December 31, 2015

[Book Review] Play Dead (A Dog and His Girl Mysteries, #1) by Jane B. Mason & Sarah Hines Stephens

Play Dead was downloaded free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, I'm inclined to say this is another of those cases where the cover is quite a bit better than the book itself. I wanted to love this story, based on how utterly adorable both the cover and the concept are... but I only kind of tolerated it instead.

Play Dead, the first book in Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens' A Dog and His Girl Mysteries, is a mystery story told in alternating POVs, swapping at varying intervals between the titular dog, Dodge, and his titular girl, Cassie. There are some cute, funny moments throughout, most of which revolve around the dog (there's a bit about dogs using fire hydrants as what's essentially a community bulletin board where they leave each other notes), and I have to give it props for being what I'm fairly sure is the first chapter book (the cover makes it look like an MG novel, but it's definitely more along the lines of elementary grade fare) I've read that acknowledges that youngsters nowadays have phones.

On the other hand, it had two major elements that I was certainly not happy to see. Most frustratingly, we have the same old tired mean girl tropes trotting by one by one here in the form of a girl named Summer and her "posse", who all have "matching haircuts, phony smiles, and lunches that they'd barely eat". I'm genuinely inclined to wonder at this point why all all these kidlit and MG authors are recycling the same tired tropes with no regard to how they don't actually reflect reality--or if I'm supposed to believe believe that every one of them actually lived through childhoods beleaguered by roving gangs of catty, pretty girls. I'm certainly inclined to think it's the former, and I've gotta say it irks, to put it mildly.

Mean Girls was funny. Pretending that Mean Girls is an accurate reflection of female relationships is not.

But that's not the biggest problem I had with this. I can handle a mean girl or two. You have to be able to handle that stereotype if you want to read books like these simply because it's so frustratingly common. No, what really pissed me off about this one is that I couldn't stand Cassie; she's a complete at utter brat, an opinion was solidified when she decides that the only reasonable response to Summer's snide comments toward the new girl is to throw her lunch on her. Is that supposed to be funny? Because it's just utterly not.

Cassie, meanwhile, seems downright offended when she's the one who gets in trouble instead of Summer--you know, the girl she attacked. As she puts it, "As a member of the faculty, [the lunch aide, Ms. Croswell] automatically assumed the person screaming was the one who had been wronged." ...all of which perfectly exemplifies how Cassie is not, as the narrative would have you believe, some kind of underdog sticking up for the other students; Cassie's a bully. At a later point in the story, she refers to Summer as a "freaky Barbie puppet" and her friends team up to pull a prank on her that's every bit as mean and unnecessary as anything Summer and her friends pull. And I'm supposed to be rooting for this kid? No, thank you.

So my verdict on that front is a very simple, "no more mean girl plots, please and thank you." Seriously. I showed up for dogs and for mysteries; I neither want nor need any of this cartoonish cattiness. Are realistic relationships--both positive and negative--between fictional girls and antagonists who are more than cardboard cutouts of a stereotype really so much to ask for?

But the point of this story was the mystery, so let me get to that. The best thing I can say about it is that most of it is a perfectly reasonable, relatively enjoyable mystery. The worst thing I can say about it is that the plot twist was ludicrous. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that it involves a trope that is utterly nonsensical and doesn't work in a mystery--not even one for children--with these kinds of stakes. I simply cannot stretch my suspension of disbelief far enough to do anything but laugh about the ending to the Play Dead mystery. It is straight-up silly.

If you have a small child who is absolutely, super-duper addicted to reading kidlit mysteries or in possession of an overwhelming need to read about a sleuthing dog, Play Dead might be what you're looking for. But if you're just looking to introduce your kid to a solid mystery series of chapter books, I'd definitely suggest the A to Z Mysteries series instead.

As for me, I think I'll eventually get around to giving the sequel a chance. But if there's no improvement there--particularly on the front of Summer and co., since I've certainly forgiven much sillier plot twists that this one in the past (I'm looking at you, Who Cloned the President?)--I think I'm out. Plenty of other stuff to read.

If you like the sound of this book, here are some others I think you might enjoy!

[Series Review] Flower Girl World by Lynelle Woolley

Iris and the Aloha Wedding Adventure was downloaded free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Lynelle Wooley's Flower Girl World is a series of two chapter books for young children, and the theme is exactly what you'd expect from the title. It's about a group of little girls who serve as flower girls in a wedding and decide to form a club for their not-quite-a-hobby. The series is fairly cute and I enjoy the art (it looks like something that would be at home in one of those casual Time Management games, like Diner Dash or Delicious or--more relevant here--Diner Dash's spin-off series, Wedding Dash), though I can't say I'm aware of any demographic of girls particularly interested in the idea of flower girls. I certainly didn't have any such interests when I was that age, though I imagine this series might have changed that, had it been around back in the mid-nineties!

I'm going to say that Rosie and the Wedding Day Rescue, the first book in the series, is definitely the weaker of the two. I picked up my copy for free from Amazon during a promotional period (I keep up with Kindle freebies over at /r/FreeEBOOKS), but I didn't get around to reading it until now. It's short and it's cute, though it's not exactly the most fascinating or logical thing I've ever read.

It's really exactly what you'd expect it to be. Three cute little girls (making up your typical white/blonde, white/brunette, and ambiguously brown/brunette trio) are invited to be flower girls at a wedding, and they get to pick out their clothes, deal with insecurity, and solve all the bride's problems along the way. Because of the low page count, though, there isn't much time devoted to any of these issues, and I'd say the "helping the bride" bits suffered the worst for that; but then, I always find these kinds "the kids save the day" plots kind of ridiculous--but I'm sure a kid within the age of the target audience will get a kick out it no matter what I think.

Iris and the Aloha Wedding Adventure was more fun. While the first book revolved around the brunette tomboy, Rosie, Aloha Wedding Adventure shifts focus over to the blonde, Iris, and gives her a new friend when she travels to Hawaii to be in another wedding. Unlike Wedding Day Rescue, which revolved around the typical "kids save the day" course of events with some wedding trappings as flair, the wedding here served as a set-up for something I find much more interesting.

Iris' new friend, Hana, is a mixed-ethnicity girl of Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian descent, and her Tutu--her grandmother--introduces the reader to some Hawaiian mythology in the form of the Menehune. It really helped to make the Hawaiian theme seem less like empty trappings thrown on for the sake of exotic flavor and more like actual cultural diversity, and I loved it. Had I read this as a kindergartner, I don't doubt that I would've adored it.

At the moment, the Flower Girl World website has no information about any upcoming books in the series, but if any more do come out, I definitely hope Woolley keeps going in the direction she took with Aloha Wedding Adventure. As for me, if I spot any more FGW books on Netgalley in the future, I'm definitely going to give them a chance. I'd love to see this series go further with the cultural exploration and get into different wedding traditions around the world.

If you like the sound of these books, check out the rest of the Flower Girl World line!

December 30, 2015

Picture Books 2015: Part Two

This review contains spoilers.

All books reviewed below were downloaded free from either Netgalley or Edelweiss in exchanged for an honest review.

Made in China: A Story of Adoption by Vanita Oelschlager
This is a sweet, rhyming story about a Chinese-born, adopted little girl with a white older sister who teases her about being "made in China", just like the label reads on so many American products. Concerned, the girl approaches her (also white) father, who tells her the story of her birth mother and her adoption while reassuring her of his love. It's another beautifully illustrated picture book focusing on a specific type of a parent-child relationship from the author of A Tale of Two Daddies and A Tale of Two Mommies. I recommend all three to anyone looking for pro-diversity children's book.

Baby Santa by M. Maitland DeLand
I read and reviewed Baby Santa and the Gift of Giving, another book in this series, last year, but somehow I failed to snatch up the other Baby Santa books available at Netgalley! I'm fixing that this year, and Baby Santa, this first book in DeLand's series, is much the same as the most recent. It's another quick little story about Santa's and Mrs. Claus's young child, Baby Santa; while Gift of Giving had, as its title implies, a charity theme, Baby Santa introduces its main character and, as so many children's books do, lets him save the day--but only after he's put it in peril. If you're looking for a Christmas story, this is a perfectly reasonable choice.

Baby Santa's Worldwide Christmas Adventure by M. Maitland DeLand
Baby Santa saves the again in this second Baby Santa book; this time, Santa's sleigh is in the repair shop when it needs to be heading off toward rooftops, and it's Baby Santa's encouragement that gives Santa and his elves a plan. With the day saved, the father-son duo head out to deliver presents all over the world in various vehicles, from race cars and motorcycles to kayaks and blimps. If your small child enjoyed the first book, he or she will enjoy this one.

Baby Santa and the Lost Letters by M. Maitland DeLand
Once again, Christmas is in peril. A whole bunch of letters to Santa are missing from his mailbox, and this time, Baby Santa gets help from not only Santa and the elves, but Prancer and Prancer's network of animal friends around the globe. I'm not gonna lie, that's a fairly cute element that I can't say I was expecting. Thinking about myself as I was when I fit the demographic for this series, Baby Santa and the Lost Letters definitely would have been my favorite of the series.

Baby Santa and the Missing Reindeer by M. Maitland DeLand
I'm going to say this is the weakest of the Baby Santa series; it opens with its issue already in progress--Santa's team of fun-seeking reindeer have scattered off, and they need to be back in time for Christmas. So Baby Santa, whose whole family is unexpected change in this installment into ethnic Africans (from ethnic Europeans), and while I enjoy a children's book that presents a Santa Claus altered from the common variant displayed on the majority of America's Christmas products, I'm a bit thrown by the switch (especially since the change is reverted for the next book, Gift of Giving).

In any case, the story follows Baby Santa on his journey around the globe and presents us with the rather disturbing image of a reindeer dancing on his hind legs in The Nutcracker--costume included, in case you're wondering--while another is seen playing professional, Christmas-themed American football. All in all, it's kind of a weird experience, and I'd say that in terms of plot, it's a bit weaker than the others in the series, which all had more build-up and involvement from the other characters before diving into the 'round-the-world sleigh ride. But if your kid enjoys the Baby Santa series, I'm sure they'll enjoy this one, too.

Magic Words: From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit by Edward Field
Magic Words is a short poem about Inuit mythology--a little too short for my tastes, actually. But the illustrations are beautiful, and if you're trying to spark or nurture your child's interest in Native American cultures and mythologies (specifically Inuit or in general), this might be a great choice for you.


Does an Owl Wear Eyeglasses by Harriet Ziefert
Does An Owl Wear Eyeglasses? is a nonfiction book that teaches kids about eyes and eyesight by asking the titular question for various species. I think that aspect of it is undeniably well-done, but I have to admit that I'm a bit put off by "dear parents" letter preceding the book. I found it rather condescending, in all honesty. But it doesn't detract from the value kids will get from the book!

A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg
A Storm Called Katrina is about a musical little boy and his family as they survive and ensure the hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath, even adopting a little dog presumably stayed by the storm. It's a bittersweet family story that will serve very well for today's young children; though the target audience is now much too young to have experienced the disaster themselves, many will surely have relatives who were affected, and A Storm Called Katrina is a great way to begin introducing a child to the reality of the storm--and natural disasters in general.

How the Meteorite Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland
How the Meteorite Got to the Museum is a picture book with a repeating element, a la The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. I think there's a bit of a disconnect between the target audience's age and the reading level of some of the diction, so this is probably better read to a child than by a child (unless that child is particularly intuitive four-year-old capable of discerning definition from context or inordinately fond of consulting their dictionary). It's not a bad story or an unenjoyable book by any means, but it might also require its child audience to have some preexisting knowledge of what exactly a meteorite is, because that's not really covered here. Pair it with Magic School Bus' space episode, though, and I think you've got a solid, fun educational experience for your kid(s).

Want to buy one of these books? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate!

December 28, 2015

Picture Books 2015: Part One

This review contains spoilers.


Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
In a black and white, nearly colorless world displayed in worldless panels of sequential art, a little girl in a red coat finds the titular colored sidewalk flowers while walking with her father. As they walk, she distributes them and slowly spreads color throughout her world--metaphorically, no doubt, but nevertheless. I can't say I'm fond of worldless picture books; I can't shake the feeling that I should be watching a short film, not flipping through a book.

Your Baby's First Word Will be Dada by Jimmy Fallon
There's really not much to it. Every page save the last two features a different father-and-child animal pair, on one side of which the father animal firmly insists "Dada!" in hopes of persuading his youngster to chose it for his or her first word… and every single one is rejected. On the last two pages, however, the fathers band together, and the kids all finally declare, "Dada!' in unison. Honestly, I'm not sure what the point of this is; because of the simplicity, it's clearly intended to be one of a child's very first experiences with books. So, is it simply trying to make a joke about children not giving their parents the first word the parents want to hear? Is it actually intended to encourage children whose parents read the book to them to ultimately decide "Dada" is a first word worthy of them after all? Am I putting too much thought into a book that has, at most, thirty words within it? Almost certainly.

Float by Daniel Miyares
Another wordless picture book, this time about a boy in the rain with a newspaper boat. Unsurprisingly, it meets a soggy ending in a storm drain… but once the rain clears, the boy returns to the outdoors with a newspaper airplane and is every bit as thrilled as he was before the sinking of the S.S. Newspaper. The best feature of the book is actually the inside cover decorations; the front displays pictorial instructions on how to fold a paper sailboat, while the back teaches one to fold a paper airplane.

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
It's a very simple "story" (I say this with quotations because there's no plot to speak of) written from the perspective of a parent speaking to his or her child, outlining all the things he or she wishes for the child, each metaphorically meaning that the parent wishes their child to live a fruitful, enjoyable life. And I do mean that it genuinely expresses that hope, without the added caveat of pointing out that many, many children do not, in fact, live such lives or else will not any longer upon reaching adulthood; for better or for worse, there's no cynicism or stark realism to be found here.


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
This one's a very sweet story about a little boy and his nana on their way to volunteer at their local soup kitchen. The boy is as curious as his grandmother is wise and compassionate, and ultimately it's a story of her efforts to impart these virtues unto him. The illustrations go out of their way to show people of varying skintones, body types, subcultural identities (when was the last time you saw a man with tattoos in a picture book?), and physical abilities (including a blind man who plays a brief but large role in the short plot).

Goodnight, Already! by Jory John
I'll admit, I was a bit worried this was going to be a deeply misguided G-rated version of Go the Fuck to Sleep, but I'm pleased to say that's definitely not what this is. Instead, it's the story of a busybody duck who utterly refuses to let its Bear neighbor sleep, and the entire time I was reading it, I could not stop picturing this exact same scenario playing out between Spongebob and poor Squidward; this plot would have been right at home in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. It even ends on the kind of note the show would; when the Bear finally gets angry enough to deter the Duck for any significant length of time, the Duck returns home… and promptly falls asleep. The Bear, meanwhile, has been annoyed into insomnia. Such is life. Poor Squidbear.

The best books in this batch were definitely Goodnight, Already! and Last Stop on Market Street, but the others were all enjoyable enough--as they should have been, considering each was a 2015 Goodreads Choice nominee. Though none of these won (that honor went to Drew Daywalt's The Day the Crayons Came Home, which I have yet to read), I think Last Stop on Market Street would've gotten my vote, had I found the time to read it before voting closed. But then again, I haven't yet read all the nominees; perhaps there are a few other gems involved.

Picture Books 2015: Part Two should be up sometime before the first!

Want to buy one of these books? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate!

I'm Back!

Shame.
Alright, Internet. I've been gone a while. So long, in fact, that I think it would have been perfectly reasonable to assume that I wasn't coming back. But here I am! I'm not dead, I'm not missing, and I'm finally ready to get back into this.

So, where the hell have I been? What could have prompted me to take an almost year-long, unannounced hiatus? Well, I'd like to say I've simply been too busy, that I've been doing fun and exciting things that left me absolutely no time to blog--not a single second within all the drama to even drop a line here pointing out that, yeah, someday I'd wander back into these parts again.

But, in all honesty, that's not really the case. I have been doing stuff, devoting my free time to other pursuits and hobbies besides reading and blogging... but the reason Amara's Eden dropped off my 2015 schedule almost entirely--without me posting a single thing between the months of February and December!--isn't that I didn't have the time. I could have made the time, I'm sure, to occasionally read a book and write up a review. It was the energy that I didn't have, not the time. Or, perhaps more accurately, it was the enthusiasm. I was totally and utterly burned out with blogging; it wasn't fun, and I really wasn't getting anything from it but stress--am I posting enough? am I reading enough? fuck, when did I last post? can I put something together really quick to make up for it?--and eventually, what began as a bit of procrastination turned into a long period of irresponsible abandonment, and by the time that said period had grown into a span of months that's honestly fairly worth of some shame--who lets a blog just sit unattended for almost a year!?--the idea of trying to get back into this with that added stressor in mind was increasingly less likely.

Now, though, it's December. NaNoWriMo is over (and was great for me this year!) and 2016 is looming on the horizon. I have reading challenges sitting around unfinished, plenty of ancient eARCs still waiting to be read and reviewed, and heaping hordes of both library and owned books that are calling my attention.

Anyway, I'm back, at least for the foreseeable future. I can't say how frequently I'm going to post because I can't say how frequently I'm going to read; reading isn't my primary hobby anymore, I have to admit, and 2015 was a year almost entirely devoid of it. But I have so many great-looking books waiting in the wings that it's entirely unfair for me to neglect reading as a hobby--and, by extension, this blog--any longer.

At the very least, if I ever need to take another break like that in the future, I hope to leave with a hiatus post at least; the only excuse I have for not doing so this year was that by the time I realized I'd accidentally gone on hiatus, it seemed like too much time had passed to make a hiatus announcement reasonable. I definitely don't want to do that again, and while I'd like to at least something every week, I'm definitely going to try to post at least once or twice a month. (But hopefully much more?)

All that said, I'm going to be wrapping up my reading challenges from now until 2016 arrives, and then I'll think about declaring some new challenges to try to keep me motivated throughout the next year. So, without further ado, enjoy my first review in about ten months.

October 26, 2015

[Writing Challenge] 30-dreams | Dreamscape - Harmony Rey

Found here.

1. kiss 2. hug 3. touch/caress 4. vanilla 5. rose
6. awake or asleep 7. purple 8. disjointed 9. haunting 10. alluring
11. sweet melody 12. passion 13. drowning or falling 14. sleepwalking or sleeptalking 15. night, stars, and/or moon
16. white dragon 17. strawberries 18. treasure hunt 19. talking to god(s)* 20. endless corridor
21. peace or chaos 22. flying without wings 23. anything is possible 24. running with unicorns 25. phoenix and/or rebirth
26. when it's cold outside 27. every moment I'm awake 28. spirits within 29. breathe 30. dream and/or nightmare

*the word "god" is open to interpretation here; real dieties, fictional dieties, meta "dieties", etc.

[Writing Challenge] smut-69 | Parabellum - Sparrow

Found here.

1. Moan 2. Writhe 3. Satin 4. Lube 5. Ring
6. Restraints 7. Feather 8. Leather 9. Massage 10. Candle Wax
11. Ice 12. Oil 13. Thrust 14. Breast 15. Throat
16. Taut 17. Supple 18. Strained 19. Whisper 20. Lick
21. Kiss 22. Blindfold 23. Handcuffs 24. "Toys" 25. Orgy
26. Corset 27. Scent 28. Dominant 29. Submissive 30. Kinky
31. Erection 32. Champagne 33. Cuddle 34. Foreplay 35. Intercourse
36. Afterglow 37. Cherries 38. Fingers 39. Suckle 40. Virgins
41. Sluts 42. Relationships 43. Talking Dirty 44. Sweet Nothings 45. Proposition
46. Bottom 47. Top 48. Cunning 49. Heart 50. Heated
51. Lips 52. Role Play 53. Threesome 54. Self-Love 55. Voyeur
56. Cyber 57. Phone Encounter 58. Strangers 59. Best Friends 60. Enemies
61. Slick 62. Wet 63. Deep 64. Dirty 65. Bad
66. Wrong 67. Writer's Choice 68. Writer's Choice 69. Writer's Choice

[Writing Challenge] 30enemies | Dreamscape - Harmony Rey & Griffith Brannigan

Found here.

1. narcissism 2. fools 3. honor 4. annihilate 5. betrayal
6. complex system 7. seven sins 8. inhuman 9. gamble 10. thorns
11. wound 12. torture 13. mutual 14. lock without a key 15. midnight
16. asylum 17. foreshadowing 18. secrets 19. hell 20. king or queen
21. banana 22. sword 23. poison 24. true hatred 25. trespassing
26. blackmail 27. demonic angel 28. mercy 29. death 30. finality

[Writing Challenge] alphabetasoup | Parabellum

Found here.

The Mythology Prompts List
A is for Ares. B is for Baal. C is for Charybdis. D is for Dionysus. E is for Egeria.
F is for Fenrir. G is for Gaea. H is for Hades. I is for Isis. J is for Juno.
K is for Kali. L is for Lakshmi. M is for Maui. N is for Nyx. O is for Olokun.
P is for Pangu. Q is for Quatzalcoatl. R is for Ravana. S is for Sedna. T is for Thanatos.
U is for Ulysses. V is for Valhalla. W is for Wyvern. X is for Xanadu. Y is for Yggdrasil.
Z is for Ziggurat.

Definitions

[Writing Challenge] times-for-three | Parabellum - Sparrow/Frost/Galen

Found here. Claim a threesome or moresome, and write for the prompts.

001.First Kiss 002.Meeting the family 003.Singing along with the radio 004.A summer's night 005.First Glance
006.Stolen moments 007.A stolen kiss 008.Starlight 009.Sleeping in 010.Dealing with paperwork
011.Waiting for help 012.Standing in the rain 013.Staying up late 014.Covered in chocolate 015.Around a campfire
016.Watching the clock 017.Cuddling 018.Making the bed 019.Watching the game 020.Skating
021.Making dinner 022.In the emergency room 023.Dinner for three 024.Anniversary party 025.Picnic in the park
026.Waiting and hoping 027.Movie Night 028.Dancing under the stars 029.Reservation for three 030.Looking for forever

[Writing Challenge] meta-challenge | Parabellum

Found here. Your challenge is to produce ten fics using the principles of metafiction, essentially, fiction about fiction.

01.Character(s) Reading (Fan)fiction 02.Character(s) Writing (Fan)fiction
03.Character(s) Discover(s) Significant Spoilers For Their Own Canon Events. 04.One Of The Characters Is The Author
05.Character(s) Are Aware That They're In A Work Of Fiction (and express this). 06.A Pre-Existing Fic Is Retold From Another Character's Point Of View
07.A Pre-Existing Fic Is Retold In Another Fic Genre 08.The Character(s) Do(es) Things Simply Because That's What They Would Expect A Character In A Book/Movie/TV Show To Do
09.Story Has Extensive Footnotes, Which Continue The Story Whilst Commenting On It 10.The Author Is Not A Character, But Interacts With The Character(s)

[Writing Challenge] mission-insane | Parabellum - Sparrow

Found here. Complete twenty prompt tables, each with ten prompts. You must complete two of the Themed tables, two of the Un-Themed tables, two of the ‘Inspired By’ tables, and two of the Genre tables. Beyond that it’s your choice.

The Tables: Master Table | Themed Tables | Non-Theme Tables | "Inspired By" Tables | Genre Tables | Technical Tables | Bonus Crazy Prompt Table

01. Vacation 02. Colors 03. Un-Themed 5 04. Un-Themed 6
05. Movie Inspiration 06. Novel Inspiration 07. Crossover 08. Meta
09. Emotions 10. Romance 11. Saucy 12. Cliches
13. Fairy Tales 14. Songs 15. Femslash 16. Hurt/Comfort
17. PWP 18. Quotes 19. The Body 20. Games

[Writing Challenge] 30-children | Parabellum - (Frost/Sparrow/)Simon/Nadia

Found here. The goal here is to take a character, pairing or fandom and write about the children they will or could have in the future.

1. special delivery or news 2. trouble 3. shotgun wedding 4. never let go 5. kiss goodbye
6. unexpected love 7. sunshine 8. missed me 9. out of line 10. upset
11. scraped knees 12. nightmares 13. yellow 14. midnight snack 15. peek-a-boo
16. all grown up 17. hug 18. drinks 19. stuffed animal 20. blowing bubbles
21. father/mother-daughter/son time 22. monster under the bed 23. prom night 24. driver's license 25. bad news
26. name 27. lullaby 28. slamming doors 29. run away 30. family business

1. first day of school 2. unwanted visitor 3. television 4. sugar high 5. park
6. lie 7. truth 8. life and death 9. birthday 10. #10
11. teenage rebellion 12. father's day / mother's day 13. pets 14. road trip 15. homework
16. How I Met _____ 17. "Oh..." 18. first time 19. broken bones 20. old times or "In my day..."
21. pinned down 22. smalltalk 23. first time alone 24. porn on the computer 25. hate
26. love 27. rainstorm 28. science fiction 29. restless 30. children

[Writing Challenge] 30-lies | Parabellum - Sparrow/Frost

Found here. Remember, every story should include some kind of lie.

Themes
1. liar paradox (definition) 2. secret 3. cover-up 4. being watched 5. half-truth
6. slander 7. make-believe or fantasy 8. pinocchio 9. a tangled web 10. lie detector or truth serum
11. self-deceit 12. blind trust 13. shadows 14. means to an end 15. lies-to-children (definition)
16. cry wolf 17. newspaper or history book 18. exposed 19. rationalization 20. masquerade
21. a not-so-honest mistake 22. silence 23. exaggeration 24. stolen 25. a diplomatic solution
26. misunderstanding 27. cheat 28. keeping track 29. flattery 30. lie


[Writing Challenge] 30-friends | Parabellum - Sparrow & Nadia

Found here.

1. platonic love 2. gifts 3. late night conversation 4. walk beside me 5. hidden treasures
6. promise? 7. an ugly shirt 8. secrets and lies 9. the third wheel 10. a night out
11. a night in 12. argument 13. long-distance 14. fair weather friend, rainy day friend 15. comfortable silence
16. party! 17. jealousy 18. some advice 19. lunchtime 20. making mischief
21. common ground 22. a favor 23. fair trade 24. "True friends stab you in the front." 25. forgiveness
26. passing notes 27. practice 28. golden thread 29. silver lining 30. friends forever

[Writing Challenge] Pretentious Perversion 69 | Parabellum

Found here. The gimmick of this one is in the words--they're unusual or archaic terms for sexual practices or phenomena, with a few neutral words thrown in for good measure. (The words have been culled from Depraved and Insulting English, a dictionary by Peter Novobatzky and Ammon Shea.)

The challenge is to write a drabble, fanfic, or even a sentence for each word, although not necessarily in order. The story doesn't necessarily have to use the word (although it can), just be inspired by it.

001. Acokoinonia 002. Agrexophrenia 003. Amychesis 004. Bastinado 005. Bivirist
006. Cacocallia 007. Coprolalia 008. Cyesolagnia 009. Demivierge 010. Dyspareunia
011. Elaterium 012. Epicaricacy 013. Feague 014. Fream 015. Frottage
016. Genicon 017. Gugusse 018. Gunsel 019. Herquitic 020. Hybristophiliac
021. Iatronudia 022. Imparlibidinous 023. Insilarius 024. Ithyphallophobia 025. Jarble
026. Jugulate 027. Kleptolagnia 028. Kordax 029. Legruita 030. Liffy
031. Mageria 032. Meupareunia 033. Micturient 034. Necrosadism 035. Nympholepsy
036. Obsolagnium 037. Omnifutuant 038. Osphresiophilia 039. Paraphiliac 040. Poger
041. Priapism 042. Pronovalent 043. Proxenetism 044. Psychrotic 045. Rectalgia
046. Retifism 047. Retrocopulation 048. Sacofricosis 049. Scopophilia 050. Skimmington
051. Spermatoschesis 052. Spintry 053. Spoffokins 054. Stasivalence 055. Sthenolagnia
056. Strene 057. Synechthry 058. Tarassis 059. Tittery-whoppet 060. Tribadism
061. Troilism 062. Uranian 063. Uxoravalent 064. Uxorovalent 065. Vaginismus
066. Vernalagnia 067. Vetanda 068. Wittold 069. Yaldson

Definitions
Acokoinonia: Sex without passion.
Agrexophrenia: The inability to perform sexually, for fear of being overheard.
Amychesis: Involuntary scratching of a partner's back during sex.
Bastinado: To beat the soles of the feet with a stick or club.
Bivirist: A woman who enjoys sex with two men at the same time.
Cacocallia: The state of being ugly but still sexually attractive.
Coprolalia: Sexual gratification from indecent language.
Cyesolagnia: Sexual attraction to pregnant women.
Demivierge: A woman who is sexually active or promiscuous while still retaining her virginity.
Dyspareunia: Sex that is extremely difficult, uncomfortable, or painful.
Elaterium: The juice of the Squirting Cucumber (botanical usage).
Epicaricacy: Joy or pleasure at the misfortune of others.
Feague: To insert a live eel or pinch of ginger into the anus of a horse to make it lively. (Can be used figuratively; to cheer up or excite someone through drastic means.)
Fream: To roar in the fashion of a boar in mating season.
Frottage: To rub up against someone else (often a stranger) to achieve sexual release.
Genicon: A partner imagined during sex to facilitate pleasure.
Gugusse: A young homosexual with a penchant for priests.
Gunsel: The orally passive member of a homosexual union, OR a man who is proficient at firearms. (From the nickname "gansel," which means "little goose." Used in "The Maltese Falcon" where it acquired its second usage.)
Herquitic (spelling modernized, originally "hirquiticke"): An adolescent (specifically past fourteen) in the throes of a sexual awakening.
Hybristophiliac: One who becomes sexually aroused from being with a violent criminal.
Ithyphallophobia: The fear of seeing, having, or thinking about an erect penis.
Iatronudia: The pretense of illness in order to be allowed to disrobe in front of a doctor.
Imparlibidinous: Pertaining to an unequal state of desire between two people.
Insilarius: One who deliberately dispenses bad advice.
Jarble: To spatter with something.
Jugulate: To throttle or attack by the neck.
Kleptolagnia: Sexual excitement from stealing.
Kordax: A Dionysian dance to celebrate the phallus.
Legruita: A fine levied for undue familiarity with a woman.
Liffy: To seduce a woman with promises of fidelity, and then desert her.
Mageira: Sublimation of sexual desire through cooking.
Meupareunia: Sexual activity in which only one partner is gratified.
Micturient: Feeling a strong desire to urinate.
Necrosadism: Sexual gratification from the mutilation of dead bodies.
Nympholepsy: An erotic daydream trance. (A person in the thrall of nympholepsy is known as a nympholept.)
Obsolagnium: The fading of sexual desire in old age.
Omnifutuant: Prone to engage in sexual activity with anything.
Osphresiophilia: Sexual excitement from smells.
Paraphiliac: A person addicted to unorthodox or unusual sexual practices.
Poger: A passive, older male homosexual.
Priapism: Constant, painful erection without sexual excitement.
Pronovalent: Only able to achieve sexual satisfaction while lying down.
Proxenetism: Pimping or insistent matchmaking performed by a female.
Psychrotic: Sexually frigid.
Rectalgia: Pain in the rectum.
Retifism: Foot fetishism.
Retrocopulation: Copulation with both partners facing away from each other.
Sacofricosis: Rubbing of the genitals through one's pants pocket.
Scopophilia: Interest in sexual imagery, particularly in lieu of actual sex.
Skimmington: An event in which a cuckold (man whose wife cheats on him) is publicly ridiculed.
Spermatoschesis: The suppression of ejaculation.
Spintry: A male prostitute.
Spoffokins: A prostitute posing as a spouse.
Stasivalence: Only able to achieve sexual satisfaction while standing.
Sthenolagnia: Sexual excitement in a woman resulting from a display of strength or prowess.
Strene: To copulate, said of a dog, or in the fashion of a dog.
Synechthry: The state of living together in enmity.
Tarassis: Male hysteria.
Tittery-whoppet: An archaic euphemism for the vagina.
Tribadism: Any rubbing of the clitoris that results in orgasm (usually between women).
Troilism: Sex between three partners.
Uranian: Obsolete word for a homosexual.
Uxoravalent: Only able to have sex with one's wife.
Uxorovalent: Only able to have sex with anyone but one's wife.
Vaginismus: Spasmodic tightening of the vaginal muscles resulting from an extreme aversion to penetration.
Vernalagnia: Heightened sexual desire in the springtime.
Vetanda: A thing that should not be done.
Wittold: A man who knows about his wife's infidelity but does not care, or is satisfied with the situation.
Yaldson: The son of a whore.

[Writing Challenge] 30sexyfics | Parabellum - Sparrow

Found here.

A sexual incident of some kind must take place in each fic. These do not have to be heavily detailed or pornographic. The character(s), pairing, or threesome in focus do not have to be the ones involved in the sex.

Theme List #1: Standard Themes

1. pent up frustrations 2. waiting for you 3. filling five senses 4. trapped, imprisoned, and/or bound 5. getting carried away
6. we shouldn't and/or we can't 7. can't help thinking about it 8. visually appealing 9. please don't and/or please do 10. for you, I would
11. "Pervert!" 12. perfection and/or flaws 13. unexpected guests 14. the first time and/or not the first time 15. student and teacher
16. an interloper and/or a third party 17. hard to get 18. simple pleasures 19. "I'd eat that ____ off his/her ____." 20. keep the light on
21. touch 22. "Just what did we do last night?" 23. the art of seduction 24. forbidden territory 25. SEX NOW.
26. Does this come with a manual? 27. taking responsibility and/or shotgun wedding 28. a shower and/or in the rain 29. what we are together 30. the ultimate expression or love is cheap

[Writing Challenge] over-look | Parabellum - Izzy Bitca

Found here.
...specifically for those minor characters -- ones that are named in canon but little else, or recurring characters, or ones that are rarely given attention in fic. You may claim a minor character alone, a pairing or group of minor characters, or a minor character in a relationship (romantic or otherwise) with other characters.
It looks like this challenge doesn't actually extend to original fiction, but I'm nicking the prompts to give one of my own minor characters some love.

Table One
1. faith 2. a bad feeling 3. color 4. pride 5. playing dead*
6. company 7. before 8. betrayal 9. luck 10. second

Table Two
1. light 2. gain 3. control 4. precious 5. eyes
6. protect 7. quiet 8. after 9. reasons 10. impossible

Table Three
1. exposed 2. corner 3. presence 4. center 5. kiss
6. peace 7. dirt 8. stories 9. hypocracy 10. bite

Table Four
1. hard 2. overlooked 3. fatigue 4. safe 5. intentions
6. drive 7. joke 8. myth 9. thoughtful 10. death
Table Five
1. proverb 2. distance 3. easy 4. temperature 5. shades of grey
6. gap 7. lonely 8. fancy free 9. home 10. friendship
Table Six
1. open 2. strangers 3. outside 4. entertainment 5. romance
6. anger 7. opportunity 8. ocean 9. picky 10. flying
Table Seven
1. bridge 2. smile 3. curse 4. rain 5. cheerful
6. game 7. imagination 8. miss 9. appropriate 10. take
Table Eight
1. weather 2. breakdown 3. running 4. rules 5. watching
6. bombshell 7. importance 8. time 9. again 10. loss

This work contains seriously dark and/or disturbing content; make sure you read the AO3 tags and/or trigger warning(s) before you choose to read.

[Writing Challenge] 15pairings | Parabellum

Found here.

The (Standard*) Pairings
  1. Sparrow/Frost
  2. Simon/Nadia
  3. Sparrow/Simon
  4. Sparrow/Nadia
  5. Frost/Simon
  6. Frost/Nadia
  7. Loretta/Suri/Sparrow
  8. Sparrow/Seth
  9. Sparrow/Galen
  10. Frost/Galen
  11. Felix/Juliana
  12. Nadia/Kieran
  13. Sparrow/Kieran
  14. Damian/Valentina/Donald
  15. Izzy/Octavian
*if a prompt calls to mind a better option, I might swap one or more of these out for other, rarer pairings

Table One
1. something sweet 2. pick me up 3. only playing / pretending 4. Look who's on top! 5. flower(s)
6. elope 7. cherry flavor medicine 8. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" 9. meow 10. indecent exposure
11. pain 12. between the sheets 13. "What a waste." 14. First come, first serve! 15. Consummation

Table Two
1. musical chairs 2. triangle 3. stormy 4. roll over 5. "I have to go."
6. morning after 7. anger 8. silence 9. water 10. "Don't forget!"
11. lost 12. cold 13. stupid smile 14. kiss 15. breakup

Table Three
1. once upon a time 2. "You've got two choices." 3. separation anxiety 4. practice makes perfect 5. "Shut up and listen."
6. piggyback ride 7. up close and personal 8. misery loves company 9. photograph 10. together
11. mind games 12. love/hate relationship 13. star gazing 14. friends first, lovers second 15. always a bridesmaid

Table Four
1. ladykiller 2. secret sin 3. mercy or no mercy 4. pain is pleasure 5. "It's not real."
6. resentment 7. devil's advocate 8. what lies within 9. "Show some respect!" 10. "I love the rainy nights."
11. inconsequential 12. no escape from being alone 13. "Live to the point of tears." 14. sharp rocks at the bottom 15. falling but not saved

Table Five
1. we are going to change 2. four seasons 3. "Go ahead." 4. illusion 5. "There are some feelings that will never change."
6. spin the bottle 7. cards 8. library 9. dark chocolate 10. gate
11. "I will." 12. paradise 13. restraurant 14. truth or dare 15. cure

Table Six
1. be careful 2. secrets 3. first kiss 4. too good to be true 5. rescue me
6. apology 7. "I didn't expect that!" 8. thoughtful 9. snow 10. play to win
11. are you really Heaven-sent? 12. oblivious 13. hope 14. why bother 15. never, forever

Table Seven
1. running in place 2. stop 3. something that lasts 4. marriage 5. "Make me."
6. cliche 7. drunk 8. chemistry 9. "Let's do something crazy!" 10. behind the scenes
11. men 12. opposites attract 13. revelations 14. fifteen 15. obsessions

[Writing Challenge] 24-times | Parabellum

Found here.

24 TIMES TABLE ONE
01.The first time. 02.The best time. 03.The worst time. 04.The last time.
05.Time flies. 06.Time changes. 07.Time heals. 08.Time stops.
09.Timing is everything. 10.Remember the good times. 11.At times like this. 12.The time was right.
13.Time is an illusion. 14.It was time to go. 15.Time waits for no man. 16.It was time to forgive.
17.Day time. 18.Night time. 19.Next time. 20.Every time.
21.About time. 22.Extra time. 23.In time. 24.Out of time.

00/24

24 TIMES TABLE TWO
01. The first time. 02. The second time. 03. The third time. 04. The fourth time.
05. The fifth time. 06. The sixth time. 07. The seventh time. 08. The eighth time.
09. The ninth time. 10. The tenth time. 11. The eleventh time. 12. The twelfth time.
13. The thirteenth time. 14. The fourteenth time. 15. The fifteenth time. 16. The sixteenth time.
17. The seventeenth time. 18. The eighteenth time. 19. The nineteenth time. 20. The twentieth time.
21. The twenty-first time. 22. The twenty-second time. 23. The twenty-third time. 24. The twenty-fourth time.

00/24

24 TIMES TABLE THREE
01.01:00 02.02:00 03.03:00 04.04:00
05.05:00 06.06:00 07.07:00 08.08:00
09.09:00 10.10:00 11.11:00 12.12:00
13.13:00 14.14:00 15.15:00 16.16:00
17.17:00 18.18:00 19.19:00 20.20:00
21.21:00 22.22:00 23.23:00 24.24:00

00/24

heroesprompts | Sylar/Claire(/Peter)

Found here.

01.Power 02.Regret 03.Ex-Lover 04.Birthday 05.Nightmare
06.Dark 07.Fight 08.Dance 09.Heartsick 10.Sacrifice
11.Dream 12.Red 13.Revenge 14.Destiny 15.Death
16.Temptation 17.Misunderstanding 18.Years 19.Birth 20.Snuggle
21.Rome 22.Journey 23.Reunion 24.Agendas 25.Children
26.Christmas 27.Drunk 28.Sydney 29.Betrayed 30.Paris
31.Magical 32.Acceptance 33.Jealous 34.Lost 35.Slutty

01.Truth 02.Lies 03.Unconditional 04.Pain 05.Forever
06.Never 07.Learn 08.Music 09.Grief 10.Tragedy
11.Destruction 12.Gift 13.Serenade 14.Lullaby 15.Spiritual
16.Shopping 17.Hungry 18.Young 19.Old 20.Tradition
21.Addiction 22.Air 23.Flowers 24.Enthralled 25.Incompatible
26.Paternal 27.Maternal 28.Journal/Diary 29.Laughter 30.Seduction
31.Unforgiving 32.Penance 33.Envy 34.Choice 35.Sinner