Anticipated 2019 Releases!

As I sit here with a giant stack of unread books in my room that are calling my name, I’m going to share the books I am most excited about that are releasing next year. The TBR pile is endless.

But in all seriousness, there are so many books coming out next year that I cannot wait to get my hands on.

The Wicked King by Holly Black (January 8th)

The Cruel Prince remains one of the best books I read this year- it had politics, fae, and the promise of a haters-to-lovers romance. Obviously I am ready for the sequel.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (January 15th)

This is my most anticipated release by far, because it’s ROSHANI CHOKSHI. Everything I’ve read of hers has blown me away and I’m sure this is going to be just as amazing.

Stain by A.G. Howard (January 15th)

I read a chapter sampler of this and I want the rest. That is all.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (February 26th)

I heard about this at YALLFest and the title alone is enough to make me want to read this.

Lovely War by Julie Berry (March 5th)

I adored Julie’s The Passion of Dolssa (if you haven’t read it, you should, but be prepared for an emotional roller coaster). This one is a love story set amidst both World Wars and it’s told from the perspective of the goddess Aphrodite.

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (March 29th)

I just found out about this as I write this post and it’s a ROBIN HOOD RETELLING. YES. It’s also Meagan Spooner, who has some beautiful prose.

Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd (August 13th)

I will be trying to get an ARC of this if possible, because August is too far away. Grim Lovelies was magnificent.

Also, from the synopsis, I think there’s going to be an arranged marriage. Therefore I need it.

Renegades #3 (we do not yet have an official title) by Marissa Meyer (November 5th)

I am reading Archenemies right now and IT’S AMAZING. Renegades was a bit of a letdown but I am loving book two in the series and expect a major cliffhanger.

That’s it so far, but I’m sure there are a bunch of others I just haven’t discovered yet.

(I did not include any ARCs I received at YALLFest in this list, even though I am excited to read many of them.)

What books are you looking forward to in 2019?
-Clara

 

 

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Arranged Marriage in Fiction: A Discussion

Periodically, I like to do discussion posts.

I haven’t in a while, because, while I love them, I struggle to come up with ideas that haven’t been done before (or at the very least, haven’t been done in a while).

Last week, I published a NaNoWriMo post and briefly mentioned that I love arranged marriage stories. Alan Zaroff asked me why, which led to a few comments on the subject. I thought it might be interesting to do a discussion post about it.

If you’re new here, I absolutely love arranged marriage in books. I’m not entirely sure why, when I personally do not ever want my marriage to be arranged, but I have always been fascinated by the concept of falling in love after marriage.

Here’s the thing: As someone who is so intrigued by the concept, I’d really like to read about it. However, I can name exactly 2 novels (okay, so one is a series) off the top of my head involving love-after-marriage. And very few books, even political fantasy novels that I’ve read, have arranged marriage as a part of a plot, whether or not it actually happens.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that executes the arranged marriage trope rather well. It’s not a personal favorite, but I did enjoy it.

Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms series did it very well– although, to be completely honest, after book one, the arranged marriage development was about the only thing I enjoyed about the series. I still haven’t read the last two books.

What bothers me is that even these two books at first act as though arranged marriage is a horrible tragedy, etc. (I will say that, given who the characters are marrying, it makes sense that they’re opposed–but I’d also like some books where the man the girl is marrying isn’t a demon or seemingly horrible enemy prince.) And that’s the case with pretty much every book that mentions arranged marriage in some way. It’s often treated as a violation of human rights, the worst thing that could happen to a character, all that.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I know very well that sometimes arranged marriage is forced and a basic human rights violation, especially child marriage. Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars is a good one that illustrates this point, and I love that book.

However, in 2017, the average percent of arranged marriages that ended in divorce was only 4% (brandongaille.com). (I am aware that this article shows the dark side of arranged marriage, which is definitely important to consider.) According to the American Psychological Association, “40-50% of married couples in the United States divorce.” In America, love marriage is the most common. Love marriages aren’t bad– I want one myself. What I’m saying is that, in reality, arranged marriages aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be in the books we read.

Repeatedly, arranged marriages end up as happy marriages. My parents know people who are in arranged marriages and are very happy. This article (please excuse the curse word) shares other stories about arranged marriages that have worked out well.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that every single arranged marriage is wonderful and perfect. What I am going to tell you is that it needs to be presented differently and a little more often in books. Because, in reality, lots of people in the world are in arranged marriages. 55% of marriages are arranged, actually (brandongaille.com).

I would really appreciate more books, YA novels especially, that involve arranged marriage that isn’t treated like a tragedy. In all genres.

I’m trying to do this with my current writing project. I’ve been guilty of treating arranged marriage as horrible at first in my books, but it works out well in the end. What I’m writing now, The Nikolai Project (here’s my NaNoWriMo post about it), is, at its core, about an arranged marriage. It’s got politics and magic, of course, but it centers around two people falling in love– after the wedding.

If any of you have ever wondered why in the world arranged marriage plots are one of my favorite things, I hope this answers your question at least a little bit.

I want to hear your thoughts on this topic–let’s discuss in the comments!

-Clara

 

 

November Reading Wrap-Up

I am so excited that I am finally reading again. Lately I haven’t been reading all that much (nothing could hold my attention very well? At all?) but this month I read a few books that I really loved.

The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs (aka my besties)

Okay, MG has not been able to hold my interest in forever but I 100% adored this book. It’s amazing and you should go read it if you haven’t. Also, Brendan and Ally are both amazing people. 5 stars for this one!

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Also 5 stars– because this is set in a magical Paris, has a dark brooding prince that I LOVE, a main character that’s amazing, and a scene set in the most amazing fashion boutique ever that also references a lot of designers (which is always great).

Bookish Boyfriends: A Date with Darcy by Tiffany Schmidt

This was SO CUTE. The best part was when the main character was reading Pride and Prejudice and was having the exact same feelings I was when I read that beautiful Jane Austen novel.

There were, however, a few things I thought weren’t explained enough, so all-in-all, I gave this 4 stars.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

THIS. BOOK. It was amazing- from the world to the characters to the clothes (I really, really appreciate pretty clothes in books). And the plot twist at the end? Perfect. And it looks like the sequel is going to have the pretending-to-be-married trope which is actually one of my favorite things. This one was also 5 stars, if you couldn’t tell.

I am currently reading In Paris With You by Clementine Beauvais, an ARC I received at YALLFest, but I may end up putting it on hold. I’m not exactly feeling the poetry thing.

What did you read in November?

-Clara

 

NaNoWriMo 2018!

Another NaNoWriMo is over and…

I won!

I did 30k words, which is standard for the Young Writers’ Program. (Shout out to a friend of mine (you know who you are) who did 50k in 3 weeks. I am so proud of you.)

I worked on the same project this year as I did last year- what I call The Nikolai Project, although that’s not the title. It still doesn’t have one, even after working on it for almost a year and a half.

What happened with this project was interesting. By the end of last year’s NaNo, I had worked on it for about three months and had 25k words of what was more romance novel than anything. After NaNo 2017, I returned to working on Lady Gwen (which released a little over a month ago and is available here) and put The Nikolai Project away for a bit. I certainly kept thinking about it– and all that thinking led to a plethora of changes I wanted to make to the plot. So the 25k words I wrote last year are no longer a real thing. My sweet arranged-marriage romance is now more of a political intrigue fantasy with a lot of romance (and yes, the marriage is still 110% arranged, because I’m the one writing it and I am absolutely in love with arranged marriage plots, okay?).

All that said, my draft is at almost 40k words now, no where near done, and there’s a lot that I need to expand, revise, etc. when I have a full draft. But regardless, I am really proud of myself and I am hopelessly in love with this story.

And my dear friend Annabeth Tyler (The Junior Inklings) drew me this gorgeous picture of Nikolai and Amira (yes, she really does have that much hair):

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I had a very successful NaNoWriMo and am hoping to finish my draft of The Nikolai Project in December. In January I plan to start on the conclusion to the Gwendolyn Trilogy!

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? How did it go? Also, any political intrigue novel suggestions for me?

Thanks for reading!

-Clara