The Nope Book Tag

Word Nerd Scribbles tends to feature only books that I liked enough to review (unless it’s one that truly pissed me off), so I think it’ll be fun to, for once, look at some books that I really don’t recommend.

 

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Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

I shamelessly stole this post from Literary Weaponry because I was unlikely to ever get tagged and I wanted to play anyway. Word Nerd Scribbles tends to feature only books that I liked enough to review (unless it’s one that truly pissed me off), so I think it’ll be fun to, for once, look at some books that I really don’t recommend. The tag’s originator can be found here.


NOPE. ending:

A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage or simply because the ending was crappy.

Capture The Death Cure by James Dashner

SPOILERS. Three entire books building up to the worst cop out solution I’ve seen. The stakes are high: sacrifice the main character or the world burns. Wait, the main character doesn’t want to sacrifice himself? Okay, here’s a utopia where he and his friends can have sex and re-start the world (I guess), like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, except Eve (Teresa), the only girl, dies first. They’re fine. Everyone else is screwed.

 

NOPE. protagonist:

A main character you dislike and that drives you crazy.

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The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I first read this series in high school and it may have been my first true introduction to YA urban fantasy. I loved the world and the side characters, but I cannot stand the main character, Clary Fray. Compared to the rest of the cast, she’s boring and I was more inclined to skip to the chapters featuring Simon than read anything about her.

NOPE. series:

A series that turned out to be a huge pile of nope after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it.

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Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I made an actual genuine attempt to read Twilight for the sake of my little sister, who loves the series. We made a deal that for however many of the books I read, she would read one of my suggestions. I only got through the first book through sheer stubborn spite, because I found the pacing slow, the characters flat, and the events uninteresting. I will never finish the series.

NOPE. pairing:

A “ship” you don’t support.

 

I don’t ship 99% of the pairings I read. Next!

NOPE. plot twist:

A twist you didn’t see coming and didn’t like.

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Ruin and Rising 
by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo pulled a seemingly small but gut-wrenching plot twist in the final installment of her Grisha Trilogy. I wasn’t ready. I had to go back and reread that section to make sure I understood it right. Then I had to text my friend to tell her how mad I was about it.

 

NOPE. genre:

A genre you will never read.

Romance. It’s fine, it’s fine that other people like it. No worries. But the romance is never, ever the reason why I come to a story.

NOPE. book format:

A book format you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

can read books in a digital format, but I don’t want to. Also, I’d rather not read/own the movie cover edition.

NOPE. trope:

A trope that makes you go NOPE.

Coming back to romance again: I can’t stand the trope of characters–whether longtime friends, longtime enemies, or just met–falling in love over the course of a handful of days. No one does that. Such a thing is infatuation at absolute best, but probably amounts to much deeper psychological problems.

I also despise when female characters make little to no discernible contribution to the plot and/or when the narrative contains no female characters. Looking right at you, J.R.R. Tolkein. Along the same lines, narratives that contain little to no diversity get an eye roll and a negative review from me.

NOPE. recommendation:

A book recommendation that is constantly pushed at you, that you simply refuse to read.

I’m resistant to most recommendations at first because, naturally, no one really knows my taste in books.

NOPE. cliché:

A cliché or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

When a character sighs. Really, narrator? You want to describe them sighing? You couldn’t come up with something more interesting? When characters are exasperated or disappointed, I will take literally any other possible description.

NOPE. love interest:

A love interest that’s not worthy of being one.
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Wuthering  Heights by Emily Bronte

Romanticized manipulative, abusive, gaslighting, outright jerks. The classic Byronic hero Heathcliff of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights embodies my intense dislike of this love interest trope. NOPE.

NOPE. book:

A book that shouldn’t have existed.

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Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

The only thing this book has going for it is a lovely descriptive and syntactic style. I read the entire thing thinking surely prose this wonderful will amount to something in the end. But no. Nothing happened in this book.
Nothing happened in this book.

 

NOPE. villain:

A villain you would hate to cross.

Six of Crows Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

While Kaz Brekker functions as an anti-hero, not a villain, he’s certainly the stuff of nightmares for society in his world. Out of every true villain I’ve ever read, I’d much rather cross them than Dirtyhands.

NOPE. death:

A character death that still haunts you.

CaptureGregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins

love the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins and Gregor and the Code of Claw, the final installment, has my heart forever. But there’s a character death in this particular book that kills me every time I read it. I haven’t reread it in a long time, because I just can’t face my favorite character dying all over again.

NOPE. author:

An author you had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

CaptureThe Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore

I used to be really into this series. The first book, I Am Number Four, was so good. But then the writers of the series–collectively under ‘Pittacus Lore’–started rolling out extras and short-stories and the series dragged out, so I dropped it because between releases, I was losing track of everything happening in that universe.

 

 

 


Well, that was cathartic. 10/10 I recommend you try this nope book tag yourself.

My First Book Signing: Road Kill at Burrowing Owl Books

Here’s a thing to add to my future autobiography: I’ve signed books for people who bought them. 

Here’s a thing to add to my future autobiography: I’ve signed books for people who bought them.

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Summer Baker (left) and Keith West (right) at Burrowing Owl Books. Photo credit Russell Parker of photographybyrussell.com

I had my first book signing event for Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 2 at Burrowing Owl Books in Canyon, TX, alongside Keith West, a fellow contributor who wrote “Cemetery Games.” It was just before Halloween, and, as you can see, I dressed the spooky part.

The wonder of such a thing hasn’t yet worn off. Keith said it best as he took his seat next to me: “Nice to finally be on this side of the table.”

Which was to say, on the signer side. How right he was. At the time, I was too nervous about how the event would go to really appreciate the reality that I was signing books, not just getting one signed. But looking back, I’m a little awed at past Summer. That was really me. There’s even photographic evidence to prove it wasn’t a dream.

The signing itself was two hours long and that first hour passed like a blur, with several of my friends and family turning out to snag a copy of the book for themselves. With a bit of gimmicky brilliance, both Dallas and I had the idea to bring candy (since Halloween was soon) and I brought colored sharpies in a spooky box for fans to select for our signatures. Those are probably the most psychedelic copies of Road Kill out there. Though I tried my absolute best, I still messed up on one signature as I tried to write out his nickname instead of his real name. We sold most of the box, all but ten books — far more than I expected for a first signing — and signed some stock for Dallas afterward.

Keith West is the first of the other anthology contributors I’ve met in person. He turned out to be courteous and willing to talk writing shop with me, which we did for the last part of the signing when things slowed down. We were both riding in the first-signing boat and I was impressed with his enthusiasm for the craft. You can visit his blog at Adventures Fantastic.

Burrowing Owl Books itself is a cozy bookstore on the square in Canyon, filled with a comfortable array of new and used books. Its shelves are close enough to be cozy, but its open floor plan and high ceilings ward off any sense of claustrophobia. Dallas Bell, the owner, was incredibly helpful and cheerful as she guided us both through our first signing. Overall, it’s one of my favorite places in Canyon to visit.

If you missed the signing, you can  still purchase a paperback copy of Road Kill on Amazon.com for $19.95.

I did a lot of research beforehand over what to expect at a book signing. The Tricked Out Toolbox was a huge help with preparation guidance and I would recommend taking a look at their tips for your own signing. 

 

Book Review: All the Crooked Saints

Maggie Stiefvater weaves metaphors like a spider weaves silk, and she filled this brief, slim novel to the brim with them. There are so many to examine, but I think I’ve picked out the main one…

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis

Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle. Here is a thing everyone fears: What it takes to get one. Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

(Via Book Depository)

My Impressions

Here at last, I thought as I began reading All the Crooked Saints, was a Maggie Stiefvater book I wouldn’t love with all my heart. That’s a natural thing; no reader will adore every single piece a writer sends out.  I was prepared to accept this and look forward to her next book while rereading her previous ones.

The tone of All the Crooked Saints is more fanciful than usual, for starters, presented like an old folktale, with sparkling liveliness glinting in its eye. Also, it’s told in third-person omniscient, a style that I tend to dislike, as it jumps point-of-view too often for my taste.

But this, it turns out, is because while there are a dozen characters, each with their own wants and fears, darknesses, miracles, and personal arcs, there are really two characters in this story: the Saints and the pilgrims.

In a Facebook post prior to the release of All the Crooked Saints, Stiefvater alludes to last year, when she became inundated with requests for advice. “I found myself with a Tumblr inbox overflowing with readers asking me for #dubiouslifeadvice. But even as I answered the questions, I asked myself: what qualifies me to answer? Aren’t I imperfect, too, maybe more than the seeker?”

That very question shapes this story. Stiefvater weaves metaphors like a spider weaves silk, and she filled this brief, slim novel to the brim with them. There are so many to examine, and I very well may in the future, but I think I’ve picked out the main one.

Once, in an article for Jalopnik, for which Steifvater writes pieces about cars that are actually metaphors for life, she pointed out something about my generation that stuck with me:

…young people can be anxious and say they’re anxious. There’s no longer a stigma to admitting it. On the one hand, this is beautiful. Name the monster and you can kill it. But on the other hand… people aren’t killing it. They’ve named it and now they’re keeping it as a permanent fixture of the household. It lurks in the living room with its pretend immortality. Will you kill it for me, please? They ask.

That’s us. We’re the pilgrims, asking the Saints for a miracle, then finding that once we’ve named the monster, we must be the ones to kill it. No one else can do it, because they’re all wrestling their own darknesses. “This is one spider you’ve got to kill on your own,” she writes.

The takeaway here, I think, is that we cannot cease solving ourselves. To work through our own problems (instead of setting them on the mantelpiece) is to help others with theirs. But, as in the tale, one follows the other. Perhaps it also returns on itself.

So, in conclusion, I loved this book. It’s filled with tasty morsels for my mind to chew over a good week after closing it. I identify with Beatriz Soria, who struggles with a darkness that gnaws at my own heart at times. I’m sure readers can find themselves somewhere inside this story, too. But will you be a pilgrim, or will you be a Saint?

Goodreads rating: 3.93 stars
My rating: 5/5 stars

Book Review: Un Lun Dun

The story itself mockingly dodged predictable hero’s journey tropes, twisting around and jumping the curb every chance it got, as if to say, “you just thought you knew what was coming next.”

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Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

Synopsis:

What is Un Lun Dun?

It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.

(Via Book Depository)

My Impressions:

Un Lun Dun, by New York Times bestselling author China Miéville, sets the typical hero’s journey on its side. Or perhaps inside out. For a city that’s London but very much not London, both familiar and strange, no destined chosen one will do. The very opposite, in fact. Just a girl with the stubborn courage to act, a girl who could be any of us, undestined, unchosen, but still capable of changing an entire world.

The tone of Un Lun Dun is a marvelous, whimsical cross between Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, two of my favorite stories, the likes of which I rarely find elsewhere. It shows the heart of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobethe main character perhaps being a tribute to C. S. Lewis’s wonderful character Lucy Pevensie. (If not, I know Lucy would get right along with Deeba Resham.) Throughout the course of Un Lun Dun, Miéville masterfully weaves in descriptions of his curious and complicated UnLondon without losing the momentum of the narrative. I won’t forget Wraithtown or the binjas, moil houses made from random objects, or the unbrellas (because I may be stuck thinking of my umbrella as an unbrella from now on). Also, carnivorous giraffes.

The story itself mockingly dodged predictable hero’s journey tropes, twisting around and jumping the curb every chance it got, as if to say, “you just thought you knew what was coming next.” The characters as a group become a powerful force, strong individually by the end, but mighty when brought together. The close of the story left me with the impression that not all problems are solved over the course of one book, but that the characters who took me across Unlondon and back can now face up to any challenge with the trust they have in each other.

Goodreads rating: 3.81 stars
My rating: 4/5 stars

Road Kill Available on Amazon

As of this morning, Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol 2, featuring my short-story “Thirsty Ground,” is now available for purchase on Amazon!

This Halloween season, embrace the creeping dread of Texas living with a copy of Road Kill for your very own. For those of you who can’t make it to any of the book signing events in October, you now have the option to purchase Road Kill online. Check out the chilling synopsis below:

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Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol 2 edited by E.R. Bills & Bret McCormick

 

A hanging tree takes the law into its own limbs in “The Tree Servant.” A mother’s love is tested by the walking, crawling and thumb-sucking dead in “Mama’s Babies.” A famous author lays his process bare in “A Writer’s Lot.” Not for the faint of heart, this terrifying batch of Texas horror fiction delivers a host of literary demons who will be hard to shake once they get comfortable.

The second volume of the critically acclaimed Road Kill Series from Eakin Press, featuring seventeen Texas writers. Some of the writers are established and have been published in a variety of mediums, while others are upcoming writers who bring a wealth of talent and imagination. Edited by E.R. Bills and Bret McCormick, this collection of horror stories is sure to bring chills and make the imagination run wild. Writers include Jacklyn Baker, Andrew Kozma, Ralph Robert Moore, Jeremy Hepler, R. J. Joseph, James H. Longmore, Mario E. Martinez, E. R. Bills, Summer Baker, Dennis Pitts, Keith West, S. Kay Nash, Bryce Wilson, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Stephen Patrick, Crystal Brinkerhoff and Hayden Gilbert.

(Via Amazon)

Available in paperback for $19.95 at amazon.com.

Road Kill Update: Release Date

An update on the Roadkill anthology publication

I talked in a previous post about how my short-story submission was accepted to be published later this year in Volume 2 of the Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers anthology. Last night, as I was falling asleep, dreaming big dreams about the trip to the San Japan convention today, I got an email from E. R. Bills with two things:

The cover image for Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 2

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Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 2, edited by E. R. Bills and Bret McCormick

(P.S. I love it.)

The release date: October 21 

There’ll be a launch party at Fleur Fine Books in Port Neches on Oct. 21, featuring the editors E. R. Bills and Bret McCormick as well as many of the as-of-yet unannounced contributors to the anthology. Since Port Neches is over 600 miles from the Texas Panhandle, I likely won’t be attending myself. Still, if you can make it, you should.

Flier for the Road Kill launch event at Fleur Fine Books in Port Neches, TX

(P.S. The picture with the ground cracks refers to my story “Thirsty Ground.”)

If you miss this one or if it’s too far away, there’s a second confirmed signing event at Book People on Oct. 29 in Austin, TX.

Flier for the Road Kill signing event at Book People in Austin, TX

I still won’t make it to this one either. But if you want to see me — and pick up a copy of Road Kill featuring my short-story “Thirsty Ground” — there may be an event in Amarillo soon. To be announced.

I’ll also update when I have more information on where to purchase the book after its release.