Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jennavier Recommends: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

http://www.katherineaddison.com/index.htmlEvery time I try to recommend the Goblin Emperor to someone I come out sounding like a gibbering lunatic. I talk about it’s ‘sweetness’ and how it’s ‘tense without having much plot escalation’. The longer I go on the more people get the look in their eyes that says ‘crazy alert’.  Needless to say, that’s not how you get people to read an awesome book. So let's just start with the blurb, shall we?

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the na├»ve new emperor and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne—or his life.

The Goblin Emperor’s cover is drenched in author recommendations. It deserves every single one. It deals with difficult topics without being dragged down by them or making light of them. The character grows so well. Instead of making the hero “edgy” Addison takes the harder path- his flaws are ones that would prevent him from becoming the person he could be, not the things that cause him to hurt others. I loved this book, and I loved the hero Maia. Watching him stand up for himself and his people was a real pleasure. I loved how reading it made me feel good about the characters and the world I live in. After a little too much gritty storytelling The Goblin Emperor was a welcome relief.

I’ll be picking up a copy of this book as soon as I can find one and suggest you do the same. This is one book you don’t want to miss.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

YA Philosopher Thinks About Books

Sometimes it’s the really bad books that make us think. As I was writing a goodreads review it started to take on a life of it’s own. Not wanting to bore everyone there I thought I’d move it over here and bore you lovely people. Beware, long rambling post ahead!

I’m starting to see an interesting dialogue stream running through YA. A girl (or boy) discovers on their 16/17/18 birthdays that they are something unique. They are almost completely unprepared for this destiny but cannot avoid it. It typically catapults them into a cause they were unaware of previously and is vitally important to the future of humanity. Also they will cease to age, remaining forever young and at their prime.

Being really philosophical today I've been wondering about this. I'm not sure, but I don't remember this dialogue in YA when I read it a decade ago. What about this appeals so strongly to teens and to adults? Does it tap into Millennials fear that we are not as special as our parents told us that we would be? Having taken from ourselves the destiny of being part of the generational wheel (we typically spend our twenties focusing on our careers and other aspects of our lives) are we all seeking something that would give us the same sense of responsibility? In a special mission are we hoping for some way to avoid the mundane portions of life that all of us eventually fall into regardless of our choices and remain forever young, blazing and triumphant?

It doesn’t hurt that our culture has a fear of aging that has morphed into a billion dollar business. The adults that read it aren’t immune- they too wish for eternal youth, especially if eternal youth looked like Lupita Ny’onga! When runway models are all teens we fear that as soon as the hips spread and the first wrinkles show our beauty will behind us. As women we are often judged by our looks and those are the first things to fade.

It could also be that we're tapping into our own inherent belief that something is out there. We have these lives- the power of choice- and yet are unsure what to do with them. I think a part of us hopes that there really is something worth sacrificing it for. We all want a belief to dedicate ourselves to. Without clear directions we find a fantasy with a very specific set of stakes and the ultimate victory at the end. How can these written words not be appealing?

Honestly, I don’t know why we read what we do, or what makes a trend. But it’s interesting to think about it. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jennavier Recommends: The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist

I’m pretty sure you didn’t think you’d see a self help book on this blog! I didn’t either. But when a book is amazing what else can I do but recommend it to you?

Sometimes a book comes at exactly the right time. I found the Soul of Money as a footnote in Brene Brown’s excellent book The Gifts of Imperfection. Knowing my own struggles in my relationship with money it seemed like an excellent book to read. My problem was that I’m wary of self-help books. I’ve found that I’m easily swayed by a persuasive speaker, even when the message isn’t that great. Luckil this time I picked quality.


The Soul of Money talks about the thing we’re afraid to talk about- how and when money is an extension of ourselves. Twist challenges the prevailing wisdom of money and gently shows the reader that more isn’t always better. I especially love how she debunks the myth of scarcity by showing that there really is enough to go around. She challenges readers to approach the world with the mentality of sufficiency to guide them. Sufficiency means having enough for our needs and not constantly focused on having more. I loved the perspective of kindness I saw here. She has compassion for those who have nothing but also for those who have everything. She tells us the truth about how money can’t solve all our problems, but living true to our principles can.

Twist’s book is about money, but it can apply to so many other things as well. For me it targeted not just my fear that I would never have enough money, but gave me the ability to see how my fear of living without love is hobbling me. I didn’t feel bludgeoned by her message. The words were kind as well as profound. It left me not only seeing money in a different light but also with the hope that I can teach myself better habits.

If you’re curious about different ways of living, you should absolutely check out this book.