I love a good heist, and this is better than most. Set in the lush universe popularized by Shadow and Bone, this follow up stands on its own legs, and is a great entry to the series. Meet the Dregs, a bunch of street urchin weirdos with just the right skills to pull off an impossible heist in the heart of a hostile state. The characters are so real that you feel you could bump into them on the street, the plot is meticulously executed, and the magic is both grounded and vibrant. It’ll be your new fave.
Revolution, dictatorships, secret identities, and a magic system so brutal and so inescapable it shakes the very ground on which the world is built. All the threats feel close, pressing. The characters are multidimensional, living, complex. This is a deeply alarming pair of novels, but despite the dark plot points, the writing is light and compulsively readable. These are entertaining books, and frequently very funny. If you like seeing sense prevail, and survival against dire odds, dive into this truly original world.
Imagine a scene: the sun sets upon a little Amish community out in Lancaster, PA as a young man named Abram steers his horse and buggy back from the fields after a hard day’s work. His neighbor, Mary, sits next to him as she twirls the ribbons of her bonnet between her fingers. Suddenly, the front wheel of the buggy hits a rock on the path, and Mary is tossed over into Abram’s strong arms. She stares up into his deep blue eyes before recoiling from his grasp. He ducks his face beneath the bill of his cap in order to hide the scarlet blush that is emanating from beneath his beard.
That was my god-awful attempt at writing Amish romance—a multimillion-dollar genre that has been taking the romance world by storm for the past two decades. Although I am by no means a proficient Amish romance novelist, there is a clear formula that pervades these stories: quick glances, curls of blonde hair unfurling from beneath bonnets, long descriptions of hardworking men tending the fields, and convenient buggy crashes that toss the protagonists into each other’s arms (yes, buggy crashes are one of the most common tropes used in this genre).
image via vannessa chapman
Anyone looking for hot and steamy Amish trysts will have to look elsewhere. The characters that populate these books are as platonic as can be. There’s no kissing, no hand-holding, and certainly no sex. However, beneath the facade of chastity lies an unwritten lust that has romance readers devouring these books by the hundreds.
So who are these authors and consumers of Amish romance? Certainly not Amish folks. The truth is that these books are predominantly produced and read by Evangelical Christians. “These are readers who love romance but want a clean read they don’t have to hide from their kids,” Shannon Marchesea, a senior editor at evangelical publisher WaterBrook Multnomah, told Newsweek.
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Perhaps there is a certain desire amongst Amish romance readers to escape the technology-saturated hellscape of the modern world. Following today’s current events can make anyone want to be a Luddite. One might imagine an idealized Amish community where men and women respect each other’s boundaries and sex-scandals are nonexistent. This utopic vision of an Amish community has a certain allure to it.
But is this belief in the purity of Amish communities legitimate? Authors of Amish romance typically cater to the preconceived notions that their readers have regarding Amish folk. The stereotypical Amish person, in all their chaste simplicity, provides a bastion of potentiality to romance authors with a talent for writing repressed sexual yearning. Since it’s not Amish writers who are creating these books, these Amish communities have no say in how they are being represented in this genre. The reality of the Amish experience is subsidiary to the biases of the reader who wants to see their own personal desires reflected from beneath the hood of a bonnet.
David Baldacci is a bestselling American novelist, who has currently published 38 novels and sold over 130 million books worldwide. His novels are generally true crime/detective stories such as Absolute Power, The Innocent, Split Second, The Camel Club, and True Blue, but he’s also also published young adult novels! His books have been translated internationally into 45 different languages and, in addition to his popular writing, Baldacci is a devoted philanthropist who supports adult literacy across America.
Today is Baldacci’s birthday and we’re going to celebrate it by sharing these quotes straight from this acclaimed author’s writing!
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“Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?” – The Camel Club.
2. “Today might not be so good. But tomorrow, you get another chance to get it right.” Absolute Power.
3. “The human spirit was the strongest medicine on earth. And sometimes all it needed was a little encouragement to pull off a miracle.” – The Forgotten.
4. “You know what kind of person it takes to run for President? Not normal. They could start out okay, but by the time they reach that level they’ve sold their soul to the devil so many times and stomped the guts out of enough people that they are definitely not like you and me, not even close.” – Absolute Power.
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5. “As my father wrote, one’s courage, hope, and spirit can be severely tried by the happenstance of life. But as I learned on this Virginia mountain, so long as one never loses faith, it is impossible to ever truly be alone.” – Wish You Well.
6. “But if you don’t know where you want to go, I suppose any path will get you there.” – The Finisher.
7. “It’s not the beginning or the destination that counts. It’s the ride in between.” – The Christmas Train.
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8. “Because life doesn’t work that way. You can do everything perfectly. Do everything you think you’re supposed to be doing. Fulfill every expectation that other people may have. And you still won’t get the results you think you deserve. Life is crazy and maddening and often makes no sense.” – One Summer.
9. “Depending on the situation, sometimes you can know a person better in ten minutes than someone you have crossed paths with all your life.” – The Simple Truth.
10. “Time doesn’t really heal, it just makes you not to give a crap.” – Split Second.
What are some of your favorite Baldacci novels? Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to wish “Happy birthday!” to this fabulous author!
From puppy pics to political news, Twitter is a wonderful place. It’s also home of a wave of flash fiction writers. Here are a few to follow to add some fiction to your feed, even when you don’t have time for short stories.
The absolute best Twitter flash fiction has to offer. Fantasy, mystery, and magical realism combined and intertwined in full stories under two-hundred-eighty words, with a philosophical bend that’ll make you contemplate the combination of genres.
This little bot may not know much, but it certainly has bizarre and whimsical grasp of mythological elements. At the risk of feeling like you’ve thrown a bunch of fantasy books in a blender, follow this bot for some strangeness on your feed.
For moody magical realism, look no further. Brief character sketches build strange and unlikely worlds, sci-fi flare, and elegant prose that are sure to have you excited for these stories on your feed.
But this list focuses on the movies and shows that got it right; the ones might have borrowed a hammer from J.K. Rowling’s toolbox but came up with their own blueprints. These characters may attend a school suspiciously similar to Hogwarts, but their stories are, at the very least, their own.
1. Sky High
Image via IMDb
Sky High was made by Disney in 2005, and was written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Shooley, and Mark McCorkle.
The movie follows Will Stronghold as he attends Sky High, a school for teens with superpowers. Even though Will’s parent’s are two of the most famous superheroes in the world (think Mr. Incredible and Elastagirl), Will struggles with the fact that he hasn’t developed any powers of his own.
Though slightly dated and definitely intended for children, Sky High serves as a charming reminder of the DCOMS of yesteryear, and the sorting method within Sky High is very reminiscent of Hogwarts.
2. Witch University
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Return to Halloweentownis the fourth movie in Disney’s Halloweentown series, and was written by Max Enscoe, Annie Deyoung, and Paul Bernbaum.
In this installment of the franchise Marnie, our lead witch, is off to college at Witch University. She finds that it doesn’t quite meet her expectations, as students are not allowed to actually practice magic. However, she finds her purpose while traversing through the college dungeon when she uncovers a mysterious box with the name ‘S. Cromwell’ etched into its’ top.
The movie follows Marnie’s attempts to bring the school’s secrets to light, while dodging witches looking to have her expelled.
3. Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies
Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies is a school lead by Cordelia Foxx, the supreme. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it, but if Harry Potter spawned your love of witches and you’re looking for the adult equivalent then this may be the show for you.
4. St. Vladimir’s Academy
Image via Microsoft
Vampire Academy came out in 2014, to disappointing results. The movie cost about $30 million to make, and made about 15 million in the box office. This is partially due to the fact that the movie adaptation of Vampire Academy is very different from the novel in terms of tone.
The novel was published in 2007, at the height of the Twilight hype train. And like many of the YA-vampire themed novels at the time it had a very dark tone. The main character, Rose Hathaway, was a teen girl navigating school, boys, and vampirism with her snarky wit and depressing outlook.
The movie, however, zooms in on the snark and amps up the humor. Many dedicated fans were displeased with this change, though the movie can stand well on it’s own. If you wish you could have seen a few of more of the gags and goofs that took place in Hogwarts, then Vampire Academy might help satisfy that need!