Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (Review)

Yes, I’m finally getting around to reviewing this, and I’m afraid it wasn’t my favorite. I’m sorry!

Title: Fawkes

Author: Nadine Brandes

  • Date read: December 29, 2018
  • Rating: 2 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • Age: YA (darker side)
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 430 (hardcover)
  • Source: The publisher, through Booklook Bloggers

My Review

I finally read FAWKES and, awkwardly, I didn’t love it. *shifty eyes* *stows self away behind fortifications*

Firstly, taste in books varies, and this review is just my personal opinion! FAWKES wasn’t my cup of tea, but if it’s yours, that’s great! I feel like nearly everyone I know loved this, and I’m sad that I didn’t. I enjoy books in general, but this one unfortunately did not click for me.

Negative reviews are not my forte, but this was a review book, and a few people have asked for my opinion, so I’m going to attempt to share a review. I know it’s long overdue. *cough* (It’s also going to be terribly hard to do without spoilers but I will do my best.)

And at the end I’ll list the things I did like, since that’s only fair. 😉

But firstly, reasons why FAWKES and I did not get along, personally.

For one thing, it was rather dark and depressing. That in itself is enough for me to decide it wasn’t my thing. Despite the fantasy aspect, the setting was gritty and unpleasant and actually rather more dystopian than anything, and I just wouldn’t want to live there. The plot itself is pretty dark and violent, if only because of the historical incidents it’s dealing with — which, well, not to get into spoilers but I should have known better than to think things would turn out well, but apparently I didn’t think about that? My mistake! The stone plague was super creepy, too — though I’ll grant it was unique and interesting. XD

But talking of the historical aspect: for some reason I thought that since it was historical FANTASY, history wasn’t set in stone. (No pun intended. XD) I mean, it’s already an alternate history since there’s magic and different factions and stuff, so why can’t that mean that the characters can bring about different outcomes in history and it could be alternate history in THAT way too? Well, apparently it didn’t work that way. Which . . . yeah. It kind of made things seem pointless, to me. Especially when one character didn’t seem to care about this thing that *I* at least thought was awful. And it felt like it was a “well, since it’s history, regardless of the choices they make it’s going to turn out this way, so it doesn’t matter” sort of subtext. That might have worked with time-travel but apparently I just wasn’t suspending my disbelief enough there or something.

Apparently taking a historical time, not improving it, and mixing in magic and a few modern points of view is a thing that happens and that I don’t seem to enjoy much, myself, given that the last two such books I tried I didn’t like. (Maybe I’ll steer clear of historical fantasy in the future . . . That might help.)

Plus, hardly anybody was a nice person, which just sort of depressed me? A lot. If you can’t even LIKE hardly any of the characters in the book, it’s sort of a problem. For me, at any rate. 😛 (Flawed characters, yayyy.) I’ve discussed this about other fiction before, so it’s not this book’s fault, just a trend.

Another trend is what I call telliphobia, where the show-don’t-tell comes out so hard that I was terribly confused about the color powers and the whole magic system for about the first half of the book, since I was never straight-up informed of how the magic worked. Again, not just this book — it’s a trend in current publishing, but it gets a little tiring. All I want is to know what’s going on, you know? Is that too much to ask? (Disclaimer: I did eventually figure it out and do think the idea of the color powers is pretty cool. I just wanted it explained early on so I could get on with the story, instead of stumbling through tiny hints and getting distracted from the plot by trying to understand how things worked.)

But the last three things I complained about are general things I dislike and not the direct fault of this book, necessarily, so I suppose that’s not quite fair — sorry. (This reminds me of something C.S. Lewis said in On Stories. Something along the lines of how he didn’t like detective novels, so if he reviewed one it would be rubbish criticism, since he’d be reviewing/disliking the KIND of book it is, not the actual work, which isn’t totally fair. I’m paraphrasing, but anyway.)

Back to characters. Sometimes I liked Thomas, but other times he really frustrated me. Never knowing who he should be rooting for or who *I* should be rooting for was kind of exhausting. Plus I got pretty mad at him near the end when spoilers happened and he just didn’t seem to CARE at all. UGH. So Thomas and I didn’t get along all the time, for those reasons and also how he was sometimes sort of petulant/unmanly. I can’t really explain it. But I did sometimes really like him or at least feel bad for him and want him to succeed! It’s . . . confusing. I did like Emma most of the time and what little we saw of Norwood and maybe some other people occasionally. But it did seem like nobody else was likable at all. And I could never decide how I felt about Guy Fawkes himself — I felt like he had loads more potential. I also put the book down for several months after, well . . . a spoiler. I’m just saying, if basically the only nice character dies on me, I’m going to be a little put out. *cough* Also, taking such a long break probably didn’t help the book hang together in my mind. 😛

I never rooted for either side of the Keepers/Igniters. They were both being jerks and I didn’t really care. And the allegorical side of things sort of confused my brain. Especially the White Light, which could have been a funny character but felt totally way off, if it was supposed to be what I think it was supposed to be — I was just way too weirded out by its self-centered flippancy. (At one point [page 247] it was like “I could have done that, you know. You just never asked,” but actually, um, no, excuse me, THOMAS DID ASK EARLIER, on page 196, and the White Light conveniently wasn’t listening or didn’t care or SOMETHING. I just. I can’t.) I could be toootally off, but if it was supposed to be an allegory of God it totally missed the mark — for me at least. So that was sort of depressing and I felt like, personally, maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if I didn’t feel like it was trying to do Christian allegory stuff in a weird way.

So yes. Dark, depressing. Felt let down by the historical fantasy element that I was looking forward to. Didn’t find the characters to be ones I could root for on the whole. And in general some of it just . . . didn’t work for me. I feel like there were a couple of other things I didn’t care for, and don’t want to get into now. But essentially I read for enjoyment and this one didn’t hit the mark for me. I simply couldn’t enjoy myself and it wasn’t fun and honestly it totally stressed me out. But I think that’s just me?

Things I did enjoy!

  • The cover is still one of my FAVORITES.
  • The writing was gorgeous and everything was vivid.
  • It was very unique and interesting and exciting.
  • I did like a couple of the characters! Norland and Emma and Thomas sometimes. 😛
  • Emma and Thomas together were precious and squishable.
  • And it was pretty awesome when they saved the day from . . . well . . . something. Near the end but not at the end. No spoilers.
  • The color magic system was really neat once I figured it out.
  • At least it wasn’t a TOTAL tragedy and (aside from all the awfulness) there were one or two good outcomes, so yay!

Overall, the things I did like weren’t enough to override the things I didn’t enjoy, so this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. Personally. I really wanted to like it! (Plus, the author is the SWEETEST HUMAN on her Instagram so it makes me sad I didn’t love this book, though naturally I still love her as a person! And I do have hopes for trying more books from this author.)

So that’s the story of how I accidentally didn’t love FAWKES. My apologies.


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers


About Fawkes

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, June 26, 2018


Links

Find the book on: Goodreads • Thomas Nelson • Barnes & Noble • Amazon • Author Website


Thanks for reading! 🙂 (Please don’t hate me. XD)

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#WIPobsessed & Middle-earth Day!

G’day, my Roadlings!

Today there are two exciting things going on!

MIDDLE-EARTH DAY

March 25th has been dubbed Middle-earth Day and Tolkien Reading Day, in celebration of the day the Ring was destroyed. (It’s also more or less New Year’s Day due to that, as decreed by Aragorn, so . . . let’s brush up some new New-Year’s-Resolutions, shall we?)

Here’s a huzzah for all things Lord of the Rings and Tolkien!

(I’ll be celebrating by smiling over the two Tolkien books I’ve read so far this year and crying over how I haven’t been keeping up with my History of Middle-earth book-per-month personal challenge. 😛 *cough*)

Anyway, I had to mention because I’ll never not celebrate a Middle-earthean holiday! 😉

CALLING ALL WRITERS

The other thing is actually a three-day-long thing:

#WIPobsessed, an online writers’ retreat hosted by Liv K. Fisher!

It runs March 25-27, and the idea is to pick a goal and work on some writing during these three days, and share your progress and updates with the #WIPobsessed hashtag on whichever social media you prefer!

(Here’s the info on Liv’s Instagram, and on her blog.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been far too busy all month to do much of anything remotely writing-related and it’s been devastating. So even though Camp NaNo is around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect excuse to push me into at least dipping my toe back into the writing waters. I can make time on three days to write, right?

Since I’m also terribly busy this week, and my saner half (sorry, my saner 3/8ths) says I have no business even thinking about writing, I’m going to set a low but hopefully achievable goal of one hour per day for a total of 3 hours of writing. Maybe that will add up to 3K words. We can hope!

I’m setting a secondary goal, if I pass the first, of finishing writing KW2 during #WIPobsessed (which I calculate, or rather hope, has about 5K left).

So there!

I’m announcing this which means I have to work toward it and at least try to set aside this time, even during an insane week, to do a little writing.

I hereby give myself permission to write for an hour each day for three days. Because that’s the only way writing is going to happen.

(Isn’t it dreadful it has to come to this? XD)

And besides, it’ll be good practice for Camp NaNo starting in exactly one week. 😉 (Please tell me I’m not the only one who is TERRIBLY PLEASED that April is starting on a Monday! XD)

SO WHO’S WITH ME? Why don’t you commit to writing even ten minutes or 100 words per day for the next three days? Join in the glorious swirling of creativity/mutual support!

It’s not like it’s a month-long challenge like NaNo. Just three days. Because every day counts!

I’m not sure how much I’ll be sharing or where, during these three days, but hopefully at least an update or two over on my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Go forth and join in, and get #WIPobsessed! May the words be ever in your favor!

Snippets + Snow + Superheroes: Feb. Ishness!

Oh, hi! It seems to be March.

. . .

Yeah, no clue how that happened.

Anyway, for once I have an Ishness concerning the month, so let’s see what I was up to in February, shall we?

WRITING

I unfortunately still seem to be in a huge writing slump, which I’ve been stuck in since NaNo ended . . . But I’ve also been very busy, so oh well.

I did manage to scribble an odd thousand words this last month, still limping along with KW2 and trying to finish, and random Sky Voyages series snippets.

Speaking of which, I’ve been doing some plotting for the sequel to The Siren and the Skyship, so that’s fun. 😀 I’ll chat about that in another post.

So yep, not a lot going on in the writing arena. Essentially, I’m busy, Tare is stalling (or I’m stalling him; honestly not sure which right now), and Keller of S&S2 is all “Well, if no one else is going to then I may as well take center stage HI!”

March looks exhaustingly busy so we’ll see what writing or lack thereof occurs. But I may have to take Drastic Measures if writing doesn’t happen soon.

SNIPPETS

Oh, hey! I haven’t shared any snippets in awhile. 😀 So here, have a few.

“Stay out of my head,” Tare snarled.

[spoiler redacted]’s eyes were cold in his carven face. “Make me.

***

(This snippet is actually from book 3 but I’m not supposed to be there yet. XD)

Rook sighed. “We all make mistakes. Both of us have done things we can’t take back, but we can’t run forever.”

“Maybe you can’t. I’ll do what I need to do. I betrayed everything I believed in.”

“So did I,” Rook said harshly. “You can’t even begin to know—” He broke off.

***

(I’m enjoying Meridian interacting with Teague’s brother Ivan. XD)

“When you get out, tell Teague to take Lulin and get out of here.”

I snorted. “He won’t do it.”

“Why not? He’d be an idiot not to.”

“Because he cares about you, you great lump!”

Ivan gave a little humorless bark of laughter. “You don’t know anything.”

“I know more than you two do! And you care about him too—admit it.”

Ivan mutinously tilted his nose off toward a corner. “No. Nothing of the sort.”

“Honestly!” I threw up my hands. “You are impossible. Both of you!”

READING

(In reverse order, from my Goodreads Reading Challenge)

So, I love how I’ve got these sweeping gorgeous covers with somber tones and then suddenly . . . Fortunately, the Milk. XD

Anyway, these were all varying levels of fun! (Except for The Gilded Wolves which Disappointed Me. I gave it one star. *shifty eyes*)

My absolute favorite was Beneath the Haunting Sea — gorgeous! I first met it pitched as The Silmarillion meets Jane Austen and just . . . yep. It took me a little while to get into it and the beginning is super different than the rest, but once she got to the mysterious old house I was totally in! 😀

Smol (ish) reviews on Goodreads:

Speaking of reviews, here are a couple of reviews I shared on my book blog this last month, for books that make me happy! ^_^

I also lurk on Instagram a lot. XD

WATCHING

  • I finally saw The Incredibles! I know. I’m . . . a little late on that one. XD It was sooo much fun, and now I need to see the sequel.
  • Despicable Me 3 was okay; the second was the best. 😛
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas — Yep, finally saw this one too, despite the nonseasonalness of February. I vaguely suspect it was not historically accurate, but it was a lot of fun. Because writers. XD And A Christmas Carol. And yep.
  • Black Panther — I’m only centuries late on this one. XD Super enjoyable! (Though from all the hype I had expected more?) And yes, I liked his sis. 😛 Also, Bilbo and Gollum were great. XD
  • Antman and the Wasp — Also great fun! 😀

I also got to see a PLAY! Which was loads of fun. It was Peter and the Starcatcher (based on a book which I read ages ago and didn’t love due to its explaining-away-prequel-ness, but for some reason liked the play more). Aside from a few quibbles, I reeeally enjoyed it. 😀 Plays are just so much fun (this was only my second one ever!) and the actors did a fantastic job—particularly Peter’s, who was SO Peter-ish, and the villain, who was absolutely hilarious. XD

LISTENING

I was super happy to get back to listening to audiobooks. It’s a new thing I was trying and it’s working out SO splendidly. I’m so happy!

I finished listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and had LOADS of fun—it’s like my daily half-hour TV show in my earbuds while I do exercising. There are parts of the book I don’t care for, naturally, but on the whole it was just so fun, and I quite enjoyed the narrator, and the snark and character stuff was gold. XD

I’m currently in withdrawal because I haven’t managed to get to the library for Cress so I’m missing Cinder and Thorne and everyone . . .

There has been a Suspicious Lack of Exercising ever since I ran out of Scarlet to listen to, which may be connected to the cold I caught at the same time, or may just be me missing my Lunar exercise buddies. ❤

***

I think there was also music consumed, but I don’t recall what any of it was. Probably more Tide Lines and definitely themesongs for my Siren and the Skyship sequel (which I really should introduce to y’all!).

LIFE

Life things included:

  • Going to a couple of writers workshops.
  • Starting a new schedule/routine which has been incredibly helpful for productivity and which I need to get back to. (As soon as I pick up Cress . . . *cough*)
  • Much copyediting/proofreading work has been keeping me busy and happy.
  • Caught a cold; yay. So lovely. At least it was minor?
  • A library sale also happened which makes up for the cold because BOOKS.
  • The weather has been INSANE, ranging from high-70s suitable for lounging in the grass and reading, to super-cold and we actually got SNOW. (Only a smidge and didn’t stick around very long but it was so awesome! And was in the same week as the super warm days. So. Yeah.) It can’t seem to make up its mind and is playing roller-coaster.

Snow and a snow-ish book! Which you should go read ASAP if you haven’t. ❤

MARCH PLANS

I have a lot of life projects piling up on me that I need to deal with so I’m currently panicking over here. *curls up in shock blanket* But hopefully I can still find time for reading and writing and blogging, since there are many of all such things I want to do. 😛

Still, there are also exciting things going on, what with it being my birthday month and especially with March Magics!

For those who don’t know, March Magics is a celebration, around the interwebs, of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. The theme this time is re-reading old favorites (yesss!) and there’s also a readalong for The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, both of which I plan to join in on. 😀

I’ll be doing a post on my book blog about March Magics and other Book Ishness, but I’m waiting on a trip to the library to hopefully pick up a couple of books before I share my TBR stacks . . . (Wee Free Men and Cress, wait for meeee.)

Meanwhile, for more info, check out the host’s blog and feel free to join in around social media with the hashtags #MarchMagics and #DWJMarch — it’s going to be so much fun!

***

Whew! So that’s what I’ve been up to.

How about you? And are you ready for it to be March or at least spring? Also, thoughts on the snippets and books and films? And do you “read” audiobooks?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a magical March! (See what I did there? *cough*)

Fantasy Favorites Tag!

G’day, my Roadlings!

It’s the LAST day of February (say what? How did this happen?) so I’m squeezing in at the last second of February Fantasy Month to do this lovely tag that the hostess of this awesome event, Jenelle Schmidt, put together.

No, I’m not late—what gave you that idea?

Ahem. On with the tag, shall we? All of these questions are so hard! O_O

What is your favorite fantasy book?

(I lied. This question is super easy.)

The Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion and Howl’s Moving Castle. I KNOW. SUCH A SHOCK. XD

(Okay, I know that’s not one. But. You know.)

Also, I’m looking forward to reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the sixth time (I think?) next month for March Magics since there’s going to be a readalong for it! 😀

What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show (or both!)?

At first I couldn’t think of any fantasy TV shows, which shows a definite problem somewhere . . . But I’m going to go with Ren: The Girl with the Mark, which I mentioned before, and if you haven’t checked it out, I totally recommend doing so!

I’m going to be posting about that soon, regarding a possible season 2 (!!) so stay tuned!

For movies:

(I need to see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie! Aaahh!)

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Prince of Persia

And if you haven’t seen Prince of Persia yet — what are you even doing with your life?

Prince Dastan can’t believe you haven’t watched it, either

Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine?

I have SO MANY FAVORITE HEROES, I’m not even going to try listing anybody. My mind overwhelmed itself and short-circuited with the sheer amount and left me suddenly unable to recall anybody. I’ll regret it later but I’m going to skip that.

Instead, I’ll just do heroines, since that’s a much shorter list. 😉 Here are some:

  • Mina Klug (The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead)
  • Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings) and Luthien Tinuviel (The Silmarillion), both by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Eilonwy (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
  • Ginny (Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal)
  • Cordelia Beaumont (The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz)
  • Echo (Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer)

It takes a LOT to write a heroine I really love and admire. I’m not sure exactly what quality these heroines share but they’re all fabulous! (You can read a post I wrote which in part concerned those first few heroines, if you like.)

Who is your favorite fantasy side-kick?

Uuuurgh. Do you realize how difficult this question is? Do you realize how many amazing fantasy side-kicks there are? This is threatening to short-circuit my brain again.

*panics* *scrambles around* *grabs one name from the swirling mass and tosses it out*

CRISPIN BEASLEY HE’S JUST THE BEST OKAY BYE

*panting*

*thrusts The Beast of Talesend haphazardly in your face*

*hurries on*

Who is your favorite fantasy villain? (the one you most love to hate?)

For some reason all I can think of right now is the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. He’s just . . . really creepy. O_O

(I was tempted to list Carhartan from Orphan’s Song or Rupert de la Mare from Plenilune or the Keeper from Entwined but “most love to hate” might not apply; it’s more like I HAVE FEELINGS WHICH MAY BE HATE I DUNNO. I talk about villains here.)

I . . . don’t want to linger on this question; there’s a sort of chill in the air over here. I’ll just . . . Yeah, I’ll move on.

*sprints hastily to next question and locks door behind self*

What is your favorite fantasy sub-genre?

*breathes sigh of relief* Much safer, cozier, warmer question. 🙂

Fairytale retellings, and steampunk-fantasy or Regency-fantasy! Those are ones I’ve been really into lately, anyway.

I love a good classic epic fantasy, too!

What is your favorite thing about fantasy?

The limitless possibilities and imagination and wonder. There’s just so MUCH that can happen! It also has great potential for my favorite sorts of character types, and of course fantastical creatures and settings! And . . . well . . . everything.

Fantasy is my home, and while I enjoy other genres from time to time (non-speculative fiction, and non-fiction occaaasionally), they just often seem . . . dry. They don’t have the wonder. I enjoy visiting them sometimes but Fantasy is where I live.

It has so much potential. I find I learn truths about life more deeply when I encounter them in fantasy.

Lloyd Alexander said it best.

What is your favorite fantasy realm?

Tolkien’s world, absolutely. I have recently been re-immersing myself in Middle-earth and particularly Beleriand and the other lands of The Silmarillion, reading Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales and The Fall of Gondolin.

I “grew up” there, living and breathing the richness of his world and the far-reaching wonder of the ages of Middle-earth. I had no idea how much I missed it until I went back again and realized it was so natural to slip back into this world. I do need to give The Lord of the Rings a good re-read one of these days soon, but at the moment I’m enjoying going through the older drafts of what later became The Silmarillion and having a blast.

If you need me, I’ll be walking the shores of Valinor or visiting the hidden valley of the city of Gondolin between the mountains; treading under the trees of Doriath with Luthien and Beren or staring at the wide sea from the cliffs of Beleriand; visiting the Shire or the Lonely Mountain or Lothlorien or Minas Tirith; spending a couple of weeks by the fire in Rivendell with the music and the books, the food and the Elves; galloping the vast plains with the Rohirrim; or walking the woods of Ithilien with Faramir. Watch out; I may never come back. 😉

What is your favorite fantasy magic system?

I’m not sure! I don’t always pay that much attention to how the fantasticalness works in the fantasy I read? But I will say that I know I liked Spellsmith and Carver (where it was half like computer coding) and Beggar Magic (the “strains” sort of like music), both by H.L. Burke. And the Song from the Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams, and the aether gifts in the Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley, are all coming to mind. So I guess I’ll go with some of those. XD In Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, I ADORED the book-mirrors where you can step into a story, so if that counts . . .

Sell me a fantasy book! Have you written a fantasy book? Give me your best pitch for it! Have you read an exceptionally great fantasy book recently? Convince me to make it my next read!

Wellll. I have written a fantasy book, or several. But they’re not exactly available yet. XD *cough*

My latest is basically a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mermaid. Except that the Little Mermaid is neither little nor Mer nor a maid — being a cloud-siren prince on a quest to find his father’s killer — and he gets mixed up with Princess Tasmania who is the captain of a skyship. Cloud cities, assassins, tea, love, and clockwork dragons ensue.

So yeah, that’s The Siren and the Skyship, currently in needs-to-be-edited limbo. I’m working on trying to figure out the plot for the sequel right now and it’s giving me headaches.

Maybe I’ll do an update post about how my writing is coming, since I haven’t talked about that or anything on here in awhile . . .

Actual book

In the meantime, how about a book that is actually finished! and published! and awesome!

I wanted to screech about Echo North or The Electrical Menagerie, but since y’all prooobably know by now how much I love those (given all the shrieking I’ve done. XD) and things like Howl’s Moving Castle, I think I’ll give a quick shout-out for a book I haven’t talked as much about for a little while! (But seriously, go check those out if you haven’t!! They make me happy!)

Blood Ties! By Hazel West!

Alternate modern Ireland! Warriors with swords and fast cars! Brothers by blood and by bond with great messy relationships I love! SNARK. Fighting. Epic characters! (I love them ALL! AWK!) Loyalty and goblins and castles and cell phones! (Those are good because they’re all together in one book, not because goblins or cell phones are necessarily inherently good in themselves.)

Did I mention Ireland? Because it’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day so you OBVIOUSLY need something to read for that.

I love it so much and I’ve been missing this series (the sequels are just as good if not better) and wanting book four BADLY. So go read this one if you haven’t. 😀

And look, I’m part of Ciran’s Company! And I have a real BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) shamrock necklace I won from the author, so if any of you reading this are actually malevolent fae or goblins trying to convince people not to read this book, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Ciran and I are comin’ for you. And the rock band Swords and Shamrocks are going to write a ballad about it. So watch out.

So there you are! I hope you enjoyed this fantasy tag and my answers — do feel free to steal the tag to use on your own blog, even if Fantasy Month is over. Because the time for fantasy is always!

What are some of YOUR fantasy favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Ishness! NaNo, Christmas, New Year

Oh, hi, my dear Roadlings! It’s been absolutely AGES since I did an Ishness (I think the last one was my Realm Makers Ishness?) — or, well, blogged in general (*cough* I’m sorry, guys!) — so it’s CLEARLY time to do so again!

November, December, and January are the three months which at the blink of an eye mysteriously vanish to wherever missing pens go. So obviously this whole not-blogging-much thing is not my fault. (I jest. It’s totally my fault. And the unreliable internet which has been victimizing me.)

I guess I’ve been busy living life instead of writing about it? And kind of unmotivated as far as blogging goes. Sometimes you just feel tired, you know? But I’ve missed you guys! And writing Ishness posts!

(I . . . er . . . accidentally wrote one after NaNo and then proceeded to get so busy that I never posted it! :O Whoops. So I will just squeeze two more months onto it. As you were.)

So I’m officially back, and I’m here with a recap of my 9th NaNoWriMo, December holidays, and New Year beginnings!

WRITING

November

Writing highlights include:

  • Winning NaNo for the 9th time!
  • Finishing The Siren and the Skyship!!! (Still in the clouds about this one.) *pretends that wasn’t a terrible pun* XD
  • Beating my personal record of words in a day and writing 8K words. 😛
  • Wordwars!! Wordsprinting with friends is one of my favorite things. It’s just so motivating and it’s fun hanging out online with people and getting to chat but also being productive. Seriously, surviving NaNo is so much easier with wordsprints!
  • Finishing NaNo on the 27th!
  • Staying up until midnight on November 30th writing until the very last moment, cheering on one of my bestest writing pals (who won with three minutes to spare).
  • Hitting 58K, my largest wordcount for a single month, ever! (Yay for more records! XD)
  • Staying on par the entire month! (A huge relief. I hate falling behind, and the first week or so it was a serious struggle to stay on that bar, but I managed it because I was determined not to fall behind!)
  • Getting soooo close to finishing KW2. Just two or three chapters from the end. I was super excited. (Plus, finishing “Part 2” of that book, which was a milestone I kept not being sure if I’d ever get to. XD)

It was tough sometimes, and I had my share of days when I just didn’t want to write, or had no clue where to go next in my stories. But I stayed on track, finished one book and nearly finished another, and it was an excellent NaNo on the whole!

December + January

I’m squishing these together because not a lot happened in them, writing-wise. *cough* I had big plans of finishing KW2 in December . . . and then in January . . . and neither really happened. 😛

I did write a couple thousand words across the two months, mostly on KW2. I also finished one writing journal and started another for the new year, did some plotting, and met up with various writer friends (!!) and went to a few writers workshops.

OH! And I did write on my “Writing Day” which happens every January 20th. Because every year on that day, I write something, even if it’s just a snippet, and since I first started in 2010, this was my tenth annual one. Every January 20th for a decade, I wrote on one of my stories, and that’s kind of special to me. 🙂

It was overall a very quiet couple of months on the writing front. I’m trying to forgive myself for that, given the busyness and tiredness and all of that. I did sort of write 58K in November, so a couple of quiet months to recover should be allowed. Maybe?

READING

November – December (in reverse order)

Highlights included Mark of the Raven, Falling Snow, fun Christmas-y stories, finishing my Dalemark re-read, and my new favorite, Echo North! (It’s like a month and a half since I’ve read Echo North and I still have a book hangover…)

January

I got off to a fun start for my reading this year. Highlights include The Fall of Gondolin and A Tale of Time City. You can check out mini-thoughts on each of these in my latest Book Ishness over on my book blog!

WATCHING

  • I saw Mortal Engines in the theater and it was SO MUCH FUN. XD I don’t know why I liked it but it was an absolute blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (And now I want to read the book.)
  • I also saw Mary Poppins Returns, which was fairly enjoyable. I particularly liked the lamplighter dance scene!

Other notable things I saw in the last three months:

  • Despicable Me 2 (fun!).
  • Mowgli (. . . interesting).
  • Some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes since I hadn’t seen any of those before!
  • A neat mystery called Ace Wonder which I really enjoyed!
  • I also finished the second season of NCIS and am NOT OKAY. *cough*
  • Re-watched It’s a Wonderful Life and A Muppet Christmas Carol for Christmas. 🙂
  • And I re-watched Captain America: Civil War (because Bucky!) and Snow White and the Huntsman (because Thor wasn’t in Captain America; KIDDING. XD).
  • And I finally saw The Secret World of Arrietty which is MY NEW FAVORITE THING. ❤ (I grew up reading the Borrowers books, and vaguely avoided the movie for years because I was terrified it would be dreadful. But I ADORED IT. And have a sudden need to re-watch it and Howl’s Moving Castle and go find more Studio Ghibli films since those are the only two I’ve seen.)

LISTENING

So, back in November, I started listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer on audiobook. I NEVER LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS. (Well. Almost never. Let’s just say it’s an Occasion. A small one, but still.) I was at a write-in and saw it at the library and couldn’t resist picking it up since I read Cinder not long before. This was a Terrible Idea because I was far too busy to finish it during NaNo and it had to go back to the library. However! I did enjoy myself and have picked it up again recently — but that’s probably part of some future February Ishness so HUSH. SPOILERS.

During Nano, I also did a ton of listening to the Piano Guys’ version of Rewrite the Stars, on repeat, during wordwars. XD

December brought Christmas music which I really enjoyed this year for some reason.

In January, I discovered some new music such as Celtic rock and Tide Lines (a new favorite band! This song has been stuck in my head nonstop and yes I am currently listening to it and regret nothing. XD) and some others. I must listen to more!

Continuing my audiobook obsession, I re-listened to The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame in January — it’s very short but HILARIOUS and absolutely awesome and I highly recommend reading it. ❤

LIFE

November

November was terribly busy. In a good way. But whew! I’m very much a homebody and I have no idea how people manage to write NaNo when they’re busy and juggling jobs/school/whatever. I salute you guys. But anyway…

Busy (but awesome) things included:

  • Hardly being home the first four days of NaNo and squeezing in writing here and there, in places like the car on the way to-and-from places.
  • An awesome library book-sale which always coincides nicely with NaNo when I should be writing. XD

 

  • My aunt and uncle visiting, which was so much fun! And taking them to the Magnolia Market/Silos etc. (If any of y’all come see it, let me know . . . 😉 I haven’t seen the show, but.)
  • I’m the ML — which stands for Municipal Liaison — for my NaNo region so I was quite busy organizing events, sending messages, and managing forums. One more crazy thing during NaNo. XD I’ve done it six years now, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still busy.

  • Having write-in events every weekend — there was much writing and hanging out with other Wrimos.
  • Which reminds me that some of the best moments were chatting with friends old and new — at home, at booksales, at a writer class, at write-ins, in line for a bookstore. I’m an introvert sometimes, but you know, people are awesome too. ❤

  • Thanksgiving. Food. Pies. Nom nom.

Standing in line getting some reading in!

  • Standing in line on Black Friday for the first time in my life, because a bookstore was having a special giveaway. Yes. This is the only thing that can tempt me to go shopping on such a day. Or… ever, in general. XD (Boooooks.) (Fortunately, the bookworm line was small and orderly and we had some lovely bookish chats.)
  • Spontaneously crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves instead of writing. They’ve been so handy!
  • Going for “like-a-quick-lady” walks and runs with my audiobook, and plot-walks with my sister. (Plot walks are magical and consist of talking out the problems in the plot so that I know what to write next.)

Found a cozy bench/garden to curl up with this book while at a fair. ❤

  • Sneaking in reading occasionally, like at a fair and in the car.
  • Some beta-reading and editing, which are of course the best jobs during an already bookish month. 😉
  • In fact, one of the things I beta-read during NaNo is coming out later this month! It’s an utterly charming retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, called The Road to Bremen, and I adored it!

December Highlights

  • A post-NaNo celebration with cupcakes!

Otter!

  • A fun trip to the zoo with lovely writer friends!

  • Meeting up with some friends from Realm Makers and having a blast chatting over lunch!

  • Sending Christmas cards.
  • A few days of just relaxing and reading Diana Wynne Jones. I kind of needed that after all the crazy that was November.
  • Going to see Mortal Engines and Mary Poppins Returns with my siblings.
  • Peppermint shakes!

  • General quiet, cozy Christmas celebrations with family.

  • Curling up with Echo North and reading it in the cold near-end of the year! ❤

January Highlights

  • Ringing in the New Year watching some fireworks and seeing a shooting star.
  • Starting new journals! My favorite. 😀 Seriously, my writing journal and my bullet journal are super helpful and fun.
  • Some writers’ workshops.
  • Plot-walks with my sis.
  • Mail! Always makes my day. ❤

  • Started trying to make fingerless gloves again. XD
  • Working on some new habits and goals. I’m trying a new thing in my bullet-journal with a habit-tracker that I color in. It’s been fabulous so far!
  • Saw the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse! It was super cold out but so worth it.

February Plans

Things I’d love to get done this month:

  • Quite a bit more blogging (my poor abandoned blogs!)
  • Read some review books and review them
  • Read other things Because Reasons
  • Finish writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (I KNOW. I can’t believe I’m not done yet but I still want to do this! *collapses*)
  • Also, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is coming out this month and I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS. SEND HELP.

Loved this display at the theater when I saw Mary Poppins Returns


Whew! If you made it through this you deserve a cupcake.

In brief:

I made it through my 9th NaNo and I’m super pleased with how it turned out! And so glad I decided to go Rebel and work on trying to finish two WIPs. 😀 There were some rough spots and it was one of my busiest NaNos, but overall it went amazingly and was an awesome month.

December was a mix of busyness and lovely relaxing, and much hanging out with awesome people and Christmas coziness. January was generally quietly starting out the year, with a mix of slumps and bright moments.

And now we’re well into February and EXCUSE ME, Mr. Time, but who gave you permission to run away like this? Ahem. If you need me, I’ll just be over here wrapped in a shock blanket, wondering how we’re this far into 2019 already. 😛

What have you been up to lately? How has your year started off? And have you missed the Ishnesses and should I bring ’em back? Speak to me in the comments! Thanks for reading! ❤