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Later Gator

later gator poem

You glide by casually
down the ‘Glades while
our noisy asses throw waves
and ripples in your territory
but still you pay us no mind.
And why would you? We’re chumps
in comparison to your prehistoric
perfected design. Blending with
brackish waters, barely un ojito
to be seen, a trail of bubbles
telling us you just passed and
let us go. We’ll see one of your
brothers later I’m sure. For now
you keep gliding the ‘Glades
never minding our waves.

Originally posted here.

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Meagan Reads YA Fantasy: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

My last read of 2018 and first review of 2019. This is the third and final installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices series, another story set in the Shadowhunter world. I want to start by saying that Clare is one of my favorite authors. I adore her Shadowhunter world. It wasn’t until just a couple of months ago that I realized that what’s called urban fantasy was my all time favorite genre.

For those who plan on reading the books and haven’t gotten this far, beware! Spoilers for book two, Lord of Shadows, ahead.

qoaad_blogIn Queen of Air and Darkness, the Blackthorns, Emma, and Shadowhunter community as a whole are reeling from the events at the end of the last book, in which Livvy Blackthorn is killed, as well as the Inquisitor Robert Lightwood, Alec’s father (he’s a major character in The Mortal Instruments series, FYI). With the grief of losing his baby sister and the impending doom that is set to happen to him and his parabatai because they’ve fallen in love, it’s too much for Julian to handle. He decides to have his emotions magically muted, which leads him to become a different person that makes cold, calculating decisions, but not in the name of family and love, instead for the sake of militaristic strategy.

Battles in fairy lead to Emma and Julian traveling through a portal to another dimension called Thule, where the Dark War from the Mortal Instruments series went terribly wrong and Sebastian lived and ruled the land. Suffice it to say, this is not the kind of book you can read casually and pick up as a stand alone. You absolutely have to read at least the two previous books, and the other Shadowhunter series’ books. While it gives just enough detail to fill in those gaps to anyone who might be new to the world, it’s definitely written for die hard fans of Clare’s world.

Taking this book into consideration with the rest of the series, I have to say it wasn’t my favorite. It started off really strong and I was hooked and tormented all the way through the adventures in Thule. The events that unfold after that didn’t quite keep my attention in the same way. It’s not to say that I didn’t like how the story unraveled, but I definitely felt much of it could have been condensed.

There were a lot of moments that were meant to be character development, which is absolutely crucial to any story, but when it comes to the stories that Clare writes, that development must also carry the story forward. I didn’t feel like every detail written for the sake of developing characters did that. As a fan of the people and the world, I loved reading these details into each individual’s personality and thoughts, but as a reader of a novel as a whole, I thought many scenes bogged down the story that wanted to keep going. There was a lot that could have been saved as more “behind the scenes” tidbits, which is something the author likes to post on her social media. In short, it felt like much of the content in Queen of Air and Darkness was dedicated too much to fanservice, which hurt the overall story.

That said, I want to reiterate that I loved learning more about the characters. Specifically, I adored seeing the development of certain relationships between different character sets. Clare has a true talent for putting into words the complexity of human emotions and how those are influenced by and affect the ties that bind. The relationship that broke my heart the most was between Ty and Kit.

After the death of his twin Livvy, Ty leans on Kit for support in his insane endeavors to bring her back from the dead. Kit knows it’s a bad idea, but wants so desperately to please and help Ty because of the love that’s grown that he goes along with the bad idea. The way things end between them left me wanting to cry, but I’m hoping that that particular dynamic has more to come, and it seems like there’s room for growth with the way Clare wrote their ending.

I’m looking forward to reading about Kit’s story in future books and seeing how his story fits in with the rest of the Shadowhunter world. Have any of you read the books in this world and/or series? What are your thoughts on the Shadowhunters? Let me know in the comments!

Wanderlust: Ireland (Blarney Castle)

The next stop from my trip to Ireland over a year ago was the famous Blarney Castle. No one warned me that kissing the Blarney Stone required some gymnastics. I wasn’t expecting to be held as I bent backwards into a space between walls with no net to catch me if I slipped through. So here’s a fair warning for fellow travelers who might have a bit of a fear of falling from high places.

 

195I’m also bad at climbing steep, narrow stairs of old, which are prevalent in Europe I’m finding. It takes a bit of leg muscle to make the trek up the stairs, but it’s well worth it, if nothing else than just to say you climbed up to the top of a castle. But I thought the views were pretty stellar from so high up.

I felt a great deal of fear, especially since the steps were so slippery with rain and moss. All that kept passing through my mind were images of falling to my death, thinking, This is where they’ll find my body. In an old castle, in Ireland. There were moments I thought of giving up and turning around, but I hadn’t made it that far just to give up before kissing the damn stone.

Besides that, there’s something about fighting against your own pounding heart and gasping breaths in damp, cold stone walls that makes you feel like a heroine out of a novel.

It wasn’t just the castle though that was beautiful. The surrounding grounds with gardens filled with deadly plants made for quite the sight as well. It felt like walking through magic. 225

With nothing but green and brown as far as the eye could see any which way I turned, I half expected fairies to come greet me at any moment, and wisk me away to a revel I’d never return from.

Or perhaps I just felt the call of the Emerald Isles inviting me to stay a bit longer. I admit, the thought had crossed my mind several times throughout this journey.

See more of my Ireland 2017 travels here:

Part 1. Part 2

Stay tuned for the remaining segments from this trip. Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited Blarney Castle or other Irish stops. What did you think?

Goodreads Reading Goals: Yay or Nay?

reading goals GRFor the past two years I’ve used the Goodreads reading goal tool to track how many books I get through in the year. Maybe it’s because I also worked full time while doing grad school part time, but I felt so much stress to make sure those numbers were met. I think though it has a great deal to do with our society’s evolved mentality of, “If it isn’t recorded, did it really happen?”

There are some books I read that aren’t recorded in the Goodreads reading challenge because they’re not available on the site/app. Still, knowing this, I can’t help but feel stressed that my numbers aren’t more, because I know they should be. This manic need to prove to strangers that I’m reaching my goals takes the enjoyment out of reading.

I find myself trying to fly through books so that I can catch up and make my numbers. I know it sounds crazy, but there’s this peculiar desire to prove to the internet what a good reader I am. Especially since I feel like I used to read a lot more as a kid. Of course, when I was a kid, I had way less responsibilities and more time to read. Then again, did I really read more, or did I just not pay as much attention because I wasn’t recording it somewhere for everyone to see?

I think for 2019 I’m going to refrain from the Goodreads reading challenge. I’ll still keep track in my pretty bullet journal, because that feels more fun. Also, it’s just for me, so no one else needs to see it unless I want them to. This way I can still have some kind of goals and hold myself accountable for the books I do and don’t read. But I don’t want the stress of proving my reader status to the world with online goals.

gr_reading

So, who else out there is planning on dropping the Goodreads reading challenge next year? Who’s planning on starting it? Do you have any other ways you keep track of your reading? Let me know in the comments!

Where It All Began

where it all began

The road so far
is the same that leads
us back. Back to where you
and I come from, where
your ancestors dwelled.
It’s quiet here
and the people don’t care
that we’re here. They figure
we’re just more tourists
come to see the oddity
that is small town life where
everyone knows each other.
The currency flows back
and forth as everyone buys
local and those shopkeepers
live there, buying from one
another. No such thing as credit
here. We sit in peace after our meal
feeling at home. We have to leave
too soon.

Originally posted here.

Maddison Stoff: Android Court Transcription — BURNING HOUSE PRESS

What an absolutely incredible piece of fiction! Click the link below to read the full story.

Official – Subject To Final Review P R O C E E D I N G S (9 :45 a.m.) CHIEF JUSTICE GIBSON: We’ll hear argument f this morning in Case 84-2532, Android Rights Coalition verses The People’s Republic of America. TX-38 ORAL ARGUMENT OF TX-38

via Maddison Stoff: Android Court Transcription — BURNING HOUSE PRESS

Meagan Reads Fiction: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The Book of Speculation tells a story across generations of Simon, the protagonist’s, family. His is a family of circus performers, but more than that, one of “dangerous” women who suffer from undiagnosed mental illness.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

When a man named Churchwarry, a book collector, sends Simon a mysterious book that is somehow connected to his family, Simon finds himself obsessed with the discovery that all the women in his family have drowned on the same day. Truly, a mystery as all these women were “mermaids.” They were carnival performers who swam in tanks on display because they could hold their breath for an inordinate amount of time, a talent Simon and his sister have inherited.

When his sister Enola, who works the circuit as a Tarot card reader, comes home frazzled and displaying acute anxiety, and the date of July 24th approaches, Simon becomes desperate to break the curse that already took his mother, and in turn, his father.

The entire time I read this book, I couldn’t help but think of the movie Big Fish. Perhaps it was the cast of circus characters that I found a connection to, but I think it was more than that. It was how much like the protagonist’s son in that movie, Simon tried to stay removed from his family’s history but found himself nearly drowned in it until he stopped resisting.

There’s also the element of magical realism that felt like the two stories were connected. In fact, if this book were ever made into a movie or Netflix series, I could see it having much the same directorial qualities as Big Fish. As the story delves back and forth between past and present, slowly unraveling the twisted web created by generations of lies and secrets, I found myself enthralled and engaged in the mystery of this family, spanning across Vissers, Rhyzkovas, Peabodys, and more.

I think what also struck me, especially toward the end, is how artifacts and history can have such a strong pull that even generations and various degrees of separation later, certain bloodlines and people can still find their way back to each other. It left me wondering if the curse and magic were real, or if it was all just a matter of chance and coincidence. Although the book falls pretty firmly on the magic side of this thought, it still leaves it just vague enough to let the readers decide for themselves.

Who else has read this book? What are your thoughts and feelings on this story? Let me know in the comments!

Fishing for Magic —

What an exquisite piece. Click the link below to read.

By Lorraine Caputo Up & down the river boardwalk along this swollen river people dip lines into the quick current A man fights to bring his back in, long, expensive rod bending — only to emerge debris A large raft of waterlilies swiftly drifts downstream & that woman, thick-armed, thick-bellied, thick feet shod in flip-flops, […]

via Fishing for Magic —

Wanderlust: Ireland (Glendalough)

This is part 2 of a mini series I’m writing for my trip to Ireland in March 2017. See the first post here.

Day trip to Glendalough

One of the three days spent in Dublin consisted of a day trip to Glendalough, famous for being featured in P.S., I Love You (which yes, we did watch on the bus ride over; delighful movie). It was just such a beautiful, scenic drive through Ireland’s countryside. The views were postcard picture perfect, with drying greens and soft browns surrounding us and calm, black waters in the distance. The cool grey sky added to the cozy atmosphere of a day of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. As we drove into the area, we saw sheep scattered all over the land, their wool (is it wool when it’s still on the sheep and not spun into fabric?) dyed so that farmers knew which were which.

 

108The walk along the path was peaceful and quiet save for our group’s chatter. Nothing spectacular or extraordinary happened that day, except for walking through Ireland’s natural wonders with a bunch of strangers, and I found something beautiful in that simplicity.

We walked for what felt like miles to finish at the lake’s restaurant, where we encountered a pretty bridge over the water. Like I said, postcard picture perfect. 93

A day is not enough to take in the wonderful feeling of walking the trails of another land. I wish I’d been able to stay just a little longer, to sit at the lake’s edge for an hour or two, breathing in the crisp air with pen and paper in hand as I valiantly struggled to put into words what was right before my eyes. It’s just a lake after all. The land of two lakes in fact. So why is it that I just felt so struck by the calm waters and quiet surrounding trees and brush? Why did I bask in this experience with strangers I’d just met the day before but already felt like we were sharing a moment of creation? I think this is really what I love about traveling. It’s sharing in the mundane with new people and the ordinary becoming incredible.

Stay tuned for part 3/? of the Wanderlust Ireland series. In the meantime, check out more travel posts here. And if you’ve ever been to Ireland, let me know in the comments what you thought. What was your impression of the country?