Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sup

Just a quick stop, because I have to get back to brainstorming! I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it was so awesome! I can't wait to see it again. Maybe Thursday, because I have off work and don't leave for the New Year's Trip until that night. I think I like the Swedish version better, but it's hard to compare because they each did the story in their own way. Noomi Rapace and Mara Rooney each do a great job, but they each play the character differently. The American version didn't have enough about Lisbeth, but was truer to the book. The Swedish version hinted at the next two books and really hooked you in, but didn't have Daniel Craig. ;) Swedish Lisbeth was more cutthroat and unforgiving, and we saw her do more hacking, more behind-the-scenes with Blomkvist's computer. But I liked the relationship between Lisbeth and Blomkvist better in the American version. Either way, see them both, then see them again. This movie is head and shoulders my Number 1.

I also saw Sherlock Holmes 2. To be honest, the movie was just meh. It was the first one all over again, with nothing really new. It didn't grab me like the BBC's Sherlock does. But the ending was such a smack in the face! It redeemed the movie quite a bit. And another strike against it, the movie was so freaking loud. It was horrible. I saw it Christmas Eve and there were six people in one of the tiny theaters, and they had the sound cranked up loud enough for the big auditoriums. If you're not a big movie person, I'd say wait until this one comes out on video.

Winter 2011-2012 Movie Rankings:
  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  2. Hugo
  3. Sherlock Holmes 2: Game of Shadows

Currently Reading: Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven I) by James Barclay

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the 2011 Hugo-nominated novel by N. K. Jemisin, and the first part of the Inheritance Series. I have mixed feelings about this book. However, the author is really awesome and you should check out her blog and twitter. She has lots of good writing advice (and she has a full-time job, which I completely respect) and you can read sample chapters of all her books.

A synopsis, from BN:
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

On one hand, I completely understand. This book is original in premise, setting, and plot. It's exactly what the Hugo committee is looking for. On the other hand, I don't think the quality of writing was as high as the other Hugo-nominated books I've read from this year: Feed and Blackout. That being said, I still think this was a good book, especially for a debut novel. I think most of the problems I had with it will fix themselves with subsequent books. It was mostly the way the plot unfolded. Yeine would have a thought and understand everything, but the conversation around her would continue and she wouldn't tell the reader what she just realized, and you'd have to put it together yourself while trying to follow the continuing action. I got tired of always thinking "But what is it????" It was all very disconnected. And then there were paragraphs pushed in with backstory or a mystery POV that you don't know who it is until the end, and all the jumps got tiring. Especially when the narrator would stop and say "Oh wait, let me tell you this first" practically midsentence. I don't normally like books where the narrator addresses the reader, just as my personal preference. At least it was a signal that we would be getting some backstory now. So yeah, the nomination... wouldn't have been my choice. Glad to have read the book though, and will likely finish the series.

Enough griping. Yeine Darr is an interesting character. She is pulled from her home and thrown into this insane royal game, and she handles herself very well. She was very beleivable in her part of being completely overwhelmed, even if that meant lots of sleeping and emo-spells. She saw through façades where she should and tentatively became friends with the one good person in the palace. I actually really liked the relationship she had with T'vril (the aformentioned good guy) and was appropriately happy/sad with the bittersweet ending of their relationship.

One thing I didn't expect from this book: the romance! And not just a love story, I'm talking BAMpenis! Not expected at all. It's not even a bad thing, I just had no warning going into it. I would have normally recommended this my best friend, but won't now because she doesn't like any kind of sex at all in her books. Weirdo. Also, it was sex with a god, so it was very... explicit

I thought the gods could have used more characterisation. Seih was good, Nahadoth was glossed over even though he was the one Yeine was falling in love with, and the other gods were barely mentioned at all. The royal family each had their role, embodying one trait and two-dimensional but serving their purpose. The book was about the gods, and I would have liked to see more there. Also the setting. The book is a political plot for control over the realm and the gods (because the humans have "domesticated" them, we'll say) and yet we see very little of the world. The book is very contained to the game and the palace. On one hand, this is just the first book and it hints at a much larger world, on the other hand, you go through an entire book without getting to see any of it. The book felt very incomplete because of this, as if it was only a half a book.

BUT. THE ENDING. It rocked. I expected part of it, but not in the way I thought. The rest of it totally blindsided me and totally rocked. It made me happy, and it made vengeful-me happy, and it made romance-me happy. Also, the game. Screw you, evil grandfather, but you stood up to it like a champ and made yourself three dimensional. And fuck you, and fuck you, and You get a big hug and YOU get a sloppy kiss. It was just awesome. It didn't have the part happy/part sad, it was all happy. But it worked, and it was refreshing.

Overall, I would recommend this book. But I may also mention to a big SF/F reader that I didn't think it was on the same par as the other Hugo books. The series continues with The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods. I should also mention that they all follow different characters. I'm definitely going to pick up the second one. I may have done so already, but my BN is cleaned out for Christmas and didn't have it yesterday. Jemisin has another series coming out, The Dreamblood, with The Killing Moon out May 2012 and The Shadowed Sun out June 2012.

Reading now: The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Irrepressible Library

It's time again for me to gush about all the books I want to read all while not really making coherent sentences on the blog. It's ok, just look at the pictures. I'm currently reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin. It was nominated for the 2011 Hugo, and while it is very good I don't see it as Hugo material. Not like Feed or Blackout. It's a surprisingly quick read, and I'm almost done! Review will be coming soon, I have a lot to say about this book. Read blurbs and sample chapters about it here.


Firstly, Archon: The Books of Raziel by Sabrina Benulis. HOLY CRAP I can't wait for this book. It comes out December 27, but I will be stalking my BN before Christmas to see if they have it in early. A bit of insider advice: If the book isn't labeled as "Strict on Sale" (which usually only the popular/bestseller authors are) you are allowed to buy it. Some books are in two weeks before the release date and are held in the back (just so they aren't ridiculously early), other books come in a few days before release and go onto the floor right away. I will be stalking/harrassing/buying chocolate for any bookseller that crosses my path. I want to read this book and yes, I am stomping my feet like a spoiled child. There's a great article on it over at Tor (I was happy to see it's a BN Bookseller's pick), and this is also where I discovered it. This is the book that makes you drop everything when it comes out. Angels, demons, love, harsh reality, thick like a textbook with history (a la Angelology), and not fruity like a YA novel. The angels are described as creepy, sexy, and totally awesome. What more can you ask for? Only in hardcover, not that it matters because I will be buying it anyway, and it will be passed around between my Mom and best friend as well. Did I mention how much I CAN'T WAIT??? It's just as bad as Harry Potter. It feels good to be so excited for a book like that again.


Dawnthief by James Barclay. I first discovered it on Elitist Book Reviews, and my interest kept growing as they reviewed book after book of Barclay's all with glowing reviews. He is actually the most reviewed author on that site... (Read everything here.) In any case, elves, awesomness, and badassness, all wrapped up in a series and tied with a pretty bow of another series. What more can you ask for? (I need to stop saying that.) All I can say is, read the reviews.Nothing comes more highly recommended than Barclay. He's awesome in the interview as well.

The books:
Chronicles of the Raven: Dawnthief, Noonshade, Nightchild.
Legends of the Raven: Elfsorrow, Shadowheart, Demonstorm, Ravensoul.
The Ascendants of Estorea: Cry of the Newborn, Shout for the Dead. (non-Raven)



I recently rewatched Firefly, and that's left me wanting some more Darian Frey, as well. The second book in the Tales of the Ketty Jay is The Black Lung Captain, wonderfully already released in the US. It depends on my mood and my wallet if I'll be picking it up soon, but it's definitely on my list.

I haven't talked about George Mann's Newbury and Hobbes series yet. I started the Ghost of Manhattan and couldn't really get into it, and that put me off the other series even though it's been getting great reviews. It one of those "investigator with plucky sidekick" books, always good. The first in the series is The Affinity Bridge.

Has anyone else noticed the plethora of books I WANT to read compared to the small pile of books I actually DO read? Yeah, I wish I could speed-read. But on the other hand, is a book still as relaxing/enjoyable if you fly through it?

Friday, December 16, 2011

End of the Year articles

Roger Ebert hates lists, but I love them. I love that lists will vary from person to person, and I love comparing them. I love the inherent problems in lists from forcing one to be a 4 and another to be a 5, when the differences between are significantly more or less than the distance between the two rankings. (Although you notice I avoid this anyway on my bookshelf page.) The end of the year brings about all kinds of "Best of" lists. Here are a few good articles about 2011.

The Best Films of 2011 - Roger Ebert
I was happy to see Hugo on the list because I also thought it rocked, but I was especially happy to see Take Shelter here. I've been dying to see that movie since I heard about it in summer, and still haven't been able to. There are a bunch of movies I want to hunt down before the Oscars (and I'll be hunting down those nominations as well).

These are the winter movies I'm dying to see, because I know you were wondering:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (ZOMG)
TinTin
Sherlock Holmes 2
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Take Shelter
Shame
Young Adult
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Darkest Hour
J. Edgar
Haywire
The Woman in Black
The Lorax
Snow White and the Huntsman (summer, but already psyched)
Also, a Daughter of Smoke and Bone movie? Yes, please!

Lev Grossman on Fantasy
Not a "Best of" list, but a very good discussion of how fantasy has changed over the last century, and especially in the last decade.

Also, hilarity. Most of them, anyway.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Check it Out: The John Cleaver Series

It;s a sad thing that I read so many books before I started this blog. I review them as I go, and that seems like so many missed chances. The books I've read recently, however good, haven't taken the test of time. Some books I loved just don't resonate with me anymore once I'm finished reading them. Other books I may have liked, but not loved, and then I'm finding myself thinking about over and over again and I slowly realize how awesome they were. I'm going to start this mini post series so everyone can hear about them! Life is too short to miss out on good books just because no one told you about them.

US covers

Dan Wells is one of the creators of the Writing Excuses podcast, and if you don't listen to that you definitely have to start. I would have never heard of him if not for that podcast, I admit it. (Then again, who knows?) But hey, the important thing is that I have heard of him, yes?

UK covers

John Cleaver is a serial killer. Except not, because he has yet to kill anyone. He works at his family's mortuary, which is probably not the best place for a budding Ted Bundy. But he has rules, and those rules keep him in check and keep everyone around him safe. But then bodies start turning up near his hometown, all similar, and he uses his obsession with killers and bodies and uses it to find and catch the murderer.

This isn't your typical YA novel, and as a matter of fact these books were marketed as adult books in the US. John Cleaver is a sociopath, so he can't relate to the other people around him. He doesn't understand love or friendship, and the urges he has to hurt things doesn't make it any better. But he is highly logical, and it is fascinating to watch him work through the mystery. I thought he was very believable as a teen, even though he is very troubled. Everyone around him treats him like a teen, and he can only used methods that would be at a teen's disposal.

The first half of the first book was slow. It was enjoyable while I was reading it, but then I would put it down and not pick it up for another month. I stuck with it because I liked the podcast, and a little before the halfway point everything zips together and you're hooked till the end. The second and third books don't suffer from this at all, and I flew through each of those in a couple of nights.

By the time I had finished the first one the second was already out, and the last came out about two months later, so I read them all in quick succession. (I also have the UK version of IANASK that I preordered from Book Depository, but the US versions of the other two.) And let me tell you, they get freaky. And fast. I mean, the story is narrated from a sixteen year old that has absolutely no problem with taking another human's life. Add in demons who are using the entire town to toy with John, and you have no idea who is bad or good or lost or just an evil person, sans brimstone. (Oh yeah, these books have demons in them. You should know that going in. But they are freakier because of that.)

I was scared shitless by the second book. I bawled my eyes out in the third book. I should say, bawled my eyes out for three chapters straight. I even wrote him an e-mail that basically confessed my love to him and said anyone who could throw me into emotional swings like that has me as a fan for life, which I had never done before and still have yet to do again. (He didn't write back.) The trilogy ends with a delightfully murky ending that keeps you scared and also makes you hope Mr. Wells will be writing a spin-off series. And did I mention they're funny?

This is a great series for the reader who's starting to grow out of teen novels, or the reader who's starting to get into sci-fi and fantasy but is a bit overwhelmed where to start. Also, a great series for teen boys, which are so hard to find these days. Even though these books are about a wannabe serial killer, they don't glorify death in any way, as a matter of fact they do just the opposite. John has a surprisingly mature view on morals and he knows every step of the way that what he is doing is wrong, but he can't stop it and that upsets him. So all you parents out there can rest easy giving these to your kids. As a matter of fact, I'd be more upset if they read The Hunger Games than these books. John is fighting for Life, whereas HG are playing with it.

Dan Wells has more books, including a post-apocalyptic/dystopian YA called Partials (out Feb 28, 2012) and also The Hollow City, a schizophrenia novel, out July 3, 2012. I can't forget A Night of Blacker Darkness, available now in e-book, which I will forever know as The Vampire Bunny Book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hugo

GUYS. It's time for winter movies! *squee!* We go to the movies a lot, especially in the summer and winter breaks when all the good ones are out. I don't want to start reviewing all the movies, but I thought a little blurb/ranking could be fun.

I haven't read the book (The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick) but the movie was awesome. Possibly Best Picture nomination awesome (it fits the type). It is a Martin Scorsese film, which originally I was surprised that he would do a kid's flick, but he did a great job making sure it would be good for all the non-kids as well. He had a great story to start with, and he nabbed a bunch of famous people to make it fun. You should definitely go see it.

My rankings so far:
1. Hugo

Haha, the list should get better once I've added more than one movie to it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Deadline

I finally finished Deadline by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire). There's really only one valid thing to say about this book:

Holy. Fuck.

Seriously, this one takes you for some loops. The gang (minus one-half) is in hiding, on the run from the very people who should be protecting them. People die. Shit gets fanned. The conspiracy grows in such a way that it's absolutely despicable people like that can exist in the real world. And boy, do you feel for Shaun.

I'm going to try to keep this as spoiler free as I can. If you've read Feed, you have to read Deadline. It's not as contained a story as Feed was, and thus won't stand alone as well (not that it could anyway, the reader would be so confused) and is the typical middle-book of a trilogy. I don't say this as a bad thing, as a matter of fact nothing could have clinched me more as a lifetime reader of Seanan McGuire. The first book usually stands on it's own and has a satisfying, if unhappy, ending. The second book takes those few untied ends and turns them into a million untied ends, and the third book is where it all ends. The way I see trilogies, the second and third books could stand together as a full story arc.

I have no idea what is going on in the world. And by world, I mean the zombie-infested world of Shaun and Georgia Mason.

When I first started this series, I thought it was going to be a zombie apocalypse story. I was wrong. They're political thrillers, for lack of a better term. The zombies are only part of the setting. Let me tell you, this is fascinating. People are living their lives in this horrible new world, and the backstory is most of what keeps you hooked for the majority of the first book. How many times have you been able to say that? I never thought security systems and highways could be so interesting. But the computers and the virology, I already knew that was awesome.

Mira Grant (Seanan? Oh this is so confusing...) has no compunctions killing a character, and she makes them mean so much more than George R. R. Martin. We feel every emotion and every pain of Shaun and Georgia, and it rips you apart at some places.

Speaking of Shaun and Georgia, there's a very odd dynamic between the two of them. I know they're not actually related (and for those of you who haven't read it, don't worry there's nothing gross), but until the second book I would have thought they were both asexual. They both mean the world to each other, and on the other hand then, it's nice to see characters caring for each for reasons other than jumping each others' bones. The characters come from all different walks of life and have lives that they left behind, so they all feel real.

Ok, back to the setting. After the characters (who are all very fleshed out and different people), the setting is what really makes this book feel real. You learn about the mistakes everyone made post-rising, and how things have changed for the better or for the worse. The zombie apocalypse is the setting for the novel, not the plot. And it is so refreshing. You read it and wonder why no one has thought of this before. And seriously, why hasn't anyone thought of this before? It's so logical...

Well, to sum up my ramblings, you should read Feed, and then you should read Deadline. I listened to them as audiobook, and the narrators did a really great job. Especially the second one, when Shaun narrates, and I don't usually like male narrators because they're voice gets muddled. (Females, while there can be a bit of an annoyance factor, have much clearer voices.) But Shaun did a great job. (In the second; the first-book Shaun is muddly.)

Wow, this review jumped all over the place. Anyway, Blackout is the last book in the trilogy, and is set to come out June 1, 2012.

Slap you IN THE FACE

I TOLD YOU IT WAS FUCKING HARD. Did I not tell you? Don't worry, I need to tell myself, too. It's hard for everyone. The people who succeed are the people who pull their pants up again and tighten their belts and smash the fuck out of their keyboards. Not literally. Writer-ally. The abundance of cursing is because I am like everyone else and need to buckle down and do it. I slap you in the face, you slap me. Don't worry, some people are into that.

"I am sometimes loud. I am often gaudy. I am sentimental, and I embarrass you in public. I apologize for none of it." - A love letter from Genre to Literature, by Daniel Abraham

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two Things

First of all, you should head over to Patrick Rothfuss' blog and check out his post for this year's Worldbuilders 2011 Charity. Donate to Heifer International, get cool swag. Seriously, it's really cool swag. He's been doing this for several years now and has raised a shit-ton on money, AND it's a charity that I already liked and knew about from several college classes.

Second (also from Pat Rothfuss' blog), this:

He cracks me up.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stressed as all get-out

Here's a not-so-secret-secret about me. I am stressed as fuck right now. Home is stressful, work is stressful, bills are stressful... I'm trying really hard not to be a dipshit about it, and I actually think I'm doing ok. Although I did think the crazy levels of stress would end once I got out of college, and they did for a while, but then LIFE started, ha.

I'm not telling you this because I want everyone to know that, but because you need to understand why I think this blog is awesome: http://confessionsofaworrywart.com/. I can't remember how I found it, maybe Twitter.

I feel really bad laughing at this poor woman's horrors, but honestly it's just so entertaining! And even though I don't worry about the same things she does, it's good to know that I'm not the only one with crazy stupid tendencies. Everyone is a little bit insane, I think, otherwise no one would be interesting.

P.S. Obsessive quilting helps with the stress. (And you thought it was because I wanted to give everyone GIFTS. Psh.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

I know this book is supposed to be amazing. I KNOW. But I just can't do it. There's a reason I don't read classics. That's because they suck. I can't get into the language, I don't give two shits about social class politics, and things happen too slow and too little. I'm not saying I need a big flash-and-bang to keep me interested. The Name of the Wind is my favorite book, and look how slow and relaxed that book is. But it's all about the language, people. And the olden-day spellings? Really? Because I didn't have enough trouble keeping my editor-mind interested in the book, you have to throw in weird time-period spellings to toss me out of the story?

I'm not saying this is a bad book. It's extremely well written and I know the story is there, I'm so close to seeing it, but it's not for me. I want to know what happens. I'm extremely jealous of the reviews I've read where the reader completely fell in love with this book, and I wish I could fall in love with it too. But it's a mission for Wikipedia, not Gina's-precious-reading-time. Maybe in the future I'll pick it up again. But for now, Delirium.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

-INSERT SNARK HERE-

It's one of those rare nights where I'm just sitting around with a computer on my lap and all the writing time in the world, and yet here I am stalking Twitter and writing a blog post. Although I haven't written a blog in a while, and I actually got some writing done today already! It's amazing. I'm slowly breaking down the wall of unfamiliarity that formed while I was sick and didn't write for a week an a half.

I don't write chronologically. I usually start out that way, and write three scenes, but then I'll think of another scene to add, and that will add to adding more scenes, and so on. Overall I work from beginning to end, but I continuously plump as I go. I don't edit though. Even if I decide early on that I am going to cut a section, I add -CUT- to the heading and just leave it there. It makes my word counts feel good. =]

My main character needs a bit of beefing. She's just... typical. Not that I want her to be able to read minds or fly or anything, I want her strength to be an inner strength. I guess everything is too early to worry about that. I can always work it in once I have the overall story and actually know where I'm going with things. Cause I don't right now, you know.

My goal for December is 24k, which works out to be 774 words per day. I'm shooting for 1000 a day though, because I know shit ain't gonna happen on the weekends. But I'm still not satisfied. I'm at the point where I know I can write more in a day, but I can't block off enough time to get much more than that. Of course, it's my fault. I get tired of lugging my laptop to and from work, even if I do spend three hours on the train each day. Sometimes (a lot of the time) I just want to sleep or read. But then that's three hours of writing I lose out on. And then there's the quilting, completely unnecessary but surprisingly stress relieving. And when the hell am I supposed to get any reading done?!?

Goodness. And it's 10:48 already. I try to be in bed by 11. And I wonder why I can't get out of bed at 5:30 to get to the train station on goddamn time. And, poor Phil comes home from work around 12:30, wide awake and I'm snoring. Hey, I got 6 hours of sleep during the week during the college, and I functioned then. Sure, I slept in till one in the afternoon on the weekends, but I can live with that. Everything is just so dark in the morning now.

This is what we call the "I have nothing constructive to say" post.

I was reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark, but I can't really get into it. I'm around chapter 11. I know it's supposed to be amazing, but when? I'm waiting for my mind to be blown. And it's a really big book to carry around, but you can't read the footnotes on the nook, and they're like half the book. I grabbed Delirium by Lauren Oliver today, which I have been excited to read and I made a special trip to get it. Excited to start that in the morning. I loved Before I Fall.

And there's a Philly Lit Night this weekend, which I have been really excited for since I heard about them but now that one is coming up I'm turning all wallflower. "You mean I have to talk to people? Coherently? While drinking???" And there are going to be people there who have FINISHED THINGS and it will be intimidating. Balls to the wall, Gina. BALLS TO THE WALL.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hey there sexy, have some updates

So while the rest of the American world was enjoying their Thanksgiving wonderfulness, I was sick. =[ Yeah, it kinda sucked. Especially because I was messing up everyone else's plans, and not just my own. And I didn't get to stuff myself stupid with turkey. But Phil was really awesome and gave me some of my Christmas presents early, which included two t-shirts from Woot and a book I wanted!

There are lots of things going on in book-brain right now. I'm still enjoying the "Shopping from the Bookshelf" method, and aside from The Emperor of all Maladies Phil gave me over the weekend (which is new) I started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke last night. I only got a few pages into it but I think I'm going to stick with it. But of course, it's a huge hardcover, so when I was getting ready this morning I grabbed my paperback of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but was completely not interested in it. So I don't have anything to read on the train ride home (But you need to WRITE, Gina! WRITE on the train! DON'T read!) I want to read it eventually, but much more interested in JSMN. I'll listen to Deadline on the way home instead, which is really good. (Ginayou'reahorriblepersonyouneedtoWRIIIIIITE.)

As far as writing goes, I've been sick since Wednesday, and I haven't written anything since Wednesday. Awesome. I'm currently at 17.6k. I'm not even that upset about it, because the instant I start forcing myself to write when I'm sick it becomes the kind of work that isn't fun. And I want to keep writing fun. The hard part is getting back into the groove, of course. Actually, I need to stop thinking about wordcounts as a groove. I wrote so much this day, and so much this day. The fact that there was a week in between those two days is purely a mental block that I have to get over. As far as my story is concerned, I just took a really long time to finish that sentence. And once I do finish it, no one will know the difference. I need to pick up where I left off, start writing today like I start writing every other day, and read a few paragraphs back and then start typing when I get to the end.

Among other things, there is so much to do at home! The mountainous pile of laundry is still sitting there, and things like my dresser and desk just need to be cleaned off so the things that are supposed to go there actually can go there. Amazing how little it takes to mess the whole room up. And I still have to get my sewing machine working, I need to sew together two big pieces of fabric together for the backing of my blue quilt so I can quilt it Friday morning! Yay! My first fully completed quilt! (Almost.) LIFE IS SO BUSY.

Also, a rather large tidbit for you to absorb into your sponge-brain. 50 Thoughts on Writing by Seanan McGuire, in a handy list and expanded into a series of essays. I'll be reading this one for a while. Also, you should read Seanan McGuire. Specifically, you should read Feed and Deadline by Mira Grant, because they are the same person, and they are awesome.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My NaNoWriMo story

With a bunch of goading (and some beer) I spilled the beans about what my story is about. I wasn't trying to keep it secret, but it's weird talking about it when it's not done yet, and I have a track record of not finishing. I phrased it really well last night, too. It won't sound as good this morning. But I think it will be good to have a synopsis, so here it is in it's unedited and virgin form...

~~~

Daisy's parents are archaeologists, and she travels the world with them to their locations and attends international schools by day and helps them out at night. But it's her senior year of high school, and she wants to stay in one place. No more moving every four months, no more "temporary friends." Plus, it'll be great practice for college when she has to stay in one place for four years. She goes to her aunt and uncle's house in upstate New York and attends the public school there.

But public school isn't what she expected, and it's hard. She goes to the lake deep in the woods behind the house and plays her violin there, in the solace and quiet of the woods. She thought she was through with independence, but turns out she still needs to get away from the crowds, a little bit of solo-time playing her violin to keep her sanity.

But there are creatures in the lake, and they want her music.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

I just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins last night. I got it from the library (lovin that library) and I read it in a few nights.

Firstly, this is a fluff book. In the fluffiest sense of the word. There isn't anything to the plot except does he like me/does he not, and other high school-y drama. Normally I wouldn't really be into this book, but it has been floating around the internet grabbing all kinds of good reviews so I gave it a chance.

And I have to say, it was very well written. Kudos to Stephanie. No, there isn't a the-world-is-going-to-die plot, or anything fantasy related, but it was a nice break. It was just a bunch of kids trying to get through high school. It was relaxing. And you can't help but fall in love with Étienne... =] This was exactly what I needed to read to de-stress myself.

My gripe was that it ended too early. The scenes themselves weren't rushed, but there was a lot of time passing between chapters and no real mention of it until suddenly, it's Thanksgiving, and the very next chapter, it's Christmas. And then all of a sudden, Bam it's the end of the year and their together. It all happened very quickly, and I would have like to see the characters fleshed out more, especially Anna. But alas, it's a teen book and has to be short. I'd be interested to know the word length of the book. And speaking of word length, this started out as a NaNoWriMo book! And, Laini Taylor is in her writing group! (Some folks have all the luck.)

I would definitely recommend this book. Even though nothing really goes on other than teen drama, it was very well written and a nice break from Real Life. I'm ranking this in Enjoyable. The not-a-sequel is out already, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and in 2012, Isla and the Happily Ever After. And the author has a day job, which makes me happy to see someone writing among Real Life.

Reading Next: I have no idea! I hate it when this happens! =/

Monday, November 21, 2011

Updates N Stuff

First of all, it has been confirmed that Nora Roberts is indeed awesome and shall not be lumped into the horrendous lump of romance writers we so often lump together. In other words: she's pretty badass, and I think I'll buy one of her books now.

Now onto the meat. I fell really behind over the weekend in my NaNoWriMo count (4-5k) and with Thanksgiving this week and our Black Friday anti-shopping at Capone's for a beer festival I'm going to need my ass in gear to catch up. I really want to catch up. It's a teen book, and I can't wait to finish the first draft to really start weaving in the subplots. I'm most excited for the subplots, actually. Is that a bad thing? I'm at the point where shit is going to start happening, and it's exciting. I don't really want to tell people that it's a typical teen book, mainly because I hate reading them, but I know that my book is AWESOME and I'm really enjoying the writing. Because I will finish the shit that I started, goddamnit. AND, speaking of teen books that I never read, I've been reading a teen loves me/loves me not book and I've actually been enjoying it! Go figure! Anna and the French Kiss. I'll probably finish it tonight because there's only a bit left, and a review will follow. It's been fascinating how you can appreciate something for being a fluff book when everything else in the world makes you just want some fluff, damnit. I need to stop bashing them on my blog.

In other news, my room is a mess, my laundry is a gigantic pile, and my sewing machine isn't working. A bottle of wine and compressed air to the rescue!

Friday, November 18, 2011

So scattered lately

...but still plugging away at my WIP! Currently at 15.2k, which is a little behind schedule but still in the game. 51% to goal, 60% to deadline. Some of the scenes are definitely meandering and have zero conflict but I'm just going with it. After November, I am going to set a goal for 24k in the month of December, and keep on plugging.

Writing at a fast pace is definitely helpful. it forces me to think about the scenes on hand, instead of the entire book. This may seem like a bad thing, but thinking about the entire book gets me thinking about alternate ways to do things, and then the book starts changing so much that I can't possibly write it fast enough. As soon as I start writing something, I think of another way to do it that makes it moot. I want to keep up this pace, and speed it up even more as much as possible.

In the middle of several books right now:
Deadline by Mira Grant (audio)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (reread)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough (mostly abandoned)
And I just bought A Flight of Angels graphic novel! It's sooo nice.

Hope life is treating you well, my wrimos!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things I'm Reading Today

Lots of cool things around the interwebs today, so I thought I'd post some links to share with everyone else!

Ghost Hedgehog by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, via Tor.com
Review of Wintertide by Michael Sullivan, via BookwormBlues
25 Reasons Readers Keep Reading by Chuck Wendig
NaNo Excerpt from Susan Dennard - "Don't be afraid of all the FAIL that goes into creating the eventual WIN."
Four things for NaNo - Skyelyte

Also, listening to Mumford and Sons on Grooveshark. *g*

And now this post is turning to music I'm obsessing over:
http://www.youtube.com/embed/w_YJhmGKTxk - Mumford and Sons - Thistles and Weeds
http://www.youtube.com/embed/86tDEuoOSko - Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks
http://www.youtube.com/embed/kFOKiYnz6h4 - Christina Perri - Tragedy
And if anyone out there was in a marching band back in the day (NOT like me, no no) this will party rock your socks off (ha).
http://www.youtube.com/embed/uZtCZOiZ-cg - Ohio State Band - Party Rock Anthem

Update I got tired of looking at the huge gaudy windows on the blog so I removed the embedded videos. Tough love. Lef the links, don't know if they'll work. Search the songs. They rock, I swear.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nano Update #3

I went to my first write-in! And I was pretty close to chickening out but it was super cool. The people hosting it were really nice and it was awesome to meet quirky people who liked writing and were actually cool, unlike the snobs I had to deal with in my classes. It was four hours long and I was a little worried about being able to write that long, but let's be serious we were geeking out about Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings most of the time and then we would have a 15 minute word war and I would write more in those 15 minutes than I can usually get in an hour or two. These were my totals:
  1. Word War 1 = 489
  2. Word War 2 = 514
  3. Word War 3 = 597
  4. Word War 4 = 477
I got better and better each time, except for the last one where 1) I was starting to get tired, and 2) I was in a big section of dialogue and the formatting slowed me down.

And once again, OpenOffice was telling me one thing for word counts (11,187) but now that I'm on a different PC MS Word is telling me something else (10,938). This is soooo annoying! I know it's because I'm switching between different programs while I'm writing, but come on now, people, a word is a word! And that's a huge difference! But I'm going to go with what I had written down at the write-in, the 11,187. (Although I just cut and pasted the text into Notepad and back into the doc to strip the formatting and it still reads 10,938...)

Well anyway, I wrote 2610 words! That's a NEW personal best! (Twice in one week!) And those word wars really do work miracles, there's just something about wanting to get words down on the page because everyone else around you is doing the same thing that just makes you word-vomit into your keyboard. Pretty awesome! I'm going to say I'm 11k in so far until I can sort out the word count issues, which is all kinds of fun.

What I'm reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (again)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nano Update #2

First and foremost, I would just like to say I wrote 2155 words yesterday. HOLY CRAP. That's a new personal best. It was the best feeling, too, the words just flowing from my fingers. I wrote 1000 words just on the train ride home. It was awesome.

As of this morning, my word count is 5593. Keep in mind I am only shooting for 30k. That leaves me 19% to my goal and 23% to my deadline. I'm glad I'm working five days this week. It keeps my routine going for five days instead of four. Whenever I have off work, I do stuff like run errands and hang out with people and putz around and quilt. Those are my relax days. They are necessary. But work days are when shit gets done: writing, the gym, the laundry.

Writing on the train this morning was much slower, only 200 words. I went to bed so tired last night and had to drag my ass out this morning. Figure I need to refill a bit before I can hunker down to write again. My unrealistic goal for today is 2000, but I'll be happy around 1500. Hell, I'll be happy at 1100. To my fellow WriMo's: keep going! One word after the other. The second week is the hardest.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Irrepressible Library: Rereads Edition

I finally tackled my bookshelves! They've been accumulating books and papers and movies I grabbed from downstairs that aren't supposed to live on my bookshelves and I've been meaning to clean them for a long time. I have two bookshelves in my room, a tall wooden one that I LOVE and a short white one that I've had since I was a kid, and my brother used it for a while too before he bought a big one and this one ended up back in my room. Not complaining! I packed up two (smallish, but not really) boxes of books for the basement, and I have lots of room on the tall bookshelf (which has now been relegated to fiction) and no space (still) on the white bookshelf, which is nonfiction on the bottom and writing binders/WIPs/books on the top. If I'm feeling responsible later I'll post some pictures!

I'm still reading A Matter of Blood, but it's going to go much slower now because I'm focusing on writing for November. I plan to write on the train each way and a bit more at home (especially if I haven't reached my word count for the day) so reading won't happen until I'm all tucked into bed and cozy, which will give me approximately seven minutes to read until I fall asleep. I plan to finish AMoB, but after that I want to start rereading books. They've been piling up, and I need to give my Read pile a bit of attention. Plus, I've been trying to slow down on my book buying (and most of what I want is only in hardcover, which I try to avoid), so my TBR pile is mighty small. (That is, TBR of those I already own.)


 I really never do that, unless it is really really good. Sometimes if the second book is coming out in a series I'll read the first one. In both of these instances, I'm talking about The Name of the Wind. I can't help myself. I think it's reached Favorite Book of All Time status. I have a mass market, trade paper, and e-book versions. =] Oh Patrick Rothfuss, let me count the ways. I'll probably read this next. And also The Wise Man's Fear. Not as good as the first one, but still deserving of another read. I have this in hardcover and e-book, and will buy it when it's out in mass market also, but that's my favorite format. I CAN'T WAIT for the third book! I doubt there's even a date set yet, but I'm okay with that. Rothfuss can take as long as he needs, as long as it's before he and I both die. This is a series I'll probably read for the rest of my life.


The Warded Man and The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett. This is another great series. Again, the first one is better, but the second does not deserve to be shunned for a reread. Arlen is bad-ass and a must-read if you want to write heroic characters: he doesn't put up with anyone's shit. The setting is a unique take on the classic fantasy epic.


I really loved Among Others by Jo Walton. This is the teen book I could always read and not get sick of. (It's marketed for adults, which is probably why. None of the whiny emo-bullshit. Also, like Warded Man, a case of the only clear-thinker in a society.) I don't own this book, sadly, I'd read a library copy. I want to buy it though, once it's paperback/mass market. The best part about this book is the quiet magic system. You don't notice it at first, but then you realize it's driving the whole novel. It's epistolary, but it works oh so well.






Dune by Frank Herbert and the Revelation Space trilogy by Alastair Reynolds were the first sci-fi books I ever read, way back in the days of high school. (Dude, it's been FIVE YEARS. Wow.) I've been wanting to read both of these for a long time now. For the most part Dune went over my head, and I thought Revelation Space was just awesome. And I liked that Reynolds was an astrophysicist, which I eventually went to college for. I read a lot of mainstream middle grade and YA books, but when I started browsing the adults sections it was always sci-fi and fantasy. (So proud of myself!) I read a lot of Drizzt books in high school, too.

Ok, so The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson isn't a reread, but it comes out TOMORROW! I loved his Mistborn series, better than everything else he's written. (Elantris sucked, didn't read Warbreaker, and gave up on Way of Kings. I'll give it another chance when he's done being Robert Jordan.) Anyway, I'm pretty excited. And did you know you can read the Prologue through Chapter 6 for FREE? Check out Tor's website, and you can also download it for Nook at BN.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNo Update #1

I had a post-op appointment today so I only worked a half day from home, leaving the afternoon wide and clear for writing and beering and eating!! (What a good day.) I'm sitting in a local bar right now, Isaac Newton's, feeling appropriately emo as I sit here with my computer and cheeseburger-to-die-for and Southern Tier Pumpking. I'm also mooching off someone's internet, which is even better. =] I wrote 450 words before I dug into my cheesburger, and it's been a good day. It's a lot more crowded than I thought (or hoped) it would be, but that's okay.

Anyway, some updates:
Three days into NaNoWriMo (I'm counting Monday 10/31, because an extra day can only help and mentally I like the starting-the-week-on-a-Monday thing) and I've written 2700 words. Pretty close to my goal of 3000. I want to use today to really catch up on word count and go 4000 and beyond. I do have quilting tonight and it's the awful Take-out Thrusday, but I'll make it happen. I could so totally get into this working from home thing... if only!

The coolest thing about this story is that I'm just writing. As in, not thinking about writing, or worrying about moving the plot, or making sure the characters are coming across well. It's a shitty book and hopefully my first completed book and I'm writing only to get the goal of the wordcount. I have the scene in my mind, and I work my way through it. It's really hard to explain, but there's no stress about writing this book, and it's making it easier. Write now, cut the shit later. Even if it's 80% of noodling and finding out the characters, that's fine. And having a deadline is helping. Not just saying "this much on this day," but having it engrained in my mind "I have a month to write this thing." It's because it's November. Everyone else is doing NaNoWriMo, striving to reach their goal by the end of the month, and even though I'm not officially signed up I'm doing the same. It feels good. I've sat down each night and written something, even if it wasn't a lot after what I got over train/lunch/train. But even sitting down for a half hour has led to a hundred words at least, and it all makes a difference!

Sorry folks, but I'm feeling mighty proud of myself these three days into NaNo. Here's my word count so far:
10/31     700
11/1      665
11/2      1351
That's with an official goal of 1000 words a day, and an unofficial goal of 1200 words a day to give me a day or so off on the weekends. And I know, 700 and 665 are not very high, but I'm still really proud of myself all the same so I'm going to swim in it and you can suck it up. =] (We may have reached the point where the beer is talking. I'm okay with that.) My cheeseburger with the mysterious pink sauce is delicious and the bartender keeps calling me by first name, which is a little weird but of course he knows it because I gave my credit card for the tab. And I've avoided getting pink sauce on my computer! Yay!

Books:
Still reading A Matter of Blood, little by little. It's really good. I don't really know how I can describe it other then the people are seriously fucked up and awesome. I'm in the beginning of the second third of the book, so everything is rolling but the "Holy fuck" moment hasn't happened yet. And did I mention how I love the people? I hope my characters are as good as that. I'm sure they aren't, but it's a goal.

I have The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms up next, but I can't stop thinking about The Name of the Wind. I really love that book. I gave it to a friend and he loved it too, which makes me happy. Good books for all! I'll probably end up reading it again before the end of the year, and just today I realized Jo Walton is doing one of her blog series on The Wise Man's Fear reread, which is the second one and I have to read that from the beginning. I really love Jo Walton, ever since I read her Among Others, which I highly recommened. That one may earn itself a reread, too. Actually, I just decided I'm going to do a Rereads edition of Irrespresible Library, because I don't rereads books most of the time, but there are a couple that are worth it and that I've been thinking of for a while.

Alright, peace out. Cheeseburger time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Note from the Writer's Desk

Alright, so I chickened out of doing NaNoWriMo. I know I can't make such a high word count (I think I have written that much in a day ONCE. Maybe.) and it would just be depressing to see myself miss it day after day. So I'm going to do my own thing, 30k in the month of November. I didn't sign up for NaNo (or KazNo, which is the same goal as mine) but oh well. I want to focus on writing, not on keeping up with the message boards. We'll see how it goes, and I can always check in to #nano on twitter. 30k is 100 words a day, completely doable as long as I make the time to do it, but I want to shoot for 1200 words a day so I can have weekends off. That extra two hundred words is going to be a big stumbling block for me mentally, but I want to try having a bigger goal with the planned weekends off. Fridays may be a problem, but that's just going to have to be something I work around.

I'm also not working on Malevolent Soul. And I don't care. The stories in my head are just too complicated to figure out for my First Novel Ever, so I am constantly trying to make things simpler, at least so I can finish a first draft. So, I will be writing That Paranormal Teen Romance Novel That's Been Done A Thousand Times Before. I read enough of these that I know the structure, and hopefully I will be able to force myself to keep the plot simple. I would much rather just write a straight plot and finish a first draft with 15-20k, then beef it up with subplots in the end of the month. SIMPLE SIMPLE SIMPLE. I can do this.

I have no idea what the plot is going to be so far. I usually start out with no idea and the ideas start to come to me as I work with the characters. Speaking of, that's another of my problems I'm hoping to work on with a simpler story. I have too many characters, and suddenly the characters that are important to the plot have disappeared and the ones that are doing everything don't do anything meaningful. Keep it to a few so they all remain important and interesting. It's my first book, and a NaNo book (sort of), IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE GOOD. It just has to be FINISHED.

It's about merpeople again. I still like the idea of merpeople, back from the story I was working on this past spring, and it's also the one thing I haven't read twenty books about so I don't feel the urge to chuck my computer against the wall from dealing with horrible cliched creatures. I need a good nickname for my own NaNo, otherwise it isn't official. Like KazNo. =] GiNo? Lame. RiNo is a little funnier. GRiNo makes me sound like a pedophile grease-monkey. In any case, wish me luck! And good luck to everyone else doing NaNo this year! I'll keep working on the nickname....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Dear Chris Wooding,

You are writing Firefly fanfiction. It's okay, it happens to the best of us, and there's a twelve-step program for that. We all know Joss Whedon is God, but there can only be one. And frankly, it was still really good. But for someone who's written 20 books, I was hoping for a bit more on the unique scale. I'll probably still read the next one, but only eventually.

Sincerely,
Gina

A synopsis, from BN:
Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.


On his blog, Wooding talks about how this book was supposed to be a break from the dark books he usually writes, so in that sense he set out what he wanted to do. It was a fun book, full of snarky characters and stuff blowing up. I would compare it to a Michael Bay movie: it's meant to entertain, not ponder the meaning of the universe. And I did enjoy it, but I think only because I'm a fan of Firefly. I feel bad saying it because I know the author put a ton of work into it, but all I could think of was Captain Malcolm Reynolds. He acted the same way, talked the same way, even treated his crew the same way. In my mind, Darian Frey was Mal Reynolds. But it's okay. I don't mind looking at him a while longer. And seriously, how many women is Frey going to have almost married? It got old. One, okay. But when more start showing up, the relationship is hard to believe.

The plot was good, even if it was straightforward. Something blew up, they reacted and made a plan, they went forward with that plan. There was no long-term goal, other than to get the Navy off their ass. The book only looked forward one or two chapters at a time. Personally, I would have liked to see an end goal much earlier in the novel, to have something to connect the whole book and keep dragging you through. Since I had never heard of Chris Wooding before this, I thought this was his debut work. I was surprised to find out that he has a whole slew of stuff under his belt. it would be interesting to read his other work to see how it differs, since these books are his "break from the norm" stuff. And I should mention that his prose was very plain, to the point of boring. I want the prose to act like a sepia-filter on a film camera, and I want it to sing to me. With this, even though what was happening wasn't boring, I felt my eyes dragging several times. Like a bunch of office employees sitting in a conference room and reciting lines from a memorized script. And not The Office employees, either.

The setting was interesting, but had nothing to set it apart. The most interesting spot in the book—Retribution Falls, of course—really didn't get that much air-time. It's a pirate town with ramshackle buildings, and a whole slew of horrible people crammed into a small place, and nothing happens there. Sure, there's the battle at the end, but to have the book named after the place it was disappointing to have all the plot development occur somewhere else. And one more thing, the index in the back to explain, in detail, a card game that is poker with one rule changed is completely unnecessary. I read it. It was a waste of time.

The strongest part of the book was the characters. Each one has a unique history and something they are running from, and the secrets gave an interesting dynamic. They fight, they stick up for each other, and even though no one slept together (some romantic tension would have done this book some good!) you can tell that they all grew together, too. They transform from a bunch of secretive idiots to an actual crew. Although, having such transparent histories also did some harm, because there is no way you can make me believe that Crake, with his sheltered genteel upbringing, could have figured out Jez. No way. But I'm interested to see what happens to Jez through the next books. (And for all you Firefly fans, even the Reavers showed up to play their part.)

Overall, I liked this book. It was fun. It's much better if you're thinking of Nathan Fillion while you're reading it. I would like to read the other books eventually, but I'm not in any rush to run out and get them. I wish there had been a little more depth or twist to the plot or color to the prose, but it was entertaining enough for me to stick with it.

This is the first in a series of episodic, stand-alone books. They don't have to be read in order. Maybe even skip the first book and go to the others, not because it was bad, but because origin stories are always so badass when you're already invested in the characters. The next book is already out, The Black Lung Captain, and The Iron Jackal is forthcoming.

Reading Next: A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quotes

I love quotes. If I had my way, I'd probably get several tattooed all over myself.

  • "It does not do, Harry, to dwell on dreams and forget to live." - J. K. Rowling, The Sorcerer's Stone
  • "Love is an element." - Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  • "There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Knock on wood

For the past TWO days now, I consistently sat down and wrote! Yay! Feel free to roll your eyes at the two days. My goal is 500 words a day, spurred mainly by this quote:

Schedule Your Time...
"...like writing five hundred words a day. In four months you’ll have a finished first draft."
-Sarah Mlynowski author of Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
From inkpop

And I've also been using this method from Devon Monk. I just wanted to try it as an experiment, but I like how it helps. When I first start writing, it's just a hassle to mark down my wordcount and pull out the calculator because I don't want to switch out of writing-brain and into math-brain. But it's when I get to halfway, or even before, and I start thinking of all the other things I have to do that it really helps. "Oh, well I've got this far, I only have that much to do, I might as well keep going." And you know, sometimes it really sucks to drag myself through a word count, but both nights so far I've written more than my 500 words because I worked through the swamp, and was well into a groove when I finally passed the mark.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sup Thursday

So, I had my mouth surgery today, and aside from being terrified like a small child the whole time it really went smoothly. I was numbed up enough to not feel anything and the doctors were super nice. My mouth is full of stitches but he also put glue on top of the stitches so there is nothing raw in my mouth, which is great. I look like Frankenstein just in time for Halloween!

I worked on my quilt for most of the day today, and I now have 2/3 of the blocks finished, and the last one cut. Tomorrow I'll finish sewing those and then trim them all and put the whole thing together, hopefully including the borders too (which I plan to piece together if I have enough extra fabric). Right now I'm going to sit down and go through my story. Things are just fighting me to get sorted out, and I'm obviously not comfortable to start writing it yet, so I think I need to do some more brainstorming. Ugh, so frustrating.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Irrepressible Library, and all the updates I didn't talk about in the past week.

Don't you all like how my Tuesday feature flopped on it's very first week? And then the second? Not on purpose, I assure you, yesterday I started working on the post and it kept turning into a whining pile of poo because I wasn't feeling well. I think it had something to do with the cheese-alicious wawa-version of the Philly cheesesteak with extra pepperoni and artery-clogging deliciousness that I ate. That's ok, it was so worth it.

So let's see, I'm still reading Retribution Falls. it's really good so far, even if it does have too many characters. It's not that the characters are bad, but the author keeps adding in all this history and backstory in the middle of the scene, so things can get jumpy going from one thing to the present to his memories, etc. It's confusing, and sometimes I don't care. It's interesting for the members of his crew because we know they all have secrets and it's nice to finally find out what some of those secrets are, but for all the other women that show up and they ALL have a history with the captain where he almost married them but chickened out and now they want to see him dead.... yeah. I don't care. After the first one, it's old. And seriously, how many people does he have to almost-marry before you realize that this doesn't have to be included in the book?

But other than the abundance of angry women, this is a fun book. The crew is getting in trouble and getting themselves out of it (sometimes), and it's a whole lot of fun. I said before that it started out like Firefly, and now I can confirm that yes, it is just like Firefly, and no, that doesn't bother me. Firefly was awesome. Retribution Falls is pretty awesome itself.


As of yesterday, I pretty much scrapped the entire TBR list I made last week. The Shadow of the Soul review appeared on EBR,  and it reminded me that I went completely out of my way to order the first book, A Matter of Blood, before it was released in the United States, and I was so excited for it and why the hell haven't I read it yet. So, A Matter of Blood is next. It's supposed to be awesome, but only if you have a strong stomach, which I DO, along with the sadistic need for blood and gore that is (thankfully) missing from my real life. This is not one of those books to include in the spacecraft that's blasted off in the search for intelligent life. And I can't wait to read it.

In writing news, I haven't been. I don't know if it's because I'm on a reading surge or because I'm working on a quilt, but either way it's all just excuses. I've written 600 words over the past week. At this rate, I should finish my first novel by the time I'm retired.

In quilting news, it's so exciting! I have the fabric all washed and ironed and cut into the 12 inch squares, and I finally have the pattern and the freezer paper, so yay! I know I'll work on it all night tonight, which is not really a good thing because a) if I finish it I won't have anything to do over the next two days while I'm off from work and desperately looking for something to do that doesn't require talking, and b) no writing for me. Of course, WRITING doesn't involve talking, but of course that doesn't count. o_O

In lunch related news: Avocadoes! Love em. And TWO. *happy*

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Irrepressible Library

This is going to be my new weekly feature. I am always stumbling upon new books and can hardly keep them straight, not to mention there is seriously not enough time in the day (or the world) to read everything that I want to. I need to delegate. And relegate. I was always on the slower side of speed, and going through the editing program at college has made me an even slower reader. And now, I read to simultaneously enjoy the book and to pick it apart to it's bones, so I'm still just as slow.



These two books are at the top of my list, though for different reasons. I want to read Peculiar Children because the pictures are awesome, and not so much for the story. And I always enjoy a good creep-out. I want to read Retribution Falls because it sounds like an awesome book. Wild West space cowboys? How much more awesome can you get? I'm about two chapters into each of these books. RF is just as awesome as I expected it to be. PC is exactly as boring as I expected. I don't want to flip through the book to look at the pictures ahead of time, because I'm going for the full-frontal creep-out. But it's hard. And the biggest thing about RF is that I don't want to get too into it. It's a horrible balance I have to strive for or I will never get any writing done.



I really want to read all three of these books, but they all have the same problem. HARDCOVER. Damn. Don't get me wrong, I am all about supporting authors. All you need is to peek at the two heaped bookshelves stuff into my bedroom to see that. But there is no way I can afford all those hardcovers. Not to mention, they are uncomfortable to hold, heavy, and bulky. I'm already carrying around a laptop, and I don't have a Mary Poppins bag. I live in a county with a great library system, but is only so-so on the sci-fi and fantasy. They usually have the book I'm looking for, but then the problem is getting it into your hands becasue there's a list of ten people who have it on hold ahead of you. The demand is always higher than the supply.

Hum and the Shiver and a great premise: the magic is controlled by the music. Also, it is a very laid back prose, from what I gather like Name of the Wind or Among Others, which I have really fallen in love with lately. I can't wait to get my hands on this book. Although, the whole thing depends on if the magic is believable. If it's "Pluck a few strings, alakazam," we may have some problems. But judging by all the positive reviews, I think it'll be fine.

Quantum Thief: To be honest, this has been on my TBR list for so long I don't even remember what it's about. All I remember is fast-paced, complicated, and weird. Another book with a pile of positive reviews. This came out earlier in the year, so will likely be out in paperback first.

Awakenings was recently reviewed on Bookworm Blues (a great site for book suggestions). As was One Percenters. OP is from the perspective of a killer (fascinating) and A deals with amnesia and memory loss. I should be giving better synopses, but it's hard when a book just catches my eye. I know what I like, and I know what sounds interesting. And...

There: I went back and added links to the reviews. I love book review sites. I have my favorites, their linked and starred on the left sidebar. Check 'em out, and let me know if there are other great review sites I'm missing out on.



Wither was on my list and off again when it first came out, but after reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, another YA book with a gloriously unique premise, I'm interested in it again. People know exactly how long they are going to live, 25 for males and 20 for females, and the main character wants to escape to find her little brother amidst an f-ed up love triangle, crazy scientist father-in-law, and sister wives. I make it sound weird, but trust me it sounds really good. And come on, the cover.

Nothing and A Curse Dark as Gold I found today on Jodi Spark's blog. They both sound great. Her blog revolves around more middle grade than teen, but CDG is a teen book. Her description of N was "Fuck." (and it's middle grade!) and CDG is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin.  They both sound great, and have both won awards. I'm also interested in checking out the award list for some other book recs.

Whew! What a jam-packed post! But I am a firm believer in word-of-mouth recs, so it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

And look! It matches the
color scheme of my blog!
Just saying upfront, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is one of the best stories I've read in a while. And by that I mean, it kept my attention so that I 1) actually finished it, and 2) stayed up late to finish it because I really really had to know what happened and not omgIcantstandthisbookanymore. Not to mention, it was a teen book that didn't wallow in its emo-ness and actually told a story. Yay! (Can you tell I've been a bit frustrated with my recent teen selections?)

Hmm, this is really hard to talk about, because there are so many things I could give away that would just ruin the whole experience. But there are teeth, and monsters, and magic, and it is just the kind of atypical fairy tale that I love. The prose is very straightforward, which makes for an easy read, but it still has some great flavor to it. Karou, the main character, is super cool. She is opinionated and doesn't take any shit and works hard. And, she has a super awesome sketchbook filled with cool monsters, and I can't help but get a little bit jealous over that. =]

A few gripes: the points of view were a bit off at times. A chapter would open with a paragraph in omniscient, but then switch to third person for the rest of the chapter. Personally, I'm not much of a fan of omniscient because I expect it to be in third, and whenever an "omniscient bit" is stuck in it throws me out of the story.

Also, it suffered a bit from "I'm not telling you just to string you along." First, Akira holds back telling Karou what she is. Then, when he finally does get around to telling her, the story suddenly jumps to backstory, and stays there for 10 chapters. I'm not saying the backstory isn't interesting, because it was, but I just didn't care about it at the time. I think it would have been better to scatter backstory chapters throughout the book, and then when everything comes together at the end it would be BAM BIG REVEAL instead of ALMOST REveal fizzle fizzle notasbigaBAMbecauseIfigureditoutalongtheway.

Don't let that turn you off, because seriously I could just shut-the-fuck-up-like-I-could-do-better. This book rocked. I went completely out of my way to get it from the library, which turned into a horrible goose chase, and I may end up buying it anyway because I'll likely want to read it again plus I want to pass it around a little bit. maybe I can hold out for the paperback.

AND, there's going to be a second one?!? I went into this thinking it was a stand-alone! About ten pages from the end I realized where it was going to stop, and not only did it STOP but she dropped a doozie that I totally didn't expect (and loved, and thank you, Laini Taylor, for not being like every other teen book) but it had that little "...to be continued" crap. Now I have to wait! The horribleness!

If you haven't realized, you should really read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was awesome. And I'm thinking there's a color scheme in the works, too, since I'll be fabric shopping tomorrow for my next quilt...

Rating: Well, I really want to give this book a 9.3, but it's so hard to tie books down to a number, because the next book that I want to give a 9.3 is going to be completely different, and I'm going to look at that one next to this one and think "But that one was way better than this one!" And then I'm going back and changing my ratings, and all hell breaks loose. So I'm not going to do ratings. (And don't worry, it's really f-ing hard to get a solid ten. This book rocked.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's like having two boyfriends, but without all the sex.

I currently have two projects going on. Red Sun in Evening, and Malevolent Soul.

I was inspired to start Red Sun in Evening because I read the synopsis of Retribution Falls, thought "Wow this reminds me of Firefly." Then "I loved Firefly." Then all these scenes were flashing through my head and I had all this inspiration and I immediately started working on a story, and it was all exactly like Retribution Falls.

But that's ok. The point was to finish something. Except nothing is quick because it all turns into a novel. And I told myself I can't read Retribution Falls until I finish or give up on my story. I don't want to give up on Red Sun, but I really want to read Retribution Falls. I have to weigh my options. On one hand, Red Sun only existed as a way to distract me from working on Malevolent Soul, a story that was actually original and I had only lost faith in it because I couldn't face working on a second draft, and doing everything over from the beginning. Red Sun was never my story.

I don't know if I have a really short attention span and maybe having two stories going simultaneously will help me or hurt me. I know this is just a ploy to take the easy way out and AGAIN not write anything. I'm still working on that part. I'm still trying to figure out the right balance of outlining and pantsing. I wonder if having a setting outlined will help, one that I can just fall into and not have to think about, then it will be easier for my characters to flow. Plus, I still like Malevolent Soul. And yes, moving to the second draft makes it a much better story. There is actually setting in the second draft. And I cleared up Bernie's schizophrenic-ness, so maybe she will actually make sense. And her job fits her much better. Will the homeless orphan turned doctor is a great success story, it's not one I want to try to make work.