The Power and Importance of Compassion in Literature

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I’ve been thinking about compassion lately. It’s impossible not to, with everything that’s going on in our world. Terrorist attacks, increased racial tensions, insensitivity toward other minority groups, and the most vitriolic U.S. presidential election I can remember (notice the timing of this post, fellow Americans?)… From a social perspective, 2016 has been a bleak year, and I’m deeply worried about where we as a society are heading.

But let’s not discuss politics. Instead, let’s focus on a topic that I think many of us will agree on: the power of compassion in literature. By compassion, I mean moments when characters show kindness, mercy, and similar qualities. These actions can draw us closer to those characters, move us to tears, and make those stories all the more memorable. And during these turbulent times in our world, finding – and writing – stories that demonstrate compassion may be more important than ever.

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Recent Reads: May 2016

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Recent Reads is a monthly reading wrap-up, with mini-reviews of all the books I finished in the past month. I’ll also share what I’m currently reading and any other books that are in the pipeline. Want to share your bookish happenings, too? Feel free to do so in the Comments section at the end!

You know what I realized while finishing this post? Next month is July, when writers and bloggers celebrate the year’s halfway point by looking past on their 2016 reads and achievements so far. I’m not ready for that yet! :S

Mind-boggles aside, I managed to read five books during May. Out of those five, I’m reviewing four, including two brand-new YA fantasies, an eerie children’s classic about the Fey / Fair Folk, and a novella collection set in one of the most popular fantasy worlds at the moment. Which one was my Read of the Month? Let’s find out!

By the way, I’m still taking votes and suggestions for next month’s blogoversary! Click here to check out the poll and share your feedback before Thursday, June 16th.
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5 on the 5th: Five Reasons Why I’m Excited for Season 6 of “Game of Thrones”

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On the fifth day of each month, 5 on the 5th shares five of something that I like or recommend to readers. Whether it’s five items that share a common theme, or five reasons why I like the topic at hand, this monthly meme gives us an opportunity to talk about other subjects that aren’t normally discussed here at the blog. 

AHHHHH! 19 more days until Game of Thrones is back! Is anyone else counting down, too? 😀

I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books for a while, so it’s been incredible watching his “shades of gray” characters and the gritty, chaotic world they live in come to life on TV. And while Game of Thrones has deviated from its source material at times, it has still been a faithful adaptation in spirit. But this season, we’ve reached the point where the show will pass the material that GRRM has written so far. In other words, everyone – including those of us who have read the books – is in for 10 Sunday nights worth of shocking twists.

So, what am I looking forward to most for Season 6 of GoT? It was tough to narrow it down to only a few things – because there’s a TON I’m excited about. So, if there’s a storyline you want to talk about that’s not discussed in this post, feel free to do so in your comments. Otherwise, let’s catch up with the first official trailer for Season 6 after the jump.

WARNING: This post contains spoilers from both the Game of Thrones TV show and George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books. Also, some of the videos and links provided below may not be suitable for young readers.

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My Eleven Favorite Literary Heroes

After compiling a list of my favorite literary heroines back in March, it’s only fair to devote a post to their male counterparts. Except that, well, I forgot about it for a while, until Sarah J. Higbee recently shared her own list. Thank you for the reminder, Sarah!

Featuring the same number of heroes here as I did with heroines proved tough. It’s not that I don’t like or admire male protagonists. I just happen to be drawn more to stories with female leads. But once I took a close look at my bookshelves, the eleven male characters I eventually picked started jumping out at me. (Not literally, but you know what I mean.) And I’ll admit, some of them won’t surprise you at all. 😉

Here they are, in alphabetical order: Continue reading

My Nominations for The Writing Hufflepuff’s 2015 Book Awards

 

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Fellow writer and blogger Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff is holding a special Book Awards contest. I don’t know if this is something she does annually or if it’s brand new, but I thought I’d join in and share my picks for as many categories as possible.

Normally I’d share the rules and encourage other bloggers to participate. But considering tomorrow (Sunday, March 29th, 2015) is the deadline for nominations and I’m squeaking these in at the last minute…. Oops? *blushes*

Anyways, here are my nominations for The Writing Hufflepuff’s 2015 Book Awards:

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Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 10: New March Releases + Reading Plan for 2015

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Stacking The Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that shares the books (both physical and virtual) that you recently purchased, borrowed from a fellow reader or the library, won from a giveaway, or received as gifts. Stacking The Shelves will post on Saturdays as new books are added to my shelves.

This is getting a little embarrassing. I’ve seen other bloggers post their Stacking The Shelves hauls more frequently than I post mine, but since I don’t seem to read as quickly as other people do, I feel like I shouldn’t buy more books for a while. But I went ahead and bought two more. *blushes*

Anyways, these novels might look familiar, since they were both featured in past Waiting on Wednesday posts. I’ve also decided to share my “reading plan” for the rest of 2015, so you can get an idea of what to expect review-wise in the coming months. But first, the new books!

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My 10 Favorite Reads of 2014

It’s here finally: the list of my 10 favorite books I read in 2014! I held off on posting this as long as I could, thanks to a last-minute contender I flew through just before year’s end. Now I feel confident about which books made the final cut – and to be honest, my pick for #1 was a super-easy choice. 😉

With one exception, each entry contains a link to my full review and an excerpt from said review that best explains why I enjoyed the book. I was going to write a new paragraph for each entry, but then I realized I didn’t have anything new to add apart from what I had already said before. So, why repeat myself?

One important note: This list contains books I read this year, regardless of the year they were originally published. I didn’t read enough novels that were published this year to create a Top 10 solely of 2014 releases.

So, here they are, starting with…  Continue reading

Music Mondays: The Mariana Hollow – “The Unburned”

If you’ve followed my music tastes over the past couple years, The Mariana Hollow may already be a familiar name to you. This alternative metal quintet from London, United Kingdom was hands down my favorite discovery during my tenure at Sonic Cathedral. Muscular rhythms, oceanic guitarscapes, evocative lyrics, and a gritty yet impassioned female voice – this unique amalgam has always made TMH a stand-out act.

Recently the band released two videos for “The Unburned”: one featuring the band, and the lyric video highlighted below. Maybe I’m biased, but how cool is the lyric video?! The archaic animations look like they came straight out of the medieval / Westeros era and make countless references to George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Fire And Ice saga. “The Unburned” itself was inspired by the character Danaerys Targaryen. Musically, this song is like one of Dany’s dragons prowling the desert before taking flight. It builds slowly, shouldering the gravity of its riffs and a thick sultriness, as Rebecca Spinks sings with a storyteller’s passion. It’s a truly unique song from TMH’s repertoire – and if you like this track, I highly recommend you check out other songs by this band!

“The Unburned” is taken from The Mariana Hollow’s 2013 EP Scars, Not Wounds. You can read my review of the EP at Sonic Cathedral here.

 

Chronicling The Craft: 70,000 Words

Don’t Make Your Female Character (Too) Strong – Make Her Believable

Chapters Completed: 18

Chapters In Progress: 4

Chapters Not Started: 12

“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with writing my current work-in-progress (WIP), which is a fantasy novel. Every 5,000 words, I let readers know what I’ve accomplished since the previous article and share advice, discoveries, techniques, etc. Besides the word count in each article title, a “chapter ticker” at the top also tracks my progress as I use the skip-around / “writercopter” method to write the novel. Today’s installment celebrates the book reaching 70,000 words in length.

Wow. Has it really been less than one month since the novel passed 65,000 words? It feels like it’s too soon to write this article for 70,000, especially with the non-writing commitments I’ve had the past few weeks. (Then again, when are summers not a busy time of year?) I even combed through the current draft chapter by chapter with the word counter after finishing Saturday’s session, just to make sure the math wasn’t off somewhere on my Excel tracking sheet. It wasn’t. So I sit here now, convinced I’m wearing bemusement on my face because that’s 1000% (yes, one-thousand percent) how I feel: baffled yet flutteringly happy.

Here’s what I’ve worked on since the previous Chronicle:  Continue reading