Saturday, May 4, 2019

Subplots and Storylines - March & April 2019

Happy May! Last time Subplots and Storylines came around, I recapped January and February. It's strange to think it's only been two months since then . . . it feels like four, considering how much was packed into them!

[Note: be sure to catch the P.S. at the end of the post!]

Last day of college!
For one thing, after a torrential downpour of school projects--and a great big entrepreneurship tradeshow thingie--I am officially done college! I don't get my diploma until June. But the work is done. Classes are over. Exams have been written. I am no longer a student. (!!!) It's been an adventure and a half, I tell ya. Someday I might tell you all about it.

What else . . .

I registered for Realm Makers! I don't think I've announced that here yet, but yes--I'll be there for my third time in a row, and I can't wait. This time, my bro Josiah is coming with me!

In other news, we celebrated Easter, I squeezed in some friend time between college assignments (yay for Scrabble and London Fogs and pizza nights and trying African food for the first time!). I was also a bridesmaid in a dear friend's wedding.

My seven-year-old laptop rebelled and started crashing every time I used it. So I finally bought myself a shiny new one.*

*Feel like it needs a name, though . . . Maybe Sebastian. Because a) I like the name and b) it reminds me of Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan . . . and the laptop is sleek and metallic like Bucky's arm? IDK, man.

Aaaand on top of all of that, I started my new job this week! I'm now in the marketing department of a nonprofit organization. My head is spinning with all the new things I'm learning, but I positively love what I get to do and who I get to work with. God is so cool!

Here's yet another "and"--I joined the Havok team! Very excited to learn the ropes and start helping writers get their flash fiction into the world.

Screen Subplots

T V  S H O W S

I rewatched two episodes of The Flash season 3 and started The Flash season 4 (so good!). Also rewatched an episode of Once Upon a Time season 4.

M A R C H  M O V I E S

Christopher Robin
Heartwarming, nostalgic, and so, so perfect. I cried. Several times. The Hundred Acre Wood was my childhood love, and somehow Pooh still has the ability to say just the right thing in his simple way. I loved watching him and his friends help a grown-up Christopher Robin recapture his wonder.

"Sometimes when I'm going somewhere and I wait, somewhere comes to me."

Ralph Breaks the Internet
This was actually pretty cute (minus a few sort-of crass jokes). It ended up having a much deeper theme than I expected, dealing with what happens when best friends go different directions in life. And interpreting the Internet as an actual setting was really cool. Worth seeing if you liked the first one! (Also Gal Gadot was in it!)

"My autofill is a touch aggressive today."

Captain Marvel
IT WAS NOT AS BAD AS THE CRITICS SAID. I was leery after reviews (and Brie Larson herself) made it an ultra-feminism issue, but the movie didn't come off as preachy to me, thankfully.

And while it may not be my favorite Marvel movie to date, it was a fun addition with plenty of banter between Carol Danvers and Nick Fury, the surprise that is Goose, and 90's throwbacks. (Blockbuster, anyone?) Plus there was a super interesting take on the prejudices that drive war. I'm hoping for good things if we get any sequels!

"Do you know how to fly this thing?"
"That's a yes or no question."

A P R I L  M O V I E (S)

Avengers: Endgame
AHHHHHHHH!!!! Pardon the fangirl in me, but that movie is INCREDIBLE. I'm in awe at the scope of the thing, the emotional depth, the satisfying conclusion. Three hours of awesomeness and feels.

It's bittersweet to see this massive story come to an end. After all, I spent most of my teen years looking forward to the next MCU release date. But it's been a good ride. *immediately wants to go on a Marvel movie binge* Maybe I'll manage to collect my thoughts in a full review once more of the world has seen it!

(There are so many quotes I'd like to list here, but this one's from the trailer, so it's not spoilery.)

"Whatever it takes."

Page Storylines

M A R C H  B O O K S

Reclaiming Shilo Snow // Mary Weber
Remember me screeching about the amazingness of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow in the last S&S post? Well, the sequel continued with the same guts and heart as the first book. As Sofi and Miguel hurry to save Sofi's brother, more heartpounding twists hurtled me right to the satisfying finale.

Together, this duology is inspiring in the truest sense of the word. It holds up a mirror and asks us to find our humanity, to choose goodness over rightness, and to make every choice one of love.

(Goodreads review here.) 5 stars!

Songkeeper // Gillian Bronte Adams
Taking a decidedly darker turn than its prequel, Orphan's Song, this book follows Birdie through her struggle to hold onto hope when the Song feels distant, and Ky's misadventures as he tries to protect his Underground friends.

I took almost a month to read this (thanks, college). Maybe that's why the story seemed to lack that "just one more chapter" pull.

But hey, Gundhrold the griffin is still there, Amos is still his belligerent self, we get to explore the further reaches of Leira, and the ending plunges into the heart of darkness in order to reveal the cogs that have been turning the series' main conflict! So yay for that! I'm interested to see how everything shapes up in the third and final book.

(Full review on Goodreads.) 3.5-4 stars.

A P R I L  B O O K S

The Scent of Her Soul // Bryan Davis
In this human trafficking story with a speculative twist, Mike has the ability to track the scent of young girls’ souls. He’s been searching for his daughter (who was abducted three years ago) and trying in the meantime to rescue as many trafficked girls from prostitution as possible.

Needless to say, this was a sad, intense, and horrifying read—yet the heroes of the tale gave me hope. It’s absolutely sickening what goes on in our very own streets, right under our noses. But as Mike repeatedly reminds himself, “Every girl is special. Every girl is unique. Every girls needs a hero.”

Based on the subject matter, along with some swearing (which I felt was justified and not gratuitous), I would recommend this only for mature readers. Be advised that there is frequent talk of rape as well as on-screen violence. However, it was all very well-written from the perspective of motivating action in the reader. Mr. Davis has tackled an extremely difficult topic head on and has done an excellent job.

Sky in the Deep // Adrienne Young
When I finally cracked open Sky a year after its hyped release, I hoped I'd love it as much as I wanted to. Vikings! Battle! Family! Gorgeous cover! And now I can say I DID love it.

Eelyn's a kick-butt, axe-wielding heroine, but she has a heart, which kept her from becoming just another warrior girl. That heart might be iced over with anger and bitterness, but her slow thaw was perfect.

I kind of hated Fiske at the beginning. I was worried he’d be the typical alpha male love interest who “makes up” for his foul moods by being hot. Thankfully that wasn’t the case! He too had a heart, fiercely protective of his family, and I loved him for that.

And Halvard!!! My previous boy! He was exactly the innocent touch that both Eelyn and the book itself needed. Inge and Iri are great too, even if Iri got overshadowed by Fiske toward the end.

I also loved the Viking-inspired culture, the crisp setting, and the beautiful-yet-punchy prose. Some truly heart pounding scenes took place! (And this is the perfect comp title for one of my own books, so yay!)

Some small dislikes include a few places where it was unclear who was speaking, a couple of make-out sessions, etc. And readers should be aware that the violence is rather bloody, and there is one very gory torture scene I wasn't expecting.

Other than that, though, I loved it! The power of family—of blood and of choice—runs through from the first page to the last.

Sentinel // Jamie Foley
Sentinel feels like it waltzed through the Story Elements Grocery Store and picked up a few bags of fantasy, a box of dystopian, a bit of supernatural, and a smidgen of alternate universe. Throw in some generous helpings of humor and voila! I don't know what it is, but hey. Breaking genres is cool, even if it confused me a bit in the beginning.

I loved the magic academy, the whole aether magic thing going on (there were some superhero vibes), and the fact that we get a sibling relationship from the younger one's point-of-view.

There's a big cast of characters and lots of banter going on. A few of my favorite people...
  • Darien, the main character, is such a puppy--probably one of the more realistic 16-year-old boys I've read about (in terms of maturity).
  • Jet is just awesome.
  • Levi sounded exactly like Haymitch (*cough* I mean Woody Harrelson) in my head.
  • Sorvashti has a language barrier.

Some events felt like they needed more foreshadowing or explanation . . . just more development, in general. But I hear that a prequel novella should clear some of that up. Overall, though, it was a pretty fun story! (JET IS MY FAV. MUST READ MORE BECAUSE OF JET.)

(Full Goodreads review.) 4 stars.

Sword in the Stars (first edition) // Wayne Thomas Batson
Sword in the Stars plunges you into Batson's richest, broadest fantasy realm yet--the land of Myriad. Here we roam forested kingdoms and ancient ruins and dark keeps, following a large cast of characters in a cinematic style. Rereading this book was a huge nostalgia kick. This was one of the tales that shaped my love of fantasy. Now, seven years later, a bit of the shine has worn off, but I still love the heart and vision of this book.

Former assassin Alastair Coldhollow drives much of the plot forward. Wrestling with a bloody past and an addiction to Witchdrale, he nevertheless searches for the Halfainin, a hero prophesied to defeat the Dark King and save Myriad. But a baby he never wanted and a woman he meant to stay away from pull Alastair in another direction.

Before you know it, he becomes caught in a web of dark designs as his former master, King Morlan, secretly stirs the kingdoms to war.

I loved Alastair, Queen Maren (who's a total boss), the Shepherds, the slow decline of the people's faith, Cythraul (the creepy dude), and all the allegorical elements!

What I didn't love so much were some spelling/punctuation mistakes that could've been caught with another proofread. Also there's a continuity problem with a character death--but the new-and-improved second edition fixes that! (I checked.) The beginning third of the book meanders. A few anachronisms like "okay" threw me off a little bit.

But I was pleasantly surprised at how well the majority of this book held up so many years later!
Myriad is a world I can sink my teeth into, meaty enough to carry the rest of this series (which I think is supposed to be seven books long). I applaud Mr. Batson for setting the stage as he did, choosing poignant characters to head up a story playing out on a global scale.

(Full review on Goodreads, complete with a fully explained list of what I loved and didn't love.) 4 stars!

[I am also quite pleased that all six of these books either start with S or almost do, and all of the covers except Reclaiming Shilo Snow match really well. #aesthetics]

Written Subplots

Not much to report here yet, but in April I did write a short story very spontaneously. It was one of those "just for me" sorts of things and was so good for my head and heart. So take note, writers! If you need to spend some time writing something that you don't plan to do anything with, ever, give yourself that gift.

Hello, May!

What have you been up to? Have you seen Endgame yet?! Read any of those books--or do any of them look like they should go on your to-be-read pile?

P.S. I'm going on a blogging hiatus, probably for the month of May! Why? I'm going to start the Great Move (aka I'm moving from Blogger to my own website). I'll be back when everything is ready to go! In the meantime, pop in and visit me on Instagram. See you later!



    I agree, I was worried about Captain Marvel, but I was shocked on how good it was! And ENDGAME. MY WORD. IT WAS ALMOST PERFECTION.

    (I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Flash Season 4 - is it any good? I’ve heard it’s weird.....)

    Good luck with the move! I can’t wait to see the new site!


      Right?! I was NOT sure what to expect with Captain Marvel but really ended up enjoying it. YES, ENDGAME WAS ALMOST PERFECTION AND I AM SO HAPPY/HEARTBROKEN. <//3

      (I've only seen one episode so far, but... yes! So far, I like it! I'll keep y'all posted.)

      Thank you!!!

  2. Oh wow so much has happened in your life these last two months! A job you enjoy and teaming up with Havok is amazing though, I'm so happy for you! <3 I'm so glad that you enjoyed Sky in the Deep, it makes me feel like I can justify picking up a copy of it now. ;)

    Have a wonderful month, and best wishes with the Great Move!

    1. It's been crazy! But also really good. ^_^ Thank you so much, Melissa!! <3 Oooh, yes, Sky in the Deep was a wonderful read. And that cover is just too pretty not to buy. ;)

      Happy May! And thanks again!

  3. You're working with Havok??? That's amazing! And Congrats on being done with school ;)

    1. Yes, I'm on the Thursday Thriller editorial team now! :D Thanks so much, Keturah! It feels great to be done. Hope your May is off to a good start!

  4. I'm just so proud of my Tracey and all the amazing thiiings! You finished college and started a new job and are going to Realm Makers (SO EXCITED *SQUEALS*) and started working for Havok and just ALL THE THINGS!

    I never did see Ralph Breaks the Internet. I definitely hope to sometime though. But YESSS to Christopher Robin! UGH. It was just so precious. :') And I totally agree with all your Captain Marvel thoughts. AND ENDGAME ALKSJDLFKJ:LSJD:FIJEKJS:LDJF:LIDSJLFKJ:SDKJFKJSDFJ. Ahem. That's all I'll say for now. ;)

    It looks like you read SO many great books in the past couple of months! Reclaiming Shilo Snow was so, so good! I honestly don't know if I like that one or the first book better. I found them equally amazing. And, since it's one big story anyway, it's hard to even separate them. I just love the WHOLE story in general.
    I still need to finish Gillian's books! I've only read Orphan's Song. It just shameful I haven't read the other two yet.
    I would like to read The Scent of Her Soul as well! I remember him posting the first few chapters on his blog when he started writing it, and I was hooked. It's also really refreshing seeing Christian authors (like Bryan Davis and Mary Weber) tackle these heavy subjects. We need more of that!
    Sky in the Deep is another one I'm DYING to read one day, and that's encouraging to hear you liked it! Will definitely have to snag it sometime.
    You know my deep love for Sentinel of course. ;D
    Annnd I REALLY need to read more Batson! I actually have that one on my shelf, because I found it for cheap not too long ago. But yeah, I've only ever read his Door Within trilogy. Definitely need to try more sometime!

    I love that you took time out to just do some for-you writing. That IS important! I've actually been realizing that very thing lately. Since I've recently written a couple of flash fiction pieces and a short story, it showed me how NICE it is to just take a little bit of time to just WRITE something. I don't do that nearly enough, but whenever I do, it fills me up. Sometimes I forget the joy of simply WRITING.

    I'm sooooo excited to see what you'll do moving over to a self-hosted website! :D I do hope it goes well! And if you need to rant to me through the process, or ask questions, don't hesitate since I just went through it myself. (Though I kind of stumbled along and really can't even pretend to know what I'm doing, but still. XD)

    I hope your May is the BEST!!!!! Congrats again on ALL THE THINGS. Such a proud friend over here! :')

    1. *giant bear hugs* YOU'RE THE SWEETEST, THANK YOU!

      Ralph Breaks the Internet was pretty fun! Not mind-blowing or anything, but entertaining. I'm so happy I own a copy of Christopher Robin (it was a Christmas gift)--because I must see it again! <3 ENDGAAAAAME!!! I need to pop over and read your review on your blog!

      I see SOFI and SHILO as two parts of the same big story, too! I mean, the second one picks up right where the first left off, after all. And they're both sooo good. Much too underrated!
      Ah, yes, keep reading!
      That preview on Bryan Davis's blog hooked me too. I'm super glad I finally read the full book. Totally engaging and intense (and also sad). YES to your thoughts on tackling heavy topics! *high fives*
      Ooooh, SKY! I think you're going to love the atmosphere and the setting! Hopefully the characters too. ;)
      Man, Christine, I'm starting to think I need to ship the contents of my bookshelf down to you! (Kidding, kidding.) Wait, you've only read The Door Within? Not his pirate books yet either? :O So many books, so little time...

      Yes! We both need to do write just for fun more often! You're so right, it's important to stay in touch with the JOY of writing. <333

      Thank yooouuu! I'm in the process right now, and YIKES. I'm a total newbie with most of it. XD Thanks for being open for questions! I'm just stumbling along after you.

      Have a splendid May yourself! Goodness, it's half over already... D'awww, you really are the sweetest, Christine!

  5. love this post, Tracey! congrats on finishing college!! <3 <3

    YES I LOVED CAPTAIN MARVEL <3 <3. not sure why people didn't like it? i totally get why people would dislike Brie Larson, as she has some very strong opinions on feminism, etc. that i disagree with, but i loved her as Carol! and Carol and Fury's friendship was absolutely adorable. and the SKRULLS.

    AND ENDGAME. <3 <3

    1. Awww, thank you, Allison! <333

      CAPTAIN MARVEL! I just wish she had been awesome in Endgame too... She fell a little flat there for me. :/ But yes, actress's views aside, Carol was great in her own movie, and her banter with Fury is THE ABSOLUTE BEST. Ahhh, the SKRULLS. So good!

      ENDGAME. *sobs*

  6. Congratulations on joining the Havok team! (I'm slightly jealous). Also congratulations on finishing college!
    I keep hearing about Sky in the Deep, and I still need to read the Songkeeper Chronicles.

    1. Thank you, Blue! <3 (Next time they have openings, you should definitely throw your hat in the ring.)

      Sky in the Deep was lovely! And the Songkeeper Chronicles is one of the only series with a griffin as a major character that I've read, so... that's important. ;) Happy reading!


    AND (more all caps, I know) I AM COMING TO REALM MAKERS. MAYBE I CAN MEET YOU. I am SO excited for this conference.

    Endgame, YES. <3 <3 <3 :'(


    1. Also, congrats on finishing college. That is huge! I'm starting college in the fall, and reading a blog by a writer who was just that much ahead of me in life has been really encouraging.

    2. HAHA, YOU'RE ADORABLE. <3 London Fogs are such a treat!

      YOU WHAT?! HANNAAAA! I'm so excited we'll get to meet for realz! <3 You're going to have to come find me, because I won't know your face. XD

      Endgame--my poor heart, it was pretty much perfect, wasn't it?

      Thank you! Ahhh, so exciting that it's your turn for college now! Anytime you need advice or need to vent, I gotcha. ;) That is actually so heartwarming to hear--thank you! *hugs*

  8. Congrats on finishing college! :D

    Ralph Breaks The Internet was.. interesting? I think it got worse towards the end, but I really liked the way they did the internet as well!

    Brie Larson's face just.. annoys me, idk why XD

    Oh my gosh I REALLY want to see Endgame SO BADLY it looks so gooddd (I already have two deaths spoiled for me but oh well :P)

    1. THANK YOU! :D

      The ending was...a bit odd, yes. XD (I think we're thinking about the same part...) My favorite was the search bar dude with the aggressive autofill! XD

      Hahaha! Some people just rub us the wrong way, I guess. :P

      IT WAS AMAZING, but awww, that's awful you've had stuff spoiled for you!! I hope you enjoy it regardless.

  9. Congrats on college! Accomplishing that must have felt amazing.
    I'm so glad your going to Realm Makers!
    I still need to see Captain Marvel, but Endgame killed me.

    1. Thanks, Skye! It's sooo nice to be done now. XD

      Looking forward to it! I've lost track of who's all coming this year--are you?

      I can't remember the last movie that made me cry as much as Endgame did. D':

  10. So much awesome stuff in this post! SO MANY GREAT WATCHES! SO MANY GREAT READS! SQUEE! I loved Endgame! And I can't wait to see you at RM this year! :D :D :D

    1. ALL THE GOOD STUFF, LOL! ;) Endgame is probably going to end up as my favorite movie of 2019. RM is coming up so fast--can't wait to see you too!!!

  11. Btw, random, but what theme is your blog? (Simple, watermark, etheral, travel etc)

    1. I think it's Contempo? But I customized a few things. It's been sooo long since I set it up, it's hard to remember!

  12. how did you get those progress bars? (for your stories, like tbt)

    1. I used this website:

      And then I would just periodically update the picture of the progress bar on my blog's sidebar. :)

  13. Congrats on finishing college and starting TWO new jobs!!! Huzzah! *tosses confetti*

    Wow, you managed to watch and read a LOT while finishing up college! My last semester of college was this exhausted blur of prepping lesson plans and worrying about finding a job and interacting with 7-12 graders who all made me question my decision to become a teacher... LOL I'm impressed!

    EEEEP! A new blog/website! Can't wait to see it!

    1. Sorry for the SUPREMELY late reply, Jenelle! Thanks for the congratulations and confetti!

      I honestly don't even know how that happened. XD It WAS an exhausted blur... So I must've retreated into fiction every spare minute just for my sanity's sake. *shrugs*