Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – Tapping

Please visit Carrot Ranch Literary Community and read Charli Mills’ beautiful post about the tap-tapping of spring coming forth in the Keweenaw Bay. It’s a beautiful lesson in gratitude even in precarious times. It’s true, that even as this pandemic crashes against us in waves of fear, spring is coming and it’s still beautiful.

My sister shared a post on social media in which the author of the post instructs us to go outside and breathe, plant your feet on the Earth. Ironically before I plunged into the rabbit hole that social media often is, I pet my dog and welcomed my birds to the new day. In doing so I thought about the fact that they – for the most part because no doubt they sense a shift in energy – aren’t aware of this pandemic. They don’t know and aren’t worried about its spread or how best they can practice social-distancing. This made me think about the world outside, nature. Nature always keeps going. It just keeps doing its thing.

Spring will not be cancelled. The birds will not stop singing. The flowers will not remain underground. The trees continue their energetic push to grow buds, flowers, seeds, and leaves. The wildness around us keeps on being wild. As I think about this, what my sister shared, and Charli Mills’ post and her friend in hospice making plans to see fireworks on the 4th of July, I think about keeping on. I think about how Charli’s right, there’s hope in plans. I will still make plans. I will breathe and take in the sun. I will plant my feet and salute the sun.

And I will try my hand at Carrot Ranch’s 99-word flash fiction challenge this week.

March 12, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!

https://carrotranch.com/2020/03/13/march-12-flash-fiction-challenge-2/

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Get Out of My Head

There was tapping around my house. I could not find it. Upstairs, downstairs, I looked in every room.

“What the hell!” One more sign I did not have control of my life. I collapsed in bed. There was movement behind the blinds. Tap-tap-tap.

I jumped up and twirled the wand, opening the blinds. Away went the red bird. It was vibrant, not the drab of winter. The sun glowed on my face. Green points poked up through the dirt. Birds whistled around my yard.

“Oh Little Cardinal, thank you for enlightening me with your tap-tap-tap.”

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Thanks for reading! If you’d like to participate in the Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s flash fiction challenge please click on the link at the top of this post. Inspired by Carrot Ranch to do more flash fiction work myself I’ve also started doing a weekly flash fiction challenge. Please click HERE to read what I’ve been working on. My challenges can be done at any time.

As always Thank You Carrot Ranch for sharing your great post and really cool challenge!

Mental Wellness and 71-Word Challenge

Hello everyone, how are you? I hope you and your loved ones are well and safe. Things are kind of scary right now for us all. My state just announced their first case of COVID-19 and it makes me want to bury my head in the sand. But freaking out isn’t going to do me any good. I think this is a good time to reach out (by phone or internet, not physically!) to people you know around the (your) nation and world, especially those in heavily affected areas, to see how they are. I did this the other night, messaging family members whose contacts I have. I know some people might think me awfully dramatic (guilty as charged) but my spirit compelled me! I have family in Washington and when I thought about them I wondered how they were, so I asked.

I think it’s especially important to reach out to the people you know who are at higher risk for contracting the virus as well as people you know who have mental illness. I suffer from anxiety and I have a particularly difficult time worrying about matters of health. Some people call me a hypochondriac. Based on the definition, “a person who is abnormally anxious about their health”, I most certainly am. I’m not proud of this fact and I know it’s irrational but when my mind gets to whirring those thoughts around about what these constant headaches, chest pains, sparkles in my vision are it is extremely difficult to just shut them off. My best bet is to ask myself some questions:

  • Is this an emergency, as in I need urgent care? If not then,
  • Is there anything I can and should do about this now? In other words, if my doctor’s office is open, can I schedule an appointment? If not, then calm down, leave it alone, call when you can.
  • Can I simply monitor this myself, thereby taking a strong stand as my own advocate?

If an appointment is necessary and scheduled, then I need to distract my thoughts away from the worry while I wait for my the day. This all seems pretty common sense but it can be really stressful. What’s my point? During this pandemic people like myself are probably experiencing even more than our usual every day anxiety. It wouldn’t hurt to check in with a text or e-mail or phone call and see how people are doing. I’m alright. I’m keeping myself up to date with the latest news. I’m washing my hands when available to me and using hand sanitizer or wipes when I can’t wash. I cancelled travel plans and plan to avoid people as best I can. This means my trip to the store yesterday afternoon will turn into late night or early morning trips to avoid large crowds, all the while being safe about my surroundings. I’ll gather some food supplies to avoid having to go out more and be prepared should I need to hunker down. I am not freaking out, I’m being cautious. Freaking out would disable me, making me more dysfunctional than not. I’ll also see what I can do to get another month of medications. I have extra pet food as well.

We all have to do what we can to stay healthy and keep those around us healthy. Not all my worries are irrational or extra but staying healthy means I also have to look out for my mental health. Keep exercising, continue yoga, and probably make some time to meditate or whatever to calm my mind. Let’s all make sure to remember it’s important we care for our mental health as well.

In case you’re wondering, and in case it would help to share, here’s an example of a mild hypochondriac panic attack:

Almost two weeks ago (maybe?) I was at a big box grocery store. It was really busy. We didn’t have any cases in my state yet so I was less nervous but still concerned. As I made my way to the dairy section to get some cottage cheese I noticed a woman cough into a tissue balled up in her hand (not covering her mouth with it or her hand, but balled up uselessly in the middle of her hand). She was with another woman by the yogurt. Instantly my heart rate increased. I thought oh my God why is she in the store! Okay, calm down, she might have allergies or some kind of breathing or lung matter. Maybe she’s not sick.

Regardless, I decided I’d leave my cart where I was at and quickly walk over to the cottage cheese, grab a container and hustle back to my cart. That’s what I did. Then as I turned around I saw them walking towards me. Heart rate, up, more. Oh God, oh God, oh God she’s coughing! Hold my breath, hold my breath. Do you know how difficult it is to hold your breath while you’re anxious? I went back to my cart holding my breath until I couldn’t and was far enough away to believe I was safe. But the fear did not leave me. The incident did not leave me.

I bought my groceries and left the store. I used my sanitizer then just sat in my car replaying the situation over and over. Little evil butterflies flew rampantly in my gut. I decided then that what I should have done was walked in the opposite direction and went all the way around the next aisle to get back to my cart. Over and over I thought this. I pictured myself doing it. I imagined how I wouldn’t have come close to them had I done that. I worried that I had made a critical mistake. Then I thought, no you just should have ditched the cottage cheese all together as soon as you saw that woman cough. She probably doesn’t have the coronavirus but what if! All the way home I thought about this. At home I thought about it. And still I remember it. That incident for me was distressing to say the least. Once it was over, I then also had to imagine what if I were to contract it and then visit my elderly aunt?

I’m sharing this to give you a snap shot. Like I said, I’m fine but having anxiety means I’m a greater risk to mishandle real fear and make things more difficult than I need to. So maybe see how the people you know are doing (not in person), you never know when your compassion could help ease another person’s soul.

With that I’m going to issue a 71-Word writing prompt challenge. The theme is looking passed fear.

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What should I do?

“You know what this means don’t you?”

I stared.

“Transformation. Metamorphosis. Change! You could be change.”

“But… what if -“

“You can’t hide forever. Your wings will show them there is hope in our future. When you finally fly you will be filled with their magic and it will fill your voice. Your voice must be heard.”

I flexed my double set of wings. They shivered. The thin butterfly wings changed colors.

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There you have it, my 71-word flash fiction piece. I encourage you to participate and try your hand at flash fiction, no more no less than 71 words. Post your story in the comments or a link to your page with your story. Please link back to me here. If you’re interested in my other flash fiction challenges as well as those I participated in over at Carrot Ranch, please follow the links below. Carrot Ranch Literary Community run by Charli Mills is who I have to thank for my doing these flash fiction challenges. I’m so grateful for the inspiration provided thanks to her 99-word challenges. This is a great thing for my writing practice.

Carrot Ranch 99-word writing challenge:

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67-Word Writing Prompt

Hey guys how ya been? Sorry it took me so long to post again, I mean it feels like a long time. That’s life though right? Right. Okay today I will be short and sweet. By my calculations it’s the 67th day of the year. Tomorrow begins Daylight savings, 2am tomorrow. Should we start a betting pool of how long it’ll take before we scrap this concept? More and more I hear people asking the question: why? I’ve been wondering that my whole life, even as I’ve heard it explained again and again it never clicks. It’s weird, we’ll see. But daylight will be our theme today. However you translate that in your story go with it.

Write 67 words, no more no less, using the theme, topic, idea, whatever of daylight. Please title your piece. Post it in the comments below or post the link to your post (if applicable) and be sure to post back here on your site. Below my piece I’ve included some links to my other word challenges as well as my entries for Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch word challenges. It’s thanks to Carrot Ranch – A Dynamic Literary Community that I do these challenges. I keep trying to get back to hers then miss the mark. But check her out, it’s a great community.

The Shimmer

They would shimmer. I didn’t dare step out and be seen. First a watcher would see me. They know the shimmer. Next, a call will go out to sentinels who notify the alphas. By then the watcher will see my second set. I don’t know what happens then.

But I would love to step into the rising light and stretch my wings, let them finish their growth.

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Alright, your turn! In case you’re wondering or it matters, I do my flash fiction piece (the above) on the fly. I don’t write it in advance. This is all on the fly. But have at it!

Below are the links to my other flash fiction pieces. You might notice that my own prompt responses (as in not my pieces for Carrot Ranch) are related…

My Flash Fiction Pieces

My Carrot Ranch Challenge Responses

I hope you’re all well and in a safe place. May we keep on in good humor and faith even in these trying times.

February TBR Additions 2020

Hello again all you fine people. I am here as promised to bring you my February TBR Additions 2020. Perhaps you’ve already read my January TBR Additions list also posted this week (well Sunday). That was a really long list and I thank you for reading it. If you haven’t, know that even though it’s very long it’s also really interesting because the books are quite varied, in my humble opinion that is. This list is not short – there’s 16 books – but it’s not as long as that one (26 books). ***It’s not 20 books because I added four just before midnight. Here I thought it was the 1st already. πŸ˜‰

As always, I thank you for riding along and sharing any thoughts you might have of this list. Do not be afraid – do be kind and respectful – to tell me if you think a book is bad or yuck it doesn’t appeal to you. You will not hurt my feelings. In fact I’d be interested in picking your brain about the matter assuming such a discussion can be done without spoilers. πŸ˜‰ That said, let’s get to it!

  • The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood – fiction, dystopia
    • I love the podcast The Garrett, hosted by Astrid Edwards. It’s an Australian based podcast. She interviews so many interesting authors, diverse authors, and they’re really good interviews. Astrid, you’re great. I recommend this podcast for sure. Recently I heard the interview with Charlotte Wood and actually made a note, I believe I was waiting in line at the grocery store and added it on Goodreads right there. πŸ˜‰ I think that’s a beautiful cover too.
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  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – fiction, mystery
    • I discovered this book thanks to an NPR interview. The author, a journalist, was talking about the outrageous fact that in India 150 children go missing A DAY. The vast majority of these young people are forced into some kind of labor, like working in people’s homes and sex work among others. She said it’s not well reported on or managed so she decided to write a novel about it, her debut in fiction. Her protagonist is a young boy. She chose a child so as to take the edge off the story from time to time.
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  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – mystery, thriller
    • I think this is the first in a long time for which I can say I heard of from another person in person! Lol. I was at a family member’s birthday party when I got to chatting with an older woman I’d just met. She told me her book club read this book (a debut novel) and loved it. She said they were split down the middle in terms of predicting how it ended.
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  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – classics, fiction
    • I found that my grandmother and/or great-grandmother (don’t know whose copy it was) had an old copy of this book and well, it appeals to me so I think I’ll give it a shot, one day. πŸ˜‰
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  • Mr. Sagittarius by M.J. Mallon – poetry, photography, fiction
    • I think it was thanks to Carrot Ranch and a blog tour? Oh shoot I’m sorry I didn’t put this information in my notes. But this is a new a poetry, prose and photography collection by Indie author M.J. Mallon. Interestingly enough my poetry has photography mixed throughout it but no prose, however we clearly have similar interests in that respect. Anywho, I’m excited to be able to support a fellow Indie Author.
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  • Can You See Me? by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott – children’s middle grade, contemporary
    • C.G. Drews (author and blogger) over at Paper Fury talks about this book in one of her latest posts. The blurb on Goodreads says this book is for fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. While I haven’t read Wonder I’m interested in reading this “coming-of-age story about learning to celebrate yourself…”. Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign said, “This glimpse into the world of a young autistic girl is astonishingly insightful and honest. Tally’s struggles to ‘fit in’ are heart-wrenching, and her victories are glorious.” This is fiction but it is own-voice in that Libby Scott is a young autistic author and this story is inspired by her experiences.
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  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl – Audible Audio edition – fantasy
    • So this is kind of a funny story. I told you before that Audible just had a sale on many series; each book in the respective series was marked down. I saw this and believed it was one I’d added to my TBR this year. I know I’ve heard of this before and it’s hugely popular. This series has two books and they’re long, so good candidates for Audible books I thought.
    • Low and behold, this series was not already on my TBR; I was somehow confusing it with The Lies of Locke Lamora I’d heard of from Inside my Library Mind and SilverWolfReads in January. Lol, well they’re added now!
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  • The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl – Audible Audio edition – fantasy, epic fantasy
    • The sequel to the above book. The one downside and/or upside depending how you see it, to Audible editions is I wind up reading/listening to books I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up so soon. But hey this book has 392,856 ratings on Goodreads with a 4.57 star rating. It was published in 2011. Wow!
    • AND Nnedi Okorafor, an author I follow, the woman who wrote Binti, speaks highly of this series on Goodreads. πŸ˜‰
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  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenny Lyons – epic fantasy
    • Okay, so, I’m listening to this book on Audible right now and IT’S AWESOME. It’s really long, certainly an epic like Lord of the Rings but well worth the time. Here’s the thing, I did not know this was a series! Last night I was just browsing browsing, clicked on Jenn Lyons and there you go, there’s more! Then I saw there’s actually a third!!! Wow. So I don’t know that the Audible version is available for the 2nd as it just came out October 2019 but I’ll keep an eye out.
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Wow, okay that’s it. Phew! Twenty-six books added in January and 20 added in February bringing my Goodreads’ TBR to 336! Holy moly, I think I need to slow down on adding books but then how will I remember new finds? Maybe I need to cull my list as many other bloggers have, at least review it to see if I’m really still interested in all these books. God knows I don’t have the time to get through all the books I want, especially not with my own novel on the fire! What do you think about this list?

And as I said in my January TBR Additions 2020 post:

It’s super important to me to give credit where credit’s due. So I try to make a point to take notes when I’m reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts (I’m not as good with the latter). Whenever I actually do take notes, be it NPR interviews, blogs, podcasts, talking to people, I will certainly mention it when I mention my interest in the book (assuming I find the notes πŸ˜‰ ). It’s really a great practice to tip your hat to others and their efforts to spread the word about books they like. Not only does it help the authors of these books, but it also helps other bloggers and podcasters. So I ask humbly please, if you discover books thanks to my blog – lists like this one – that you give me a little shout out. Thanks in advance!

January TBR Additions

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Well how are you today? Not too shabby over here. I’m working on blog stuff so I’m in a happy place. Reading is a funny thing you know? But even more so is the hobby of collecting books. I’ve always loved the idea of collecting things although admittedly I’m not such a good collector. Of course it comes as no surprise that it started in childhood with toys (My Little Pony, Breyer Horses, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, Marvel collector cards, the list goes on). I didn’t have grand collections of all these things (I wished!) but I LOVED looking at the catalogues of all the toys that were out there and the new stuff, gah, so wonderful.

When it comes to books I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a collector. I guess you might say I am because I don’t exactly get rid of books I’ve read, and I’ve got a boat load of old books from relatives. Compared to other book bloggers though and what I’ve read in their posts, I am not a book collector. Hats off to you who love your various editions – lots of people collect multiple copies of books that are each a different edition – but I can’t wrap my head around having more than one copy of a book. Alas, I get it, I feel the love you have for your collections. I once had a fabulous collection of Orchids (most died from brown rot) and I will slowly but surely rebuild for I am at heart an Orchid collector.

Anyways, I shall move on with this post and get to the point. While I might not be a true book collector, I do love me some TBR action! I like discovering new books and adding them to my TBR. Then I like going through my TBR and seeing all the covers; it’s like a mini version of going to a bookstore or the library and seeing all THOSE BOOKS! It goes without saying, TBR posts can be fun to create (sometimes daunting too). My question to whomever is reading this, do you enjoy TBR posts? Do you enjoy seeing what other book blogger/reader people are interested in reading?

Last time I left you guys with a three part TBR additions post (Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE). That encompassed Fall & Winter additions since I was behind. I’ll admit I was a little burned out after those posts so I’m behind again, but it’s all good. Today I bring to you: January TBR Additions.

***As I was building this post I realized what I kind of already knew/remembered, that this is going to be really long. Therefore, February TBR Additions will be its own post following on the heels of this one for January. But read on because there’s loads of different books here you might not have seen elsewhere and plenty you have. The book’s title is linked to the book’s Goodreads’ page (for more information).

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January TBR Additions

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Trevor Noah – non-fiction/memoir
    • I first heard of Trevor Noah as many of us did, when it was announced he was taking over The Daily Show for Jon Stewart. I’ve since become a fan (not that I watch the show much). What tipped me to the book was an interview with him on NPR. And of course the audio version sounds great since he’s the narrator, talk about own voices.
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  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Joe Morton – fiction, historical fiction, magical realism
    • Honestly, I can’t recall the first time I heard of this book but I’m pretty sure it was through a podcast. Since then I’ve heard about it all over the place, including Oprah. I’m going for Audible version because it’s a book available through it.
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  • No Walls and the Recurring Dream by Ani DiFranco – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Ani DiFranco – non-fiction/memoir
    • I used to listen to folk singer Ani DiFranco quite a bit, over 10 years ago. I fell off mainly because my life changed, my directions changed. Recently I’ve gone back to some of her songs (like Little Plastic Castle). But I saw mention of her new book in an article, maybe newspaper (?), and thought it sounded interesting. And of course seeing it on Audible narrated by herself, I had to go that route. Cool cover, ironically similar to the last.
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  • A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews – contemporary, YA
    • SilverWolfReads mentioned The Boy Who Steals Houses in her post HERE. She raved about this author so I had to at least look into C.G. Drews. I’m not sure I want to read The Boy Who Steals Houses but I’m intrigued and going to check this one out.
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  • Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo – Fantasy
    • Another appealing book thanks to SilverWolfReads. We might do a buddy read one of these days, not for this one but something. She mentioned it to me recently and I must get back to her. I’ve never done any buddy reads (well I did with my great-aunt), but I think it’d be fun. πŸ˜€
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  • The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco – Fantasy, YA
    • Yup another one thanks to SilverWolfReads. I was thinking maybe I’d read back through blurbs for all these books and remind myself (so I can share with you) what interested me most about these books but do I have time? Ugh…I should do it first thing…perhaps next time, this list is long enough.
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  • Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle, #1) by Adam Silvera – Fantasy, YA
    • Yet another shout-out to SilverWolfReads at the aforementioned link. Yes these were all in one post of hers as well. I like this cover quite a bit too.
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  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Fantasy
    • Much like the previous book I added this after SilverWolfReads post but I’d heard of it many times before. Sometimes I stray away from popular books just because they’re popular. And I wasn’t immediately sold on it. Sounded cool but I have SO MANY books on my TBR. Well okay people are raving and raving, let’s do it. (And I just saw YouTube video by Destiny at Howling Libraries in which she mentions the sequel to this and how she has to get to it.)
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  • Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Tanis Parenteau – fantasy, post-apocalyptic
    • I added this book because I listened to the first one – read my review of Trail of Lightning HERE – and LOVED it. Having listened to that I had to listen to this. But this is the book SilverWolfReads had picked up though she hadn’t read the first. I find myself putting off listening to this because…um, hm…I guess I feel like maybe it’s too soon to go right back and then have it be over! And sometimes it feels right to explore around since I know I’m coming back here.
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  • Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Roy Kesey – fiction, sci-fi
    • This book and many that follow are more books I found thanks to LitHub’s The Bookseller’s Year in Reading Part 1-3. I’ve linked you to Part 1 and you can go from there. But my 2019 TBR New Additions Part 1-3 consist of a lot of books from this list (I also link you here to my own Part 1). What’s here is me finally finishing those articles. I’m excited that most of these books I’ve never heard of and they’re pretty representative, across genre, culture, geography and more. I might have to be more intentional in picking different books from my TBR (when the time comes).
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  • The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams – historical fiction
    • Fictionophile writes “Cover Love” posts in which she posts lists of books with regards to their covers. She directed me to some older versions of her posts and I found a bunch of books I really like. For example, she did a post about covers she liked that had birds…thus these that follow. By the way, I did read the blurb after I found the cover appealing and then added them. πŸ˜‰
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  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – historical fiction
    • Inside My Library Mind wrote an interesting post titled If You Liked This, Try This. And that’s where this book and few others come from. She said if you like this one (below) try Cala by Laura Legge. Well the latter didn’t interest me but this one did.
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  • Inkheart (Inkworld, #1) by Cornelia Funke, translated by Anthea Bell – fantasy, YA
    • Here’s another book thanks to Inside My Library Mind’s post linked to above. This was one in which she says if you like this try The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Well I have already added the latter so, why not this one too? Though I’ve read neither. πŸ˜‰
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  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin – fantasy
    • Inside My Library Mind then wrote a post, 2020 TBR Backlist, and here she listed this gem. Mind you this is not the first I’ve heard of N.K. Jemisin, no she is mentioned all over the place. In fact, I just learned that she is the first author ever to win a HUGO award three years in a row and for books of the same series. Translation, all three of the books in this series won Hugo awards.
    • These books were just on sale, all three, at Audible. I so badly wanted to get them but Patrick Rothfus’ duology was also on sale, there’s two of those, they’re huge apparently and I can’t buy all five. I was tempted but I sighed and did the right thing and only bought the two Rothfus books. Plus I couldn’t decide if I should READ and see the words on the pages of N.K. Jemisin’s work.
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  • Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – fantasy
    • You might recall that my review of Sarah Beth Durst’s last book, The Deepest Blue, was kind of harsh. I was disappointed, I’m sorry. But don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Sarah Beth Durst. I’m still hoping she keeps writing in the world she introduced us to in her series The Queens of Renthia. And her book Lost (not related to any of these) is fabulous; I was so sad to discover she will not be publishing the second but there’s a chance it’ll be made for TV. That said, this book is her latest adult fantasy, I think available April 2020, and it sounds awesome. Not to mention the cover is beautiful. I’m in!
    • Here’s a piece of the blurb from Goodreads: an imaginative new world in which a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.
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  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – historical fiction
    • Yet another from Inside My Library Mind’s above post link. Colson Whitehead’s writing reputation precedes him and this book, meaning he’s another author I’ve heard a number of times.
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Oh my gosh we made it! You’re still here right? Phew, that’s great, thank you so much. What do you think? Have you or do you plan to read any of these? Will you now?

It’s super important to me to give credit where credit’s due. So I try to make a point to take notes when I’m reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts (I’m not as good with the latter). Whenever I actually do take notes, be it NPR interviews, blogs, podcasts, talking to people, I will certainly mention it when I mention my interest in the book (assuming I find the notes πŸ˜‰ ). It’s really a great practice to tip your hat to others and their efforts to spread the word about books they like. Not only does it help the authors of these books, but it also helps other bloggers and podcasters. So I ask humbly please, if you discover books thanks to my blog – lists like this one – that you give me a little shout out. Thanks in advance!

And thank you again and again for following along with this long post. I hope I was able to add to your list or poke your brain. I’d love to hear what you think. And stay tuned because I’m going to post February TBR Additions this week as well. πŸ˜€ Then we’ll be caught up!

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60-Word Writing Prompt

Today is the last day of February and the 60th day of the year (by my count πŸ˜‰ ). March brings with it so many possibilities as well as responsibilities that winter simply does not. Maybe I won’t be mowing the lawn in March but outside jobs are that much more in your face. It’s the possibilities that are exciting. Outdoor activities, not just jobs, will slowly but surely become available. What I especially love are the birds, their voices and songs, their migrations, and their overall presence. Add to that we’ll soon have flowers poking their little way through the cold soil to greet the sun with the rest of us. I do love spring.

As the weather warms that also usually means I won’t be reading as much and yet, audio books are helping to change that. Besides, I would really love to get some sun, which goes hand in hand with reading. Even more than sun and birds, flowers and warmth a new season alerts me to just where my novel is and isn’t. Where it is is a little stuck, which means it isn’t finished. But okay, I see that and I will act on that.

I’ve had some really great brainstorming sessions as of late. As well I’ve had a few tiny breakthroughs in terms of character and plot details. So far in my progress I’ve only really had to kill one of my darlings, that weren’t already dead. πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t all that difficult for me. However what I discovered recently is that I have a character I’ve long considered bad, but now the waters are muddying. In other cases a bad character simply became good. In this case however I cannot undo what they’ve done. So it’s not that I’m struggling with having to kill a darling it’s more so the balance or rather juggle of roles this character takes on. In real life we aren’t always good or bad. We’re usually a mix of the two. Even then good people go bad and vice versa.

At first I thought that maybe I would need to change something, maybe this character isn’t all that bad. It would be much easier to know how to judge them than balance their bad against their good throughout the story. Then what? But I recognized my error; in writing as in many arts and things we do in life, the simplest answer isn’t always the best answer. I’ve read/listened to many stories with gray characters. It didn’t stress me out or frustrate me, it was kind of refreshing. It was more like real life, more dynamic. I know that this will not be easy but I’m not trying to write an easy story. Instead I will embrace this new direction as I am spring and all that comes with it.

The theme for today’s 60-Word Writing Prompt Challenge is new. I’m going to keep it just that simple, go with it where you may just make sure it’s in 60 words, no more no less. Please title your tale, post it in the comments or a link to your page with a subsequent link back here to me.

Feel free to revisit my other flash fiction prompts as well as the pieces I wrote for The Carrot Ranch’s Writing Prompt Challenges. You’ll find links to all of these at the end of this post.

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Things Discovered, Things New

It wasn’t a surprise my wings were feathered, but an interesting development. The composition of your wings is an indicator of your position, at least in part.

Feathers meant watchers, messengers, spies, and hunters to name the basics. I could live with that. But I was shocked to find I had a second set of wings. They were not feathered.

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Voila! Your turn. πŸ˜€

For more of my Writing Prompt challenges follow the links below:

The following links are the pieces I wrote for The Carrot Ranch’s 99-Word Writing Prompt Challenge. She writes some really great posts I highly recommend you check them out, especially if you’re a writer. The Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community for sure!

As always, thank you so much for visiting and sharing. I do encourage healthy discussion. If you like what you’ve seen follow me to stay tuned in to what’s going on here. This week I’ll share another flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch’s latest challenge as well as new additions to my TBR for January and February. That last one might come in the form of two posts, we’ll see.

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Carrot Ranch: Feb 20 Flash Fiction Challenge

I just have to say I really enjoy Charli’s posts. As she works up to the flash fiction challenge details in her post this week, she first shares how her thesis is coming along, the plot and plot outline she’s working on. This comes at a great time for me as I am a pantser at heart but have learned over the last few years that I really need to be a plantser, a mix of both plotter and person who writes by the seat of their pants. I can not survive on pantsing alone. Her words are like an arrow with a message to the center of my story board: plot & plot outline you do need.

Thanks Charli!

More on this later, but for now let’s take on this challenge!

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February 20, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes. Use this situation to write what happens next. Where does this e=situation take place, and who else might be involved? Go where the prompt leads!

https://carrotranch.com/2020/02/21/february-20-flash-fiction-challenge/

The Meeting

Rainbow waited behind the statue of the library’s patron by the door. She hoped Ms. Margaret would not see her tail and know.

When it opened she slipped out the door. The patron spun around alarmed but Rainbow was out and running down the sidewalk.

Two blocks away Rainbow stopped. She looked up and down the street. Then up the building next to her. A small red sweater in a window flapped in the wind. The door read “Phyllis’ Place”.

She waited for that door to open then bolted inside. The woman looked up from the desk and smiled.

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There you have it!

Writing prompts and flash fiction are amazing tools for a writer. I have undoubtedly overlooked these practices in my own writing. Brevity is not my strong point. Therefore it is in my best interest to write more with less. It’s so interesting to learn just how much you can cut without taking away from the story. At first I didn’t know what to write. But when the idea came to me there was a lot behind it. I just started writing. I had 163 words when I stopped. This was the most I’d over-wrote for one of the Carrot Ranch challenges so far (I’ll post links to my previous efforts as well as my new flash fiction challenges).

Having counted 64 words over I thought oh dear how am I going to cut this? In truth, I really enjoyed that part of the exercise because it taught me. If I were to write the story in more detail I would expand on what I have above however it’s not necessary. More so than not, my situational storytelling about Rainbow above conveys just what I need and want it to. It was cool cutting four or five words here, accepting that they really weren’t important. Or turning three words into one.

I keep coming back to the same conclusion: writing flash fiction is really good for me.

I posted the link to Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction challenge above but I’ll go ahead and post her main URL here as well. I encourage all writers especially to visit her page/blog.

The following links are to my entries for a few of Charli’s flash fiction challenges:

The links below are my own flash fiction prompts and works. I started doing this several weeks ago and will continue. You are welcome to join.

Thank you Charli for your inspiration, teaching, and motivation, and thank you readers for visiting and hopefully joining both challenges!

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56-Word Writing Prompt Challenge

Well hello all you fine people out there, happy Tuesday. The last week and a half has just flown by. Friday turned into Tuesday and so has my 56-word writing prompt. At this rate you’ll get two writing prompt challenges this week, or maybe I should be saying at this rate I’ll see you next Friday! Lol, stay tuned to find out. πŸ˜‰

Okay let’s get to it. So I’ve joined the writing community in doing writing prompts, at least I’m trying. πŸ˜€ I’ve also joined by doing a prompt myself. This week, as the previous two – 38-Word flash fiction & 47-word – is based on number of words and a theme I choose. Write your flash fiction piece with 56 words no more, no less because by my math πŸ˜‰ it’s the 56th day of the year. Post your piece or a link to your piece in the comments below and post a link back to this post should that apply to you. Also, please title your piece and if you decide not to write flash fiction, note that as well.

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This Week’s theme

This week I’d like to reflect on blessings, gratitude, appreciation, and the like. This includes talents that your life has bestowed on you, help or gifts people have given/offered/provided you, good luck you’ve experienced, good people or animals you know, all of it. I’m talking about any and everything you are grateful for, big small, few or many.

Time out, time out.

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Some days, weeks, months, even years are just hard. You might not feel inclined to stop and count your blessings. Things might be so hard for you at that or this time that it just makes you sick to hear people say count your blessings. You might be feeling like your glass is half-empty. And if that’s the case, I’m sorry, I’m genuinely sorry. I do know how that feels. Maybe I don’t know exactly how you’re feeling, or what you’re going through but I have compassion for you and the very fact that you’re struggling.

If you or someone you know needs help please scroll down for a short list of websites and phone numbers you may contact for assistance. Skip the exercise and reach out. You don’t have to be alone in this.

56-Word Writing Prompt Challenge – Gratitude

Please try, just a quick second, try and do this exercise with me and with us. Challenge yourself to find even the silliest thing. The smallest things really can be the best. I have had some really sad days and then I see a joyful thing that reminds me of my deceased brother. Of course the fact that he’s been gone over eight years is horribly sad but a good memory of him is just that and it makes me smile. Through my tears, I think, at least I knew you at all. And sometimes it feels like he’s saying hey, I’m here. I always say, thanks bro.

So let’s do this together, whether your day sucks or not, whether it’s the best time of your life or the worst. Take a deep breath and find the thing in your life that you’re glad is there, be it a memory, a gift, a book, your car, your apartment, the lady at the gas station who knows your name, the sun, a blooming plant, a singing bird, a purring cat, catching the bus when you thought you’d missed it, or a laugh or smile you weren’t expecting. They all count.

Use that thing to craft a 56-word short story. In your title please refer back to the thing you’re happy about or grateful for that has inspired your story, specifically, literally, metaphorically, however. Look in or around for a sneak peek. πŸ™‚

Being Seen and Seeing

I reached one hand through. The warmth spread across my bleeding hand. Still in the tunnel yet here is the hope I needed. Today I saw light, and touched it.

As I’ve traveled below the war outside and through one inside, I’ve changed. The stretch before me should give me time to finish growing my wings.

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There you go, 56 words! I’m grateful for letting my struggles be known and for the help that has been provided and offered me. I’m grateful for being seen. I’m grateful for having some tools, any really, to carve out a brighter future. I don’t know just what that looks like but I know there’s light and I’m going to embrace it.

If you’re struggling please seek help, be it through a help line of sorts, a group, a friend, family member, doctor, professional, whatever, please know it’s there. Take a deep breath and reach out for help. You have that courage inside you, even if it’s tucked away at the bottom of your old toy chest of childhood, call it forward. Embrace it. Ask for help. Ask for help like poking air holes in the tunnel that may surround you. Keep looking until the light you need shines down. Use even a little bit of that hope to hold you a float, it’s worth it. That light may be light, or a beautiful sound or sensation or voice. Don’t give up. Don’t always doubt yourself. Don’t over think taking a second to say for this I am grateful. Fill your heart up. Breathe. Try on a tiny tiny smile at the corners of your mouth. It might be hard or feel stupid, just try it for a quick second. How was that?

Keep scrolling for a list of websites and hotlines you can use. Keep looking. Keep trying. Stay breathing. Share your story.

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SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Top Helpline Resources from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – 800-950-NAMI or Text “NAMI” to 741741

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine/Top-HelpLine-Resources

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects callers to trained crisis counselors (800-273-8255)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence (800-799-7233)

HelpWhenYouNeedIt.Org over 350,000 lisitng for social services, mental health, substance use, legal and financial assistance.

The above is not a comprehensive or even exhaustive list but I wanted to provide you some places to start should you need it. One step forward. Be proud of yourself that you took a step at all.

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We Pledge Allegiance to Our Vanity…

**This post is the second in a series I will continue about aging as a woman today and related stuff. It’s a bit of a rant so bare with me. I don’t take issue with wearing makeup in general, just for the record. :D** You can read my first HERE about having graying hair.

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My novel (tentatively scheduled for publication later this year) features a woman in her mid-30s, like me. πŸ˜€ The reason I’m using this character besides being similar to me in age is because I’m a little exhausted with YA saturation. That’s not to say there aren’t stories out there about full grown adults, of course there are, but it seems that everyone is driven to young adult characters. Again, that’s fine. There are so many awesome books and characters who are young adult. I understand the appeal to write young adult characters but I’m also interested in the lives of other age brackets.

In addition to feeling uncomfortably saturated with young adult novels and movies all around me, I’m really really tired of all this focus on looking younger. I get it okay I do, guys I’m a woman eeking her way to 40. My skin is not perfect and fresh and my body gets irritated by a lot more stuff than it ever used to. I might not be old but I’m not young. All I’m saying is I do understand the appeal to still look young. I’m curious about what anti-aging lotions might actually be worth buying. I’m interested in prolonging my youthful looks. I might be embracing my grays but I’m not going to let them perform center stage, yet. So it’s not that I’m saying what the heck people, who cares. What I am asking is, why are we obsessed though?

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More and more women and men it appears are getting plastic surgery. Just when you think your favorite actress will not yield to the pressure you see her under the lights looking different in some way that you just can’ put your finger on. From Jada Pinkett Smith to Nicole Kidman, they just can’t leave their f&*%ing faces alone!

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I can only imagine the immense pressure women in Hollywood are under to look good and stay young. It’s real and it’s true that older women have a harder time than older men getting work. How come Marvel recast X-Men but Patrick Stewart still got to play the old Professor X? Why did Famke Janssen just get booted all together? No cameo roles for her? What about Halle Berry? I liked her as Storm even though I don’t think she’s a great actress she fit. And Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique? Oh God they killed me with that one! But even as men still seem to run Hollywood and so much more it is my belief that we are all overlooking our own roles in carrying on the toxic environment. Women are carrying on these ideals that aren’t real. Women are running every chance they can to get this or that plumped up. And we’re apparently okay with that!

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Have you ever seen those infomercials about that magical make-up air brush device contraption machine thingy? How it covers your face perfectly with makeup, it just smooths away the blemishes? Transforms your look in seconds? Why are we okay with this? Do they talk to men like that? Now people, I’m not dissing makeup okay? I wear mascara, once in a great while I’ll put on some eyeliner or eye-shadow, lipstick even gloss. I love the way mascara looks. But I like makeup for occasions. I think you don’t wear your party dress to work or to the park so why wear your party face everywhere you go? That’s fine though, you like to dress your face up for the day, hey high five to you for rocking your thing. But if we look beyond the surface we are perpetuating a toxic mentality that somehow less than perfect needs to be covered. Your skin tone should be even. I’m not saying who cares about blemishes, good Lord I do not like zits and pimples and blotchy skin and the rosacea I now have. I’m not attacking makeup wearers or lovers, I’m attacking the industry and society’s overall mentality on it. That it’s this thing that women NEED to be whole. We’re supporting showing each other that it’s okay to hide behind false perfection just as long as you look good. And yet sometimes people wear so much makeup they really don’t look good at all! Your face is different from your neck! I like the character you’re trying to play but you’re trying too hard when I just want to dig my fingernail into your cheek just to see how thick it is. It’s too much!

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There used to be a barista at my local coffee shop who painted her face every day in the kind of 50s style I’m sure you’ve all seen. It’s a cute look when done right and in the right context if you ask me. But every time I pulled up to the window and saw her I just wanted to take her to the bathroom and hand her a washcloth. Why the mask? Why not just some highlights or little bit of this or that? Why are you trying so hard to not have your face? I wanted to be one of her friends and say hey, I love you but stop, it doesn’t look good. Girls we can do better by each other than sitting around not saying anything about how we act like we hate our natural selves.

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I know I might be being a jerk here but I’m frustrated people, I’m really really frustrated. Everyone wants to play the hero. Everyone wants to put nice sayings all over their social media and get thousands of likes. Everyone wants to be a humanitarian, as long as they look good doing it. To me it seems that we have all lost a piece of our humanity because we do not want to embrace age. We do not want to hold it up and say, look our elders are people, they are relevant. Why can’t we embrace the process of becoming them? If you’re getting married you embrace the act of being the bride, the soon to be wife right? If you were going to be a princess you’d probably go through some bad ass ritual. So why is it we’re all running and hiding from aging? Sure it sucks but it’s real. It’s one of the most real things about life. You’re going to get old, God willing, and it’s going to show. Why is it more acceptable to physically transform your face and look plastic than bear the wrinkles that say, I have amassed wisdom?

It’s not easy for me to look in the mirror, get all up and personal with it, and see all these fine lines on my face. A close up with the mirror at the dentist does not make me feel good. Yes I have pushed my skin back to a more taut day just to see the difference. I have a worrier’s forehead. I have laugh lines and they don’t go away when I’m not laughing. You don’t think I’ve imagined putting some fancy powder on my face and just looking like I’m 25 again? You don’t think with my small lips I can imagine the urge to just give em a little extra? I have used SnapChat in all its fun and glory and I see the difference between my face and my SnapChat filtered face. It’s not healthy. Everyone wants to put these pictures up of themselves that aren’t them and so we teach each other it’s okay to not be yourself even as we plaster our walls with the glorious idea of embracing who you really are.

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I want to be a part of a wave of people who are actively learning to accept the changes that come with aging. I want to stop looking in the mirror and almost hating older me, almost, almost but no. I want to stop being afraid of how old I may or may not look. I want us all to truly embrace ourselves and the process of aging, to discuss how we cope with it. I want to grab a hold of this thing and say I’m okay with it because I need to know how I can use all this time I’ve got under my belt! I love older people and all their knowledge and I want them to know that they are still people. All the older people I know don’t think they’re as old as they are. Mentally they’re back 20 years. There’s so much life in them! It’s like we’re missing the point here; it’s not that there’s no life left in the old, it’s that they have magically absorbed it into their bodies!

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My grandpa is 100 years old, 100 freaking years old, and he’s still walking and smiling and cracking little jokes when you don’t expect it. He’s kind and steadies himself to hug me and kiss me on the cheek. He’s stubborn and refuses to use two walking sticks no matter what my dad tells him. He just gets up every day to make it through another day. He does not quit. He has absorbed 100 years of life on this planet. He’s a pilot, a World War II veteran, a father, a husband, an athlete, a businessman, a friend, and an oh so bright soul. I’ll be damned if that man had time to be obsessed with his looks.

My grandpa doesn’t believe he’s 100 years old. That started the year prior, he didn’t believe he was 99. Wasn’t sure how old he thought he was but not that. It was kind of funny, and worrisome, but shit after 99 years you can have that one. I’ve been thinking about this more lately. Our bodies it seems age faster than out minds. Maybe he’s reached a place where he feels like it just doesn’t make sense that my mind and body would be so far off in age. Maybe it just doesn’t matter anymore. What if we became obsessed with what our minds are doing instead of what our bodies aren’t?

Have I frustrated you yet? Then let’s chat.

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My Review of A Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, narrated by Tanis Parenteau

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Info from Goodreads:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, DinΓ©tah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a DinΓ©tah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is its last, best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the reservation, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Audible audio book – August 7th 2018 by Audible Studios – Listening time: 8 hours and 58 minutes

My rating: 5/5!!!

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I found this book thanks to SilverWolfReads and her post My Great American Book Haul in which she shares the 30+ books she picked up during her visit to NYC. She got the sequel to this book, Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) but of course you gotta start at the beginning right? So I did and I’m so happy.

This is why it’s not great to write reviews so long after the fact because it’s difficult to keep track of all your thoughts on the book. This is also why I said I was going to start taking notes. Lol. Anyways, I had been thinking a little while ago that I would change my review format to Pros/Cons of the story/book/narration/style etc. I likely will do that in the future however for this particular review I will not.

Reason being, I was really happy with this story as well as the overall narration. It starts off all in the action. Being post-apocalyptic you would expect just that, for a lot to have already happened and happening. But I don’t always love post-apocalyptic stories because they’re so much the same dreary burnt up world. There’s definitely some dreary world stuff going on here but the flavor, I found, to be different. I like how right from the start you know there’s some weird stuff going on underneath it all. That makes me feel like I need to sit up and pay attention.

Much of that is thanks to the story being built around Native American lore, which I admittedly do not know but find fascinating all the same. This story stands out among the crowd of post-apocalyptic stories centered around white culture. Out of respect I believe we ought to all be paying more attention to all the histories of our nation, including the stories, mythical and factual.

Not to get all political or politically correct or incorrect or passively political or pascifistically politically corrected!

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This telling is fabulous and provides a stimulating albeit rather unknown to me, background. You do spend a fair bit of time wondering and waiting for just what happened to the world. However, I think Roanhorse is clever with her writing and gives enough for you to hold on to the reins and stick with the story without falling off as a result of impatience. There’s a lot, I hear, that will continue to unravel about the world and the underlying story in the next book. Which I agree with a review I saw that that makes for some great storytelling and world building when done right. Which it is, IMHO.

I don’t know if it’s worth noting but I will agree with some other reviewers about almost (in my case) being annoyed at the part where Maggie the MC has to get dressed to go to this place which would of course require that she be a little provocative looking. But I mean, I don’t know, it’s not terrible in this context considering she has to do so to fit in (not a spoiler btw). So I have to give it a pass but I can see where people might feel that way. Because of course many of us can’t help but wonder why bad ass women are always half-naked? But Maggie doesn’t get “half-naked”. Moving along…

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I’ve also heard people say that some of the paragraphs are long in description which is not something I typically enjoy. However, I listened to this as an audio book so I can’t say it bothered me, or at least I don’t remember if it did! Lol. Which says a lot about the story. If it’s fast moving and interesting I don’t tend to get too hung up on specifics that might normally annoy me. Basically, slow me down long enough to think a lot and I might likely get frustrated. Okay not always but you get the point. πŸ˜‰ This book is first person, present tense and I think it all worked for the most part.

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If you like post-apocalyptic urban fantasy for sure check this out. If you like bad ass female characters check this out. If you’re interested in Native American lore check this out. And if you want all of that wrapped up with a bow, yeah this is the book for you. She might fall into some of the bad ass female tropes, including her relationships, but it’s worth it. This story is super unique and well worth the time it takes to enjoy. Rebecca Roanhorse is on my radar now.

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My debate then was do I read the next one to get a feel of the writing, the words or do I continue on with audio? My answer: I will continue listening to this series. The reason I will go with Audible Audio again is because I like Tanis Parenteau and her reading of this book. The next book as noted above is Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2).

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I will add here as well that SilverWolfReads is responsible for my reading/listening to Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor. Read my review here. Great story also!

Okay, your turn! Read this? Reading it? Want to? Feel free to agree or disagree with me here, albeit respectfully please. πŸ˜€

If you want to read some of the other things I’ve had to say about books I’ve read then go to THIS PAGE and read what reviews I have available. If you want to know what i’m reading CLICK HERE.

I would so love and appreciate if you’d like to follow me (there should be a button around the bottom right corner somewhere…) as well as your feedback. I am a chatty Cathy although I am not a Kathy or a Cathy. And if I write those names a few more times I will swear that is not how they’re spelled!

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