Uprooted had me hooked from the first page. I loved the voice, all the characters and the plot. The story has fairy tale influences, but is not a retelling. The main character is stuck in a tower like Rapunzel, there is a definite Beauty and the Beast vibe, and I loved the twist on the virgin sacrifice to a dragon. There is even reference to Baba Yaga.
Every ten years, a teenage girl from the village is chosen as tribute to serve the wizard (known as The Dragon) to help protect them from the corrupted woods. Agnieszka, clumsy and unable to keep her clothes clean, is not the expected choice. Usually girls are just servants, doing domestic chores around the tower. But Agnieszka is special, she has a spark of magic, and The Dragon is determined to teach her how to use it.
The two approach use of magic differently. I love how Naomi describes the different types of magic, and how they eventually come together. The Dragon uses very rigid spells, whereas Agnieszka is more nature based and going by instinct.
As much as I loved this novel, it is not for everyone. It has a complex magic system, and there is darkness in the corruption. We read this as my book club pick, and most of the other members don't typically read fantasy. There were times they were confused and I had to explain elements to them. As a regular fantasy reader, however, this immediately went to my favorites list. Though Goodreads reviews seem to be love it or hate it.
This is a must read if you enjoy intricate world-building and magic systems. Recommended if you enjoyed The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert or anything by Juliet Marillier. It was a very enchanting book that captivated me right to the end.
Ten Books to read if you liked Uprooted
Coloring as Therapy
I first got into coloring as an adult about five years ago, when I was working at CaptionCall. The job consisted of transcribing live phone calls, using a voice recognition service. So I would hear one side of a conversation, echoing it back in a monotone voice so the software could show it back to the hard of hearing person on the other side of the line. As far as phone jobs go, it was a good one - I didn't talk directly to people, didn't have to answer questions, and felt good about the service helping those in need. But it really wasn't a job I enjoyed. It was stressful trying to keep up with the conversation, could get very mindless, and I wasn't used to talking so much.
What got me through my shift ended up being coloring. Sometimes reading between calls was hard because you didn't have enough time to get into a book, but I could easily grab a pencil and fill in a section. I found it helped me with the stress, and helped the day go faster. And I really enjoyed my new hobby. I even bought a new bag for work that had room for a colored pencil organizer.
When I got my job at a library, my coloring did slow down. But my passion didn't. I still collect books from my favorite artists. And situations like these are great reminders to step back and find time for myself. I even pulled out my new clipfolio and colored during a webinar video I watched for work.
When to Color
I like to multitask while I color. Listen to an audio book or podcast, watch tv, or even during work when appropriate (webinars, conference calls). It's not using the language part of your brain so you can be creative and still pay attention to something else.
Here are links to my favorite artists. They all have sample pages you can print out for free. You can see some of my own completed pages of theirs below. Many coloring book artists also have groups on Facebook where you can share your finished work and connect to other coloring peeps. One place I don't recommend finding coloring pages is Pinterest. Often, those are not authorized freebies. Support the artists!
Selina Fenech - link to free sampler
Johanna Basford - link to free pages
Hannah Lynn - link to sample book
Some of my Finished Pages
Below: First three are from ColorIt. Second group is Hannah Lynn. Third group is Johanna Basford. Final group is Selina Fenech.
In addition to April Showers and Easter, April is known for being National Poetry Month. To celebrate, you can read poetry, write poetry, share poetry. Try a new poet or a new poetry form. Poets.org has an adapted list this year for 30 ways to Celebrate--including ways to incorporate it in a virtual classroom and at home.
Poetry for me is a way to play with words, sometimes used as therapy, and should reveal something to the reader. The poem below is one I feel fitting for this current situation. Uplifting, and introspective. It was published in Snapdragon Journal's Journey issue, and is also included in my poetry book Chiaroscuro.
I have updated the Writing Nook section of the site with some resources for writing and publishing poetry. How will you be celebrating this month?
Seeking That Which is Lost
I sit cross-legged on oaken floor
loosen my muscles from head to toe;
breathe in the fresh, clean air encompassing me,
eyes settle on a single pink flower
in the vine border of the cream wall before me;
outer vision blurs as I journey within.
Break down unsteady walls of insecurity.
Push through foggy layers of forgetfulness.
Swim through the ever-circling moat of procrastination.
Enter the guarded keep of true self.
Seeking that which is lost.
In the bottomless dungeon? No…
there dwells my heart, held under lock and key.
In the gilded tower? No…
there reside my dreams, gazing at the stars.
I pass through the library,
smiling at my muse crafting inspiration,
and finally find that which I sought
deep within the treasury, dwelling in memories.
I take her hand, this child in me,
coax her to stay by my side,
as I return to focused eyes
on the painted wall before me.
Welcome to my corner of the site. I'm Mary, the older sister. I want this blog, this site, to be an escape. I'll be talking books, gaming, poetry, fairy tales, libraries, self-care, and my writing life. Expect a monthly book review. I'll be reviewing fantasy titles, ranging from picture books to poetry to adult. My plan is to post weekly, but bear with me as I get into a rhythm.
With the current state of the world, and many of us staying home for our health and safety, it is so important to find methods of escape and enchantment. You need to take care of yourself to stay healthy and sane. Keep a routine, make sure to move and eat healthy. Some ideas: