Tag Archive: books

Top 4 Book Series About Dragons

Hello everyone

Today I am sharing my top four series with dragons in them. There is always a different way to imagine dragons and write about them and these books all do it quite differently and I love all of them

1. The Last Dragon Chronicles

all seven book covers from http://zookiesnotepad.blogspot.com/

The Last Dragon Chronicles is a seven book series of middle grade books by Chris D’Lacey. I was given the first two by my aunt when I was in second grade and the last one came out when I was in 8th grade so I pretty much grew up on these and I love them to death. The first book is title The Fire Within and it sets up what becomes one of the most elaborate and intricate worlds I have ever experienced. These books are set in contemporary New England, but there is a twist. The main character, David, rents a room from a woman named Liz who sells clay dragons, some of these dragons also come alive. The whole series is fantastic and exciting. It explores new types of dragonlore and creates an entirely new rich universe. Also, in book two, polar bears become a big part of the story and the series starts to address climate change. The first few books are definitely middle grade, but the series’ complexity increases with each book, culminating in the immensely complex finale.

2. The Inheritance Cycle

The Inheritance Cycle Covers from https://brownbooks.org/2012/09/09/the-inheritance-cycle/

A very good argument could be made for The Inheritance Cycle to be number one instead of number two and to that I say, please ignore my numbering system because all of these books are ranked the same in my heart. The Inheritance Cycle by Christoper Paoloni is another series I grew up on. These books are definitely at least YA, bordering on adult fantasy. They are written in a very high register and resemble Lord of the Rings in their epic quality. The first book, Eragon, begins the story of my favorite farm boy and the unimaginable heights he will reach. I don’t want to say too much and spoil anything for those of you that haven’t read it, but if you haven’t please go read it now. The books are thick, but totally worth it. As it true of all the books/series on this list, the dragons in this universe are wildly different from anything else I’ve read. They have an intricacy that is portrayed so well and so elegantly. Please read these books and then come back and we can talk about them in the comments because they are amazing.

3. Seraphina & Shadow Scale

Seraphina and Shadow scale covers from https://splteenmachine.com/2015/10/16/seraphina-and-shadow-scale-by-rachel-hartman/

Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman make up the most refreshing fantasy couplet I’ve ever seen. Her imagining of dragons is yet again completely unique and much more science fiction than the first book would lead you to believe. These two books blend fantasy, a contemporary style and science fiction seamlessly. Not to mention that Rachel Hartman’s writing style is one of my all time favorite. She is amazing. These two books came out over the last five years. I’ve reviewed both of them more in depth previously on this blog: Shadow Scale review, Seraphina review. They are great. Please go read them.

4. The Rain Wilds Chronicles

Rain wilds Chronicles covers from http://dragonsheroesandwizards.blogspot.com/2014/04/fantasy-series-review-rain-wilds-chronicles-by-robin-hobb.html

I don’t know if you still believe me when I say fresh perspective on dragons, but Robin Hobb’s Rain Wilds Chronicles has a fresh perspective on dragons. Her universe is full of backstory and she has other series that exist in this same universe, but at different times. It’s amazing. This series has a fantastic cast of strong female characters from varying backgrounds. It also combines some more contemporary style with the traditional fantasy style like Seraphina but past the dragons, the similarities stop there. Hobb’s writing style is entirely different from Hartman’s and this series confronts the challenges of societal interactions between humans and humans and humans and dragons and dragons and dragons. It’s got all the permutations and it handles all of them so well. These books also confront resource allocation and sustainability, but it’s really subtle. Everything in these books are so subtle. Hobb blends the world together so well.

What are you favorite dragon books? Please tell me. I need more dragon books to read.

In the meantime, if you’ve read any of these books let me know and we can chat about how awesome they are.

Until next time,

-Alora

P.S. I got my pictures from the following: The Last Dragon Chronicles, The Inheritance Cycle, Seraphina and Shadow Scale, The Rain Wilds Chronicles.

September Writing Update: I’M SO BEHIND!

Me about to start a writing session a couple weeks ago.

Hello friends!

Remember how I excitedly posted this blog a while back about my timeline for Ahlam? Well that time line proposed a finished first draft by October 1st and I haven’t written in a solid week. Yikes.

I was doing really well and then this last week, I’ve just gotten real sad. I’ve been focusing on feeding myself and keeping my apartment livable, while also trying to keep myself from getting too sad to go to work. Those things are going well. I washed my sheets tonight. I’ve been eating in my bed a lot, so that was long overdue. Also, this weekend, I’m going to the grocery store to stock up on healthy options. I’ve eaten way too much candy and crap this week because I’m running low / am out of yummy healthy food. I’ve mainly been subsisting on noodles and peanut butter, besides the candy.

I went home last weekend though! I spent four days (Thursday through Sunday) back in Nashville chilling with the fam. It was amazing. This weekend, I’ve made plans to go thrift shopping with Mimi and we’re going to go to Ikea and pick out a couch for my apartment. I’m dying without one. Basically, I’m slowly getting my life back on track after it crashed and burned emotionally for many, many days. That said, I am hoping to get back on track with my writing quickly and finish my draft by Mid-October. At the very least, I would like to finish my first draft by November, so I can do NaNoWriMo on a new project. I have never won real NaNoWriMo, only Camp NaNoWriMo. Also, the theme for this year is space and I need an excuse to buy myself space swag.

The writing itself, when I manage to do it, is getting a lot harder. I’ve passed the easy exposition, setting up the plot stuff and now I’m plowing into large emotion filled scenes and rising action. It’s been really difficult to write because Ahlam, herself is going through a lot. Her brother is missing, she’s at a new job, and she feels really isolated. In order to write the scenes well, I have to tap into angst of years past and / or imagine if my little brother suddenly ran away from home and we couldn’t find him. As you can imagine, that makes writing at a swift pace very difficult.

Nearly every scene is emotionally taxing and requires a lot more thought and time than the first 30 thousand words of the book. The scenes aren’t bad though. They take a long time to write, but I think this book is turning out really well. I know it’s a rough draft and I have a lot of changes and real research that I need to do before I can finish it. However, I am quite proud of it so far.

I’ve gotten back into the swing of my content creation this week. After no videos last week and only a blog, I’ve written this blog, posted my WogsVlogs video and already filmed my alorabora video for tomorrow. I just need to edit it. Things are back on the up an up, so I expect lots more writing in my future.

How are your writing / creative projects going? Hit any snags?

Talk to you soon,

-Alora

P.S. If you want updates on my writing, while I write, I always tweet about my writing sessions.

Good Bye, Complete Immersion

me with a cup of tea reading Paper Hearts

Hey guys,

I am reading Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice by Beth Revis right now which you may have noticed because it is mentioned in my sidebar. Anyways, in her book, Beth talks about letting go of writing projects. She wrote ten novels before she was published and I have spent the last three years on one story. Hence, the title of this blog post.

I have decided to move on from the story I have been working on for so long. So, without further ado, good bye, Complete Immersion. I will miss you and your characters. I poured hours of my life into this story and it was worth it in the end because I learned new things about writing and about myself but mostly about writing. 😛

I had a lot of fun the last three years working on this story, but it’s reached the point that I just don’t even want to work on it anymore. I still want to write but I feel bad not working on Complete Immersion. It’s not even good enough to query and I’ve revamped the plot so many times that I’m not sure what’s going on half the time. On top of that, my work has been very stop and go which is confusing and frustrating, so I am shelving it. I may return to it some day when I have the strength to tackle it, but I may leave it on the shelf, too. It was good practice for future stories and that is what truly counts.

While working on Complete Immersion, I’ve been piling up ideas, and I am looking forward to moving on to a new one. While I was in London last May (check out my vlogs from that trip), I started Ahlam Warsi: Private Detective. It is the story of a young, English-Muslim woman moving to London for a new job as a private detective. The plot of the story itself focuses on her interactions with the human trafficking industry in and around London. I wrote the first two chapters and an outline for it last May. Now, I’m moving forward with the rest of the story and I’m super hype! I don’t feel guilty for not working on Complete Immersion because it has been shelved. I can move on with a clean slate.

On that note, you can look forward to future blog posts about my new project and I will stop complaining about Complete Immersion. Also, I changed the word count bar on the side to account for my new story, so you can watch that grow as well. 😀

Have you benched a project after working on it for a while? I’m curious, but also, I don’t want to be alone in this.

Anyways, thanks for reading

-Alora

On Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino

Picture of me holding a rainbow that I drew for the occasion.

Hello all,

I recently checked out Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino from my local library. The book details the trial Hollingsworth v. Perry that legalized gay marriage in California for good. The book has three parts: before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial. Each section provides an interesting narrative on the progression of the case and information on Yoshino’s own life and marriage to his husband. As the reader, learns about the monumental trial, they also learn about Yoshino’s two kids and how the trial affected him and his husband. The book is also studded with information Yoshino got from interviews with the trial participants. Speak Now is an exhaustive look at Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it was never boring to read. Yoshino keeps it interesting and I loved learning more about LGBTQIA history.

Yoshino makes a law proceeding that would probably be boring for most people to read, interesting and suspenseful. The book shines with his love of law and it is impossible not to be a little infected by his passion for the subject. I started the book on the day gay marriage was finally legalized in the US. woOT! I was and still am very happy that there is a bit more equality in this world and it was very interesting to read Speak Now and learn about the legal side of the campaign for marriage equality. I’ve been following and participating in the more social side of the movement, but I knew almost nothing about the legal part of it. I’m glad I picked this book up because it may have focused on Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it provided enough background information that I didn’t feel lost in my ignorance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in marriage equality and how far we have gone to achieve it. It was a very in depth and at times technical book. It took me about a week to read the whole thing, but it is not entirely indigestible by a lay person like me. It just takes a bit more time to get through each page.

I am glad that I’ve decided to read more non-fiction books this summer. The non-fiction books I have read so far have been wonderful and very interesting. I did not realize how much I was missing by sticking to fiction for so long. I don’t think I will ever manage to read almost entirely non-fiction like my dad does, but I definitely want to continue to incorporate more into my reading diet.

I’m going to the pool with my siblings right now, but you, my friend, should go read a book, and then draw a rainbow because we have succeeded in securing marriage equality and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. Hooray!

What non-fiction books have you been reading lately, if any? What new knowledge did they give you?

-Alora

P.S. I don’t have a picture of the book for this blog because I already returned it to the library. Sorry. Enjoy my rainbow instead.

On The Martian by Andy Weir

Picture coming soon. The book is missing and it’s very late.

I always did like some fiction with my science. This book is a wonderful science fiction book. It is full of science and snark and lots of f-bombs. It’s amazing. The movie is coming out soon, and I can’t wait to watch it. The Martian by Andy Weir was a blast to read, lots of blasts actually. The book follows the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut that just got stranded on Mars with no way of getting home until four years from now. His mission was supposed to last 31 days. It’s a scientific thriller. Watney’s got a lot of stuff on his side, but not nearly enough. I would have surely died. Absolutely. The book is one broken thing, that will surely kill you if you can’t fix it, after another. The science is great. Andy Wier did a ton of research on how to survive on the surface of Mars. As the absolute nerd that he is, he actually wrote out software to chart orbital mechanics and he did a bunch of math just to make everything a bit better. WARNING: spoilers ahead.

The math is great and Mark Watney is a really likable main character. Most of the book is spent following his adventures on the Red Planet, but he keeps it from being boring, with a bit of help from failing equipment. The science is great and I loved the story, but I felt the writing was a bit lacking at points. Some of the dialogue felt weak. At the end, when we see him really conversing with his crew, everyone seems a bit too snarky. The levels of sass from everyone just threw me off a little. The rest of the writing seems childish at times, which can be expected from a debut novel, but Weir has published other fiction works online before. It was a wonderful book, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t jive with all of the writing.

Also, the inserts of third person omniscient on Mars, halfway through the book was weird. I was okay with the third person limited going on on Earth, but the third person on Mars was strange. The flash backs were okay. Their introduction was a bit of a jump, but I’m used to random flashbacks showing up. The random paragraphs following the life of that piece of canvas were weird and unexpected, but they did build tension. They did their job. They were just unexpected. The weirdest third person bits were the ones following Mark Watney himself. It was strange to see him from the outside and he was always referred to with strange nouns, like “the astronaut,” and such. It was a strange transition from his first person logs to the third person camera view. It didn’t help that the first view of Watney from this camera eye was about half way through the book. It took a while for this type of writing to show up which is what made it so weird. I’m not used to books that switch perspectives on characters. It would be like if the book suddenly transitioned to journal entries from the head of NASA. It would have been less weird if the switch in perspectives had been introduced earlier. I might’ve started the book in third person on Watney and showed the original MAV take-off in that perspective before switching to the log, but that would change the entire feel of the book, so maybe not the best idea. I really liked the book, the only criticisms I’m really able to make are writing wise, if that tells you anything.

It was a very interesting read and it reminded me a lot of a Michael Crichton novel. Lots of shit going wrong and nobody quite able to fix it for long. Also, all the guys at NASA reminded me of the control room guys from, like Jurassic Park, or the Andromeda Strain. There were lots of different personalities that grated against each other, but I mean that’s reasonable because they were trying to help an astronaut stranded on Mars. The book had its own feel, worry not. It just reminds me of Michael Crichton in retrospection. I finished the book like three days ago.

I don’t think I really connected with Watney they way I usually do with main characters. I’m not quite sure why. The story was compelling, just not riveting. I wasn’t as emotionally attached to him as I am to most characters. I enjoyed the book, and I’m very excited for the movie, but I definitely did not enjoy it as much as my dad did. It was great. I’m glad I read it. I just probably won’t read it again and recommend it to everyone I see.

That being said, you should go pick up a copy and read it. It’s got a lot of bad language and crazy science but that’s it. The Martian is a must read for science fiction lovers. It’s a phenomenon right now. The movie’s going to come out soon and I just know that everyone is going to be talking about it. So get the jump on them and read it now. You won’t regret it. The book is amazing, full of mad science and snarky comebacks to no one in particular, except freaking MArs for trying to kill Watney. Also, it has a wonderful cover. It’s so pretty. Scroll back up to the picture. Just look at how well organized and gorgeous that thing is. I just want to stroke it. (So,the picture doesn’t exist right now because I can’t find the book. I really need to get back in the habit of taking book selfies when I start reading a book, so I don’t have to search the house for it after I write the blog post on it. Oh well. Picture coming soon.)

Go get yourself a copy, read it and report back. If you’ve already read it, report on it below. Let’s talk science. We haven’t done that on here yet.

-Alora

(Not that we’ve talked anything on here, because no one actually comments on my posts, but spam websites. Please love me guys.) (Thank you to the courageous few that have commented in the past. I love you much.)

On I Am Not a Slut by Leora Tanenbaum

Picture of the book, without me sadly.

Hello again,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading I Am Not a Slut by Leora Tanenbaum. It was a wonderful book on slut-shaming and slut-bashing in the modern day world. Also, it was a well thought out and well executed argument against using the word “slut,” in any context. I Am Not a Slut is the first real feminist book I’ve read. It was very interesting to listen to another person, who feels just as strongly about equality as I do, argue against the word “slut” and expose the sexual double standard in all it’s horrible glory. Tanenbaum truly did her research when writing this book. She cites interviews with women and girls of different ages and she cites scientific studies from different fields. Her arguments were well backed and she argued passionately without sounding preachy. There were a few parts of the book where I got thrown off by her strong voice and character and her passion for the subject. I had to remind myself that strongly opinionated women are not inherently bad or wrong and, had I been writing this book, I would have written just as passionately.

The book consists of nine chapters and three appendices. The first chapter compares modern day usage of the word “slut” to how it was used when Tanenbaum published the book Slut! in 1991. A lot has changed since then and the first chapter gives a good introduction to the book and introduces the reader to important concepts that are referenced later in the book. The chapters continue in a well organized manner, introducing more ideas and building on the previous chapters. I Am Not a Slut is a very interesting look at modern bullying and the way we use the word “slut” today.

In one of the chapters, Tanenbaum talks about reclaiming the word and using to mean empowerment. She talks about how this usually only works in specific “in” groups. I have experienced this with the word “ho.” A group of my friends at school and I called each other hoes all the time because it wasn’t meant in a negative way. Tanenbaum says that when “slut” is used in a “friendly” way that it is actually meant to police the sexual expression of other women that are called sluts. I do not think that my friends and I calling each other “ho” was meant in that way. We self-identified as it and labeled each other and talked about it. Every time it came up we made sure to remind each other that “I support and encourage your ho activities.” I realize now that this probably wasn’t the best thing for us to call each other, but we didn’t do it all the time and we all understood that it was meant as a term of endearment and love.

When I got home, I was in the habit of calling my loved ones hoes and that go over very well with my parents. I got out of the habit of saying the word and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back in the habit of it, but I definitely understand what Tanenbaum meant when she said that “slut” would only be empowering inside the “in” group.

I learned quite a lot reading this book and I enjoyed it immensely. It was a very heavy book, with large themes and big, new ideas to wrap my head around. One of those was the idea that young women and girls dress in an over-sexualized way to get attention. I was skeptical at first, but I thought about it and I think I understand. We dress in a certain maybe “sexy” way because we know it looks good on us. Often I will wear an outfit because I’ve gotten a lot of complements on the shirt or the shorts or what not. I stopped wearing one of my favorite shirts for a few years because, once, in middle school, an acquaintance pointed out my underarm hair while I was wearing that shirt. I’ve gotten past that now, but I still don’t wear that shirt as often as I used to before that comment was made. My acquaintance didn’t mean it in a mean way either. She was just curious about why I didn’t shave my underarms, but, at that point in my life, I was still a bit insecure about my decision not to shave and every comment was embarrassing and not fun to experience.

Nowadays, I wear “sexy” clothes (i.e. crop tops and short shorts) because I know that I look good in them. Also, they are nice to wear when it’s hot, and I want to wear as little as possible. I’m not in middle school anymore, and even though I’m high school aged, I’m not in high school either. I don’t always dress to be sexy as Tanenbaum implies middle and high schoolers do. I often dress to impress and look my best, but sometimes I just want to wear clothes that I like, t-shirts and jeans. I think there are definitely some people that fit Tanenbaum’s model, but not all people all the time. However, I understand why she says we dress sexy to get attention because we do. People love getting nice complements and nice attention, and if you dress in a certain way you are more likely to get that attention. The problem appears when people assume certain types of clothing equal consent. Tanenbaum addresses this too.

She dedicated an entire chapter to making sure that people understand that any non-consensual activities with anyone, even someone labeled a slut, is rape. It was not a very happy chapter to read, but it was a necessary part of her argument and a necessary chapter to include. Sadly, too many people blame the victim of sexual assault for the assault and often it is because of her past sexual actions or the clothing she was wearing at the time of the event.

I Am Not a Slut is a wonderful book that thoroughly argues against the use of the word slut and for the demolition of the sexual double standard. It examines all sides of the usage of slut and shows the negatives and the some, if any, positives. Tanenbaum says that “slut” may be turned around to be empowering, but it would be almost, if not totally, impossible to make “slut” positive in today’s patriarchal society that promotes the sexual double standard between men and women. I would recommend this book to parents of teenagers or college students and to the college students and teenagers themselves. It is a thematically intense book and an interesting read. Whether or not you identify as a feminist, if you believe in equality of the sexes and the removal of the sexual double standard, then you would enjoy reading this book.

That’s all for this review. I didn’t expect it to get so long, but it happens sometimes. Especially since the book is on something I am very passionate about, feminism.

-Alora

On Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (Sequel to Seraphina)

Picture of Shadow Scale.

That picture looked way better on my tiny phone screen.

So I was in awe of Seraphina. For one, it was an amazing debut novel. For two it was an amazing novel. For three it was full of great characters and a new take on dragons. Now my feelings for that book have been eclipsed by those for the sequel, Shadow Scale. The second book improved upon an already wonderful world with more amazing characters and a few wonderful plot twists. It was one of the best sequels I have read to date. In Shadow Scale, Seraphina, the main character, continued her journey of self discovery and made amazing, new friends along the way. Shadow Scale offers a partial dialogue on popular culture as well as an amazing fantasy story. I would expect such an amazing rich and realistic(-ish) world from a good science fiction novel, but Rachel Hartman has managed to create a wonderful fantasy novel with elements, like the pop culture dialogue that I would expect from a science fiction novel.

The main character, Seraphina is a well-rounded female character. She has a rich history, of which we only get to see snippets. Her actions are founded in her morals and past experiences, yet she is still learning and changing throughout the book. She observes the people around her and tries her hardest to respect them despite differences in beliefs and culture. Seraphina could’ve very easily been a Mary Sue, but she isn’t Rachel Hartman has fostered a wonderful cast of characters and Seraphina is just the one telling the story. The other characters in the world, whether they have 500 lines or 5 are just as rich and round.

Now, reader, go pick up Seraphina and then read Shadow Scale. I read a lot of fantasy and these are some of the best books I have read in a while. Thank you Katytastic for giving me the idea to buy Seraphina, and thank you Rachel Hartman for this transformative work of fantasy. I have not read a higher fantasy novel like it. These books will hopefully change the fantasy genre for the better. No more heternormativity and assumed pronouns!! I am far more excited now for your future works and only wonder if they will take place in this world or somewhere else entirely. Whatever happens, I know it will be amazing.

For those of you that have read Shadow Scale, I have some spoiler-filled fangirling that I need to get out of my system. I finished this book four days ago and am just now writing this. I have major pent-up feels.

Good day to everyone. Go away if you haven’t read the book. I do not want to spoil this amazingness for you.






SPOILERS!!! LEAVE NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ Shadow Scale


If you haven’t left yet it’s your own fault. Did anyone call that Camba was Master Smasher because I sure didn’t. Because she wasn’t in the garden, I just figured she was some human that had managed to become a large part of the temple. I was kinda confused. Then of course Seraphina was worried she had missed some of the ityasaari which was a terrifying concept. I was so excited when Seraphina learned that Camba was the real world version of the avatar she called Master Smasher. It made me so happy. I loved Seraphina’s time in Porphyry so much. Seraphina was exposed the idea of tons of different genders and terms. In Porphyry, you literally ask people what their pronouns are and it makes me so freaking happy. I got really excited about it when Abdo was teaching her more Porphyry, but I was even more excited when we learned about Camba’s past. Also, Porphyry is portrayed as the super-advanced nation that is trading across the ocean and has the most sophisticated government. That also made me happy. Seraphina was made to think about Goredd in all of its backwards customs. Gorred is what our society is supposed to be though. So then the reader is thinking about the backwards ways of our society. That is what I meant by a pop culture dialogue worthy of science fiction.

Although, the dragons’ tech is very sci-fi. Oooh, I just remembered another cultural dialogue: the relationship between the saar (big dragons) and the quigutl (little dragons). The saar use the quigutl devices, make huge science advances, and are percieved as better than the quigutl who are seen as dirty, stupid and lesser. The quigutl literally eat the waste dragons and, in Lavondaville, humans create. However, when Seraphina is as Lab four she befriends the quigutl, Mitha, who is a highly accomplished engineer, but the dragons still see him and his coworkers as lesser than themselves. That’s a poor/rich caste system if I’ve ever seen one.

I’ve decided that Glisselda is either asexual or demisexual. Because she is definitely in love with Seraphina, but she seems okay with the prospect of marrying Lucian and spending the rest of her life not being sexually involved with the woman she loves. She could definitely just be gay, but I feel like that would create difficulties among the three of them later on. Then again, though, they are very good friends that work hard to share everything with each other. Also, they are all definitely in a nice poly relationship, even if parts of it aren’t sexual. The three of them love each other and are planning on having meetings about everything. Good communication for the win! Also, Kiggs and Seraphina literally started making out in a closet and were like “Wait, we didn’t have a meeting about this. Also, we both love Glisselda too much.” Talk about self control! They are in a poly relationship and you can’t convince me otherwise.

Rachel Hartman, I love you a lot for just writing this books, but you left me without closure on Orma. I mean there is a bit of closure, but we don’t know if he and Seraphina will ever find his mind pearl. This is ridiculous. I mean, I understand why you did it as a writer, but as a fan, I am kinda frustrated. Why did you leave me without closing remarks from an Orma who remembers his niece? That would’ve been such a cute scene. Saints’ Dogs, Rachel Hartman! You can’t just do that to me. So much heartache. You and Beth Revis should compare notes. You both made me cry, but Beth made me cry because she killed EVERYONE, and you made me cry tears of love because of the great bonds of friendship between Abdo and Seraphina. *cries* I mean you both are great on your own, but just think on it. You two would make an unstoppable team.

Also, I have a niggling feeling that Prince Lucian Kiggs is actually a golden retriever, because everytime someone descibes him the use the word “doggedly.” I think Rachel Hartman is trying to tell us something. He is a blond, dogged investigator. I mean what am I supposed to think?

That’s it for this one. Make sure any comments with spoilers say as much. I left out a bunch of my favorite parts, but this is getting a bit long. What did you all think of the book?

-Alora

On All I Know Now by Carrie Fletcher

Picture of Me with the book minus the book jacket

Hello to all hopefuls and teenagers out there. (Other people can of course read this, but those are the people this book is aimed at.)

I just finished the UK version of All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing up Gracefully by the illustrious Carrie Hope Fletcher. It was an amazing read and I am so glad I picked it up when I was in London this past May. I have been a fan of Carrie and her videos for a while. I have been watching her grow and change since 2012 and I am so proud of her and the book she has written. Sadly, the US version does not come out until August, but you can preorder it here. The secondary title is a bit different as is the cover, but it should be just as good. Personally, I prefer the UK title and cover art, but that’s not the point of this blog post. Let’s talk about the actual content of the book.

Carrie is currently an actress in the West End production of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theater in London, and being a total nerd, she organized her book like a play would be organized. (Nerd is used here in the most loving way possible.) In the book, there are eight “acts” that have about five chapters each inside of them. The title of each act gives the reader an idea of what the chapters enclosed in it will be focused on. For example, “Act 5: People: Imagining Them Complexly” contains six chapters all about imagining the people around you complexly. It was one of my favorite sections of the book. The book even has it’s own intermission or interval right after Act 4. It’s a page that says “Interval” at the top and has a sketch Carrie did of her in her Eponine costume. I’ve read some books with really cool organizational themes and this is one of the best.

There are 51 chapters, including the last one where she answers questions submitted by her audience, the hopefuls. The topics of the chapters range from how to handle bullying to being nice to your parents despite the fact that you are an angry and confused teenager to when to have sex with your significant other to getting along with your friends while you’re all in school to a bunch of other stuff important teenage issues. As a watcher of her videos, a few of the chapters were a bit redundant because I had already watched her video on the topic, but I read them all anyways because every idea in the book deserves a second encounter. The book is all about being nice to strangers, your enemies, you friends and your family. It’s also about getting on with your life in the happiest way you can. It’s also about taking care of yourself in all aspects of your life. It’s about so many things that I really can’t condense them all into one or even three sentences.

As the eldest child in a family of four kids, I hope one day to be able to give such good advice to my younger siblings. Also, I willingly accepted Carrie as an older sister years ago. She is like an older best friend and I honestly wish I could share as much about my life with her as she just shared with me through this book. I feel our relationship is too one-sided, but I’m not sure how to repay her for creating such wonderful content on her YouTube channel and in her writing. I’ll figure out a way someday. Carrie thank you for such wonderful advice in this book and over the years through your videos. I look forward to every video you post and I have since I found your channel. I’ve actually been back and watched the majority, if not all, of your older videos as well.

All I Know Now was a great read. At 17 I’m reaching the end of my Teen Age, so I felt some of the advice on bullying was a bit late in coming, but that’s not Carrie’s fault. She has created a wonderful book that I recommend every teenager read at some point in their lives. Some of the British slang is a bit crazy, but Carrie, at 22, is able to offer advice and help on living through your teenage years without sounding like she is preaching. She is only a few years out of this crazy hormonal cry-fest that being a teenager can be, but she is still able to offer a refreshing perspective on how to survive it. When she was in school, she went through some really bad experiences and she was a moody teenager too. She shares her relevant stories whether they are happy or not because she sincerely wants to help us out. I’m really glad I read this book and I hope I can convince my little siblings to read it at some point.

Thank you so much Carrie for being a great big sister and offering as much advice as possible. I look forward to more great videos and potentially more books from you. I will read them all.

Have you read All I Know Now? What did you think of it? Have you watched any of Carrie’s videos? Let’s talk about how amazing her book is in the comments alright?

-Alora

The Hell of Revision

A picture of the writing space I used today.
Hello friends.

Writing a novel is difficult, but I think the far more difficult task is revising the first draft into something readable. Just revising it, so that someone who hasn’t had three different versions of the plot explained to them will know what is going on. That is what I spent two hours working on today.

For those of you that do not know, in July of 2013, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50 thousand words of a novel in a month. It was amazing. Since then I have been on and off revising that novel. I have often gone months between revisions which makes the act of revision very difficult. As of right now, I am on the fourth draft, but the book is nowhere near done. I’ve entitled it Complete Immersion and there is a counter in my “Currently” widget on the right that I am using to keep track of the number of words it has. You can use it to check up on how my novel’s going.

Today was the first time I’ve worked on Complete Immersion since I’ve been home for the summer, and it was extremely difficult to get anything done. Getting a good momentum was almost impossible and it only lasted a few minutes. My desk is in Maxwell’s room right now, and he is using it, but last night I asked him if I could borrow it for a few hours to get some writing done. He agreed and cleared me a space. After I got home from work, I proceeded to lock myself in there for two hours. It was rough. I only revised two pages. I have seen writing compared to pulling teeth and that analogy would definitely apply to today’s revisions. It was hell.

But. I am going to get back in the habit of revising a little bit everyday and it should get easier. Tomorrow I will revise for another two hours, maybe more. I will get this novel into a good shape this summer.

Now that I have complained about my revisions, I want to talk about how I revise. When I first started to revise Complete Immersion, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’ve kinda figured it out, maybe. Idk, but I am going to talk about it. Please discuss how you revise/edit in the comments and we can have a good old fashioned discussion.

When I revise, I read through the story from start to finish and change whatever pieces I don’t like. Then, when I get to the end, I start over from the beginning. I make sure everything sounds good. I fix dialogue. I check facts. I reconcile character actions with their backstories. I usually end up completely rewriting half of what I already had, because the idea was good but the execution was poor. I wrote Complete Immersion without much planning, so a bunch of my revising time is spent “planning.” I map out locations and write down new character details. I have a binder that I keep beside my computer while I write that has maps, basic character info, character notes, plot notes and just a bunch of thoughts on the story. I reference it and some documents on my computer often. They help keep me on track. That way, I won’t end up with too many plot holes and character inconsistencies when I reach the end of the story.

With each revision, the story gets better and better. In between revisions, I learn so much more about writing and writing well. Also, like everything, writing gets better with practice. Revision gets easier with practice too. (Well, so far it has.) Oh, and here is a biggie. Show don’t tell. Everybody and their mom throws this phrase around, but I don’t think I truly understood it before I wrote Complete Immersion and then began revising it. Now however, I definitely understand and I like to think I am better at it. In my mind, showing gives the reader a stronger sense of being in the story, almost like they were watching a movie. Whereas telling almost feels like a dream. You know stuff is happening, but you can’t quite make it all out. I think it is harder to feel fully involved and invested in the story.

Other than that, revision is mostly grunt work, which is why I am still revising two years after I wrote first wrote the story. Actually, it’s been almost two years to the day since I started Complete Immersion. This July is Camp NaNoWriMo 2015!!!! (I wrote Complete Immersion in July 2013.) I am super excited. I think I’m going to set up a word count per revised page system and use Camp NaNoWriMo to inspire myself to revise, revise, revise.

Now, I must go. Good luck on any revisions that you may be working on. Please share your difficulties in the comments and we can commiserate. Also, check out Camp NaNoWriMo. It is a month of writing where you can pick any word count and work together with other campers to hit your goal. Your words could be working towards a novel, a play, a revision of a novel, a dissertation, anything. It is super fun and I have made a lot of friends through participating. I am definitely planning on participating this year.

I hope to see you all at camp! 😀

-Alora