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Book Review: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Beka Cooper, book 3
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “The harder the goal, the more important it is.”

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost’s Guard. But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiancé is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.

It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door. Within hours, Beka; her partner, Tunstall; her scent hound, Achoo; and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government. As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now Hunts, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence. They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic. And they are nearly impossible to identify.

This case – a Hunt that will take her to places she’s never been – will challenge Beka’s tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can trust with her life and country’s future.

~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Mastiff is one of those stories that stays with you long after the story is over. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I loved it even more the second time around, though it didn’t make dealing with the conflict of the story any easier. Still, Mastiff is a book that will easily exceed all expectations.

The Beka Cooper trilogy can be read out of order but you won’t get the linear progression of Beka’s character and growth from Puppy to Dog that way.

The writing in Mastiff – and the other books – is so on point, so natural! The books are Beka’s private journals and presented in such a way. It’s more narrative than stream-of-conscious journal entries but the blending of the two is seamlessly done. You almost forget it’s a recount of events that have already taken place. More on that – yes this is a recount so you at least know Beka is there in the end (in what state you’ll just have to read to find out!). But in this series it’s all about the journey, and not the destination.

Mastiff is an adventure unlike any other. The suspense. The thrill. The Hunt. All will leave you turning pages quickly to learn what’ll happen next.

Knowing what’s going to happen did not hinder my reading experience. But as mentioned before the conflict was a heavy thing to read, especially after picking out all the bits of info early on that connect to later major plot points. Death too was a heavy thing to bear witness too and the antagonism that’ll leave you speechless. The task Beka and her fellow Hunters are given is probably one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve ever read in fiction (or even seen in movies and television).

I really appreciate the include of all the characters mentioned in Mastiff and who they are, the glossary of terms/lingo/language, and Achoo’s (Beka’s scent hound) commands at the back of the book. It was good to refer back to all this information as I read.

I highly recommend this series. Tamora Pierce is a master storyteller and Beka Cooper’s story – a heroine unlike any other – is one you’ll want to read.

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Book Review: Black Butler by Yana Toboso, Translated by Tomo Kimura (Volume 1)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga / Graphic Novel
Series: Black Butler, Volume 1
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
In the Victorian ages of London The Earl of the Phantomhive house, Ciel Phantomhive, needs to get his revenge on those who had humiliated him and destroyed what he loved. Not being able to do it alone he sells his soul to a demon he names Sebastian Michaelis. Now working as his butler, Sebastian must help the Earl Phantomhive in this suspenseful, exciting, thriller manga.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
I had heard about this series for a long time but never really took an interest in it until of late. So when I was at the library a couple weeks ago and saw all of the manga on the shelves I decided to give it a try. I would have preferred to watch the anime first but that happening. I really like this manga. I love each character – the main characters are so charming, especially Sebastian and Ciel! I love all the humor throughout – I laughed a lot. And I was completely surprised at every turn. Where the rest of this series goes who knows, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.


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Picture Book: “Dale’s Bedtime Story” by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner (TEXT ONLY)

Dale’s Bedtime Story by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner
© Jan/Feb 2017

*slightly edited from original text

Dale is a good little boy…but very adventurous. He can be quite the handful. Dale had a habit of exploring and getting into things he shouldn’t. His parents chased after him all day long.

Late one night, his parents finally got Dale ready for bed.

“Okay, kiddo,” his father said. He cleared his throat. “Time for a bedtime story.”

“So your father and I – I mean, you –  can go to sleep…finally.” His mother whispered the last bit to herself.

Dale looked at his parents’ tired expressions with a sad frown on his face. “I want to tell you a bedtime story!” Dale said. He scooted to the end of the bed. “This is the most amazing, fantastical, coolest story ever to be told!” He cleared his throat the same way his father always did before telling a story and began.

“Once upon a time, there was a knight named Dad who was very brave and nice and strong and had a mighty sharp sword and could shoot lasers out of his eyes. He was the best of the best, which is why he sometimes wasn’t invited to play checkers with the other knights.

“People loved him because he could destroy all the monsters and eat a whole chocolate cake by himself. But he was very lonely like a foot without a sock to keep it warm. Every knight but him had a lady who they loved with all their hearts. Sir Dad had no one, which made him feel oh-so sad. You can’t be a true knight without a lady, he thought.

“One day, he was riding his trusty horse, Edgar the Handsomest, when – as he was about to pass a tree – he heard a cry for help. He looked around wondering where the sound was coming from. Someone called to him again. He thought it was the tree. ‘Do you need help, Mr. Tree?’ Dad asked the large tree.

“‘Up here, sir knight! It was me!’ a voice cried from above.

“The knight looked up and saw a frightened lady clinging to the tree trunk. She wore only one sock. ‘Good lady,’ he called. ‘How did you get up there?’

“‘A cat stole my sock and ran up this tree,’ she replied. ‘So I climbed the tree to get it back but the cat jumped down and ran away. I got stuck because I do not like heights. Can you help me?’

“Dad leapt off his horse and struck a knightly pose. ‘Don’t worry, my lady. I will save you!’ he promised.

“The knight took out a jet-pack, flew up into the tree, and rescued the lady.

“They were both very happy to see each other. So happy that…”

Dale trailed off when he heard snoring. Both his parents had fallen asleep. He smiled, then cautiously crawled back into his spot in between them. “So happy that Sir Dad gave Lady Mom a spare sock he had and they fell madly in love,” Dale continued, whispering now. “They rode away on the horse, went home, and got married. They started a family and had a little boy named Prince Dale…who deep down loved his Mom and Dad very much…” He yawned and his eyes began to droop. “And they all lived happily…ever…after. The end.” And soon, Dale fell asleep as well.

THE END


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TBR At A Glance – 1/11/18

Image made in Autodesk Pixlr and Paint by The Bookshelf Corner

Recent Reviews

 

Coming Soon

  • (ARC Book Review) Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (to be posted February 2018)
  • (Book Review) Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (Beka Cooper, book 3) (to be posted Monday, January 15)

 

Currently Reading

  • (nearly finished) Mastiff
  • (nearly finished) Volume 1 – Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, Translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
  • Slammed by Colleen Hoover (Slammed, book 1)

 

Reading Next


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Suggested Texts for Fiction & Poetry Writers

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay | Cropped / Text Added in Paint

In any profession, no matter what level you’re at, it’s always good to have a few texts related to your job that you can refer back to if need be. Sure a quick Google search or asking someone else in your field can provide you the answers you’re looking for, but to have a comprehensive guide on hand is also helpful (just in case).

Below are books that I like particularly and have on my shelf. These books provide clear information on various aspects of writing, along with plenty of examples to support each author’s claims.

 

First off, find a thesaurus/dictionary that you enjoy. Writers we may be but even we aren’t infallible to being at a loss for words.

 

Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief by David Starkey
© 2009 by Bedford/St. Martin’s

Image via Goodreads

Provides guidance on writing poetry, short-short stories, short creative nonfiction, and ten-minute plays. Includes an anthology of selected works for each genre.


Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway (with Susan Weinberg)
6th Edition © 2003 by Longman

Image via Barnes & Noble

Details narrative fiction from conception of ideas to how to begin to revisions. Includes selected works in each chapter as examples.


Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich
2nd Edition © 2008 by Writer’s Digest Books

Image via Barnes & Noble

Geared towards where to find ideas for fiction, all parts of writing fiction (setting, pov, dialogue, etc.), and suggested practices for revision. Back of text includes selected short stories.


These are just suggestions. If you have any suggestions for texts or better ones, leave them in the comment section below. I’m always looking for more reference material to add to my shelf.

AS ALWAYS, HAPPY WRITING!


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ARC Book Review: Baby, I’m Howling For You by Christine Warren

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. Baby, I’m Howling For You is set to be released January 30, 2018.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Alphaville, book 1
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
WELCOME TO ALPHAVILLE, where the she-wolves and alpha-males play. . .for keeps.

Renny Landry is a wolf on the run. Pursued by a shapeshifting stalker and his slobbering pack of killer coyotes, she is forced to flee her job as a librarian to find sanctuary in the wooded hills of Alpha, Washington. A well-secluded safe space for troubled shifters, Alpha is Renny’s last hope. But the first person she meets there is a gorgeous alpha male with fiery eyes, fierce tattoos, and one ferocious appetite—for her…

Mick Fischer thought he left his past behind when he moved to Alpha. But fate has a way of biting him in the tail when a female wolf shows up on his property. Wounded, desperate—and disarmingly hot—Renny brings out the snarling, protective alpha beast in Mick like no other woman he’s known. Can these two haunted, hunted wolves manage to mate for life…even as the deadliest past demons howl at their heels?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Warning: This book contains explicit romantic scenes and language. For mature readers only. Reader discretion advised.

This was the shifter book I didn’t know I had been missing from my life. I absolutely LOVED Baby, I’m Howling For You.

First off, I fell head over heels over the fact that Renny is a librarian and Mick is a graphic novelist. *insert book-nerdish swoon* That alone deserves all the stars in the world. But of course, that was the cherry atop the sundae for my love of these two characters.

Renny is such a kind individual and so strong throughout all her attempts to have a normal life. Plus she’s not afraid to put her foot down against Mick’s efforts to protect her. Mick – I feel for the guy. His past is too a rough one. What he struggles to overcome I have not really seen much of in shifter/paranormal/supernatural type books, so I was more invested in the story.

Readers will additionally love all the other characters, each with their own unique charms, as well as the diverse sanctuary that is Alpha, Washington.

Then there were the truckload’s worth of funny moments and real-world references throughout the entire book. I lived for those moments and was laughing aloud on more than one occasion.

Renny’s last name threw me off for the first couple of chapter. I saw the words “Renny Landry” but my mind read it as “Renny Laundry.” I have no idea why. I also didn’t care for the multiple rehashing ad nauseam of details about the conflict. But other than those things, this was a perfectly entertaining beginning of something wonderful.

It’s been so long since I’ve read a book by Christine Warren. The story? On point. The characters? Loved them. The setting? A fictional home away from home. The romance? As sizzling as bacon cooking in a frying pan. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series, Your Lion Eyes.


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Comedians & Writers: A Parallel

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Here’s a recent thought I had recently: Comedians and Writers have a lot in common. I’ve never noticed much parallel between the two before until I really thought about it. When you watch a comedian (or a show that is comedy in genre) you can see in the preparation and execution common threads writers must keep in mind (and demonstrate) when going about their own work. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Tough Skin Is Your Best Defense

Writers (and Comedians) must know (or will come to know) that not everyone is going to like what you write (say)…and that’s okay. You won’t win everyone over whether the story is good or bad. It’s impossible to do so. You’re likely to fail several times, get your submission rejected several times, before you lock into your own groove. And that’s okay. Actually, that’s life. You’ll stumble, you’ll fall. It’s how you pick yourself back up that matters. Keep going. If becoming a writer (or comedian) is what you really wish to pursue, then you gotta cloak yourself in tough skin and keep moving forward.

Storytelling That Hooks

Jokes come with a story. And you have to weave and guide your audience through it. It’s never a straightforward path. Body language (your character’s actions), diction (the right words in the right order), tone (how characters express themselves or react to things; individual voices), and action (what is going on) all move the joke/story towards the punchline/climax. What you mean to achieve needs to hook your audience and be compelling enough to hold their attention for an entirety story. Kevin Hart’s stand-up comedy is a good example of captivating storytelling.

Memorable Lines and Scenes

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay

From comedy, a writer may learn in turn how to craft comedic scenes and dialogue. Whether it is to provide comic relief or make a character more endearing, being able to insert humor into your fiction is a good skill to have. Sketch comedy (like SNL or In Living Color) or comedy based television shows/movies (like The Office or The Big Bang Theory) are great places to learn how to write and execute comedic scenes and dialogue. Furthermore, The Office offers up good examples of memorable lines (i.e. the famous “that’s what she said” line) and of course there’s The Big Bang Theory‘s well-placed “bazinga.” Writers should strive to give readers lines and scenes worth remembering.

“Confident” Is Your Middle Name

Being a comedian requires confidence. Being a writer requires confidence. Likes and dislikes are always in the eye of the beholder. You must be bold and convincing to win your audience over to your side. Persuasion is the name of the dance. Take the improve comedy show Impractical Jokers. More often than not you’ll see those four guys (Joe, Murr, Sal, and Q) have the guts and confidence to convince strangers of the ridiculous things they do and say. It’s astonishingly hilarious and the improv is on point. A writer needs to have confidence in their words and use the active voice. Persuade the reader that yes this world you’ve created does exist and they’re just temporarily vacationing in it.

A Reflection of the Self

Comedy and Fiction are often a reflection of the self, wherein all that we are and all that we were and all that we hope to be are layered in what we try to convey. Any comic will tell you that comedy tends to comes from a place of pain, and how they have dealt with that pain is through laughter. In writing, we express ourselves or try to make sense of the world we live in.


What are your thoughts on the similarities (or differences) between comics and writers? These were just thoughts I’d been tossing around recently so I’m curious as to what you all think. Let me know in the comment section below.

AND, AS ALWAYS, HAPPY WRITING!


Other Funny Shows I Recommend:
Key & Peele
The Mayor
Family Guy
Conan
Parks and Recreation
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah