but also a developed character because of her unique background of growing up elsewhere).    

2. Fake Flaws.

Some characters are a little more balanced with the flaws then others, however every character Tamora Pierce writes on top of being unique in the ways I mentioned above, has unique and real flaws.  And not the ‘character trait’ type non-flaws that Lala discusses.  For example, in Tamora Pierce’s first and arguably best-known series, Alanna is stubborn and has a temper that gets her into trouble.  Lala also talks about the characters not being self-aware of their flaws (for example when a character is obviously whiny but they don’t think that they are).  Tamora Peirce’s characters might know recognise every flaw, but they do know they have them.  Alanna knows she has a temper.

On a related note, Tamora Pierce writes characters with weaknesses, too.  They are not the best at everything.  Trisana Chandler has very unique magic and can do a lot of things that no one else can, but her magic has repercussions on her.  She gets headaches and  has to wear special coloured glasses due to some of the vision magic she does because it assaults her senses so much.  

3. Drastic Personality Change.

Almost all readers agree that we like to see characters develop over the course of a novel or a series.  We like to see them react to the things or situations they have gone through.  But at the same time, they are still the same people at their core so we want to see them react similarly as they would have at the beginning of the story.  I like to think of it as they would still have a similar thought process but the outcome of the process is different now that the character has learned from what they have gone through.  One of the best examples of Tamora Pierce having a character go through a lot in his life but still remaining fundamentally the same is Briar Moss.  He goes from a street kid with no family to having money and a family and a career, etc.  But he still makes choices as if he was on the streets.  He saves money for bad times.  He doesn’t like sleeping off the ground.  He carries around weapons just in case.  He is protective of what he has.  He is not immediately trusting of new people.  Then he goes through some more hardships and develops PTSD but that still does not change his personality so much that he is unrecognisable.  

Also Tamora Pierce does not do the “falls in love and then changes dramatically” trope.  Or the “I just meet you and now I will die for you” trope.   

4. Friends who get dropped over nothing. 

Tamora Pierce writes amazing female friendships.  She both has characters develop friendships on page and has characters that were already friends continue to be friends on page.  Then she also has characters go through major life changes and fall out of friendship and shows how they interact and come to terms with the new normal, all of which happens in an organic and realistic manner.  An example of this is Sandry, Trisana, Briar and Daja in the Emelan books.  By the 9th one they have fallen out of sorts with each other and the book chronicles this.  

5. A lack of diversity. 

I’m of the opinion that white authors can write diverse characters, they just shouldn’t write about diverse character stories.  Basically, as an example, have black characters in your story but don’t write about what it’s like to be black unless you are; let PoC or neurodivergent or disabled people handle those types of stories.  Instead, white authors should include diversity in their stories in a way that normalises the existence of these characters.  In a way that lets a young black child know they too can find a dragon egg and raise the baby or an Asian child save the kingdom from the hands of an evil king or a gay teenager becoming the leader of a gang of thieves.  The colour of their skin or their sexuality is a part of them and the story, but it’s secondary to the plot of story.  

Daja is black in Tamora Pierce’s Emelan universe.  Briar is golden brown.  Both of these things are explicitly stated but it does no limit their story.  Daja faces discrimination not because she is black but because she is a outcast due to being the only survivor of a tragedy, which in her culture is seen a bad luck.  The colour of her skin in her story is not important and she get to have several grand adventures during the course of 6 novels.  In Tamora Pierce’s other universe its much more ‘white default’ yet there are inter-racial relationships, something Lala mentioned she has not ever seen.  There are also LGBT+ characters (also present in the Emelan universe).  She does not always get things 100% correct but is the type to do her research and try better next time. 

Want to know more?

Tamora Pierce has been writing for decades: Alanna’s story was published in the early 80s.  Since then she has written something like 30 books and many short stories and has a new triology forthcoming.  While her early works are more middle-grade in writing, they do deal with important topics and I don’t think they should be overlooked.  Over time as her writing improved and publishers allowed her to write longer books she has developed in to a more young adult level author. Her two universes are passionately loved by readers.  While reading her books in chronological order might give you a better sense of the timeline of the universe, each book and each individual series does stand on it’s own and can be understood without prior reading.  

I honestly believe everyone should read her books as I think there is something there for everyone.  

Thoughts and decisions

thoughtsEver feel like you have written a great post but it didn’t get the attention you wanted it to?  Likely all of us bloggers have at some point, if not almost always.  Most of the posts that I feel this way about I wrote before I really had anyone that read my blog.  

While one of the ways I have thought of to help fix this that will also positively affect anyone that visits my blog space is to organize a list of blog posts for easy finding.  Sure, I know this is not news to do this for like 86% of blogger, but really what I’m saying is this: 

I will be adding a handy index type thing to my blog soon and announcing it in a blog post like this will keep me accountable to doing so.  

I’ve also been thinking of doing some sort of spotlight or TbT feature thing, but I think an index is more useful to most people at the present. 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Want to Read Before the End of the Year

topAgain, if you haven’t heard about Top 5 Wednesday, you can find the info on it in the Goodreads page. Thanks Lainey and Sam for making and maintaining this weekly meme.

Most of the books on this list are part of the roughly a dozen I own but have yet to read.  One I have not bought, but have heard such good things about it that I suspect I will end up owning it. Also, funny enough, all of these books I bought and/or heard about before BookTube and before I heard about the hype.  Perhaps the hype I found out about later is the reason I haven’t read them yet?

1. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

2. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

3. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

4. Storm Glass by Maria V. Synder

5. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Honourable mentions (i.e. I own these but they are a bit further down the list):

Half Bad by Sally Green and Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima. 

 

Summer Olympics Book Tag

tagI started the Olympics with a book recommendation to get you in the mood so I think I should end the Olympics with this book tag!

This tag was created by Shannon at It Starts at Midnight, however I found it on Joey’s Thoughts and Afterthoughts.

Disclaimer: there are several middle of the series books given here as examples and I have not specified which. 

Opening Ceremony: a book you loved from the first page

I remember The Naming by Alison Croggon having such a unique (to me at the time) introduction that it dragged me right into the story.  

Cycling: favourite road trip book

Never read a book with an actual road trip in it (as far as I can remember?) but two good books which feature travelling to new places are Plains of Passage (Jean M Auel) and The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima.

Triathalon: a book with a good love triangle

I can’t think of a book with a good love triangle, tbh.  However, I will name The Woman Who Rides like a Man (and to an extent the book after that one, Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce) as a great alternative to the love triangle.

Handball : a book you didn’t really get

Hmmmmm.  Maybe the Hobbit.  Yes that Hobbit.  Sure I ‘got’ it, but I couldn’t get past to writing style to ‘get’ it, get why people love it. 

Beach Volleyball: a book set in the summer

Wow, this took longer to think of one then it should have.  Several of Diane Duane’s Young Wizard’s books are set in summer. 

Fencing: a book with fighting

Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce (land battles).  Also The Fox by Sherwood Smith (water battles).  

Gymnastics: a book with plot twists

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce.  Several present and most not predictable but not tacky or a cop-out, which are the best kind.

Swimming: a book that made you sob

The only book that has ever made me cry is A Wizard’s Dilemma by Diane Duane.  If you have read it, you will know why. 

Golf: a slow paced book

I found Illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) really slow to start off but it did pick up after about half way through the book.  Also Rook by Sharon Cameron 

Trampoline: a childhood favourite

I loved the Magic Tree House books (Mary Pope Osborne), if you want to go way back.  Also Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey) and the Dragon Slayer’s Academy (Kate McMullan).  

Equestrian: a book featuring animals

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce is a really good one.  

Hurdles: a book you struggled to finish

A Game of Thrones by GRR Martin and The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks  (still have not finished them).  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and Shades of Doon by Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp.  Wizards of Mars by Diane Duane (more for personal reasons then book reasons). 

Synchronized Swimming: a book with a great friendship

Any of Tamora Pierce’s works.  Also the Inda series by Sherwood Smith and Young Wizard’s series by Diane Duane. 

Favorite Buzz Words (Previous Top 5 Wednesday topic)

beeIf you want to know more about Top 5 Wednesday, you can check out the Goodreads page.

Recently, the buzz words used to sell a book that have gotten me hooked have been as follows:

Dragons

Space/Spaceships/Interplanetary Travel

Virtual Reality

Historically, these buzz words have made me pick up the book, and they still work on me:

Knights (especially lady knights)

Swords

Castles

Magic

Assassins/thieves 

These are all very generic terms, in particular the last few.  I am still selective of the books I read even if these buzz words are used to describe them. 

Books I’d buy right now if I had $500 to spend

There are several categories of books that I would buy if I had a $500 shopping spree.  Here are the books I would buy and why:

The must-haves-because-I-need-to-read:

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

The Pretties (aka I-need-them-for-my-shelves):

Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Complete set of the Harry Potter books (though I’d have to finally pick which covers I want)

Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman

The must-buy-so-that-I-can-spread-the-love (aka give away to people):

Inda by Sherwood Smith

First Test by Tamora Pierce

The I’m Curious:

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Wonderbook: Illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

Like all of Maria V Snyder’s books

 

Note: these would all be physical books, some hard cover but others soft.  A rough total of book prices has me at about $350 dollars atm so I guess there will be a second instalment of this post!  What would you buy?

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Feel Differently About

topSo I messed up and did this week’s Top 5 Wednesday last week, so I’m going to do last week’s topic this week!  You can find the schedule for Top 5 Wednesday here.

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – kinda a chat, but I gave this 4.5 stars upon reading it but then it became the best book of 2015, beating out several 5 star books.  I recognise it had it’s faults but it did leave a great impression on me.

2. The Magicans by Lev Grossman – I gave this something like 2 stars and, again, while I don’t think I would really change my rating of this book, I think after having watched the TV show I do appreciate what it did have a bit more.  But I still love TV Eliot the best out of the book and the TV show.  

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling – I did not like this book the first time I read it and remembered almost nothing about it.  The second time I read it I had started with this book and continued on to the rest of the books in the series, which I had not read at the time.  I did a recent re-read of the entire series at once and I came to appreciate this book much more.  I still dislike whiny Harry and don’t like Dumbledore as much from this book on, but I do appreciate this book rather than just writing it off as a terrible book.

4. Epic by Conor Costick – Largely haled by me as the best book of 2016 so far, but looking back at it, while I did like the book, I don’t think it was outstanding.  Yes, it was good book with interesting characters and a great plot line, but I think the reason it stands out to me know is that it was one of 2 books that started my transition into more SciFi reads and TV shows and the interest in virtual reality genera.  

5. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline – This is an interesting one best I had high expectations of this book based on many stellar reviews but was very ‘meh’ about it: it wasn’t really my thing but had a few good parts.  Then I read more reviews on the subject and started to develop more negative feelings about the book due to it having a typical white man self insert lead with the female crush that he ends up getting in the end, blah blah blah, nothing really all that spectacular.   With about a year’s distance from this book I have more or less came back to meh, but like Conor Kostick’s Epic, it did spark the move to read more SciFi.