Since I make a hobby out of imaginary people and places, it feels completely normal to introduce my blog to my imaginary readers. My blog should be book reviews, writing tips I find shareable, and updates on my own progress as a writer. But one of the reasons I love writing is to get thoughts out of my head. There’s a lot swimming around in there and some of it goes into my stories, some goes into my journals, and some is going to end up here. From Godzilla to Shakespeare, Vivaldi to VNV Nation, there may be any variety of non-book related topics sprinkled in now and again. I hope you enjoy. Read More
by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Magical Realism – Middle-Grade
Mila lives in the dark cold, woods with her brother and two sisters in a small cabin. Their mother is dead, and their father left them for unknown reasons five years ago. Since then, the forest has become perpetual winter, and memories of Springtime and happiness are fading. One evening a stranger and his fellow travelers come to their home asking for food and shelter, but the next day when they are gone, Mila’s brother is missing. The sisters debate whether he left them to join the traveling men or was he taken against his will. Mila insists on going after their brother and so begins a daring adventure north through fierce winter landscapes mixed with magic and folklore that she and her sisters are afraid may actually be true.
Why I Picked This Book:
I love Middle-Grade books, and I was looking for something with a simple feel to it. I didn’t want a modern story and, (being on winter break), I was hoping for somethings snowy and cozy. It seemed to have the perfect amount of magic laced through it without being doused in magic and fantasy, and oh yeah – the book jacket mentioned sled dogs.
What Was Disappointing:
I read it too fast. I wanted a book to last me through the winter break, but I finished this in about two days.
Why I Kept Reading:
I read it so fast because the author took me away from reality. The characters were so well-rounded I easily felt apart of their family. The simplicity of their home and family life was akin to that of Laura Ingalls, albeit without all the details. Although there was a bit of predictability, being a middle-grade novel, it was the perfect amount. The story unfolded not in a way that makes a reader disappointed because they knew the writer’s secrets, but in a way we all say in life “I knew it!” when we really didn’t, but suspected to arrive at a certain point or outcome. The longing for that affirmation and for the reveal of what we didn’t know, kept me going on almost as fast as Mila’s sled dogs flew across the frozen north.
I will read this book again. I know I will. There are stories inside of stories with this book. Although the author could make this into a series of spin-off books and tales it doesn’t need to. It stands alone and stands strong. Much like its characters. The bond between sisters and the strength of their spirit is so beautiful and well done. The author very simply has females in most of the roles and if I weren’t telling you this now you may not have even noticed. There is no talk about being tom-girls, no talk about expectations for women, and the author also doesn’t shy away from letting the girls swoon over men. They are just unapologetically who they are, and they happen to be girls. I also love how there is no really clear “hero” in this story. Pieces of the puzzle unfold so naturally and those who need to be there to play their parts arrive to be in place so naturally it felt more like a true story than one about cursed forests and magical islands in the icy seas of the north.
It’s been a long time since someone created a new fairy tale that had all the elements of actual folklore. No pretty princesses or beautiful castles, or handsome heroes. This is a simple tale and is told in a minimalist way without a ton of flare and fantasy that is saturating novels these days. This book has plenty of myth, gore, truth, and good old fashioned storytelling that will have a reader of any age turning the pages while pulling up their blankets around them to keep out the haunting winter that seeps out of its very pages.
I have to wonder if Dusha and Dayna would have liked Flora the pig.
Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. Even though any successes I have had are NOT related to writing, I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! I am pushing through the extreme lack of successes and taking part. Not just for myself, but for any other disheartened writers that may stumble upon my blog- I’ve a crappy list but I’m still sharing it. Here is my list for 2020. Read More
21 days left in 2020. Everyone talks about New Year resolutions, but what about end of year resolutions. And what about all those other sentiments such as “its not the destination but the journey” or “its not how you avoid conflict, it’s how you face it.” Well, 2020 is just about finished- how will it end for you? Will you start to make changes now or wait for something else to change you? Read More
Trying my darnedest to be happy this Thanksgiving.
How does that work? How can we when the year has been so difficult? So trying, so scary, and for many, it’s been so sad, how can we stay happy? What do we cling to, and more importantly, why? Is it survival? Are we merely surviving, and happiness is an essential substance we require to properly exist? And what of those who are unable to scout out or gather any happiness for themselves? How can we help, and what does that helplessness do to all of us?Read More