Shadowshaper

I’m going into this post with two things on my mind. The first is I went to NerdCon:2016 this past weekend (Post about that is coming soon!) and, as it did last year, it’s made me think about the books that have influenced me. It didn’t take any time at all to start reminiscing about the good ole days when I was devouring anything written by Tamora Pierce and then running to the park to practice being a knight like Alanna in The Song of the Lioness series. Mix those beautiful memories with the fact that at Nerdcon: 2016 I had the wonderful privilege of sitting down with the author of Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older, and nine other curious and intelligent story nerds to have a conversation about books and you’ve found my happy place.

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Shadowshaper is set in Brooklyn and follows Sierra as she discovers a magic that lets spirits inhabit her art and bring it to life. After chatting with Daniel José Older for a while and seeing him on multiple panels throughout the weekend it is easy to see how his life and experiences have influenced his writing. While having this knowledge doesn’t change the book, it feels a little like I’ve been let into the greenroom of this story. It’s interesting to me to consider how stories are not just influenced but also often created from perspective. This perspective allows the reader insight into new worlds to explore, understand, and consider. If this book had been around when I was growing up alongside Tamora Pierce’s I imagine I would have been an artistic knight running around Brooklyn (the park across the street) fighting sexism with my sword (really long stick) and art spirits (chalk).  It’s exciting to me to think about how the stories like Shadowshaper, and others that are being crafted now are influencing young readers.

The story itself is rich with familiarity and feeling. It’s interesting to be plopped into Sierra’s world  that she knows so well and watch how she responds to her surroundings change both physically and magically. The relationship between the familiar “real” world of Brooklyn, that is in a state of flux, and the Shadowshaper community, that is experiencing the growing pains of turning power over to a new generation, provides an intricate set of obstacles for Sierra to weave her way through. Daniel José Older sets this stage one floorboard at a time and maintains an exciting storyline that pulls the reader through some of the more complex ideas presented via Sierra and her adventures. From what I understand, we’ve got two more books following Sierra’s story to look forward to, until then I think I may go reread The Song of Lioness series to keep me in the badass lady hero mood!

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep listening. Keep creating.

Graceling

I genuinely stayed up all night long reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore so I’m definitely going to have to reread to make sure that I wasn’t completely delirious for the end, but I’m going to just assume I wasn’t and say that this was a fantastic book.  It brought me back to my middle and high school days of obsessing over any and all books written by Tamora Pierce and Robin Mckinley. I felt like my high school self all over again rooting for a super badass girl hero while reading and falling asleep afterword fantasizing about living in her world, overcoming great odds, and becoming best friends with her.

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The story has all my favorite elements a girl power attitude, magic, evil kings, no nonsense mentors, a rejected proposal (I got a taste for this when reading Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, which is totally worth looking up) Handsome boys who understand that a girl needs her freedom, and a plot that keeps me turning the pages until 4:30 in the morning.  It’s a page turner with some very clever twists.  I haven’t anything bad to say about this book.  I only wish I had discovered it while I was in high school because while I enjoyed it thoroughly now, I would have geeked the freak out if I had read it back then.  Apparently there are a few more that are written in the same world and I can’t wait to read them.  They are focused on different characters, characters that were introduced in Graceling.  It will be interesting to see the world from a new perspective and in a different time.  I’ll start earlier in the day to avoid the whole staying up all night thing.

P.S. I keep a commonplace book (think Pinterest for quotes on paper) so if I have entries in my commonplace book I’ll include them here as well!

Commonplace book entry under Power category:

“She began to have a conception of a power that spread like a bad feeling, like a sickness itself, seizing all minds that it touched.”

-Graceling by Kristin Cashore