Fantastic Friday: New Year, New List

So, of course my “to be read” (TBR) pile is still high, but I couldn’t help asking for just a few books this holiday. For today’s Fantastic Friday, I want to share the new additions to my TBR pile (and explain what I’m excited about).

Pre-baby, my goal was to read one book per week. Now, I’ll be happy (for now) with two books per month. We’ll see if I can exceed that goal, since she seems to be sleeping better (knock on wood!).

Mechanica (Betsy Cornwell)

20161230_153936-1Blurb: Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.

Why? I’ve been tossing ideas around in my head for a middle-grade novel involving a female inventor, and I’d like to see what’s already out there. I’m currently polishing up a YA sci-fi to the same effect, but less steampunkish. Can’t wait to get lost in this world.

Julie of the Wolves (Jean Craighead George)

20161230_153944-1Blurb: To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When her life in the village becomes dangerous, Miyax runs away, only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness.

Miyax tries to survive by copying the ways of a pack of wolves and soon grows to love her new wolf family. Life in the wilderness is a struggle, but when she finds her way back to civilization, Miyax is torn between her old and new lives. Is she Miyax of the Eskimos—or Julie of the wolves?

Why? First of all, because I managed to make it through childhood without reading this one. Secondly, I like to weave into my stories elements of society versus wilderness and characters finding their places within these two realms.

20161230_153917-1An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir)

Blurb: Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Why? I’ve heard so many recommendations for this book that I used one of my gift cards on it. I was intrigued by the fact that it is inspired by ancient Rome. I must admit that my scifi YA work-in-progress is partly inspired by the gladiator games.

20161230_153953-1Shadows of the Dark Crystal (JM Lee)

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Shadows of the Dark Crystal is set years before the events of the classic film and follows the journey of a young Gelfling woman who leaves her secluded home to uncover the truth surrounding the disappearance of her brother who has been accused of treason by the sinister Skeksis Lords.

Why? I was obsessed with The Dark Crystal when I was a kid. I seriously think I may have watched it every day of the summer–or at least every week–for several years of my life. How could I not put this on my wish list once I learned of its existence? My favorite story about The Dark Crystal? One of the characters, a gelfling, reveals that girl gelflings have wings. As a kid, I checked the mirror every day to see if I had sprouted mine yet.

20161230_154008-1Time Lord Fairy Tales (various)

Blurb: An ancient, illustrated collection of dark and captivating fairytales about heroes and monsters from across the Whouniverse, originally told to young Time Lords at bedtime.

Doctor Who is my favorite TV show. This is a book of fairy tales inspired by that universe. Why not?




The Bleak December (Kevin G Summers)

Blurb: The old timers knew it was going to be a bad winter, but no one could have predicted it would be this bad. A supernatural storm has fallen on New Hampshire and a cult leader is whipping the people of the Granite State into a frenzy. Now a handful of rugged folk from the North Country are all that stand between a tyrant and his plans for dominion. Snow is piling in the Great North Woods and the dead walk among the trees. Beware the winter wasteland.

Why? 1. Winter to me is basically death, so winter and horror naturally go together for me. 2. Kevin Summers was a mentor of mine early on in my adult writing career. I have not been disappointed by his writing. 3. I got a new Kindle Fire for Christmas and was excited to download a book for it!

20161230_153923-1And finally…

Yes, it’s a Doctor Who coloring book. For those times when my brain is too tired to function but my mind wants to engage in something subconscious. I like to keep my hands busy. And Doctor Who, of course. When I was pregnant, I had trouble focusing enough to write, but I felt a strong pull of art as I returned to my drawing days. I requested this book as a gift for those types of situations–to stave off writer’s block and free my mind for another bout of writing.


Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!

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