FanX Salt Lake 2021

After a year of tumult and avoiding crowds, or to be honest, avoiding people in general, being back at FanX was a welcome step back to normalcy. That said, it was really weird to interact with so many friends and strangers in person after so long of not feeling safe to do so. I was pleased that the majority of attendees chose to respect the mask rule as I know it helped keep us all safer.

This year was a number of firsts for me, which made my FanX experience that much more exciting. I wasn’t until recently that I was able to join the panelist group, thanks to a dear friend who advocated for me. Before that, I’d always bought a ticket and spent my time attending panels in the audience, walking the vendor floor, and finding friends who were actually working the con. Throw in an occasional cosplay, and that was the extent of my experience.

The Booth

In previous years, I’ve never committed to selling my books at any particular booth, mainly because I didn’t really have that many books to sell. Way back in 2019, which feels like forever ago, I got to sign books with my favorite indie bookstore, The Printed Garden. And while it doesn’t hold a candle to the work of running a booth, it was the perfect way to stick my toe in the water.

This year I buddied up with two fabulous authors, Candace J Thomas and C. M. Adler, as well as one amazing artist, Julie Gallegos to make up the Local Fantasy Author Booth #1236. All I can say is, what a learning experience. I got a much greater appreciation for booth design, inventory management, and patron interaction than I ever expected.

Moderating my first panel

It’s one thing to be invited to talk about different topics, it’s quite another to guide the conversation. This year I participated in three fascinating panels, Spirited Away, Flash Gordon, and The Witcher.

2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the Japan release of Spirited Away, so I thought it would be a great year to celebrate. As the panel was my idea, they let me moderate which is something I’ve done a bunch in other smaller venues, but nothing as big as FanX. My fellow panelists were terrific and the discussion ranged from thematic elements of the show to how Miyazaki ties his creations to folklore and culture, to my favorite question – which character each of the panelists felt represented them the best.

The other panels were also great fun. For Flash Gordon the moderator brought some slides that compared the Sam J Jones movie to the original Buster Keaton series. We then talked about our favorite scenes – definitely the tree spider scene – and also brought up all sorts of interesting trivia, like how the role of Flash was originally offered to Kurt Russell.

As for the Witcher panel, I got to let my inner geek shine as only myself and one other panelist had read the novels and many of the questions had a lot to do with how the different medias compared with each other.

Selling out of my book!

As authors, nothing makes us happier than connecting with people who love the subjects and genres we write about. Selling my fantasy series at FanX was a dream come true. I’ve never been in a situation where people would walk by and see the books we offered and say, “I want that” and then buy it. Talk about feeling validated.

Again, this whole event was a learning experience. Part of that learning was all about how many of a title I should ideally bring. Had I brought more, I could have easily sold more. I don’t feel bad. As a first time, I consider the whole experience a raging success.

My one regret

Most years I spend far more time roaming around and seeing the other tables and booths. That said, most years I have my amazing hubby to keep me company as we look at all the cool cosplays and things for sale. While he came this year to visit, I was too overwhelmed at all the newness of working the booth to spend much time with him. When I did take a minute to wander around, it wasn’t the same.

Next year for sure I will make the time to roam the conference and see all the amazing stuff with hubby dearest and perhaps pick up a few more sparkly goodies along the way.

TV Review: The Witcher: The Nightmare of the Wolf

I might have mentioned my teeny tiny obsession with the Witcher universe, I’ve read all the books, watched all the shows, and finally am playing Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (with the bonus Blood and Wine expansion…). I wasn’t joking. Obsession level fan girl.

And … get this – FanX Salt Lake has invited me to be on this weekend’s Witcher panel. There’s so much squee here, I just might die.

So, the timing of the release of “The Nightmare of the Wolf” a few weeks ago is completely perfect.

Sorceress Tetra and Vesemir. No, they aren’t a thing.

The Story

The Netflix series “The Witcher” covers the story of the Witcher Geralt of Rivia and the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg. “Nightmare of the Wolf” steps back in time to the life of Geralt’s mentor and father figure, Vesemir.

The show switches back and forth between two significant parts of Vesemir’s life. One, of when he was a child wanting adventure and anything more then living the life of a lowly servant. The other, when he’s an experienced Witcher facing a problem that brings back part of a lost part of his past.

As with most Witcher stories, there’s a lot going on in here. A foul plot is afoot to wipe out the Witchers at Kaer Morhen, orchestrated by the Sorceress Tetra. She uses her control over monsters to convince the court that somehow the Witchers themselves are responsible for the creation of said monsters. Adult Vesemir uncovers part of this plot and works to figure out the truth.

As a child, Vesemir had a close friend named Illyana who he was separated from when he chose to be a Witcher. Over the intervening years, Illyana married into power and prestige. She uses her position to argue at court against those of her town from turning against the Witchers, who most see as a blight on society. She gets caught up in Tetra’s plot as she tries to protect Vesemir, who she still has feelings for.

All of this culminates into a massive showdown between Tetra’s monsters and mob against the Witchers of Kaer Morhen. It’s an unfair fight from the beginning, as Tetra can summon thousands of deadly monsters at will. Vesemir is torn between his loyalty to the Witchers against the truths he’s uncovered and must choose which side to take.

A different style of Wolf medallion than we’ve seen before.

My Review

First, know that I’m a biased watcher. That said, this was a great addition to the Witcher Universe. While there are parts of the story that do step away from cannon, namely the details surrounding the sacking of Kaer Morhen, from what we know of Vesemir’s past, this story fills in a part of the history that we haven’t seen much of in previous works.

The best part of the whole thing is Vesemir’s character arc. He starts as a petulant youth who craves adventure over all else and only cares about Illyana, then becomes an arrogant Witcher who, after Illyana’s rejection, doesn’t care about anyone, and in the end after enduring a bitter loss, learns that not only are there are people worth caring for in the world, but it’s up to him to ensure they have a future. Yes, I’m talking about none other than Geralt, Eskel, and Lambert.

There’s a bit of everything in this story. We’ve got plenty of action and magic, but we also have a generous amount of heart – something I love seeing.

Young Vesemir and Illyana

Recommendations

For those of you who loved Castlevania and/or already like the Witcher universe, this is a perfect pick. The art style matches that of Castlevania, which I might have already fangirled about in previous posts.

That said, true to the nature of the story, this is a gory, violent show with plenty of intense fighting and images that might be disturbing to some viewers. Beyond that, there’s some profanity, brief moments of nudity (mostly butts and possibly a boob), and consumption of alcohol as well as alchemical potions that turn the Witcher’s eyes completely black.

Proceed at your own risk. I recommend this one for at least 16+ and those they let play.

I rate Nightmare of the Wolf 5/5 for being a perfect edition to the Witcher universe.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

TV Review: Castlevania, Season 4

It’s always sad to come to the end of a story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Season 4 of Castlevania takes us to the end of each of the storylines created in the previous seasons with fabulous success.

Through the previous seasons we saw the rise of Trevor and Sypha’s partnership as they grow from rivals to friends to more than friends. We saw the growth of Alucard’s humanity and desire to undo the evil unleashed by his father. We saw the rise and fall of two of Dracula’s necromancers as well as the rise and fall of the four vampire sisters. Add to that the late insertion of St. Germain into the story to put in place the concept of the infinite corridor, and season 4 had a lot of work to do to give each of these stories a worthwhile ending.

Our three heroes back together at last.

Season 4 Synopsis

There’s a lot going on as we enter season 4 so definitely don’t start watching the series here or you’ll be completely lost.

The big forces at work here are those trying to bring Dracula back, those trying to keep that from happening, and the vampire sisters who wish to become the new queens of all the vampires and fulfill Dracula’s dream of enslaving all humans and making them breeding stock to feed the vampires of the world.

Trevor and Sypha end up in Târgoviște, the village that started this whole mess by burning Dracula’s wife at stake back in season 1. They find the night creatures still tormenting the survivors and a small force trying to keep them back and the people safe. Once they’ve proven their worth to the head of this force, the discover the underground secret court that the fighters at Târgoviște were trying to protect. Through a series of events involving lots of fighting and the recovery of a special weapon, Trevor and Sypha pass through a mirror portal and find themselves back at Dracula’s castle where Alucard is engaged in his own battle.

Despite Alucard’s reluctance to trustpeople, he finds himself in a position to prove what he’s always said, that he wishes to undo the evil of his father. A nearby town which has been overrun by monsters enlists his aid. To keep them safe, he allows them to come stay in his ample castle, a crucial move as the night creatures are organizing into an army to fight against them.

Then we shift to the vampire queens and their armies and the necromancers who want to bring them down. Carmilla, the most ambitious of the queens, continues in her mad desire to reach further than needed for survival until she takes over the entire world in her greed. The necromancers work to take her down from within.

It all gets very exciting near the end with plenty of monster fighting, final decisions, and self-sacrifice.

Trevor vs Death. Did I mention self-sacrifice?

My Review

I knew this was the last season going in, so I had a bucketload of hopes and theories. I’m glad to say that most of the endings fell into the surprising, but inevitable, category as those are my favorite. And, for the characters I’d come to like, they got endings that made sense, and in several instances, made my heart happy.

My biggest worry was that they’d end the season on a question, as if they were hoping for another season. There’s nothing worse than feeling that there wasn’t a satisfying conclusion to a big problem. There is room for a spin off, which if the rumor mills are to be believed, are most definitely in the works.

In the end, this is a story of courage, grit, and determination. Each main character showed what could be accomplished if they simply did not give up.

Hector and Lenore. A surprising power couple.

Recommendations

As with the previous seasons, this is a show for older teens and adults only. The violence and gore are over the top and the story lines tend to be complicated. While in season 4 we don’t see any of the sexuality of season 3, we do see a handful of surprisingly caring relationships progress.

I give Castlevania, Season 4 (and the whole series) 5/5 for an amazing story, fantastic art, and great character creation.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of Castlevania, season 4 today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes

The Giver of Stars is yet another book recommended to me by my fabulous fantasy fans on Facebook. You can totally join and hang out there with us, we’re pretty cool. It goes to show how important book recommendations are to authors. Psst … if you’ve read my books and liked them, please recommend them! I would be much obliged. Cheers!

While I don’t read a lot of literary or historical fiction, I’ve enjoyed the ones that have made it on my list. Some of my all time favorite reads are on this list such as The Book Thief and The Glass Castle. I’m happy to add The Giver of Stars to this growing list, it is a lovely read.

The Story

Alice Wright is a proper British girl who doesn’t quite fit in at home and ends up marrying an exotic American man and moving west to definitely not fit in there as well. Her new home is inhospitable to say the least, mostly due to the ever disapproving presence of her new father-in-law who has plenty of opinions on what’s proper for a woman.

Her hubby’s not much better, seeing as his first reaction in any situation is to see which way his daddy leans, then agreeing. When Alice sees an opportunity that will get her out of the house and allow her to be useful in the community, she grabs it and doesn’t look back. Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library initiative has created a need for able young women to take books to the people living too far to come to a local library. These packhorse librarians not only provide books, but for some, they are the only connection for these families to the rest of the world.

Alice works closely with Margery, a woman whose family has a muddy past in the community. She’s everything that Alice wants to be, self-sufficient, smart, and most importantly, happy. The two make friends, along with the other librarians, giving Alice the sense of belonging to a community that she’s always wanted.

With every good, there comes a bad. There are those in town, including Alice’s ridiculous father-in-law, who oppose the packhorse library and believe it’s spreading indecency and immoral content to the good people of Kentucky. The weather and the terrain itself is a constant challenge. And of course, there’s the matter of Alice’s heart. She and her American husband just can’t see eye-to-eye.

The Giver of Stars is a story of friendship, grit, and determination and based on true events in America’s past.

My Review

A story with great characterization, fascinating history, and some well-deserved personal angst? I’m sold. The structure of the story itself is a bit different than what’s expected, and the way it’s handled makes the reading experience that much better. Alice’s main problem is how she can find happiness in this new world and with her spouse. Her solution to part of the problem is the packhorse library, therefore every threat to its continued functioning, is a threat to Alice. Which is why having a murder mystery appear in the third act doesn’t feel as out of place as it should have.

I loved the use of different quotes at the beginning of each chapter set the tone, and especially loved how the poem “The Giver of Stars” is used as a turning point for Alice to help her have the courage to make hard decisions and stand up for herself.

I also loved the amazing inclusive friendship of the packhorse librarians and how they watch out for each other.

Recommendations

While this is an objectively clean read, one of the storylines has to do with marital intimacy within a society that isn’t allowed to talk about such matters. It’s handled with tact and admirable respect, but it’s something that wouldn’t be appreciated or understood by younger readers. For that, I’d recommend a reading age of high school and up.

The other sensitive storyline is that of treatment of the coal miners and black population during the depression era. The book gives an accurate an unbiased look at what life was like, and should be appreciated for shedding light on the truth. However, for readers who are uncomfortable with gross unfairness, consider yourself warned.

I give The Giver of Stars 5/5 stars for an endearing and authentic look at an interesting period of time. And I might have cried a teeny tiny bit.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyestoday on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The other week I asked my amazing Facebook groupies what was the last book that made them cry – possibly because I just read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and it’s kind of tragic. One of my groupies shared that The House on the Cerulean Sea made them cry in a good way, so I did what any literary aficionado would do, I added it to my library wish list.

The Story

Linus Baker works a boring job in a grey rainy town and likes it. He likes the precision of the work, meeting expectations, and reading the massive tome of rules and regulations just for fun. His job? Case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth where he monitors and reports on the well-being of government-sanctioned orphanages.

It is this supreme diligence and attention to detail that gets him assigned to a special case, that of spending a month to observe and report on the Marsyas Island Orphanage, home of six extremely dangerous magical children.

Linus is … not thrilled.

The island is full of all sorts of secrets, ranging from the abilities of the children, one of which is literally Lucifer, and that of their caretaker Arthur Parnassus. As the month slips by, Arthur discovers that he’s been wrong about quite a few things in his life and allows himself to grow close to both the children and Arthur.

With all that he sees, he must report to Extremely Upper Management his findings and make the hardest decision of all – if this unique orphanage should be allowed to stay open.

My Review

I have a confession to make. Because I knew this made my friend cry, I spent the entire book worried that something completely terrible was going to happen. Spoiler alert – there is a happy ending, so all my worry was for nothing. That said, the depth of that worry is very telling. Klune made me care about each of the carefully crafted characters and the thought of something awful happening to any of them horrified me.

This book is an exploration of what happens when kindness wins over fear. Each character is different in their own unique way ranging from what brings them joy to the people they choose to love. Klune believes that “it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.” The House in the Cerulean Sea does this in a tasteful and whimsical way that emphasizes that it’s the heart that matters most.

Recommendations

The House in the Cerulean Sea is written using simple straightforward language which makes its message easy to grasp and understand. There’s no layers of complexity or multiple storylines to track. We follow Linus from beginning to end and watch as the kindness and uniqueness of those living at the Marsyas Island Orphanage changes him and his observations of the world. There’s no violence, foul language, or intimate situations. While there is a sweet very slow burning romance threaded through the story, it’s secondary to the story’s focus on caring and learning more about these magical children.

I’d recommend this for middle school students and up.

I give The House in the Cerulean Sea 5/5 stars for being charming, well voiced, and an important message that the world needs.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of the House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

After about a million (no, not really. I wish!) of you told me that I had to read this book, I finally snatched it up last week and consumed it whole. I might have mentioned before how much I like books that excel at beautiful language, where the images and ideas are presented in beautiful metaphor, this one scratches that itch, and then some.

The Story

Addie LaRue didn’t want to get married. She wanted to be free. On the evening of her marriage, she runs into the woods to plead to the gods to save her from her fate. But, Addie breaks the rules, and as the day sinks into night, she is still praying – and the god of darkness answers.

The price of her freedom? Everyone she encounters forgets she exists when they part company. She can’t leave any mark of her existence with her own hands. Each pencil stroke fades before a sentence can be written. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also cursed to live forever until she agrees to surrender her soul to the night god.

It all changes when she meets Henry 300 years later – and he remembers.

My Review

First, this story is not only beautiful, but it’s also fascinating. The reader jumps to key places in the time line as we watch both the present and the past unfold. The present showing the reader who Addie has become over her long life, and the past to show us how she got there.

So when we hit that moment where someone remembers her after so much hardship and trial, it’s so incredibly meaningful. But, like in all stories, there is a catch. The god of the night hasn’t made a mistake when he allowed the two of them to meet.

I think the most interesting part of this book is Addie’s need to leave her mark and how she’s figured out how to do it through the art and music of other people. She’s learned that she can influence creative minds to capture her ideas and make them into reality. She lives through them and because she’s fated to live as long as she wishes, she can see what happens to this art.

As with all wonderful books, this one has a lesson at its heart. It encourages the reader to do the most they can with the life they’ve been given.

Recommendations

While the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is both transportive and beautiful, it’s also definitely an adult read and the highschoolers they let play. There’s mild elements of danger, mild swearing, and plenty of adults in adult relationships. The story is also nonlinear which makes it a more complicated read and sometimes the different pieces don’t come together immediately. What this means for some is that it will read slow for a while as all the different pieces start to come together.

But, it’s a whole different kind of magical, and I loved it.

I give The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 5/5 stars


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

TV Review: Castlevania, Season 3

I’ve almost caught up to the current season! Woot. At this pace, they’ll put out season five before I get through season four. Not a bad thing at all. Lately, I’ve been using episodes of Castlevania as small rewards for completing edits on scenes of my next book. Motivation takes all forms, and this was compelling enough to get me moving forward.

In season 1 of Castlevania, we got an introduction to the world and key players as well as the main conflict. In season 2, we dove headfirst into each of these players, getting to know their backstories and what drives them.

Alucard with Taka and Sumi who are apparently super cuddly when they aren’t vicious assassins

Season 3 Synopsis

After the giant battle and Dracula’s defeat our cast breaks into four storylines; Alucard, Hector, Issac, and Trevor and Sypha as a team.

Alucard stays alone at where Dracula’s castle ended up parked, right next to the destroyed Belmont Estate. He misses Trevor and Sypha but believes he’s better off alone, although he fears he might go insane. Everything changes when he’s visited by two vampire hunters, Taka and Sumi. He chooses to trust them, as they are escaped prisoners of one of Dracula’s council members, Chō. He agrees to teach them with the hope that they can return to best the next vampire to take Chō’s place. Things go well, until they suddenly don’t and it breaks Alucard’s trust in people once more.

Meanwhile, the two necromancers Hector and Issac are having opposite adventures. Hector is in captivity under the wiles of the Council of Sisters, four vampire women intent on filling the power gap left by Dracula’s death. They need him to create more night creatures for them to build an army. One of the sisters, Carmilla, uses a potent mix of kindness and cruelty to entrap him to do their will. It’s kind of messed up.

Isaac, on the other hand, walks free and is assembling his own army as he makes his way toward Hector in Styria to exact his revenge. He travels across the land, passing through cities and leaving corpses in his wake. He ends up in a town in control of “the Magician” who has enslaved tens of thousands of people with his magic to build up a great city to himself. If Issac defeats the Magician and his minions, he gets access to a massive transmission mirror that will move him and his army to Styria.

Finally, we get to Trevor and Sypha. They find themselves in the small town of Lindenfeld where the local priory are sympathetic to Dracula’s cause. They also meet Saint German, who recognizes Trevor as a Belmont. They begrudgingly offer to work together and unfold what’s really happening within the priory only to find that the church is built over a portal to hell and they are keeping a monster in the basement. Good times. All of this crashes together when the priests strike out at the town using alchemical symbols to murder it’s inhabitants to give the monster the power it needs to open the portal. Trevor and Sypha must prevent the Priest Sala from completing the process and prevent Dracula from returning.

Carmilla and Hector, who finally gets some clothes mid season

My Review

Season 3 of Castlevania returns the viewer to learning about the world once more as everything shifts in new directions. The board is being set and the players put in position for moves that are both tactical and necessary to reach the next big climax which I’m guessing will come at the end of season 4. While this is what’s required to stoke the fire for the next big thing, it returns the viewers back to the overwhelm of the world and stakes not being completely understood like we had in season 1.

Four story lines scattered across 12 episodes tends to do that. This time, each of the four story lines carry close to the same weight as that of our main characters, which also makes it hard to choose who to cheer for. I’m still totally team Trevor but Hector is also starting to grow on me.

As each of the stories amp up the tension, we see a fair amount of violence, but we also see more cruelty in several different forms. This is more than indiscriminate killing, it’s intentional foul play. And, at the climax of the season, we also find ourselves in two very manipulative trysts.

I’m eager to see where each of these story lines go and how they all collide together, because they most definitely will.

Yep, Trevor and Sypha are still all sorts of adorable when they aren’t kicking butt.

Recommendations

Still not a kids show, like at all. I feel like a broken record at this point, but this one’s for adults and perhaps the high schoolers they let play. Violence is still the biggest offender, but there are also adult situations (including nudity), some cursing, and plenty of good vs evil where it’s not clear who to root for.

I give Castlevania, season 3, 4/5 stars for branching out a little too far and diluting the main conflict, but still being amazing.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of Castlevania, season 3 today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

Every year I try to read at least one book that’s considered a literary masterpiece. Anything that ended up as an Oprah’s Book Club pick as well as a author that won a Nobel Prize should have been a magical choice. It’s true, there are lots of fascinating things going on in this book, but the story itself is actually kind of messed up.

There are some books that aren’t meant to be taken literally, and this is one of them. Woven through the pages are extensive symbolism and metaphor layered over metaphor which when peeled back and examined are quite insightful. But, I personally struggled to resonate with any of the characters or situations.

The Story

As told by an omniscient narrator in a nonlinear fashion, Love in the Time of Cholera follows the lives of Florentino Ariza and the woman he falls into unbreakable love with, Fermina Daza, and also to some extent, the man Fermina ends up marrying, Dr. Juvenal Urbino.

Throughout the course of the book we get to see Florentino’s obsession with Fermina and how it plots the course of his life. It determines where he lives, what jobs he takes, and how he interacts with other people. Because he feels fated to not love anyone else, he never enters into relationships with other women for love, but only to satisfy the pleasures of the flesh as he waits for Dr. Urbino to die.

Fifty years and 622 affairs later, the fated day comes when Dr. Urbino does indeed die. Florentino, now an old man, seeks his prize of Fermina’s hand and heart, only for her to brutally reject him. Undeterred, he writes her letter after letter while she’s grieving the loss of her husband. Finally, the two come together and take a journey by boat that they intend to stay on forever.

If you are looking for metaphor, look at the title. Love in the Time of Cholera. While yes, the actual disease of cholera is running amok in the background of the story, often leaving piles of bodies that our main characters witness, the book actually makes the argument that love itself is a disease that people are infected with. At one point it says that the symptoms of unrequited love are the same as cholera. Florentino is one sick, sad man.

My Review

I really do try hard to find things that are either interesting or entertaining in any book I read. Love in the Time of Cholera had plenty of lovely prose and description, layers of depth and symbolism, and a sense of otherworldliness. But, the story itself, being a 60 year failed love story, didn’t scratch any of my literary itches.

The style of writing makes the story itself hard to follow. The chapters and scenes jump around the timeline with no clear reason to the order in which things are told. As I was listening to the book, I might have missed textual clues that might have helped here. As it was, I was never confident what time period the characters were in, and as such, it made it impossible to gain any sense of rising tension or maintain a solid conflict to solve.

And … I continually struggled to remember who was who when it came to the characters of Florentino and Dr. Urbino. They both had a love for Fermina, but they had wildly different attitudes and tastes, so half the time I kept thinking one was the other and being really confused.

My Recommendations

Some people love this book and rate it among their top 10 reads of all time. Many people like me became frustrated with the lack of a clear conflict and storyline. Should you want to try reading it, I recommend not to use the audiobook version if possible, and to also read a brief synopsis beforehand. Trust me, there are no surprises in the book to spoil, so you’ll be able to enjoy the writing more by having a better idea of the structure from the start.

As this is a literary book, and technically magical realism although I fail to really see it, it’s intended for adult readers. There are plenty of adult situations, complex story lines, and frank discussions of casual sex. For all you working toward your degrees in literature, there is plenty to unpack in there so from an academic standpoint, you could do worse.

But, if you are reading to simply enjoy a nice book, I’d go elsewhere.

I rate Love in the Time of Cholera 2/5 stars for failing to have a satisfying conclusion, lacking compelling conflict, and being hard to follow.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of Love in the Time of Cholera today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

The Three Types of Reading

You are an intelligent person. I mean look at you, reading this article for starters. It shows that you are curious and want to see if I’ve got anything interesting to say. No doubt you already engage in all three types of reading, you just haven’t had a way to describe it yet. Let’s dive in starting with my personal favorite type of reading – transportive.

Transportive Reading

Also called immersive reading, this is fiction reading at it’s best. While all three types of reading have their own benefits, this type tends to be the most enjoyable for most people. These are the books the reader craves, the stories they love, and the authors that they’ll follow to the end of the earth. When we talk about a transportive book, we’re talking about a story so immersive that it take our minds to a whole new world for a while. The oft referenced Harry Potter is an excellent example because it’s so immersive.

Every one has a different perfect story. For some, this might be a cozy romance. For others it might be an epic fantasy. What people love to read is a direct reflection of what brings them joy. Cozy romance readers rejoice when two perfect people meet and after several challenges come together in a beautiful satisfying relationship. Epic fantasy readers cheer when their hero overcomes overwhelming odds and the hardest challenges. Horror readers delight in the thrill of survival against something truly awful.

If it’s been a while since you’ve picked up a book that takes your brain to weird and wonderful places, I’d encourage you to indulge yourself. Not only is this form of reading entertaining, it also reduces stress. Win!

Educational Reading

On a completely different side of the store are books written to educate. While these can also be very entertaining, their goal is to allow readers to gain a greater understanding of a topic. They also might have an agenda and want to persuade readers into a new way of thinking. The best of these books also contain elements of transportive reading and immerse the reader in a new world of ideas and concepts.

Again, what readers choose to read is as varied as there are readers. Those attracted to histories and biographies are fascinated about who and what brought about significant events and why it was possible. By reading, they are transported inside someone else’s life and/or time period and experience the world through a different set of eyes.

There are also those books that take a deep look at a single concept through time, such as how mosquitos have influenced society over thousands of years or how cultural and social pressures have shaped human evolution. Reading books like this offer a different type of insight to the human experience as well as offer fascinating new ideas about how the world works.

As with fiction, there are dozens of categories of non-fiction to explore, and all for different reasons. Maybe you have a problem to solve. Maybe it’s to help you in your career. Maybe you are looking to learn more about a hobby. For any want out there, there’s going to be a book for it. These books do require more attention and thought and therefore should be saved for when you’re relaxed and ready to focus.

Distraction Reading

Can also be known as mindless reading. If you were scrolling social media and found this post, then you were reading as a distraction from something else. Maybe you’re taking a break from a more challenging task, or have a few minutes between activities, or simply have no energy to do something else right now. Regardless of how you got here, you are using reading as a distraction.

Generally, the things we read when we’re looking for a distraction are short and entertaining, but, barring a few exceptions, don’t have much depth. We’re looking at cute pictures and videos, reading Buzzfeed articles, and taking quizzes to find out what our hairstyle says about our personality. Usually, most of what’s consumed is forgotten in the course of hours, if not minutes. It’s the junk food of reading.

And just like junk food, it’s not particularly fulfilling. Nonetheless, we crave these micro bites of entertainment as a distraction from doing harder things.

This type of reading does have it’s place. Think of it as a pressure release valve for when you come up against a task that you know will be challenging and need a moment to not think about it. Or, you’ve hit a point in the middle of working on something where you need a break that doesn’t require brainpower. It’s a nice break.

What’s Better?

It’s not my intention to elevate any one type of reading over another. My intention is just the opposite. I say that we need a healthy balance of all three types of reading to fill different needs. There are times when we need that sweeping escape into a fantasy world and others where we wish to learn. There are times when we need a distraction and only have a few minutes.

What I’d love to encourage is a greater focus on more mindful reading. Instead of always defaulting to distraction reading when the opportunity arises, I’d love readers to consider what they are craving and what they have time to appreciate. If there really is only five or ten minutes between other activities, then sure, scroll away! But, if there’s an hour or an afternoon where there’s not much else to do, I’ve love to see more people indulge in the feast of words waiting to be read.


Thank you for joining me as I shared my thoughts on the types of reading today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

TV Review: The Dragon Prince, Season 2

Today, we move boldly into season 2 of The Dragon Prince and continue the story. If you missed the review for season 1, it can be found here.

My expectations for season 2 were higher than I’d normally give to most shows. Season 1 nailed all of the critical elements to create a perfect opening into a long form story, we learn the essential relevant history of the world, we are introduced to our key players, and we discover what forces are at work. In season 2, it needed to dig deeper into the motivations of the characters, learn their weaknesses, and watch them try and then fail to meet their goal.

And it totally does.

The Story

We end season 1 with the dragon egg hatching, which gave us a little closure as well as changing up the challenges going forward. In season 2 we see three distinct groups at work; Viren, the advisor to the assassinated king who has taken control of the Kingdom and wants nothing more than to eradicate the elves once and for all; the elves who want payback for what the humans have destroyed; and our heroes who are caught in-between as they work to restore the now baby dragon to it’s mother.

Season 2 gives us a more in-depth view of why Viren is trying so hard to vanquish the last of the elves by sharing the story of what really happened when they ended up killing the Dragon king. Like many antagonists, he believes that his actions were justified for the good of the people. In this case, he needed a powerful magical ingredient from the heart of a Xadia magma titan to bring an end to the drought and provide food for two starving kingdoms. To succeed in his quest to vanquish the elves, he needs the support of all five kingdoms to agree to go to war – and they won’t give it to him. He turns to more dark magic to force their hands.

Meanwhile, Callum hasn’t told Ezran that his father, the king, is dead and struggles to find the right way to do it without breaking Ezran’s heart. They continue their quest of taking the baby dragon back to its mother, knowing now that it’s more important than ever to heal the rift between elves and humans. When Ezran learns of his father’s death through other means, he feels compelled to return home.

We end season 2 with Ezran being crowned king and taking on a responsibility that he knows he’s not ready for.

My Review

Season 1 excelled in building the frame of the story and giving us just enough to want to know more. Season 2 charged ahead in filling out that story and gave even more emotional depth to the many conflicts that weave themselves together. Every character has a significant challenge they they are working to overcome and all of these challenges work together in a way that makes the story that much greater as we see the successes and failures start adding up.

Season 2 also dives deeper into the contrast between dark magic, which is stolen magic that is practiced by humans, and the natural magic of the elves who can pull power from their assigned nexus. We see this in Viren’s growing desperation to gain the power and support he needs from the five kingdoms by cooperating by a mysterious mirror artifact. We also see this in Callum’s efforts to access natural magic, even though as a human it should be impossible for him.

There is quite a lot of drama in this season, and all of it fits beautifully into the story to amp up the tension and make things that much more compelling, which I love. When this is done right, it’s amazing. When it’s done wrong, it feels artificial and forced.

Dragon Prince totally does it right.

Recommentations

There’s so many good things going on in Dragon Prince that there is something for every fantasy lover out there ranging from danger and adventure, to the political intrigues and quests for power. My only warning is for those sensitive to the idea of dark magic and subversion, Viren does dabble in quite a bit of it during season 2 and doesn’t let up going forward.

I give The Dragon Prince, Season 2 5/5 for maintaining it’s awesomeness.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Dragon Prince, season 2 today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.