Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 Books in Review

Wow, what a year! Working a full-time job absolutely destroyed my reading goals. While I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked, I did find a newfound enjoyment for audiobooks during my long commute. Hoopla has so many great options!

Also, this year saw inflation in the prices of books. Now is the time to buy hardcovers that are already printed. They might just be cheaper than the paperback editions coming out next year.



Goal Type: 700+ pages

Do I look like I have the time to read a 700-page novel when most of the books I’ve read this year have been graphic novels? Hahahaha! Nope. Does finishing The Count of Monte Cristo this year count? I know I listed it as last year’s book, but technically I finished it this January, so I’m counting it.


Goal Type: Published in 2023 (aka the Year of Sanderson)

If you think the names of the secret projects should be kept secret, feel free to skip this section. I’ve been working my way through all of Sanderson’s secret projects, so it’s difficult to say one is better than another. I finished The Lost Metal this winter. Though it wasn’t my favorite Mistborn book, it was a fitting end to Era 2.

I started on the secret projects shorty after they released. Tress of the Emerald Sea was the only one I’ve read in printed form. Having Hoid as the narrator was hilarious, but what I really enjoyed were the characters.

Then I started listening to The Frugal Wizard’s Guide to Surviving Medieval England on audiobook. I must say, I like the narrators! Five stars. Would listen to again, though I’m still disappointed I can’t have a dimension full of talking bananas. Sigh… While not everybody may agree with me about the book’s merit, it was what I needed at the time I read it. I had a good laugh!

Then I read Yumi and the Nightmare Painter. This. Book. Seriously, this story was the one I needed while I was reading it. I was getting really discouraged from one of the writers at my writing group who kept suggesting AI could replace writers. But one of the main themes of Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is that art is about intent, human intent and expression. And I just— asdfghjkkl! Thank you, Sanderson. I needed to hear that.

Finally, during Christmas break, my sister and I listened to The Sunlit Man, which was a roller-coaster of a book from start to finish. Seriously, the plot did not let up and the entire story took place over the course of two days. I needed a breather after that.

No, I never did mention which of these books was the best. I liked them all for different reasons.


Goal Type: Recommended by a Friend

Throughout the year, I started but didn’t finish three recommendations. Welp, I tried.


Goal Type: Classics

Watch me count The Count of Monte Cristo twice! Started in 2022, finished in 2023. Such a complex, dynamic story! Every chapter was necessary to the plot, and I’d like to see this one adapted into a series rather than a movie.

My sister got me into the Epic: The Musical by Jorge Rivera-Herrans, so I had to went on an Odyssey spree. This one took me the longest simply because the introduction was so long, and I kind of forgot to read it because it opens with Telemachus instead of Odysseus. I’m still working my way through it…


Goal: Historical Fiction

Guys! I found another historical fiction writer! Meet June Hur. I’ve been working my way through ALL of her books since I read and devoured her latest release The Red Palace. Relatable, well-developed characters? Check. Page-turning suspense? Check. A setting that isn’t worn out and overdone? Check. A murder mystery set in Korea based on the story of an actual person? Check.

I later went on to read The Forest of Stolen Girls, and while I didn’t enjoy it as much, I did appreciate the sister dynamic and the lack of romance. Not every story needs it!

As for middle grade books, I officially read The Witch of Blackbird Pond three times this year alone. Once before class, and once with two different classes. As far as historical merit and good writing goes, this one takes the cake! There are still plenty of other books I have read with my classes, but this one has been the one I enjoyed most this year. I particularly like how it addresses confronting stereotypes and the ways politics and religion can shape the way a person behaves.

Then I also started rereading one of my all-time favorite series: Anne of Green Gables.


Goal Type: English Translations

Journey to the West: The Monkey King’s Amazing Adventures retold by Timothy Richard—translated from Chinese. The writing style was rather bland, but as a student of literature, I found the book to be fascinating.

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino—translated from Japanese by Bruno Navasky. Absolutely delightful. Philosophical, entertaining, and introspective. We’re going to get a Studio Ghibli film based on this book, which I look forward to!


Goal Type: Poetry

I haven’t read as much poetry as I would have liked to, but that’s okay. The Select Poems of Tu Fu helped me better understand classical poetic tradition as well as a small portion of the history of China. It’s amazing how many of the poems are relatable and how the imagery is so vivid.

I’m also slowly working my way through The Odyssey, which is written in verse. I don’t care for the translations that turn it into prose. Give me the originals, or as close to it as you can get with a translation.


Goal Type: Indie Published

Blade of Ash by C.F.E. Black—an enjoyable story, although I don’t remember much of it. The characters were well-developed, but I wish there could have been more development of the plot and the world.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree—absolutely delightful! I described this to my sister as a post-D&D story, and she devoured it as soon as I finished. A former adventuring orc goes on a quest to open a coffee shop. People come together. New recipes are discovered. A slice of life in a fantasy setting, and I enjoyed every bit of it! Now I want to go work in a coffee shop…


Goal Type: Books with Movie Adaptations

Nimona by N.D. Stevenson—I reread this one twice this year, once before the movie came out and again afterward to do some more thorough comparison. The movie was a completely different story, and even some of the characters were different. I still enjoy the book more, but the movie has elements that I enjoyed that you don’t get in the book, like more of Nimona’s motivation and backstory.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov—This one is often recommended as a sci-fi read, and some of the concepts went over my . Overall, it was fascinating even if none of the characters were particularly likeable. I have yet to watch the adaptation.


Goal Type: Alphabet Challenge with a Friend

Did not happen. Whoops.


8/10 Book Types


Other Notable Books

The Castle School for Troubled Girls by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7) by Martha Wells

Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji


Other Bookish News…

As I’m approaching the next stages in writing, I’m going to start looking for critique partners and beta readers, so stay tuned if you’re looking for a sneak peak at some sci-fi or fantasy!

Happy reading!


Let’s chat! Do we have any reads in common? Did you read any of Sanderson’s secret projects? Have you read many of the books that served as the basis for Studio Ghibli movies?

Similar posts: 2023 Reading Resolutions, 8 Books I Bought Because of the Cover, and 7 More of my Go-To Authors

Sunday, January 15, 2023

2023 Reading Resolutions

Last year, I jokingly told one of my friends about my reading ambitions: “I like to start off the year with a bunch of reading goals. Then I’ll spend the rest of the year avoiding those goals.”

While not entirely true, sometimes it feels like that. Each year, I like to challenge myself, but I also like my goals achievable. This year, I’m changing it up a bit. Instead of a certain number of books types, I’m just doing book types. We shall see how many of each I’ll read.


Goal Type: 700+ pages

One year, I said I’d read a book 1,000 or more pages, and only made it to 700 pages. Every year since then, I set my goal to 700 and I’ve made it past 1,000. I make no sense.

On my list:

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree (still) by Samantha Shannon


Goal Type: Published in 2023

New releases! Aside from Brandon Sanderson’s secret projects, I’m not really sure what’s coming out this year…

On my list:

  • The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
  • The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller
  • Secret Project #1 by Brandon Sanderson


Goal Type: Recommended by a Friend

A lot of times, I seek out the same types of stories, and sometimes they can get tedious. I don’t want to get stuck in a reading rut. At the end of last year, I asked some of my friends for their recommendations, and here are a couple I got!

On my list:

  • Emma by Jane Austen, recommended by Sarah
  • A Coal Miner’s Bride by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, recommended by Karina
  • Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto, recommended by Faith


Goal Type: Classics

I enjoyed so many last year without even meaning to! Now that I’m not in school don’t have to read them, reading classics is more enjoyable.

On my list:

  • Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne


Goal: Historical Fiction

Especially middle grade novels. I want to discover more gems to share with my students. I’m sure there will be more than we can read in the classroom, but that’s all right. I’ve already amassed a big list. Here are a few:

  • A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
  • Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins
  • Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai
  • Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
  • The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman


Goal Type: English Translations

Mostly contemporary. I’ll put the classics in the above category. Also, I’m not counting Manga here. If I happen across a good series, I’ll be sure to list it in the notable mentions at the end of the year.

On my list:

  • The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehashi


Goal Type: Poetry

Novels in verse, poetry collections, you name it!

On my list:

  • The Selected Poems of Tu Fu
  • In the Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo


Goal Type: Indie Published

Last year, I happened upon a book convention and got to meet some indie authors. It’s about time I read the books I bought!

On my list:

  • Blade of Ash by C.F.E Black
  • The Case of the Dragon-Bone Engine by Galadriel Coffeen


Goal Type: Books with Movie Adaptations

There’re actually a couple movies I have yet to see because I haven’t read the book yet. Not that I can remember many of them… I want to watch all the Studio Ghibli movies, but I haven’t read A Wizard of Earthsea yet.

On my list:

  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin


Goal Type: Alphabet Challenge with a Friend

I’ve seen this challenge on Likewise, one of the book apps I use for reading recommendations. I mentioned the challenge to my friend Faith, and we decided to read some together so we can talk about them! We probably won’t get through all 26 letters this year, but it will be a fun start. The following books may change depending on what we decide on together:

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett
  • Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker


10 Total Book Types

Shall I read them all? It remains to be seen…


Let’s chat! What kind of books are on your list this year? Do you make reading goals?

Similar posts: 2022 Books in Review, 2022 Reading Resolutions, 7 More of my Go-To Authors

Sunday, December 18, 2022

2022 Books in Review

What a delightful year for books!

I found a great indie bookstore in my town that always carries a good stock of poetry. Now the owner recognizes me and recommends poetry collections. Yay!

Once I started working full time, I didn’t have as much time to read, so I’ve had to adapt. That is, I stopped reading books if I wasn’t interested in. *gasp* I have so many I didn’t finish… But that’s okay. Life’s too short to force myself to read something I don’t enjoy.

As for those I did enjoy—here they are!

Goal: 1 Book 700+ pages

The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson—I didn’t realize how long these books were until I started rereading them. They were delightful, of course. There’s talk of one of Sanderson’s books getting a show or movie adaptation, and I hope it’s this series! I’d like to share it with my non-reader friends.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas—I found the longest book on my TBR and started listening it to it because I was bored. No, seriously. Turns out, I really enjoyed it! Instead of simply listening to during my commute to and from work, I listened to it a bunch at home too. (Not done yet…)


Goal: 2 Writing Books

The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass—I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a writing book this much before! Not only is it instructional, but it has some great examples. Since I listened to the audio book while I driving, I may have to reread it to actually apply it to my own novels. Writing emotion into my stories is something I’ve struggled with, but now I’m inspired! (Not done yet. I intend to finish before the end of the year.)

Goal: 3 Books Published in 2022

Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas—this graphic novel is gold. The cover drew me in at first. I thought the story would be okay. I was wrong. It was great! I devoured it in one sitting, then went out and bought a copy and have since reread it.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan—I was disappointed by this one, unfortunately. While I enjoyed the magical-realism-contemporary-mix, the ending felt too confused and rushed. It didn’t make sense to me.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys—I’ve found my new favorite historical fiction author! Seriously, I’ve read all her books now. I devoured this in a day. Sepetys’ writing style continues to be stunning. As a teacher I always appreciate her perspective on often untold stories across Europe. This particular story was heartbreaking.

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart—If you don’t mind a book that’s depressing and a story that revisits a setting that you may have visited before, then this book is for you. Sequel to We Were Liars (see below). I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as the first because it lacked the connection between the characters that I enjoyed in the first.

Goal: 3 Rereads

Light at the Bottom of the World (Light of the Abyss, book 1) by London Shah—Wow, I enjoyed this book more the second time than the first! It hit differently than the first time too. The first time I read it was pre-pandemic. After the pandemic, wow, this society seems a lot like our own. I particularly enjoyed the underwater sci-fi elements, and the themes are spectacular too! (See the sequel in the category below.)

The Mistborn Saga by Brandon Sanderson—the final book of the second arc, came out this year, so of course, I had to reread the entire series. I told myself I was going to wait until June to start the books, but then I started in May. Whoops! The world building, the magic system, the characters, the themes! Though I prefer the first arc, I enjoyed the second arc as well. I’m still waiting for the final book though. Right now, I’m fourth in the hold line at my library…

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart—Picked this one up when I started getting tired of fantasy. This contemporary was just what I needed. A beautiful yet heartbreaking read. Now I want to write an inspirational quote on my hands to better remember it.


Goal: 5 Books I Own (not rereads)

I need to categorize these better next year. There’s quite a bit of overlap.

Journey to the Heart of the Abyss (Light of the Abyss, book 2) by London Shah—First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate how Shah names the duology after both books instead of just the first book. Thank you, Shah. Thank you! As for the story itself, I didn’t care for the sequel as much as the first one. Oh, well.

A Silent Voice (books 1-7) by Yoshitoki Ōima—Technically, I’ve read the first three books before, but not the final four! Yes, I watched the anime first. I like both for different reasons. Heartbreaking yet beautiful and powerful.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne—see category below.

Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson—see category below.

Timely: A Phoenix Fiction Writers Anthology—see final category.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens—see category below.

The Moon Before Morning by W.S. Merwin—another poetry collection. Not as much imagery or as enthralling as the haiku collection but enjoyable nonetheless.

Goal: 5 Books by 5 Different Non-American Authors

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa—Translated from Japanese. This one was fun and the themes were interesting, though the writing style was a little dull. I’m going to blame it on translation. Would recommend if you like cats and labyrinths and books.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke—British fiction. Hey, look! Another book about labyrinths! I’m sensing a theme… I really enjoyed this one. It’s got a nice, meandering pace that certainly isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it certainly was mine. A portal fantasy about another world with an unreliable narrator who is incredibly smart but also a little crazy. It’s got a similar feel as The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan—Technically this one was also a 2022 release, but I put it here because why not? This book is actually the second one I’ve read this year that focuses on the Chinese legend of the moon goddess, and I definitely enjoyed this one more! It was a little slow and meandering, so it took me a bit to finish. Definitely worth the read.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne—Translated from French. A classic for a reason. I enjoyed this one way more than I thought I would. I’ve heard Verne’s work described as “boring” before, but I quite enjoyed this one. My eyes did glaze over a bit during the paragraphs with all the fish, though. I was first introduced to the story when I was a kid, but I’d never read the original before now. Definitely recommend!

Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson—Translated from Japanese with the original Japanese transcribed on the left. What a delightful collection! I picked up this beauty during a book sale at a local bookstore and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. I think I might be a haiku person. Some are complex, some are simple. All are short and quick reads. The book is broken up into seasons, starting with spring, ending with winter. What’s more, there’s even a whole mini-section on frogs. This is the kind of content I’m here for!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens—British fiction. I actually read this one twice. Once for lesson planning, and again with my class. While the language was a bit dense for my lower-level readers, many of them enjoyed the story and getting the chance to watch the movie at the end of the year.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas—Unabridged and translated from French. See first category.


Goal: 1 Short Story Collection

Timely: A Phoenix Fiction Writers Anthology—Another enjoyable collection by the Phoenix Fiction Writers! I took my grand time with this one, but that’s part of the fun of anthologies like this one. You don’t have to read it all in one sitting. A story at a time will do. My favorites were probably “Adamant” by Beth Wangler and “Daughter” by E.B. Dawson.


Total books: 19/20

Other Notable Books

Alone by Megan E. Freeman

The Way of the House Husband by Kousuke Oono

The Expanse series by James S.A. Cory

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas

No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen

Himawari House by Harmony Becker

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Visual Learning: Physics by Kurt Baker

You can check out the full list of books I read on my Year in Books page on Goodreads.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m taking a step back from blogging. I still intend to post my reading resolutions, end of the year reviews, and writing-news. But for the most part, I’ll be positing on Instagram instead. Thank you for following me along this crazy blogging journey.

Happy reading!



Let’s chat! Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite books from 2022?

Similar posts: 2022 Reading Resolutions, 2021 Books in Review, and 2021 Reading Resolutions

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Writing Update: Four WIP's

When I was in school, I told myself I was never going to become a teacher. I had several motivations, but the main one was that someone once said when they became a teacher, they didn’t have the energy to write. Ouch. Why would I want to do a job if it meant giving up writing?

Long story short, now I’m a teacher and a writer. Ha! Not today, discouragement.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve changed jobs, schedules, number of projects, you name it. Usually, I tend to write about two novels a year. Whether I stick with that project or not is another matter entirely. Lately, though, I have two projects in the editing phase, another I just finished writing, and a fourth one that I’m outlining.

Four whole works in progress. So many!


Novel 1: Edge of the Solar System

Genre: adult sci-fi, mystery
Stage: Draft 3

Cory Bailey is used to working alone. When the Interspecies Investigation, a cross-cultural agency, offers her a position as a linguist, she jumps at the chance to work in her field, even if it takes her halfway across the Solar System. Now she has to figure out how to work as a member of a team if she’s to survive. But meeting with the Tchotovoroc, an alien species resident to the colony outside Neptune, isn’t quite what she expects, and the greatest threat may just be the humans closer to home.

Oooooh! I’m so excited to share this one with you guys! I’ve gotten some feedback from my critique partners and soon I’ll be looking for beta readers and sensitivity readers. Then it’s off to querying literary agents.


Novel 2: Water Sprite

Genre: YA contemporary fantasy, poetry
Stage: Draft 3

Astor Foster doesn’t plan on making any new friends during her last year in Germany. Not since her best friend moved back to the States last December, and not when she is going to move soon. Nobody is more surprised than she is when a family outing leads her to hang out with a girl at the local pool. But there’s more to her new friend than her strange name—Sturm. There’s also her ability to breathe underwater, and Astor wants to know how.

I had a hard time settling on the plot for this story, but once I turned it into a novel in verse, it really took form. I just need to find some more critique partners… It’s a trickier to find people who are willing to read a novel in verse.


Novel 3: Not-So-Secret

Genre: YA sci-fi
Stage: Draft 1

I started using Campfire Writing to outline my books, and had a lot of fun developing the story even before the writing process. I just finished the rough draft. Like any first draft, it’s a mess, but that’s a good thing. I’ve got plenty to work with, and I get the feeling I’ll enjoy rewriting it come summer.

I’ve been experimenting with style a lot lately, and it’s been lots of fun!


Novel 4: Secret

It’s a little early for me to share much about this one because it’s so new. Even if I were to tell you about it, that info would likely change by the time I get around to writing it. I’ll just say it’s a fantasy.



Because I’m working on so many books, I’ve decided to step back from my blog for a while, posting once a month instead of once a week. I haven’t yet decided whether I’m going to share poems or book-related posts. Maybe a bit of both. We shall see.

Until next time, happy reading!


Let’s chat! Fellow writers, what kind of projects are you working on? What’s your favorite genre to write? Do you have a preferred writing style?




Similar posts: Campfire Writing, Writing Update: To Sequel or Not to Sequel?, and My Latest Writing Desk

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Book Review: Alone

“There is something about poetry
being nonfiction
but not factual.

“The most intimate personal thoughts
—things people would never dream
of saying out loud in middle school—
right there on the page in black and white.”


I really enjoy novels in verse, and this one hit at just the right time. Last year, I attended a novel in verse writing session by Megan E. Freeman. I even turned one of my own stories into a novel in verse. After hearing about her story, I eagerly awaited reading it. I suggested my library purchase a copy a while back, so I was first in line for checking it out. Freeman did not disappoint!


Book: Alone by Megan E. Freeman
Genre: MG, contemporary, survival, poetry
My rating: 4.5 stars
Mini description: isolation


I’ve always enjoyed survival stories. This one feels like a mix of a survival story with a smidge of dystopia. An entire city becomes devoid of people, and young Maddie is left by herself, until she adopts the neighbor’s dog. Usually, I’m not a big fan of dystopian stories, but maybe my taste is changing. Either way, I really enjoyed the overarching survival elements, from Maddie’s storing up wood for the winter to finding food and water.

Of course, one can’t forget the poetry in regards to this story. Like a good novel in verse, it’s not too heavy on the metaphors, but the imagery is enough to be compelling, allowing a perfect comparison between the beauty and harsh realities of nature.

Another element that I enjoyed was the coming-of-age element. Maddie becomes a teenager all on her own. As time passes, she makes long-term plans, often speculating whether it’s better to stay put or move on.

In all, I gave Alone 4.5/5 stars, rounding up to 5 for a compelling story, enchanting descriptions, and interesting themes. I’d recommend it to anybody interested in survival stories and/or poetry. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy a copy.


Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these novels in verse: Audacity by Melanie Crowder, Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton, and Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai


Let’s chat! Have you read Alone yet, or has it made it to your TBR? What are your thoughts on poetry? Do you have any favorite novels in verse?




Similar book reviews: Almost American Girl, Kids Like Us, and Audacity

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Do Your Characters Share Your Beliefs?

I was chatting with one of my friends the other day, and she asked a question that got me thinking, “Do your characters share your beliefs?”

“Sometimes,” I said, “it depends on the story.”

There’s a whole debate out there as to whether or not entertaining stories should have a message or not. Personally, I lean toward a message, but not necessarily a forced one. I like to slide it in-between the theme so that those really looking for it can find it. These themes usually show up halfway into draft one and get fully fleshed out in drafts two and three. I don’t usually pick a theme in advance but let one develop naturally in my story.

The same applies to the characters. I don’t necessarily set out going, “Okay, this is what you believe. Go. Act.” I prefer to discover what my characters believe as the story goes on, then I’ll delve into those beliefs a little more throughout the drafts. This process allows me to come up with something naturally. It feels more genuine that way. I don’t like stories that try to shove a message down a reader’s throat.

Here are a couple of examples of my protagonists with different beliefs.

Adult Sci-Fi: Edge of the Solar System

Cory, the protagonist of this story, is a fresh-out-of-college graduate who’s starting a new job. I’ve been there, done that not too long ago. But that’s about where the similarities end. She comes from a different background than I do, and her personal goals are purely career-driven.

She first sets foot in a religious building during the narrative itself. Some of her coworkers are Christian, and some are atheist. Cory herself is searching, still figuring out what she believes.


YA Contemporary Fantasy: Water Sprite

Astor is just starting high school, and she is being raised in a Christian military family. I drew a lot from personal experience in this particular story, but as a result, I worked hard to make her different from me in other ways.

Personally, I don’t like it when a writer inserts themselves into a story. Then, all they have to do is ask “What would I do?” in regards to certain situations, which is kind of boring. It’s much more challenging to ask, “What would this character do?” Besides, another danger of self-inserting is wish fulfillment, where everything magically works out in the end for that character. As a reader, I find this trope terribly annoying and unrealistic.

So yes, Astor and I share similar background and beliefs but our approaches to certain situations are different.



In my latest story (where I just finished the rough draft!) my main character is also raised in a Christian household, but there’s still plenty that’s different about her life.

As for my next project, who knows? My characters often surprise me. I like to write with themes and a purpose, but starting out, I just want to tell a story. Everything else develops as it goes along.

Let’s chat! Writers, what about you? Do your characters share your beliefs? What’s your writing process for developing them?


Similar posts: Campfire Writing, Finding the Best Writing Method, and Writing Update: To Sequel or Not to Sequel?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Subgenres: Historical Fantasy

My brother is an avid history buff. While I may not share his enthusiasm for all things history, especially when it delves into the politics of the past, *gags* I do enjoy historical fiction. I’ve already written a post about this genre, and my opinions have only slightly changed, so I’d like to jump into a blend of genres—historical fantasy.

Historical fiction can be a fun genre. Fantasy can also be great. But what about when you have historical fantasy! Prepare for historically inaccurate magic, everybody. Or maybe it’s real…


Historical fantasy: a subgenre of fantasy that takes place in the real world in the past. The character(s) may be involved in historical events, meet historical figures, or experience historical settings. Magic is an element that puts a twist on events that we may be familiar with.


Suspension of Disbelief

In historical fiction, writers might get flack if they didn’t get that one date right. Or maybe that character was supposed to be blonde. Hold up. What is this, a movie adaptation? *checks notes* Nope. It’s about books. Okay, moving on.

Historical fantasy is designed to be inaccurate. Or maybe a more appropriate word would be unexpected.

One thing I enjoy about fantasy is the suspension of disbelief. Historical fantasy is one of those fantasy sub-genres that pushes that boundary of disbelief. It puts characters real or made up and puts them in situations that actually happened, then asks the readers to bear with them while it throws in a touch of magic, in a similar manner to magical realism, where it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.

A great example of book that suspends disbelief is Megan Banne’s The Bird and the Blade. Though it leans more toward the historical than the fantastical, there are fantastical elements that may leave the audience wondering, “Hey, wait a second… Did I read that right?”


Historical Events

Many of us have heard about the Battle of Waterloo, and if you’ve happened to read Les Miserables (not fantasy), you’ve probably read more than you wanted to know about it. But, have you heard about time during the Battle of Waterloo where the magician broke his moral code to create zombie soldiers? Okay, when I put it that way, it sounds weird, but I suppose weird applies to the entirety of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke).


Historical Figures

What’s historical fiction without historical figures? Okay, so they don’t show up in every book. But historical fantasy sometimes includes historical figures too. Just because it’s fantasy doesn’t mean it doesn’t try to be true to the character(s), though. Nadine Brandes does a great job with historical fantasy characters in Romanov (Anastasia Romanov) and Fawkes (Guy Fawkes). Though I prefer the plot of Fawkes, both stories serve as a great introduction to real figures and their tales.

Another example that includes historical figures is Dante’s Inferno. In the epic, Dante goes on to meet long-dead poets like Virgil, Homer, and Ovid. It’s a common characteristic in classical fantasy where the main character meets with a historical figure or somebody of prominence, who would now be considered historical. Though those don’t quite qualify as historical fantasy.


Historical Settings

Not going to lie, this is one of my favorites because a lot of these places, you can actually visit!

One of my favorite examples is The River of Time series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Why stop at a fictional visit to Italy when you can time travel to medieval Italy and fight with a broadsword or a bow. I really want to take up broadsword fighting now. Thanks a lot. After reading these books, my sister and I visited Siena, one of the cities where the story takes place, and Firenze (Florence).

It’s been a while since I’ve read the stories, though. Perhaps it’s time for a reread…

There you have it! Just a few characteristics of historical fantasy and some recommendations.


Let’s chat! Do you enjoy historical fantasy? Have you read any of the books listed? Any that I missed?




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