May 2015

Whew! May is finally over!  So much has happened in the last 31 days, I can’t believe it all fit into the same month. I attended at least three conferences for work, I finished grad school, flew across the Atlantic to Spain for just over a week, came back, then turned right around to go to Book Expo America in NYC. This has been the most overwhelming month in recent history, but the best kind… and now it’s out of the woods…back to life, back to sense…

2015 Reading Challenge
Another scant month for challenge books: Just one!

a dirty job christopher moore
A funny book: A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore

I realized while I scanned my shelves, that not many of my books are actually all that humorous. Though I do have some Terry Pratchett floating around somewhere, this is the only other one I could find. It reminded me quite a bit of Gina Damico’s Hellhole, which I enjoyed much more, in fact. Though I understand why the story had to take place over several years, it felt drawn out longer than was necessary. Still, I enjoyed it.

Book Expo America 2015

This year, BEA was all about connections. Attending Bloggers Conference granted me the pleasure of meeting new faces, and learn a bit more than I did before. After learning my lesson last year, I was much more discerning about waiting in signing lines for particular authors. I managed to return with a haul of under 50 books (43).  I’m much happier with what I brought back this go-round — a much more cultivated batch, rather than a supermarket-sweepstakes grab-bag like last year. A full list to appear later.

There were several fabulous parties that I was invited to, and I had no idea they were going on last year! I’m thrilled to have been invited to be a part of the festivities. This experience has humbled me, but has also reminded me why I love what I do. Words escape me — I’ve had such a difficult time describing my emotions. I can only smile, while my eyes well, and feel so blessed to be surrounded by such love from my friends and colleagues. This is what I’m meant to do. Thank you to everyone who made BEA15 such a treasure. I’ll go all sentimental – these are memories I will be hard-pressed to ever forget.

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And if there’s one thing I learned this year: Be bold. Red pants make all the difference.

April 2015

 

 

Okay, April was tough. I only finished  book from the challenge this month.

But I did a bit of reading for three other titles! I was asked to moderate an author panel at The Odyssey Bookshop, featuring Nova Ren Suma (The Walls Around Us), Lance Rubin (Denton Little’s Deathdate), and Tommy Wallach (We All Looked Up). I did my best to make dents in each of the books to get a strong sense of their stories and themes… and I really enjoyed each of them! Despite each of the books dealing with dark topics like death, our panel was lively and in high spirits. And, I must say, the authors were all adorable. It has been one of my favorite panels — I hope we cross paths again, guys!  (BEA?? :D)

1q84 haruki murakami
A book with a number in the title: 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami

 

The Good: I’ve always enjoyed Murakami’s work. Ever since I read Sputnik Sweetheart during my freshman year of college, there’s been this odd connection I felt. I realized how Murakami’s work had inspired an anime I had watched in high school (Haibane Renmei, for anyone interested). Since then, I’ve collected several of Murakami’s other books, and though I’m looking forward to reading them one day, I may take a break after this one.  1Q84 is about… well… how can I describe this? I enjoyed the characters. I appreciate Murakami’s splitting of the book into three volumes. The overall story was interesting… Hmm…
So… Can I just skimp and say that I liked it in general?

The Bad: Too long. Now I know why some of my friends preferred reading the book in three separate volumes. I listened to the audio as I typically do, and I couldn’t believe how long it took me to get through! I felt like certain parts of the story were drawn out unnecessarily, but then other areas could have been developed more. Perhaps it’s more of an editing problem? This book could have (should have?) been reduced by at least a third… There was quite a bit of repetition. As with other Murakami books, I feel like many of his themes are waaay over my head. Two moons? Little people? And wtf is an air chrysalis, anyway?  I just wanted to read more and more about the Cat Town, the Dowager, and Tamaru.

In the end, while I enjoyed it, I had different expectations for 1Q84. To be fair, perhaps if it didn’t take me as long to get through, I may have appreciated the book more. I knew I had to finish it before beginning something else… and now it’s done! Whew!

March 2015

Another month draws to a close in 2015 and I plowed through a ton of challenge books this month, bringing me just past the half-way mark. There were quite a few titles this month that I really enjoyed, including an old favorite from when I FIRST started to get excited about reading on my own, one that threw me back to my high school days, and another that reminded me of some of my true passions through college. Ah, such nostalgia! So, without further ado, this month’s completions!:

leigh bardugo shadow and bone grisha trilogy
A book written by a female author: Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo
stephen king revival
A book written by an author you love that you haven’t read yet: Revival, by Stephen King
the kiss of deception mary e pearson remnant chronicles
A book with a love triangle: The Kiss of Deception, by Mary E. Pearson
perfect ruin lauren destefano internment chronicles
A book set in the future: Perfect Ruin, by Lauren DeStefano
david levithan two boys kissing gay
A book set in high school: Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
animorphs k a applegate
A book from your childhood: Animorphs #1 The Invasion, by KA Applegate
peter cameron someday this pain will be useful to you
A book that became a movie: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, by Peter Cameron
holly black the darkest part of the forest
A book published this year (2015): The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black
laurell k hamilton incubus dreams anita blake vampire hunter
A book with more than 500 pages: Incubus Dreams, by Laurell K. Hamilton

Top Two:  Aw, do I have to pick only two??
The Darkest Part of the Forest – Oh, oh, oh…. Now, I’ve read Holly’s Curse Workers trilogy as well as Coldest Girl in Coldtown, all of which I have greatly enjoyed. Yes… I know… I haven’t read Tithe or Spiderwick… or Doll Bones… but those are on a list, somewhere. But THIS! Ah, Holly — I don’t know if you’ll ever read or see this, but thank you for this book. I love the dark, shadowy feel the worlds she builds, and I love the classic (as in more authentic) portrayal of faeries and other such folk. In fact, I had to dash out and pick up Andrew Lang’s Collection of fairy books from Barnes & Noble (Sorry indies!) and I can’t wait to work my way through those stories again. My college photography career was guiding me towards fairy tales and mythology… those things really inspired me, and while reading DPotF, I felt those familiar sparks of creativity. Not to mention, it was so incredibly refreshing to have a gay character that was treated just as normally as other characters and not as a stereotype. So, Holly — thank you. 🙂

Two Boys Kissing – Oh, my dear, sweet David Levithan. This was remarkable. I don’t usually dole out blind, sweeping praise, but oh, how I love his work. Told from such an original point of view, this story speaks to different levels of the gay community without being condescending or beating readers over the head with a preachy history lesson. There are so many little passages that are such gems, words that are positive, affirming and uplifting. I’m so glad this book has been written.

Bottom Two:
Revival – Here’s the problem… I really liked the books this month. Well, except maybe for Stephen King. But I didn’t DISLIKE Revival; I know he could have pushed it a bit more. King does such a good job of creating religious zealot characters that I really wanted him to take Revival to the next level. Think back to Carrie – Margaret White is a wonderful example of a nutty religious figure. King also does a good job of riling the other characters up around this trope, like the chorus of people in The Mist(EXPIATION!), and while I enjoyed Revival, I had much higher expectations for it.

Perfect Ruin –  This is another title I had high expectations for… but just as many reservations. I remember when I moved to New England, somehow I discovered that Lauren DeStefano was an author that lived not-too-far away, and there was a lot of promotion for her debut book Wither. I started listening to Wither on audio right before I listened to Siege and Storm, and I got perhaps a disc in and I just wasn’t finding myself as engaged in the story. Mind you, this has also been the case with Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire. I’ve been in a very indecisive state lately. Perhaps I should have taken that as a sign. What drew me to Perfect Ruin initially was because it reminded me of the video game Bioshock: Infinite, which is set in the floating city of Columbia. I couldn’t help but use that game as visual references, especially since there was this gritty underbelly featured in both stories. That said, I will most likely continue to read this trilogy. Burning Kingdoms just came out this month and I have the ARC…. It just wasn’t my absolute favorite. Like with Wither, I wasn’t gripped… though, (semi-spoiler) the princess towards the end of the book actually has some spunk to her! She’s the reason I’ll pick up the next installment for sure.

February 2015

February was a real struggle for the Reading Challenge. I started many books, but between school getting into full-swing and catching up with work from missed snow days, I’ve felt rather scattered.  Every weekend has been rather social, despite the weekly snow storms. Also, things like laundry haven’t been as much of a priority due to general winter lethargy. Instead, I spent much time obtaining audiobook versions of the books I currently own, importing them to my computer, and transferring them over to my phone in preparation to listen. Of those, most of them are quite lengthy: 1Q84 (Murakami), The Night Angel Trilogy (Weeks), 11/22/63 (King), Revival (King), Incubus Dreams (Hamilton)…

So, although I wasn’t able to cross very many off the list this month, I should be able to make up for it soon. We’re also only 9 weeks into the year, meaning my average has been two books a week! Here we go — completed books in February:

discovery of witches deborah harkness
A book with magic: A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
the magician king, magicians, lev grossman
A book with nonhuman characters: The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
hatchet gary paulsen
A book written by an author with your same initials: Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
the hours michael cunningham
A Pulitzer Prize-winning book: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham

 

I quite liked each of these books, actually… each for different reasons. Though Hatchet wasn’t my favorite, I now understand why it’s so popular with schools. Though, Paulen has a habit of repeating the same thing three-times over throughout the book…

A Discovery of Witches made me think of a grown-up version of a lot of teen paranormal romance books.

The Hours was beautiful, as was the film. I’ve always loved Michael Cunningham’s writing.

The Magician King may have claimed the highest rank this month. I read through it pretty quickly compared to the others, and I think I enjoyed it more than the first. The Magician’s Land is another that I have queued up in my audiobooks, but I don’t think I’ll count that one. I’ve found so many trilogies that I wanted to count, however, I had read the first installment prior to this year, so I’ve ruled them out…. Which is a real shame. That said, I was able to get a hold of audios for The Night Angel Trilogy which I’ve had since high school, so I’m looking forward to finally knocking those out!

 

Other’s I’m currently reading for the challenge include:

  • Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo
  • The Way of the Shadows – Brent Weeks
  • The Kiss of Deception – Mary Pearson
  • Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

 

January 2015

With the 2015 Reading Challenge constantly on my mind, I shot out of the gate last month, taking things head-on. I read 14 (and halves of two) books, accounting for just over a quarter of the entire challenge list. Knowing that my final semester of grad school is now underway, I wanted to make a dent in this list before I got too wrapped up in other things. These 14 books have (mostly) been great — I’ve enjoyed titles I never thought I would. Others… Well, I read them, and that’s that. Below is a compilation of these first 14 titles and which challenge requirement they satisfy.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard jk rowling
A book of short stories: Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling
the land of the pink pearl
A book that takes place in your hometown: The Land of the Pink Pearl, by L.D. Powles
The Walking Dead
A graphic novel: The Walking Dead, volume 1, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
The Little Prince
A book originally written in a different language: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
the house on mango street
A book you can finish in a day: The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
the tempest
A play: The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
A Separate Peace
A book you were supposed to read in school but never did: A Separate Peace by John Knowles
the scarlet letter
A book with a color in the title: The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Hobbit
A popular author’s first book: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Swimming-Pool Library
A book that came out the year you were born: The Swimming-Pool Library, by Alan Hollinghurst
I Am Not Myself These Days
A memoir: I Am Not Myself These Days, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Black & White
A book with antonyms in the title: Black & White, by Dani Shapiro
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
A book that made you cry: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce
mortal heart his fair assassin
A book set in a different country: Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers

Top Two:
Mortal Heart — This title is the last book in the His Fair Assassin’s Trilogy, and I have absolutely loved the two previous entries. This one had several little moments that were great surprises and revelations that I greatly appreciated. Though, this was not as action-packed as the previous entries, I was rather satisfied with how things ended. AND, there was quite an extensive amount of research done for historical accuracy! I wouldn’t quite call this a fantasy, but there are fantasy bits to it. Though… Paganism/Religious/Magic… don’t all the lines blur after a while?

I Am Not Myself These Days — I’ve had this book on my shelves for years and years and years. Honestly, I think I bought it at a Barnes & Noble as a buy-two-get-one-free deal. I only really bought it for the cover back then. I had no idea who Josh was, and that was way before The Amazing Race or The Fabulous Beekman Boys. In 2013 I was able to meet Josh and his partner Brent when they came to a local bookshop for their cookbook tour. So, of course, I brought my copy of his CRAZY memoir along and he enthusiastically signed it. Several friends have mentioned that they’ve read it and loved it, and I’ll say that this is definitely up there with all the other books I really enjoyed. This book is filled with drag queens, drugs, and generally inappropriate things — which was a little cringe-worthy at times, but absolutely hilarious.

Bottom Two:
The Scarlet Letter — This was torture to read. Complete torture. I can’t believe kids had to read this in school. They still do, don’t they? I tried on this one, guys… I really did. I know people out there love Hester, but I’d rather just watch Easy A with Emma Stone. The 19th century writing style was verbose and unnecessary. The Land of the Pink Pearl, another book I completed in this month, was also written during the same time period, and was so, so much better. Sorry, I’m gonna boot this one.

The Tempest — It’s Shakespeare. That’s enough.

Reading Challenge 2015

Right as I began thinking about my annual book bracket, I stumbled upon this reading challenge that seems to be making its way around the net. The list by POPSUGAR contains 50 items (52 when you include the trilogy) meaning approximately one book a week. This may be tough. Outside of that one YA lit class in grad school, I’ve never really taken on such a huge volume of books before, and in that class, I really was reading a book or two a week thanks to the power of increased playback speed through Overdrive and Audible.

After reviewing the items, I’ve decided I’m going to take on this challenge, drawing primarily from titles I already own. Hey, if I’m able to knock out 52 books from my own list, I think that will merit some sort of reward. Like chocolate or something. (Maybe booze.) I’ve already drawn up some preliminary items that will satisfy the requirements for the list, and I’m trying to find as many of them in audio format as possible… which may be difficult for some more obscure titles. Luckily, thanks to the power of the library, I should be able to find many other titles in audio as fill-ins.

I know a lot of titles could satisfy multiple items from the list, but my goal is to find 52 unique titles – no cheating!

The countdown begins. I challenge all you readers, too!
You have ten days to prepare. GO!

Island Heritage

The year is drawing to a close, and as I reflect on the books I read this year, and those I didn’t, I can’t help but look forward. For the first time since 2009, since before starting this blog, I am finally able to return to The Bahamas for the holidays. As one who has spent nearly as much time away from home as I have living at home, this time is incredibly sentimental. We alternate our holiday destinations between the United States and The Bahamas. My birthday is a week after Christmas, right after New Years. In the past, this has meant that the whole family is together for at least a week or two.  This year, everyone will be down in the islands. While I write this, our first New England snow of the season comes down. The plows scrape and rumble by, frightening my cats.

But to the heart of this entry: This year was also the first time I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo… and by attempted, I mean, I didn’t really write much… BUT, I do have an idea. A grand idea if you ask me — but one that requires quite a bit of research on my part. I realize that next semester should be my last in my graduate school career, and for next NaNoWriMo, I want to be poised and ready to hammer out my fifty thousand words. Though I feel it’s too early to discuss this idea, I will say that it involves some aspects of the Caribbean. There’s not a terrible amount of visible Caribbean literature out there. I say visible because I know how rich and vibrant story-telling is in the islands, but not as many tales are written down and then published.

I also can’t stop thinking about Tiphanie Yanique’s book Land of Love and Drowning sitting on my shelf (scandalously adjacent to Herman Wouk!) so, tonight, I’ve picked it up. Yes, there are still three titles I haven’t read out of my 16 book gauntlet, and I still have reviews to write for about a half-dozen, but I’m still pleased that I finished most on the list! Anyone watching my other page will notice how much that list has grown… Trust me, I’m reading!

land of love and drowning tiphanie yanique caribbean Ah, look how beautiful under the dust jacket!

My task for this next year is to read as much as I can find about my cultural heritage from The Bahamas, as well as the other topics involved with my NaNoWriMo idea. I’ll be starting with the titles I already own, such as Tiphanie’s book, but also Paradise Overdose, by Brian Antoni, re-reading titles by Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, whatever I happen to find at home in my old room, and many more Caribbean authors. I’m taking International and Comparative Librarianship in my final semester of grad school, so ideally, I’ll be making some contacts (in the islands) for a class-related project. (You see how I worked that out, right?) We’ll see if I can skate around without purchasing any books… But I’m a sucker for a signed copy! I’d also like to revisit some titles from my childhood studies, such at The Cay by Theodore Taylor, and The Wooing of Beppo Tate by C. Everard Palmer. I can’t believe I actually remembered those to tell you the truth. Despite realizing that many… most… of these will not have audiobook versions, I am looking forward to reading physical copies.

If nothing else, I hope these books help me feel a bit warmer during the winter.

Spotlight: Maggie Stiefvater

I don’t often do this. In fact, I never have. But I want to take a moment and talk about an author that I’ve developed quite an appreciation for. This may become a regular thing… like an author spotlight or something… But for now, I’ll just gush about my latest author crush.

Maggie Stiefvater

maggie stiefvater raven boys

Her books preceded her. I heard about “those new werewolf books” (The Wolves of Mercy Falls) several years ago but refused to pay them any attention. In fact, I didn’t even associate her name with the book series because I forced myself to be THAT uninterested. It was probably because I was too turned off of teen paranormal romance at that time. Thanks, Twilight. Then as one of the first choices for a book club that I joined, we were tasked with reading The Raven Boys. I found the audiobook available on Overdrive and started listening.

Loved it. I’ll spare the premise, since I’m focusing on Maggie, here. But it’s awesome. Go read it. In fact, read all of her books. Cuz I pretty much have, now.

Maggie lives in Virginia – SCORE
After I moved away from the Bahamas, I lived at a boarding school in Virginia, went to college in Virginia, and ended up living there almost 10 years. Virginia has always been my home away from home. Maggie has written several of her books set in Virginia. The Raven Boys, specifically, is even about guys in a boarding school. Without needed to say much more, it was so incredibly easy for me to relate.

Maggie is an artist – AWESOME
I’ve always loved art. When I was little, I toted around a stuffed Crayola Bunny that had a pocket in its overalls to hold a few crayons. I was so obsessed with those color names too. In fact, at my primary school, I identified my peers to my parents by what color their skin was by Crayola standards: peach, tan, brown… And I was so confused when people said they were white or black, because THEY DIDN’T MATCH THE CRAYON!  My love for art continued throughout my high school career, expanding my craft into dark room photography, which I ultimately majored in when I went to college.

Maggie is a musician – OMG
For many years I played piano. I really enjoyed it, until I had to start composing my own pieces for these examinations… then I felt burnt out. Though I never practiced at home, my teacher said I showed great talent – and just imagine what I would be like if I DID practice at home! It’s been years since I’ve played, but it’s one of those things I hold dear and have such an appreciation for.

Maggie is a race car enthusiast – SERIOUSLY
Okay, so I don’t have much to say about this point, besides race car being a fun palindrome. But come on, guys… how many people do you know zip around in neat cars with custom license plates (cuz it’s so darn cheap in Virginia!) and graffiti their car in 3.5 minutes?? Seriously, check out the video on her website.

Maggie writes some seriously fantastic books – DONE!
After breezing through The Raven Boys, I decided (with some hesitation) to try out The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy, then Scorpio Races. Most recently, (cuz I have to do all of these in audio now) The Dream Thieves. For a typical contemporary Young Adult author, her stories are remarkably fresh and original. The bits of romance in WoMF were tender, honest and realistic. Scorpio Races was enchanting — come on, a girl enters the ‘wild & crazy water horse’ race to save her struggling family? Who comes up with this stuff? This chick does. Oh, and she also composes and performs the music for the audio books.

Done, done, done! Subscribe me +1000 times! Fav, retweet, blast that out.  Maggie Stiefvater is a rock star. I told her once. She proved it:

twitter maggie stiefvater

Have I said enough? For an author that wasn’t even on my radar, she has sprung up out of nowhere and completely captured me. Like a bear trap, actually. Or a snake with big fangs. But a nice snake. A colorful, cheeky, magical snake. She has sunk her sharp and witty teeth in to my unsuspecting self and pumped in her intelligent prose and beautiful imagery. So read (or listen) to her books. I’m going to pine over her Tarot card illustrations and maybe dance to a tribal summoning song  and hope she comes out to Western Mass one day. Hey, there’s a thought…

 

 

Down With Dystopia: The Rise of the Royal Court

When I tried describing a book to someone last week, I realized that I was mixing up characters and plots, pulling from multiple titles I had recently read. Finally setting aside some time, I decided to look into these books a bit more, and then I fell down a rabbit hole. Suddenly, I’m not seeing dystopian books a-la Hunger Games and Divergent anymore. Now, books about princesses and kingdoms (and magic – ooo!) have taken the floor and are proudly waltzing by.
dystopia royal court princess

Is anyone else noticing this? Does this mark the end of depressing dystopian worlds? Is historical fiction donning a fancy new Y.A. get-up? We still have strong female characters completely dominating young adult literature; however, rather than the run-of-the-mill dystopia once dominating popular books, our heroines are now featured in the high courts of fantasy realms and fairy tale retellings.

I’m not saying this is a problem, but, does my observation carry greater meaning when I point out that many…most… of these books are written by debut authors?  I get that these things come in waves, but this seems more like a tsunami. Below are a number of recent, and soon-to-be books that include some aspect of royal courts:

  1. Red Queen (et al) – Victoria Aveyard
  2. Shadow & Bone (et al) – Leigh Bardugo
  3. Girl of Fire and Thorns (et al) – Rae Carson
  4. Graceling (et al) – Kristin Cashmore
  5. The Selection (et al) – Kiera Cass
  6. The Healer’s Apprentice (et all) – Melanie Dickerson
  7. The Jewel (et al)- Amy Ewing
  8. Deception’s Princess (et al) – Esther M. Friesner
  9. Princess of the Midnight Ball (et al) – Jessica Day George
  10. Seraphina (et al) – Rachel Hartman
  11. Cruel Beauty (et al)- Rosamund Hodge
  12. Princess of Thorns – Stacey Jay
  13. Stolen Songbird (et al)- Danielle L. Jenson
  14. The Queen of the Tearling (et al) – Erika Johansen
  15. Grave Mercy (et al)- Robin LeFevers
  16. Winterspell (et al)- Claire Legrand
  17. Stitching Snow – R. C. Lewis
  18. Throne of Glass (et al)- Sarah J. Maas
  19. Cinder (et al)- Marissa Meyer
  20. Suspicion – Alexandra Monir
  21. Legendary (et al) – L. H. Nicole
  22. Queen of Hearts: The Crown (et al)  – Colleen Oakes
  23. Snow Like Ashes (et al) – Sara Raasch
  24. Camelot Burning (et al)- Kathryn Rose
  25. Legacy (et al) – Jesikah Sundin
  26. Stray (et al) – Elissa Sussman
  27. A Wicked Thing (et al) – Rhiannon Thomas
  28. Crown of Ice (et al) – Vicki L. Weavil
  29. Storm Siren (et al) – Mary Weber
  30. Illusions of Fate (et al)- Kiersten White

That’s well over a two dozen titles, not including the respective continuations and sequels, e-book prequels or e-book short of some kind. (Those marked by ‘et al’ indicate some continuation in their series or intended series.) Of the authors that I’ve pulled into this list, there are only three that do not explicitly note a continuation of story.  I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll see more than just one entry in these remaining three all the same.

So what’s with this sudden spike in popularity? Here are some observations:

Women authors — At least in this genre, it seems as though unless your name is George R.R. Martin, most fantasy books are being written by women. There are a few men that are writing for young adults: John Green, Rick Yancey, Patrick Ness, Scott Westerfeld, Rick Riordan… but they’re not necessarily explicitly ‘fantasy’ authors. Where is the new blood? Where are the male debut authors? And where are the male debut fantasy authors?

Princesses — I don’t think I need to point out the dream every little girl (and some boys!) have of growing up to be a princess. Rags to riches, coming of age, reluctant hero(ine)… and other themes are common in such princess fantasy stories. Also present are kings, queens, princes, duchies, nobility, lords, ladies, and the like. Everyone loves to play dress up. Everyone also loves coming from modest beginnings,  and not necessarily entitled to the fame and fortune, but, of course, deserving. Humble = likable.

Gossip — I really, really don’t want to go there, but there’s also a clear connection between certain elements in this genre (such as spies, assassins, espionage…all of which boil down to gossip, lies, and general underhanded-ness,) that are present in many stories with women characters. Perhaps it’s simply an aspect of the everyday feminine culture that is handled in different ways from book to book, but it is undeniable that gossip is a common thread.

**NOTE: There’s much hesitation, self-awareness, and self-censorship I exercise in writing this entry. I feel like feminist readers of my blog will tear me to pieces… but these aren’t meant to be pokes or jabs at the nature of feminism or female culture. I’m not criticizing these points I bring up, but rather I seek to open a thread of conversation to be had with a purity of motive.**

~    ~   ~

At this year’s Horn Book Awards Colloquium, held at Simmons College (Boston, MA), there was an interesting panel held on the diversity of literature for children and young adults. This was headed by individuals in the publishing world, all of whom claim to scour for talent every day trying to find diverse books to publish. Unfortunately, without the talent… there’s nothing to publish.

So much of this time I had been blaming the publishing world. I’d thought, well, of course they are the reason there is not more diversity in books – because they want to take something popular that makes them money and drill as far down into the well as they can… Further illustrated by my list above. Or is it? Are books like these getting published because that’s just what the writing talent is currently producing? Is it because these books are easily marketable to the established audience? Are there writers out there producing diverse literature and the work is just ‘not good enough’ yet to make it to print? I think it’s unfair to place the blame on any one faction of the book world. Everyone simply has to work harder to produce and promote diverse literature.

My final question is this: Does the list above demonstrate the diversity we are all working so hard for?