Fairy Tale Book Boyfriends

Finn from Beautiful was selected as Epic Faerytales’ 14 Fairy Tale Book Boyfriends To Get You Through February. I got such a kick out of being mentioned on the same list as authors such as Sarah J. Maas, Diana Gabaldon, Kristin Cashore, and Grace Draven! You can check out the list at the link, and get Finn for yourself in Beautiful.

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Available Here!

Yes this post was shameless self promotion. Sorry for not warning you! Happy Valentine’s day!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Literary Married Couples

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

February 12: Favorite Couples In Books

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Since so many romances roll the credits when the central couple gets married, I decided to do a favorite married couples list. These characters keep the romance (and/or major drama!) going strong long after the wedding.

51dxbewzuil-_ac_us218_1. Anne and Gilbert in The “Anne” series by LM Montgomery- These were sort of a  given for me.  They’ve been my idea of a great fictional couple since I was a kid. They grow up together, they grow apart and come back together again. They give each other space to thrive and they’re always there for each other if things go wrong. They tied the knot in Anne’s House of Dreams, book 5 (out of an 8 book series). Even though the last two books in the series focus more on their children, there’s plenty of Anne and Gilbert drama post marriage in book 6, Anne of Ingleside.

517zcqxmvll-_ac_us218_2. Valency and Barney in The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery- This stand alone novel features Valency, a spinster who gets some bad news from the doctor. In an attempt to seize the day, she asks Barney to marry her. It’ll make her happy and, and it’ll only last for about a year… But Barney finds happiness with Valency and soon the terms of their marriage aren’t acceptable to him. He wants more time… But there are indications even before the wedding that there might be something special between these two. I missed them on first read, but I picked up on a few after a recent reread.

51ozv7qacul-_sx260_3. Claire and Jamie in the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon- These two really make each other better. Jamie’s a smart fellow and being with a woman from the future opens his mind to new ways of thinking. Claire is challenged by sexist thinking whether she’s in the 20th century or the 18th but being with someone who believes in her absolutely encourages her to challenge those systems right back. They get married about halfway through the first book and the series is currently 8 books and they’re still going strong.

51vxh2jgv8l-_ac_us218_4. Scarlet and Rhett in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- Scarlet may have her eyes elsewhere for most of the book, but if she’d been married to Ashley Wilkes she’d have walked all over him to the point where he’d have been a slip of paper on the floor in about a week. She and Rhett get married around midway through the book. Rhett is someone who can match her wit for wit,  manipulation for manipulation. Scarlet is used to having the upper hand but Rhett challenges her for it and sometimes claims it for himself. For other partners, they’d be toxic. But for each other they’re pretty perfect, which is why I maintain that they’ll eventually work it out.

41ufepph-wl-_ac_us218_5. Maxim DeWinter and his second wife in Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier- I don’t think it’s a good sign when we don’t know the second wife’s first name, but the first wife is the title of the book! But the unnamed narrator this novel feels tormented by her husband’s beautiful, beloved late wife.  I think that’s probably a common experience to some extent (albeit with less Gothic twists than this novel!). Marrying a widow or widower means accepting their previous spouse and whatever feelings may linger.

51pclzvhwel-_ac_us218_6. Henry and Claire in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger– These two definitely have a weird relationship thanks to Henry’s Chrono-Displacement Disorder. It means that Henry (who unintentionally time travels) occasionally meets his wife as a kid, and sometimes runs into her after she’s widowed… But they make it work! It’s not always what I’d call healthy but it’s certainly a marriage that faces some unique challenges.

 

51bumg7jwll-_ac_us218_7. Ruth and Quin in The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson– Ruth is separated from her family when they’re immigrating to England after Hitler invades Austria. Now the Austrian-Jewish Berger family is safe in London except for Ruth. Family friend Quinton Sommerville is a British citizen and he offers to help: he and Ruth will get married. They can get into England together and once there, they can get the marriage annulled. But the best laid plans often go awry… An annulment turns out to be more complicated than expected and when Quin and Ruth start to fall in love, things get even more unpredictable.

51mssp4enl._ac_ul436_ 8. Henry and Margaret in Howard’s End by EM Forester– In a lot of ways these two are an odd couple. Henry is a wealthy industrialist with three children from a previous marriage. Margaret is a spinster with progressive politics and intellectual passions. But they legitimately like one another. The marriage faces challenges from day one, ranging from Margaret’s good hearted but flighty sister, to Henry’s checkered past and his  hostile children. But the biggest challenges come from their different ways of seeing and responding to the world.

71a-uqdbfwl._ac_ul436_9. Sir Percy Blackney and Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy– It’s the French Revolution and aristocrats are falling prey to Madame Guillotine. Their only hope is The Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues them from their fate with the aid of daring disguises. Lady Marguerite Blackney is married to Sir Percy, a man who seemed to love her during their courtship only to reveal himself to be a rather dim witted fop.  When her beloved brother is arrested and facing execution, she’s told that she might save him if she helps the French Republic find the Scarlet Pimpernel. Most readers will be able to guess the Scarlet Pimpernel’s true identity based on that synopsis, but it’s still a lot of fun.

51nbhw4ql8l-_ac_us218_10. Carl and Annie in Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith– This book looks and Carl and Annie’s first year of marriage. They got married against the wishes of their parents in 1927 and left their native Brooklyn so that Carl could attend law school in the Midwest. They face challenges ranging from loneliness to poverty.  But they push through with loyalty and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Tam Lin

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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February 5: Upcoming Releases I’m On the Fence About (these are the books you need help deciding if they’re worth adding to your TBR or not.)

I wasn’t really feeling the topic this week, so I decided to do my own thing. I have been looking at the ballad of Tam Lin recently for some inspiration and it got me thinking about how many retellings of this ballad I’ve read over the years. I’d love to do my own retelling of this story someday, but I’d want to do something different from the others! It may seem like an odd TTT but who cares? It’s my blog:

51xtyclkg2l-_ac_us218_1. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones– Polly has two sets of memories. One is normal. It features her life: school, family, friends. The other begins when she was nine years old and gate crashed a funeral near her grandmother’s house. She embarked on some kind of frightening adventures with Tom Lynne, a friend of the family, and everything changed… Ten years later, Polly still can’t remember what happened, and what she did. But she knows that unless she does regain those memories, she, and her true love, may lose everything. I read this a long time ago but I remember finding it compelling and well written with a confusing/ambiguous ending.

51aacv7edrl._ac_us218_2. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard   Imogen and her sister Marin survived a nightmarish childhood with an abusive mother. As adults, they’re both accepted to an elite, prestigious post-grad arts program (Imogen is a writer and Marin is a dancer) but they soon realize that there’s more to the small, rural campus than there seems on first glance. Imogen and Marin find themselves pitted against one another to win a chance to achieve everything they’ve ever wanted and- possibly- be plunged into their childhood nightmares in the process.  This had some rather unexpected turns that I liked.

511cyacr0l._ac_us218_3. Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour-After her sister, Lily Rose committed suicide, Finn Sullivan and her father move to a small town in upstate NY where Finn enrolls in a local college. As Finn settles in, she meets the charming and dangerous Fata family. Jack Fata is undeniably attractive, and Finn seems to run into him everywhere. As she gets to know Jack and the Fatas, Finn learns that they guard a secret that  could lead her to a shocking truth involving her sister’s death. While this features some gorgeous lush prose and is the start of a compelling trilogy, it does feature some rather tired YA tropes as well.

51wdpddannl._ac_us218_4. An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton– Lady Jeanette Avenel is the younger daughter of a 12th century Scottish nobleman. When her older sister, Isobel is dishonored and shamed by running away with a suitor and marrying for love, Jeanette is put forth as a replacement bride in her sister’s arranged marriage. She too finds herself torn between love and family honor. Tam Lin, a dispossessed heir, with rumored supernatural ties, has her heart. But his fae connections might put both him and Jeanette at risk. This novel actually combines inspiration from two ballads, “Tam Lin” and “Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight.” I actually didn’t know about those connections at first: I started reading this one pretty randomly. I found the character aspects pretty successful but some of the historical aspects fell a bit flat.

51hywd3wol._ac_us218_5. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean-  This one was disappointing because I’d read some excellent reviews beforehand. But I found this retelling set in a small liberal arts college in the 1970’s to be really dull, and it only incorporated the  events of the ballad in the last 1/3 of the book. Janet Carter is a freshman at the beginning of this story and it follows her through her four years at Blackstock College. She falls in with a group of students who circle around the mysterious Professor Medeous. When she embarks on an affair with Thomas, a fellow student, she becomes aware of the ghost of a pregnant student who killed herself, late night horseback rides led by Professor Medeous and some members of the Classics department who encourage Janet on a dangerous quest to save her lover. Unfortunately there’s a lot of exposition before we actually get to the story, and none of the characters were particularly likable.

51mn6n7axol._ac_us218_6. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope– I read this many years ago, and I’d like to reread it at some point. I remember it being really good though. Kate Sutton is a young maid to Princess Elizabeth. In 1558 she is exiled by Queen Mary I to a remote countryside castle where there are a lot of rumors about the inhabitants. When a little girl disappears and Kate’s guardian’s brother Christopher begins to act strangely, Kate is brought face to face with a world she never knew. She’s led to an underground world inhabited by a people with customs that predate the Druids. Those customs include human sacrifice, and Kate might have to stand up to their leader in order to save her friend.

51wtaeo9awl._ac_us218_7. Ill Met By Moonlight by Sarah A. Hoyt– When young Will Shakespeare comes home to find his wife and daughter missing, he assumes that she has returned to her family. Heading to her village, he makes his way into Arden Forest. He finds a palace where none should be, and dancing lords and ladies, among them, his wife. When a beautiful woman approaches him, she promises to help will rescue his wife and child, if he helps her destroy the fairy king. I read this a long time ago and it combines the ballad of Tam Lin with Shakespeare, imagining the inspiration for his work including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and his Dark Lady poetry.

51aihaofcll._ac_us218_8. Tithe by Holly Black- Kaye is a high school dropout. She drinks and smokes and after her mother’s boyfriend tries to kill her, moves to New Jersey. It turns out that this turn of events was rigged by a supernatural world where a power struggle is taking place. Fairies want her to be a tithe (“the sacrifice of a beautiful, talented mortal”) in order to earn them seven years of freedom. This is enjoyable but not recommended if the tropes of YA fictions aren’t for you! It starts Black’s Modern Faerie Tale trilogy.

515ep2loe0l._ac_us218_9. The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark- Callie McFay accepts a teaching position at a small college in upstate NY. As soon as she arrives, she finds herself having the same, sexy dream. Could it have something to do with the book she wrote  called  The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers, about the intersection of fairy tales and Gothic literature? She thinks so at first, but as she comes to realize, she’s visited by a incubus, a supernatural demon lover who who will eventually suck the life from her. She also discovers that this incubus is far from the only supernatural creature at Fairwick College. Some of the others have a plan to get rid of this incubus, but Callie suspects that this incubus may not be ultimately responsible for his actions. Can Callie save her lover and still destroy the evil spirit that might destroy her? One of the most compelling aspects of this book (IMO) was Callie’s academic research into the link between fairy tales and Gothic literature! It launches Dark’s Fairwick trilogy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

The above quote is from Albert Einstein. He was a fairly intelligent fellow himself.

白雪姫のクリップアート princess Snow White Disney cartoon イラスト素材22

Last week, @theorangutanlibrarian shared this article (Five reasons to stop reading your children fairytales now) along with some humorous responses as to why it was absurd. But even though the advice in the article is troubling, people listen. Keira Knightly and Kristen Bell are among the people who have listened to this advice. While I think that looking at artistic/literary material through a critical lens is always worthwhile, I think that this trend  is troubling because the lens through which it looks at the material is flawed.

Yes, there are troubling, sexist tropes in Disney films and in the fairy tales on which they’re based. But banning them is not the answer. For one thing, forbidding children to read/watch something is just guaranteeing that it will be more interesting to them. Have people really not figured that out by now? Children will seek it out, especially if it’s something as universal and commonly referenced as fairy tales. But if they seek it out themselves, parents will have lost the opportunity to make those troubling elements explicit and discuss them with kids. Instead of having that critical lens, the children will only have the lens that’s given to them in the story/adaptation.

But beyond that, some of out problems with these stories come more from perception. I discussed that a bit in this post.  You could look at Cinderella as a  girl who waits around for a prince to save her. Or you could look at her a survivor of an abusive environment, who never loses her characteristic good nature. Instead of perpetuating the cycle of abuse, she’s kind to even the lowliest mice. Why not highlight that when a child wants to read/watch Cinderella? Maybe speculate as to why her stepmothers and stepsisters would be so cruel to her (are they in pain? was someone cruel to them?). Present it as a story about the ways that people respond to cruelty.  Point out that while Cinderella was tormented by her step family she had the loyalty of all those to whom she’d been kind.  Point out that her stepmother wanted one of her daughters to marry the prince, and that she could have had that if she accepted Cinderella as her daughter. Show them that it’s better to be kind even when it doesn’t seem like a reward is imminent.

The same can be done for other fairy tales. Yes, you could see The Little Mermaid as a woman who changes who she is to impress a guy. But you could look at her as someone who was so fascinated by another culture that she she made sacrifices to live among them. Snow White could be seen as a foolish girl who takes gifts from strangers. But you could also see her as someone who escaped a threatening situation. She was a princess who had probably never worked a day in her life, and in order to survive, she rolls up her sleeves and takes a job cooking and cleaning for seven men. Is it troubling that men kiss sleeping/comatose women in these stories? Point that out to kids! They can understand from an early age that touch is only OK with consent.

But there are so many fairy tales out there in which a female character takes an active, even heroic role. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle saves her father by going to live with the Beast. In East of the Sun, West of the Moon, the princess goes on a quest to rescue her prince. In The Snow Queen the girl travels to the frozen north to save her male friend. In The Six Swans the princess endures years of silence and hardship to free her brothers from a curse. In Hansel and Gretel, Gretel outsmarts the witch and saves her brother. Disney hasn’t adapted all of these as films, but there are other adaptations out there. Why stop with Disney? Why not expose children to all that fairy tales have to offer?

Frozen may be loosely based on The Snow Queen but it changed a lot. If you have a kid who enjoyed Frozen maybe read the original story with them. Check out some of the more faithful film adaptations. There’s the 1950’s Russian cartoon that was dubbed in English by Sandra Dee and Tommy Kirk.  Or check out the 2002 miniseries with Bridget Fonda in the tile role.

If they like Frozen, introduce them to another wintery fairy tale with a kick-ass heroine. In East of the Sun, West of the Moon we see the princess go on a long quest to save the prince.  While there’s no Disney film, there is a live action film adaptation called The Polar Bear King. Compare it to the story. Compare the heroine of this story to Gerda in The Snow Queen. Ask your kids who they think is braver?

There are several film adaptations of Hansel and Gretel. The 1987 Cannon Movie Tales film with Cloris Leachmann is fairly child friendly.  There’s also a 2003 film featuring Lynn Redgrave. Or why not introduce your kids to opera while you’re at it? This film uses stop-action animation with Kineman dolls (a precursor to claymation) and lavish sets as a backdrop for Englebert Humperdinck’s opera.

Actually some of the fairy tales with female agency are ripe for adaptation. This was the only film version of The Six Swans that I could find!

And why limit your kids to the traditional Western canon? There’s a whole world of cultures that have their own fairy tales. Some of those are thematically similar to the ones that we’re familiar with. Do some research and draw parallels with kids. Appreciate the diverse world in which we live!

My point is that instead of conflating Disney’s fairy tale films with fairy tales in general, separate the adaptation from its source. Kids can appreciate from a very young age that there is more than one way to tell a story. Introduce them to stories that Disney hasn’t yet adapted to show that there are many values that are espoused in fairy tales, not  just the ones that get mainstream adaptations. Let them watch Disney films. Point out the good in them and make the bad explicit too. Instead of banning things that are difficult, raise your kids to be critical thinkers. Don’t just “throw out” stories that have endured for generations.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Most Recent Additions to my TBR

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

January 29: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

Since I haven’t read these yet, I don’t have much to say about them!

51nsovgydcl._ac_us218_1. Roar by Cecilia Ahern

 

 

 

 

514czeyhnrl._ac_us218_2. Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine

 

 

 

 

51-351d21al-_ac_us218_3. Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean

 

 

 

 

31f7h6occ3l._ac_us218_4. The Water Cure by Sophie  Mackintosh

 

 

 

 

 

41qPb6ELO-L._AC_US218_5. Normal People by Sally Rooney

 

 

 

 

51gchg2zwel._ac_us218_6. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

 

 

 

41sq2rzpxal._ac_us218_7. The Parting Glass by Gina Marie Guadagnino

 

 

 

 

51xtmpwrnl._ac_us218_8. The Peacock Feast by Lisa Gornick

 

 

 

 

51cfep73fnl._ac_us218_9. I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

 

 

 

 

41eOX0cBT8L._AC_US218_10. Milkman by Anna Burns

Top Ten Tuesday: Happy Books and Comfort Reads

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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This week, I wasn’t really feeling the topic:

January 22: Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To

So I decided to do something a bit different. Since I’ve been kind of stressed lately I’m sharing some of my favorite comfort reads. These are great for when you need cheering up.

31yhicomrpl-_ac_us218_1. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson

This is a rare case where I prefer a film adaptation to its literary source because the film developed some things that the book didn’t. But that also makes the film a bit heavier. The book its lighter than air, which is why its a great cure for a bad moon.

 

51jb19dy-ul-_ac_us218_2. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding  

From a literary point of view, Pride and Prejudice is obviously far superior, but from a “happy” perspective the modern craziness of this appeals to me. I recognize Bridget’s overwhelming life with family, job, friends, dating etc, and while Bridget is too over the top to be realistic, that recognizably  helps me to relate a bit.

 

517rjrogill._ac_ul436_3. The New Moon With the Old by Dodie Smith

I prefer Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, but I don’t consider it a “happy” book in the same way, because a few parts make me sad. This one is… sillier. But ultimately it’s about resilience. When a wealthy-ish man must flee the country for legal reasons his four kids must figure out how to exist in the world without Daddy’s money. The things they come up with aren’t always moral, are sometimes shocking, but usually goodhearted.

 

51mlugh65hl-_ac_us218_4. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

This spoof of gothic melodramatic novels always makes me smile. I love Flora Poste, the Londonite who comes to Cold Comfort Farm and tries to fix the lives of her relatives who live there from her Uncle Amos who preaches fire and brimstone, to her cousin Set who loves movies but does noting around the far but impregnate the the serving girl, to Aunt Ada Doom who hasn’t been quite right since she “saw something nasty in the woodshed…”

51dxbewzuil-_ac_us218_5.The Anne series by LM Montgomery

This also has some sad parts. We lose characters that we’ve come to love. But Anne’s characteristic optimism makes it feel comforting even when we do.

 

 

 

81et21xr6bl._ac_ul436_6. Emma by Jane Austen

Any Jane Austen has a certain comfort factor. What I love about Emma though is that it’s full of imperfect people with good intentions. People are silly, petty, frivolous, but no one is really bad.

 

 

 

 

 

51eksizfwl-_ac_us218_7. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew is a cranky old man who falls in love with someone very unexpected in the comedy of manners. It fits in very well  with my love of authors like Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, Stella Gibbons, etc.

 

 

 

51tsapquwul-_ac_us218_8. Madinsky Square by Eva Ibbotson

I had trouble picking just one Ibbotson novel for this list, since most of her books are great comfort reading.  I went with this one because it’s got a nice “slice of life” quality.  It’s set around a square in Vienna in 1911. We get to know it, and the characters that live there, and they come to feel like friends.

 

61bwr8sfvhl-_ac_us218_9. Mandy by Julie Andews Edwards

This novel, about an orphan girl who makes  a home for herself never fails to make me smile. It’s reminiscent of The Secret Garden, but less broody and gothic.

 

 

 

91vzywk17tl._ac_ul436_10. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

A lot of the time (especially when things are stressful) I feel like if I just had a bit of magic things would be easier. But this book is a nice reminder that that probably isn’t the case! Still the fact that it’s got a tight knit family at its core makes it a great comfort read.

What’s The Good News? (Part 2)

Because I needed some good news and I thought others might too:

  • Kim Smith started A Chance To Dance to allow children with special need and health issues to take an inclusive dance class

  • 70 year old Pat Smith spent a year clearing plastic off 52 beaches in England. It was her 2018 New Year’s Resolution, and she spent each week on a different beach of trash.
  • Kraft opened a free grocery store in Washington DC for government workers who  are not getting paid during the shutdown. Workers need identification and the store will be open Jan. 16 through Sunday, Jan. 20  at 1287 4th Street NE, two blocks from Union Market. More information is available here.
  • 13 year old Jaequan Faulkner opened a hot dog stand outside his house so that he could earn some money. When the Minneapolis Department of Health got a complaint, instead of shutting him down health inspectors chipped in $87 to get the boy a permit so that his stand could be licensed. They also contacted the  Northside Economic Opportunity Network who gave Jaequan pointers on running a business and keeping his stand clean. Jaequan plans to donate some of his earnings to charities that aid people with depression.
  • Tiger populations are rebounding all over the world, but Nepal is leading the way. They’ve doubled their estimated number of wild tigers in the country over the past ten years.
  • The Drama Book Shop in NYC has been a beloved landmark of the theater world for over a hundred years. It even won  an  honorary Tony Award in 2011 for services to theater. They were set to shut down due to expensive rents. But Lin-Manuel Miranda bought out the bookstore and will be reopening it in a different location later this year.
  • Lenny White, a barber in Northern Ireland, set up an old fashioned barber shop in a dementia care home. He plays music from Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, he has a barber pole and an old fashioned apron, and he chats with the men as he gives a shave or a haircut. The patients become relaxed and cheerful and some even sing and dance to the music as they wait their turn. Word spread to other care facilities and now White travels around the UK providing this service.
  • Arthur O. Eve School 61 in Buffalo NY, decided to address the city’s low literacy rate, by providing free books in a vending machine. When the machine was shown on twitter, a number of children’s authors offered to donate copies of their books.
  • The Lego Foundation has given Sesame Workshop a $100 million grant to provide play based learning to children affected by the Ronhinga and Syrian refugee crises. Sesame Workshop will partner with Bangladesh-based BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental development organisation, the International Rescue Committee and New York University’s Global TIES for Children. They plan to use the grant to develop a number of projects including the following:
    • Scaling up BRAC’s network of Play Labs to address the developmental needs of children ages birth to six from Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi host populations.
    • New Sesame Street videos, storybooks, games, puzzles and more featuring the Muppets to foster engagement between children and their caregivers, nurture developmental needs and build resilience for young children.
    • Sesame Workshop will create videos starring the Muppets – focused on play – to be shared through family-friendly mobile and pop-up viewings in refugee and host communities.

      lego-and-sesame-street-for-refugees-2

      Children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises will receive storybooks, games videos and puzzle featuring characters from the TV show
      — Photo credit: Sesame Workshop

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors of 2018

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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January 15: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

41Krb0iOt7L._AC_US218_1. Laura Purcell- I really enjoyed The Silent Companions, and I look forward to reading Laura Purcell’s Victorian gothic follow up, The Poison Thread. Before she wrote gothic creepiness, Purcell wrote historical fiction, and I’m also interested in checking out her Georgian Queens duology.

 

 

51culgbrdcl-_ac_us218_2. Simone St. James-  I binged The Other Side of Midnight, An Inquiry Into Love and Death, Silence for the DeadLost Among the Living, and The Broken Girls. The Haunting of Maddy Clare is the only book that she’s written at this point that I haven’t read! Her historical gothic romantic suspense is a lot of fun.

 

 

51mxt4oifll-_ac_us218_3. Katherine Arden- I really enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale in 2018 and the two follow ups, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch are on my 2019 TBR.

 

 

 

51dir0tpoel._ac_us218_4.  Ruth Hogan- I really enjoyed Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things. Her follow up, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes has really good reviews so far, so I hope to read it soon.

 

 

 

51dwdwqvoal._ac_us218_5. Vita Sackville-West- I’d heard of this author before but never read any of her work. I really enjoyed All Passion Spent, and I look forward to exploring some of her other novels like Family History and The Edwardians. 

 

 

 

51qphks8hyl-_ac_us218_6. Eve Babitz- I really liked Eve Babitz’s essay collection Eve’s Hollywood and autobiographical novel Sex and Rage.  I hope to read some of her other books like LA Woman, Black Swans, and Slow Days, Fast Company.

 

 

 

51uywe9mfql-_ac_us218_7. Julia Brannan- I enjoyed Brannan’s Mask of Duplicity, and I hope to read her follow ups in her Jacobite Chronicles series.

 

 

 

51islkdgaql-_ac_us218_8. Bee Ridgway- I really enjoyed Bee Ridgway’s The River of No Return. That was written in 2013, but it definitely leaves off on a cliff hanger, with teasers for a sequel. In 2014 Ridgway released the novella The Time Tutor, which was a prequel. Since then, there’s no word of a sequel though. I don’t know if I want to invest any more time in this until there is!

 

51aacv7edrl._ac_us218_9. Kat Howard- I enjoyed Roses and Rot, and I look forward to reading A Cathedral of Myth and Bone and An Unkindness of Magicians.

 

 

 

I realize that all these writers are female, which was a coincidence. It was not my intention when I made the list!

 

Why Authors Love (and Hate) Reviews

If you follow any indie authors (or really any authors in general!) chances are you’ve seen something like this:

The reason for that is that for authors reviews=sales. Even bad reviews can help (though good reviews are better!). Amazon’s mysterious algorithm promotes books more when they have fifty reviews or more.  Reviews can be a sentence long. They still count.

When I published Beautiful, I rather naively thought that if I asked readers on social media to review the book, at least some of them would. But that plan had a few flaws. If Amazon suspects that the reviewer is a close personal friend/family member of the author they’ll delete reviews. Not everyone who leaves reviews is. I’ve had reviews from unknown readers deleted but once Amazon has deleted a review it takes an act of divine intervention to get them back up. Another problem is that even though the reviews don’t have to be long, it’s hard to get people to write them.

So how can anyone get reviews? Some authors hire review services. These are actually legit. They’re basically a panel of readers. Once the author pays a fee, the book is presented to them, and any readers interested are free to read it and leave an honest review. But that means the author needs to be able to pay for it. If you have a writer in difficult financial circumstances (and there are many these days!) that’s hard.

The best way to get reviews is to send out ARCs.  ARCs mean that you have a chance of getting to the magical number of reviews before the book is published. But that’s something that you have know to know before your books’ release. It’s something that I will know when Frozen Heart is published.  Of course ARCs don’t always equal reviews. Before Beautiful‘s publication I did send out some ARCs to bloggers. A few did give reviews. A few didn’t. So next time around I’m going to send out more ARCs to increase my odds. Live and learn.

Of course, getting reviews is only half the battle. The other half is dealing with negative reviews. When you’ve invested months (or years) of your blood, sweat and tears into a book, you’re sensitive. It’s your baby. My experience with Beautiful (so far) has been fairly positive. There are five customer reviews on Amazon that average out to 4.7 our of 5 stars. I know that as I (hopefully) get more reviews I’ll have to face some bad ones. Everyone does. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer.

I feel like I’ve learned so much about this stuff since Beautiful was published. I did a lot of research before publishing, but I think that some of it just seems meaningless until you really see it in action.