Friday, November 26, 2021

Books I'd Give My Characters: Black Friday Sale Edition

Hey'a, everyone! Hope y'all had an excellent Thanksgiving if you celebrated! Of course, it's now Black Friday and the start of the Christmas season — specifically, for purposes of this post, the start of the Christmas gift-shopping and gift-giving season. (Unless, of course, you're the type of person who does all your Christmas shopping way in advance.) Because of that, I thought it would be fun to think about what books I would gift to some of my characters . . . but with a twist: I'm specifically choosing books that are available in the Perry Kirkpatrick Black Friday book sale. This sale runs from Black Friday (today, November 25) through Cyber Monday and includes literal hundreds of clean and Christian indie reads from authors like Kendra E. Ardnek, Jaye L. Knight, H.S.J. Williams, and myself. There's free and $0.99 ebooks, plus some special deals on print and audiobooks. I strongly recommend checking it out; I always end up picking up some good deals for myself . . . and, of course, today, I'm also picking out some books for my own characters. Let's get back to that, shall we?

Books I'd Give My Characters: Black Friday Sale Edition

1. For Princess Grace Chambers (Mechanical Heart): the Elven Alliance books by Tara Grayce. As I've said before, Grace is one of the biggest readers out of any of my characters (at least in my published books) — she enjoys just about anything as long as it's well-written, it has good characters, and she can talk about it when she's done. So, while she'd be happy with pretty much all the books included in the sale, I'm giving her the Elven Alliance series by Tara Grayce. She'd see a lot of herself in Essie, the lead, and would certainly relate to many of the challenges the characters in the novel face. (After all, she's a princess — she's seen equivalents to some of them firsthand.) But, most importantly, Elven Alliance has a very enthusiastic (albeit small) fandom, which Grace would join with utmost pleasure.

2. For Roselle Dennel (Gilded in Ice): Moonscript by H.S.J. WilliamsAs those who've read Gilded may remember, Roselle loves stories of adventure, danger, magic, and mystery — preferably featuring adventurous-but-relatable leads, strange, faraway, and exotic locations, and plenty of character banter and relationships to get invested in. And if there's a little twist of romance or a dark-and-tortured hero (or dashingly dangerous rogue or swashbuckler), all the better. Moonscript does not check every box in that list . . . but it does check most of them. Roselle would happily spend quite some time exploring this world of elves and humans, and she'd absolutely fangirl over Errance (and Coren) as much as the rest of us do.

3. For Kona Dennel, by way of Roselle (Gilded in Ice): The Dark King's Curse by Wyn Estelle Owens. So, hear me out. Kona is not the type of person who really enjoys reading for the sake of reading. But she, like many people, enjoys being read to — and the only thing Roselle likes better than a good book is sharing that good book. So, The Dark King's Curse technically goes to both of them. Why this book? The storyworld has enough similarities to their own world that it would be almost like historical fiction for them — and both of them would enjoy the family elements of the story. Roselle would be all over Laisren and Siobhra (Laisren is the kind of dramatic she loves, and Siobhra is a cat and therefore wonderful), while Kona . . . Kona probably actually likes Fionn best, with Fiachra a close second. Their enjoyment of the story is not hindered by Bastian wandering in and out of the room, adding commentary, and making offhand predictions (though he's secretly enjoying the book as well).

4. For Zhu Baili (Blood in the Snow): The Worth of a King by Kendra E. Ardnek. Baili's a hard character to pick for; like Kona, she's less inclined to read for pleasure or for the sake of reading — her preferred way to experience a story is in the form of a play. But I think she'd like The Worth of a King. She'd probably relate well to Obsidia and Delaney (and, to a lesser extend, Adrian) and Obsidia's plight, and she'd enjoy the romantic elements of the story. I can even see her reading it together with Xiang as they curl up together for a precious bit of alone time or sharing it with her friends. (Gan enjoys the dramatic flair of the Zovordians; Chouko makes snarky comments every few pages but is secretly just as invested in Obsidia and Adrian's problems as Baili is.)

5. For Azuma (Blood in the Snow): Wrought of Silver and Ravens by E.J. Kitchens. Canonically speaking, Azuma is a poetry-lover first and foremost. But he also enjoys novels on occasion, with a preference for the complex or epic tales. So, I'm giving him Wrought of Silver and Ravens, a high fantasy take on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." He'd probably see himself in Athdar and his situation (and Athdar's relationship with Thea), he'd like Galen as much as I do, and he'd appreciate the twists and turns of the plot quite a lot.

Have you checked out the Black Friday sale yet? Which books in it are you eyeing up, either for yourself or (in this hypothetical scenario) your own characters? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Thoughts on Curse of the Midnight King

Good morning, everyone! We are almost two weeks into November and NaNoWriMo, and I'm . . . well, behind, even considering that I'm aiming lower than 50K. But it's fine. I still have over two weeks left to fix that. Anyway, today, I'm breaking my hiatus to share about Yakira Goldsberry's Curse of the Midnight King, a dark fairy tale retelling that crosses the Twelve Dancing Princesses with Cinderella. There are preorder goodies and a few days left to claim them, for the record. You know, if you're interested.


Thoughts on Curse of the Midnight King

  1. Cinderella and the Twelve Dancing Princesses is a brilliant combination of fairy tales. I've never seen it before that I recall (except maybe in one of the stories that mash together all the fairy tales), and I honestly wish I'd thought of it first! Not that I would've had time to write it . . . Anyway. The two fairy tales fit together wonderfully, especially with a dash of Hades and Persephone vibes for extra flavor. The element of Faye rushing fron the above-ground ball to the below-ground one, desperately trying to keep from dragging one into the other, is just excellent.
  2. Pathos and the underword are very dark. Which, in general, is what I want it to be — the underworld in most Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings should be dark and beautiful and terrible and filled with gilded danger. This one is much more overt in how dangerous and terrible it is (as opposed to the dancing pavilion in, say, Entwined), but that makes sense since we're coming into it long after the glamour and wonder has worn off for our protagonists. Also, the element of transformation each time Faye enters Pathos's realm? Loved it.
  3. Pathos is a highly stabbable villain. He's just the worst, ok? I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be a bit sympathetic to him because he claims to care for Faye? And maybe he does a little? But it's nothing like real love, and I spent most of the book hoping Faye or someone would just stab him. On a related note, though, I do love the note of Faye being dressed in gold every time she comes  to the underworld. Like, I'm pretty sure Pathos controls that. He decides who's dressed in what color. Which means that he subconsciously recognizes that Faye is a danger to him, that she'll be his undoing. Oh storms he's literally flirting with death. I just realized that in writing this post. Dramatic, stabbable idiot. (He's not an idiot. He's actually reasonably clever, more so than I realized. But in this case . . . he kinda is an idiot.)
  4. It's simultaneously a sister-focused story and not. I recognize that sounds weird. Faye's main motivations throughout this story are her sisters and her need to save them and atone for what she feels she's gotten them into. Which is great! But she's also forbidden from speaking to them or really interacting much with them, so both the deeper sisterly relationships and the characterization of her sisters is a bit . . . lacking . . . for my tastes.
  5. I hate to say it, but I really didn't click with Faye. Not in the sense that I didn't care about what happened to her, but I didn't connect with her in the way I wanted to. She spends most of the book in such a dark headspace — for good reason! Given all she goes through, it would've been strange if her thoughts weren't shadowed. And I know there are people who will connect with her, who will see some of their own struggles in her. I'm just not one of those people.

What do you think of Curse of the Midnight King? What's your favorite take on Cinderella or the Twelve Dancing Princesses? Alternately, what's a fairy tale combination that you love and wish you'd thought of first? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!