Lord of Shadowhunters

I like to consider myself a loyal reader.  If I really like an author, I’m more likely than not going to buy every book they ever wrote/write ever.  There are currently about ten authors I feel this way about, and Cassandra Clare is one of them.  It’s a pleasure to be able to grow with an author.  I was able to do it with J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series; I’ve been able to do it with Cassandra Clare and her Shadowhunters series.  I picked up City of Bones when it was the sole Shadowhunter volume, and so have been a fan from the very beginning.  Clare’s writing skills have grown and developed, something that always makes me appreciate the fact that writers are always working to improve their craft.  And Clare’s ability to tell a story is admirable.

That said, I just finished Lord of Shadows, the second installment of The Dark Artifices mini-series within the Shadowhunter Chronicles.  (Yes, the number of books, and the order in which they go can be confusing.  For a quick reference guide, check out Fantastic Fiction here.)  So far, The Dark Artifices is by far my favorite of the books. There is a depth to them that isn’t present in earlier books, and I hope to see this continue into future installments.

Here’s a quick plot rundown:  Following the events of Lady Midnight, things in the Los Angeles Institute have not calmed down.  Emma and Julian are at odds, each struggling with their feelings for the other; Mark is still straddling his desire for two worlds; the younger Blackthorns are searching for their place in the Shadowhunter world, and Christina is discovering she has her own brand of quiet, yet powerful strength.  The faerie courts are also in turmoil. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and set events in motion to destroy the Shadowhunters forever; the Seelie Queen is scheming to overthrow the King.  Caught between  trying to save their family or protect their way of life, the heroes must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear against attacks from outside the Shadowhunter ranks – and from within.

This plot (and all the subplots which somehow, with the help of voodoo magic, all fit together seamlessly) is on-point.  Clare does a magnificent job of making her reader feel the immediacy of the danger the characters face.  There were times where I felt physical agony over the sheer apparent hopelessness of the situation, where I actually worried about what was going to happen, and how they were “going to get out of this mess”.  To me, that is the mark of a great writer; I feel what the characters feel, I fear for their safety, I care what happens to them, I am along on their journey.  This is a beast of a book, coming in at more than 700 pages.  And I read every word.  Every. Word.  Because Clare is the type of author who chooses her words carefully, and if she’s including something, it’s because it’s important.  It may not be important now, but three books from now, it may be the reason someone dies.  Or lives.

The characters in this series absolutely own my heart. This book boasts a huge cast of characters, and none of them are made of paper.  They all serve a purpose. It’s impossible to talk about each one of them, because there are so many, but I particularly ❤ Emma Carstairs, Julian Blackthorn, Tiberius Blackthorn, and Kit Herondale.  Using these four characters, Clare shows two different types of relationships.  Emma and Julian are the protectors. The decisions they make are made to save the ones they love.  They endure emotional agony and physical pain because they continually place themselves in the line of fire.  Their love for one another is fierce and potentially destructive, so they must choose to (figuratively) rip out their bloody, beating hearts, or destroy one of the most fundamental Shadowhunter relationships – the parabatai bond.  Emma wants to take option A; Julian wants to take option B.  I fear this may actually end in tragedy.  Emma is absolutely brutal and stabby, and Julian is terrifying with his scheming.  My prediction: he is going to break the world.  Tiberius and Kit are the hope.  Ty is a classically-trained Shadowhunter, while Kit comes into the Shadowhunter world as an outsider, someone who hasn’t been indoctrinated with the Shadowhunter dogma.  He has a completely different perspective on things.  Whereas the Blackthorns have always thought of Tiberius as different (and have completely accepted him as such), Kit recognizes he is autistic.  He doesn’t shy away from Ty; rather, he draws closer to him, takes it upon himself to translate the world for Ty in a way he can understand.  (Aside: the Sherlock Holmes/John Watson parallel Clare creates here is a brilliant one.)  Kit’s love for Ty is born of his desire to shield him from how ugly the world can be to people who are different; Ty’s love for Kit is as pure as friendship can be – a recognition of who the other person is, and accepting them for exactly that, and nothing more.  And I’m not sure which type of #ship this is going to turn out to be, but I’m ready to enlist as crew.

Now, a few very unprofessional, random thoughts about this book that may or may not contain spoilers, so read at your own risk:

  • Ash is the son of Sebastian Morgenstern and the Seelie Queen.  He has to be.  There’s no other explanation for his physical appearance or for his inclusion.  And it’s my prediction that he’s the “weapon” Jace and Clary are looking for.
  • I don’t care if you are the author, you DO NOT TOUCH Magnus Bane.  This “sickness” better disappear, and Magnus better come back as snarky, narcissistic, and glitter bomb as ever.
  • More Jessamine.
  • More London/Cornwall Institutes and Infernal Devices tie-ins.
  • Less Zara – like, I hope she dies a horrible, murdery, painful death by a thousand cuts from Cortana.
  • My heart that loves Tiberius breaks for him.
  • Annabel the Terrifying will save her family.
  • Julian is going full Dark Side, and I am SO in ❤ with his moral slide (scheming, lying, bargaining, selling his soul to the devil Seelie Queen).  Also, he’s possibly a high-functioning sociopath.
  • Kit Herondale is absolutely life.
  • I am so angry at the Clave for not standing up against the Cohort, I almost hope the Unseelie King destroys the power structure of the Nephilim, just so the “old regime” burns.  (As long as all my loves survive intact and not undead, that is.)
  • Um, Clary might die?  (Mad props to Clare if she goes through with that one.)
  • Mental illness, PTSD, autism, LGBTQ, body image, appearance, xenophobia – all issues discussed in this series, and I am so grateful there are authors like Clare who are this brave.  I very much appreciate how Clare populates her plot with social issues relevant to the Shadowhunter world, but that also parallel contemporary issues happening in our world.  She does this without overtly beating the reader over the head with the “moral of the story”, but deftly and creatively raises awareness of these issues.

I usually don’t get so emotionally invested in books (I can’t remember caring about characters this much since Harry Potter), but this one got me.  Good on you, Cassandra Clare.  Well done.

TOMORROW IS TOP 10 TUESDAY!  Come on back for a discussion of my Top 10 Reading Confessions!

Coffee Break: Ideas, Ideas Everywhere

No one else will write it for you.

I don’t know who said this first, but it’s one of the most true statements about writing I’ve ever come across.

Since I learned how to spell the most basic words, I’ve been a writer.  My elementary years produced stories about circuses, fairies, horses, and space pirates (which, interestingly enough, are all ideas worth revisiting as an adult – especially the space pirates).  As I grew, so did my ideas, my subject matter, and my story length.  It takes longer to finish a project than it used to (and finish you must, if you want agents/editors/publishers to look at your work), and it seems like at the absolute worst time possible (see: the dreaded demon middle of a WIP) a fantastic new idea hits out of the clear blue sky.  Well, perfect.  (Note: sarcasm.)

What’s a writer to do?

Dear writer, do not be distracted by said bright, shiny, new idea.  Write it down, of course, so this golden gift from the writing gods won’t be forgotten, but then put it down and back away.  It’s a trick.  Your brilliant subconscious is trying to avoid writing the middle of your story.  But… if you don’t write the middle, you’ll never finish.  And, what’s the first rule of Fight Club writing?  Finish the story!

I speak on this subject from a place of authority.  I am not too proud to admit that I am an idea-harlot.  I ❤ ideas.  I ❤ developing ideas.  I ❤ researching ideas.  What I do not ❤ is pledging all my time and energy to one idea, and committing to a long-term relationship with it.  Yes, I have commitment issues.  So, I find myself with multiple works-in-progress, and nothing finished.  As you can probably guess, this is problematic.  Because though I have the ability to finish a project, giving myself a product to shop around to agents and editors, I don’t have the discipline to finish a project, which makes me empty-handed.  And for a writer with publication aspirations, this is a terrible place to be.

So…  How to solve this problem of all problems.  In the above photo, you see what I call a Mind-Map.  It’s part of my planning process.  (I’m not going to take the time to explain the Mind-Map process – that’s a different post for a different day.)  Usually, this “planning” stage can go on indefinitely, until I decide to just dive in and start writing (I am a notorious pantster).  But that obviously doesn’t work for me.  This is how I’m trying to transform my writing process:

  1. Limited Research Time.  Because of who I am as a person, I could start researching ancient China and end up learning awesome things about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Interesting? Yes.  Productive? Sadly, no.  Setting a time limit (hopefully) will keep me on track.
  2. Accountability PartnersOnes that aren’t afraid to tell me to get on with it.
  3. Actual Planning.  This is legit So. Hard.  BUT if it works, the pain will be worth it.  I need direction.
  4. Deadlines. When I was in university, I was that student – you know, the one who wrote her paper the night before it was due.  I tried – really – to write it ahead of time, but without a sense of dread, immediacy, anxiety, terror, horror (or all of the above) I found my work lacked that certain spark that pushed it over the edge from just ok to great.  So, YAY for deadlines!

All this to say: for those of you out there struggling – stay with it.  Stay focused.  Don’t be distracted by new ideas; be confident in your current project.  And, above all else, finish what you’re working on because no one’s going to do your work for you.





Mini-Review Monday

Yee-haw!  It’s a roundup!

I’ve been VERY busy the last two weeks, what with the end of the fiscal year at the library, ALA, kids, life, etc. and all, but  I’ve carried my trusty Kindle with me everywhere, so I’ve still gotten a lot of reading in (even if I have fallen asleep with it in my hand several nights in a row now…).  So rather than trying to write a full review for everything I read this month, you’re getting a quick and nasty (but in a good way, full of love) intro to what I read this month.

I know you’re all dying in anticipation for these reviews – I know I would be.  So, here goes:

dark duet

The second in a duology that started with This Savage Song, this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year.  I was not disappointed, though the ending left me with a broken heart.  In this world of darkness and shadows, the real question becomes: who are the real monsters?  Schwab is an amazing world-builder, and her characters are gritty and ruthless (even if they don’t want to be).  The (dark, dark) story follows Kate (a human) and August (a monster) as they negotiate the impossible world that pits them against one another as they try to save the broken souls of everyone around them.


This is also the second in a duology that started with Starflight, and I thought this was a fun follow-up.  I liked that it focused on different characters, rather than just continuing the story of the first installment; but the characters are the same, so familiar.  This has a little bit of a Firefly feel to it, with a ragtag group of misfits with prices on their heads flying around just trying to survive.  There’s adventure and danger and adorable flying rodents and princesses.  (There must always be princesses.)  Let me just say this: there are SPACE PIRATES.  Pirates.  In space.  That is all.

shadow bone

So, this book.  I have had this trilogy sitting in my TBR tower for a while now, and I finally decided to tackle it.  Oh, my heart.  This book was so unique, so different from other things I’ve read, I fell instantly in love with it.  For one thing, I ❤ the bad guy.  Like, completely.  He’s 100% dark and evil and murdery, but he’s an amazing character.  Snaps to Bardugo for making that happen.  I also like the heorine; she’s sassy, a little bit vulnerable, and makes mistakes.  I like it when the main characters make mistakes, and then actually learn from them. Also, the setting is amazing.

dark daysI did a full review of this book over on my other blog before I packed up shop and moved, and if you want, you can read that one here.  I can’t say enough good things about this series (a planned trilogy).  The authentic period setting is very well done, and provides the perfect backdrop to the plot.  The characters are fantastic; I especially love that there are several strong female characters who continually subvert the idea of a “proper lady” and show that their role in this world is just as important as their male counterparts.  The relationships are fun, and there is a refreshing lack of romance, with a focus on action.

strangeI went into this book with a little apprehension because I loved Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy to the godstars and back, and didn’t want to dislike something she had written.  I was anxious for nothing.  This book was as beautiful and melodious and magical as I could have hoped for.  Taylor has a gift for wordweaving and creating portraits with words; I envy this talent.  But I appreciate that I am the beneficiary of it.  This book was a fairy tale; a dark, bloody, beautiful fairy tale complete with monsters and heroes.  And even if I don’t love the cover (though I understand it’s symbolism), I am eagerly waiting part II.


OK.  Call me crazy, but I absolutely love Clive Cussler.  He’s this adorable, rosy-cheeked grandpa with awesome cars, and even awesomer stories.  I fell in love with Dirk Pitt when I was in high school, but I have a particular love for the Fargo adventures.  Sam and Remi are cool and clever, and are a great team.  I like that Remi retains her femininity, yet can still pull the trigger to ice a bad guy, and I like even more that Sam knows his wife is completely capable of taking care of herself, yet still wants to protect her.  The archaeological mysteries are right up my history-loving-heart’s alley, and I can’t get enough of them.


Fox and O’Hare are one of my guilty pleasures.  No, Evanovich’s books aren’t strictly “literary gold”, but when I need to read something fun, or that makes me laugh, these books are a great choice.  This one particularly features sparkles and sparkles of stolen diamonds along with a missing vial of live smallpox virus (gasp!) – and only Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare (along with their merry band of mismatched misfits) can save the world!  A rollicking romp through Europe with sassy leads, a Snidely Whiplash-like bad guy, and lots of one-liners, I liked this installment in the series particularly.


So, there you have it – the June postmortem.  I enjoyed all the titles, and a couple of them spoke to my soul, and fed it cheesecake.

And tomorrow: doo-do-doo! Top 10 Tuesday!

I want to take a minute to plug my library’s blog – it’s a little tiny baby blog, and we’re just getting started, but here’s the link to it.  We’ll be talking about what life is like in a library (for all of you who have wondered about the secret library society, here’s your chance to peek under the cloak of invisibility…)

Peace out!







ALA Annual Conference Debriefing

Well.  I wish someone had warned me.  Or, at the very least, prepared me.

ALA isn’t like the other nice, civilized library conferences I’ve been to in the past.  It’s the library world’s version of the Thunderdome.  They may as well have had Tina Turner give the opening address.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t have an absolutely marvelous, wonderful, extraordinary, magical, magnificent time; I certainly did.  I just think that, had I known what I was in for, I could have capitalized on my experience a little more.


  1. It’s every man for himself. While people are happy to smile and chat with you while waiting around, when the rope drops to the exhibit floor, there are no such things as friends.
  2. There are SO MANY giveaways.  I was astounded by the sheer volume of stuff vendors were giving away.  Books, bags, pins, pens, posters – any type of swag you can imagine.
  3. Don’t bother to try to schedule ANYTHING (except author signings, because that’s imperative – more on that later).  You can go into ALA with the best intentions, with a shiny schedule on your ALA app, and in ten minutes it’ll be shot to smithereens.  Scenario that may or may not have happened to me: OK, the session I want to attend starts in fifteen minutes – I better start heading that way.  (Overhears a conversation while walking.)  What?  Drew Daywalt is signing his new book over at the HarperCollins booth? I’m SO there!  (PS – this MAY OR MAY NOT have happened A LOT…)
  4. Work out your arms for a month solid before going.  I have a 9-month-old baby who weighs as much as a small unicorn.  I thought my arms were in shape.  I was very, very wrong.  At any one point in time, you may be carrying fifty pounds worth of books.  And unless you are conveniently parked in the ramp just outside AND don’t care that you’ll miss ALL THE THINGS while you’re gone dumping your #bookhaul in said car, you’re going to be carrying them around for a long time.
  5. There are SO MANY books.  If you’re a complete #booknerd like I am, you may go a little crazy here.  I learned that publishers use conferences like ALA, PLA, and Midwinter to do a lot of promotion for new and upcoming releases, and they have no problem giving away millions upon millions of books.  Every six hours or so, a new group of galleys drops, so by the time you get through one trip over the exhibit floor, you have to start again, so you don’t miss anything.  At last count, I came away from ALA with 115 books.
  6. There are SO MANY authors! I knew there were going to be authors at ALA, but I really had NO IDEA just HOW MANY.  I was only there on Saturday and half the day on Sunday, and these are the authors I saw/met/got signed books by, and what they are known for (and this is, by no means, a comprehensive list – just the ones I can remember): Angie Thomas (she is fabulous, btw) – The Hate U Give; Jason Reynolds (huge and imposing and so, so gracious) Ghost; Drew Daywalt (eeeeee!) he of The Day the Crayons Quit fame; Victoria Schwab (be still my fangirl heart) – A Darker Shade of Magic; Maggie Stiefvater (be still me second TimeLord fangirl heart) – The Raven Boys; Marie Lu (I don’t have any hearts left, but she was SO sweet) – Legend; Alexandra (“just call me Alex”) BrackenPassengers; Sharon Cameron (steampunk genius) – Rook; Cat Winter (lovely mind behind demon-slaying Victorian teens) – Odd & True; Kelly Barnhill (middle grade queen) – The Girl Who Drank the Moon; Melissa Albert (so, so grateful and humble) – The Hazel Wood; Cassie Beasley (cute as a button) – Tumble & Blue; Jen Lancaster (yes, THE Jen Lancaster) – The Gatekeepers; Amanda Foody (heroines can kick butt AND wear lipstick!) – Daughter of the Burning City; Tom Angleberger (he drew Rocket and Groot in my book!!!) of Origami Yoda fame; Matthew Cordell (drew a monkey in my book!) – Dream; and Julia Quinn (romance queen) – The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband.  And guys – this was just in a day-and-a-half.  SERIOUSLY.
  7. Be prepared to wait in line.  They move pretty quickly, but don’t be surprised if you have to hang out in line for a half-hour or forty-five minutes to see some of the authors.  I had my Kindle, so it wasn’t a big deal.  You can also usually find interesting people around you to chat up.  I have several fascinating conversations while waiting in lines, with fellow librarians and book-lovers from all over the country. But don’t be surprised when things come to a standstill.
  8. Hydrate.  When I checked my step-counter at the end of the first day, I had walked the equivalent of nine miles.  NINE MILES.  I didn’t even bother to look at the end of day two, but I know it was as much, if not more.  Pack water; pack crackers.
  9. Do some sight-seeing.  ALA is always somewhere awesome.  As Chicago is the home-base for ALA, the conference is held there every-other year (as it was this year), but on the off-years, it travels around the country (next year it’s in New Orleans, my all-time favorite place YAY!!!).  Take some time (but don’t miss anything awesome at the conference!) to take in your surroundings!

All of this, and I haven’t even mentioned the #librarianship aspect of ALA.  I attended several informative sessions that dealt with library issues, library challenges, library accomplishments, and library advancements.  Some of them were directly relevant to my position as the Director of a public library; some were not.  One of the things I really liked was hearing the different perspectives of the different library representatives who led these sessions.  I always love learning about all facets of libraries, and conferences like ALA are an amazing way to become familiar with “library things” you may not otherwise encounter.

One other thing that I really appreciated about ALA was the fact that I could see and experience firsthand new library services and products all in one place, and at one time.  The experts were there on hand to talk about the things they were offering, and I was able to try and test things myself, first-hand, and in real-time.  I looked at products I normally wouldn’t have the time or resources to see; I was made aware of new advancements and technologies that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.  ALA really is one-stop shopping for libraries.

So, on the whole, I am so grateful to have been able to attend ALA this year.  I learned a lot, met a lot of interesting people from all over the country, gained a lot of experience, made some great connections, and had a wonderful time.  And NEXT YEAR, I’ll be ready for the next edition of the Thunderdome.  “Two (wo)men enter, one (wo)man leaves!”




World Domination 2.0

This is one of those “welcome to my world” first posts – but not really.  You see, dear reader, I’ve been blogging for over a year now, over on Blogger.  Someone should write a manual for potential bloggers that warns of the dangers of not doing one’s research before jumping in with both feet.  (However, this may be problematic, because obviously people like me don’t do their research, anyway, so said manual would be useless…)  As much as I enjoy blogging, and considering the time I put into it, and the effort, I’d really like to draw a bigger audience than just my sister.  And that platform was just not the right one for me.  So, here I am, making the transition to WordPress, hoping it’s a little more shareable and follower-friendly.

I’ll often link to my Library’s blog, in the hopes of developing a cross-audience, and reaching people who are really interested in books, reading, and writing.

For those of you who are loyal subjects followers, thanks for making the jump with me.  For those of you who have yet to succumb to my spells, here is some recreational reading to help you decide to pledge me your allegiance.

There’s a schedule I will try to stick to: Monday – book review; Tuesday – Top 10 Tuesday; and Thursday – Writing/Discussion/Bookish.  However, things happen, so if you see me miss a post, don’t assume I’m dead.  I’m probably just buried under a mound of papers and books, and will eventually dig my way out.

The rest of this week I will be at the American Libraries Association annual conference in Chicago, and I’m not going to lie – I probably won’t be doing a post on Thursday.  However, there will be a bright, shiny book review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo on Monday.