Get To Know Me: My Favorite Author

My all-time favorite author is J.R.R. Tolkien. I consider him the grandfather of the fantasy genre and his fantasy writing is something that can’t be copied.

Tolkien is a master at world building. Middle Earth has an extensive history including multiple ages, several languages, and various races of beings. Tolkien is able to juggle the world of Middle-Earth in a way that I haven’t seen done before or since. Tolkien was a linguist and knew at least 16 languages, and created about 15. He takes these languages and imbues the races of Middle Earth with them. He created the beautiful rolling Elvish language and the harsh and terrifying Black Speech. Tolkien’s ability to dedicate himself to one world and add the depth that he did is something to be admired.

Tolkien also creates characters you want to root for. My favorite of his characters being Samwise Gamgee, the stubborn and loving sidekick to Frodo Baggins. There is something fascinating to me about an author who can create characters as terrifying as the Uruk-hai and then some as lovable as the Hobbits. He also manages to touch the depths of evil without making his story gory or explicit.

Tolkien’s writing style is wholesome but not silly. When you enter Middle-Earth you aren’t entering a world of sex and murder like a lot of fantasy novels. You are entering a world held together by friendship and the struggle between good and evil. I enjoy this because it allows Tolkien to focus entirely on the adventure and the bonds a fellowship creates, without worrying about how the violence or sex scenes will sound to the reader.

Tolkien also does a great job of expressing love between his characters. We have the love between the fellowship in The Lord of The Rings, which prompts a massive search and rescue mission for Merry and Pippin, we also have the love between Aragorn and Arwen which has spanned such a long time. Setting The Lord of The Rings aside we can also see Tolkien’s great care for love in The Hobbit between Bilbo and his new Dwarf friends, or in the tale of Beren and Lúthien. In fact, Tolkien compared his wife to Lúthien and on their gravestones they are respectively named Beren and Lúthien.

I hold Tolkien’s writing dear to my heart. He is my inspiration to read and write. Thanks to his books I chose to pursue English/Writing in college.

Who is your favorite author? Do you also like Tolkien? Let me know in the comments!

Absence

Hello everyone it has been a little while since I have posted and I thought I should give a little update on why I have been missing. Honestly a lot of stuff just happened at once. My boyfriend got a new job, our baby has had two different colds, and we had a lot of family events happen. I haven’t had much time to read this past month, so I havent been able to release reviews.

Luckily I am back and I intend on writing at least one review this week and more next week. I am behind on a few of my reviews so I will be playing catch up. Thank you for sticking with me through this absence, I look forward to discussing good books with you all again.

Why Does Young Adult Literature Get A Bad Wrap?

I spent three years working at a bookstore and I am an avid YA consumer and I have noticed a trend amongst the reading community. Young Adult lit seems to be treated like a second class genre. I had what some people might call “real” adults come up to me to buy YA and say things like, “This isn’t for me, this is for my daughter.” or my personal favorite, “I don’t read this junk it’s for kids, this is a present.” My question is why? Why do people feel the need to justify YA purchases, is it so bad to read something aimed at teen to twenty year olds? And what does this say about how we treat the YA demographic? Some of the most powerful books I have ever read qualify as YA. I even read middle grade novels, in fact Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are two of my favorites, and they are aimed at middle schoolers, yet, I am not ashamed.

This also poses another interesting question, why don’t adults feel like they need to justify purchasing books like Harry Potter but God forbid they buy John Green? I honestly saw more older adults buying YA than teenagers and I didn’t see a problem with it. A lot of adults also confessed to me that YA was their guilty pleasure. I was once told something very interesting by one of my coworkers, she said to me that she didn’t like the term guilty pleasure because it insinuates that you should feel guilt for something that brings you happiness. I have never thought of that term the same way. She was right, why should we feel guilty over the things that bring us happiness?

I also don’t like bashing particular YA books, not even Twilight. I understand that Twilight can be viewed as promoting unhealthy relationships, but I am not in the business of judging people’s tastes. There are definitely YA books that I don’t enjoy, but I will never judge a person by their tastes. Plus people really should think about the wide range of books that fall into the YA category, we have anything from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. How could someone consider a category with such a wide range of different styles of literature childish?

In my journey of trying to understand why people hate the YA genre so deeply I stumbled upon a deeply concerning article titled, Against YA by a Ruth Graham. Graham’s assertion is that you can read what you want but you should be embarrassed if you read something written for children. My first issue with this smear campaign is that there is a ton of “children’s” literature that is highly respectable and sophisticated. For example, The Hobbit was written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children as a fairytale, but this is on most “Top 100 Books To Read In A Lifetime” lists. Do you think scholars who adore The Hobbit are ashamed to read something written for Tolkien’s children? Probably not. My next issue with this article is the example Graham used as a representation for the entirety of the YA category. Graham picks The Fault In Our Stars, which to be honest I absolutely hated. But, I have the brain capacity to recognize that this book means something to people, and probably for a good reason. Also, the author has a weird bone to pick with the typically concrete endings in YA, Graham seems unhealthily obsessed with the idea that more YA needs to end in ambiguity, as if that is what makes great literature. I hate ambiguity in a novel and I always have, say what you mean or why freaking say it? I read my fair share of books in the literary “canon” and I can tell you that a lot of them are boring and outdated, not to mention don’t encompass a lot more than one major demographic. I hated reading Toni Morrison and Shakespeare, it is not the stuff for me. Nevertheless I got my English degree and read all the canonical shit OSU could throw at me. Graham doesn’t take into consideration haunting stories like The Book Thief, which was shelved as YA where I worked and quite frankly has been one of the most powerful books I have ever read.

I guess I am here to tell anyone who is similar to me that you should not be ashamed to read what you like. Older generations are constantly bitching that people don’t read enough anymore, so get out and read. But, most importantly, read what you like or you will grow to loathe reading.

I am curious to hear someone else’s take on this. Do you agree with me? Or do you think that YA is something that “real” adults need to move away from? I personally love this genre and I’d love to hear from both sides. Let me know in the comments.

July 2019 Recap

I was supposed to do this post yesterday but my son turned 5 months and we decided to take him to the beach for the first time, I mean look at that cute little face! Can you blame me for slacking off? Also he loves sand! Anyway, July was the first month where I was really productive. I did several reviews and if you missed them do not fret I will be covering them in this post!

To kick off my July posting I reviewed Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia. I was impressed by Garcia’s adaptation of the Raven character and I think we can all look forward to what is to come next. I gave this graphic novel a 4/5 stars. Be sure to check out the new Raven and her powerful adopted family.

Next I reviewed The Hunger by Alma Katsu. Possibly the most impressive book I read this month, it was haunting and beautiful in a way that can’t be explained, you just have to read it. I gave The Hunger a whopping 5/5 stars! Also look forward to another review of a book by Alma Katsu I will be doing titled The Deep!

Next up was the popular NetGalley title Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker. While I understood peoples draw to this book and its popularity it did not do it for me. I felt like a debut graphic novel for a series should have been more impressive. It was a lot of rinse and repeat. But never-the-less I gave Mooncakes 3/5 stars because the illustrations were beautiful and it attempted to do things I hadn’t seen done before.

After that we talked about Small Spaces by the popular fantasy writer Katherine Arden. This middle grade novel really impressed me, it was spooky and meaningful. Small Spaces squeezed 4/5 stars bordering closely on 5. I have actually requested the next title in the series titled Dead Voices, fingers crossed that I am approved to read that one!

Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle was up next. This love story had so many ups and downs I struggled to stop reading. With an ending that shook me to my core Kingdom Cold earned itself a 4/5 stars. This novel is sure to anger you and make you fall in love all at once, check this one out.

Last week I reviewed Crown Of Coral And Pearl by Mara Rutherford. You will absolutely regret it if you miss this one! Rutherford’s YA Fantasy is beautiful and entertaining beyond what I expected. Crown Of Coral And Pearl was the second book of July that earned itself a 5/5 stars. This book releases on August 27th, you must get your hands on it if you are a lover of YA.

Lastly we covered The Lure Of The Ring by Alan James Strachen and Janet Coster. An unusual pick on my part, this book explores addiction and unanswered question buried within Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings. While interesting it was a little wordy, if you are interested in a deeper understanding of Tolkien’s work it may be worth it to check this one out. This one earned a 3/5 stars.

A huge thank you to my followers for sticking with me and also joining me this month. Hopefully you are enjoying this as much as I am, and as always keep your eyes out for my next posts. I have some good stuff for the month of August!

What Makes Me Read A Book?

1. The number one aspect of a book that draws me in are developed and interesting characters. When I pick up a book and read the first few pages and the characters seem flat I will put it back down. I have a large interest in character arcs, I should be able to see how a character has changed from the beginning to end. I will almost always knock down a rating of a book by a star if it contains cardboard cutout characters. I hate that. It is completely within the realm of possibility to create depth in even minor characters. If characters fall flat it’s because there was a lack of care in their crafting.

2. I am a sucker for descriptive landscapes. That is probably why I like The Lord of The Rings so much. I want to be able to plant myself in the scene. It’s hard to do that if the setting is under developed. I want to feel the grass between my toes and hear the river gurgling in the distance. If I am planted in a field with no description than I am not truly seeing what the author was seeing, I am not where the characters are. When I write I typically go over a descriptive section at least ten times, adding and subtracting detail until you can see where my characters are and why it matters. I feel like setting has a purpose and can really add quality to literary works.

3. A good antagonist. Who doesn’t just love to hate a blood boiling antagonist. One of the bad guys that make you want to jump into the pages and just slap them into next week. A good antagonist matters because they have to be a match for the protagonist(s). If they are so-so and your protagonist is a total badass the balance will be off.

4. Finally, stakes. I have to feel like something is on the line. Whether it is tangible or not, there has to be something for each character to lose. I guess you could wrap this into character development, but for me stakes are one of those pieces that not every author nails and feel like a different entity. Stakes influence behavior and choices, they have to be high but not too high, and if stakes are low than why read it? I dont care if Joey may never get his red balloon back, but I do care whether Joey finds his long lost lover in the cave of doom. See what I mean?

What makes you read a book? Do you share a lot of the same criteria I do? Let me know in the comments.

Let Me Introduce Myself

Now that I have established a few posts on my blog I would like to take a minute to tell you who I am. I know that I have a bio page but this is my opportunity to really tell you what I’m about.

My name is Savannah, I grew up on the Siletz reservation in Oregon and I am an enrolled tribal member. I spent the last five years studying at Oregon State University and obtained my BA in English and Writing. My passion for reviewing actually began during my last term at OSU. I took a class by a professor named David Biespiel, he was a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a super cool guy. In that class we learned the ins and outs of reviewing. I think I can honestly say he was my favorite professor and he is the reason I decided to start trying to seriously review books.

I am also an aspiring writer. The genres I prefer to write in are horror, young adult, and fantasy. I try to predominantly review in those genres because I find them to be the most interesting and entertaining, but I have no issue branching out if something seems worthwhile. My all-time favorite book series is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien really inspired me to write, I love his lyrical descriptions and the depth he created in the Middle Earth world.

I get most of my reviewing content from NetGalley, I love NetGalley as a resource. If you’re a reviewer looking to get ARC’s and you don’t already know about NetGalley I strongly suggest you sign up on their website. You will be able to access a lot of awesome content for your site.

In my last year at OSU my boyfriend, Richard, and I welcomed a son into our life. His name is Finn after Finn the Human from Adventure Time. He is sooooooo cute and sweet, he’s actually cuddled up to me sleeping right now. I will probably talk about him from time to time because he’s cool as hell. Aside from our son, we have two fur babies named Stark and Daenerys, yes, like Game of Thrones. Another favorite of mine. I will probably talk about them too because they are funny and get up to a lot of shenanigans.

I do have hobbies other than reading and writing. I am an avid crocheter and I enjoy painting. I love being outside so I try and go camping every summer, and I go to the river a lot on my free time. There is honestly nothing more relaxing than a good book and the bubbling of the river in the background.

I hope that this post has been interesting and I look forward to interacting with you all. Thank you for giving me a follow and checking out my content.