Book Review- Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale

Hey Blogland,

I’m writing through a migraine, albeit a mild one, but bear with me.

I first met Hap and Leonard, Lansdale’s protagonists, in the novella Bent Twig, which is featured in Rogues Anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Maybe not the best place to meet characters, but it was a hilarious romp through the American South.

I enjoyed the tale so much that I immediately added Savage Season, the first Hap and Leonard book, to my TBR list on Goodreads.

savageseasonI have to say that I wasn’t as impressed with this first installment. It was appealing for it’s short length (under 200 pages), but it was still sort of slow. Once the action picked up it was really good though.

I chalk this lull up to the fact that a lot of the book is spent introducing the characters and affirming their relationships to one another. That’s to be expected from a first book in a series, but I already knew the two characters who really mattered, so it was a bit slow.

That being said, I did enjoy this book, and still plan on reading the next one. Eventually. It seems that the books may be fairly episodic, which is perfect. I’ve got a lot of lingering series that are demanding my attention, and I really want to catch up on them. Once that’s done, I can read more Lansdale stories as the urge strikes me.
hap and leonard.jpg
Also, it turns out that Hap and Leonard have become a television series, which aired for the first time in March of this year and has since been renewed for a second season. Huh, I sure have a funny habit of getting into things right as they become popular, without even knowing it. I’ll have to add it to my list of things to watch.

Anyway, I gave it four stars on Goodreads, mainly because it deserved more than just three. It is funny and entertaining, but it’s very straightforward. Few surprises lurked in the pages, and the real highlights are Leonard’s biting and angry lines and Hap’s reactions to them.

Overall, Savage Season is a solid start to a crime/mystery series. I’ll definitely read more of them, but I don’t feel any pressing need to do so.

I finished The Martian over the weekend, and can’t wait to talk about it with all of you. I’ll also be watching the film adaptation for the first time this week, so expect a compare and contrast feel to the book review.

Next for the car audio is Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I’ve also taken up listening to digital audio while doing household chores, so for that I’ve got Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock cued up. So far it’s good, but weird. We’ll have to see how it turns out.

And of course, I’m still working my way through The Obelisk Gate. I’m just over halfway through, so early next week should have it completed.

The Audient Void has accepted all its submissions for issue #2, and the stories are trickling in for editing. Otherwise I’m working on getting Since the Fire into a solid third draft, and writing chapter 8 of Jordinn’s Story.

Those are the goals for this week, at least, that’s what my whiteboard tells me. And while I’m trying to reestablish a routine, the whiteboard is king.

desk
Note: image captured last week, so goals are not accurate.

Also, beyond this, I’m in the process of revitalizing the book club. I’ve got all the new members added, so now it’s just a matter of solidifying when we want to me and getting the book lists in.

I guess I’ve filled in all my free time pretty quickly. Getting right back to all those things I’ve been dying to do for two years. Thanks for staying with me through those dark ages. I look forward to talking to you all much more frequently.

Talk at you soon!

 

BZ

 

 

Book Review- White Sand by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius Gopez

Hi Blogland,

I know I said the next time we met it’d be to talk about Lansdale’s Savage Season, but I ended up staying home with a bit of a back injury today. In my invalid time, I read White Sand cover to cover. At 160 pages, it wasn’t difficult to do.

This is Sanderson’s first tale told in the graphic format, and I have to say that it was pretty good. I’ve been reading more graphic novels lately, and I would say that this one was solid. Not genius level like Saga, but come on, what is?WhiteSand01DJ-C-233x350

The story follows Kenton, a Sand Master. Or, well, a wannabe Sand Master. He’s been in training for eight years, and he pretty much sucks at controlling sand. A terrible shame for the son of the Lord Sand Mastrell, aka the leader of all Sand Masters.

So, Kenton is a hard headed young man, determined to prove his worth despite his fizzling and unreliable abilities. All to spite his father who wants Kenton to give up and move on with his life.

Too bad the guy doesn’t live long enough to see Kenton’s dreams come true. The Sand Masters are attacked, and only a handful survive. Kenton is one of them, his father is not. So now he’s left in his father’s place, and suddenly able to command the sand like he never has before.

But, the government is sick of paying for the Sand Masters. They’re an aloof and elitist bunch, who’ve now worn out their welcome. Kenton has two weeks to unite the Sand Masters behind him, and to convince the council to reconsider their decision to dissolve the Sand Masters entirely.

While Kenton deals with all this, two other characters are followed. Khrissala, the duchess of a kingdom on the other side of the world. She’s on the dayside seeking the fabled Sand Masters in order to appropriate some weapon that her deceased fiancé was after. Though they traveled together for a time, it’s not until the last page that Khrissala learns what Kenton is.WhiteSand01-18-19.jpg

And then there’s Trackt Ais. She seems like a government sanctioned bounty hunter. More likely some sort of detective. She’s hunting for a man called Nilto, who she believes is actually Sharezan. Who that is and why she’s after him, I have no idea.

Overall, this was a quick and fun read. I think the characters are great, the magic is awesome as usual, and the artwork is really delightful. But… and this is hard for me, but the world building is kind of flat. Maybe it’s the format. Maybe it’s just too difficult to build the world with such limited text. I mean, the artwork does a bit of it, but there are a lot of things that just get glossed over and filed away with only a contextual understanding. I’m hoping that the future volumes will flesh things out a bit more, but there’s only two more to go, so I won’t get my hopes up.

I wonder if adapting the graphic novel from an actual novel is part of the problem. This work was not originally intended to be told in a visual format, maybe the world building was part of the sacrifice to get it to work well as a graphic novel.

Either way, this story is still great. I’m ready for the next installment, whenever that will be.

Sand Master
It’s just so pretty…

 

Next time we meet, it should be about Savage Season. Jemisin’s newest book is coming along well, and I can’t wait to finish it and talk to you all about it. My listen of The Martian hit disc 7 today. There are only 9 discs, so that will be over before you know it. Then it’s on to Coraline.

Basically, I’m doing all I can to make up for all the lost reading time over the last two years.

See you soon Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Blogland!

Remember when I said I’d have this review up “tomorrow”? Turns out tomorrow is like, a week after the fact. What’s new? This whole sticking to a routine business is going to take some time to get used to, that’s for damn sure.

Anyway, let’s a talk a bit about the conclusion of Quentin Coldwater’s story. Finally!magicians land

By the time The Magician’s Land gets rolling, Quentin has been through a lot of shit. His girlfriend burned herself up with magic, turning into a blue rage demon known as a Niffin. That broke my heart. Alice was my favorite character of the first book, and she deserved better than 23 year old, extra douche-y Quentin. They were mid-fight/break-up when Alice sacrificed herself in Ember’s tomb.

That really messed with Quentin.

But, he still reigned on as a King of Fillory, and when he finally got a quest worth a damn, and completed it admirably, learning a lot about himself, and what it means to be brave, Ember kicked him out. That’s right, the other Physical Kids, Quentin’s friends from Brakebills, get to stay, and Quentin is forced back to his mundane life on Earth.

But, he’s almost 30 by this time, and suddenly a little peace and quiet doesn’t sound so bad. Plus, there’s something he wants to research. So, he gets a job teaching at Brakebills and begins the tedious process of researching Niffins. Because he wants to bring Alice back.

At this point even I think Quentin has gone off the deep end. There’s no bringing someone back from poofing into a nebulous blue cloud of rage. Everything up to this point in the series has made it painfully clear: Alice is gone.

But, Quentin’s not giving up. Not even when he gets fired, and has to take up a sketchy side project in order to make some substantial fast cash to fund his research.

And the crazy part is that it works. It’s not in the way Quentin ever imagined it, and there are a lot of details I’m glossing over that are really pivotal to the story. This book isn’t just about rescuing Alice, and how broken she is when she comes back, but about Fillory, once and for all.fillorymap_lg

Because it’s dying. And nothing Eliot, Janet, and even Julia do can stop it. In a last ditch effort, Eliot goes to Quentin to get his help on one final quest. Only to find that Quentin and his former student now roommate, Plum, have already done the legwork!

So, they all return to Fillory so they can save it. But, again, nothing ever goes quite as planned. But, if anyone can put Fillory back together again, piece by agonizing piece, its Quentin Coldwater.

And that’s exactly what he does. But once it’s done, he knows it’s over for him. The fairytale of Fillory has lost its appeal. Despite multiple offers for him to stay, Quentin and Alice return to the townhouse in New York, and Quentin promises Alice that he’s there for her, no matter how long it takes.

They build a new land, using a spell Quentin found in the Neitherlands (that place between worlds), and the book ends with them exploring the land hand in hand.

It’s a happy, if vague ending that left me completely satisfied.

What really impressed me most about this book was how much Quentin had changed. In the first book, I actively hated Quentin. Don’t believe me? Read my review here. It’s pretty scathing in regards to Quentin’s character. In the second book he sort of played second fiddle to Julia, whose time in the book was spent rehashing what she’d been up to during the events of the first book. It was an odd set up, but the information proved critical for the final installment.

And then, by the time Quentin joins Plum on the heist in the opening pages, he’s someone new. Still quick-witted and sharp-tongued. Still cynical and riddled with self-loathing, but now he actually has a good reason for it.Before it seemed like he was apathetic because he was bored and had nothing better to do. In The Magician’s Land Quentin is in one of the darkest places of his life.

And it really looks good on him.

magicians
I still haven’t watched this show. Add it to my “To Do” list…

For the first time, I rooted for Quentin. I worried about him. I couldn’t imagine him dying, or getting hurt. And every stabbing comment Alice made when she first returned broke my heart for him. Because she wasn’t wrong, or at least not entirely. And Quentin admitted that. He actually admitted it! The Quentin could never have done that. And his new honesty and humility endeared him to me in a way I never thought possible.

Fine. I’ll admit it. By the end, I had a certifiable crush on Quentin Coldwater.

And I’m happy to say that I feel like his story ends on just a positive enough note that I have confidence that he and Alice can figure things out. And that makes my heart incredibly happy.

So overall, I still wasn’t a fan of the first book. I enjoyed the second one, but this one was by far the best. Bit of a drag you have to slog through the first two to get here, but there’s no way you could skip over them. I’d say, ultimately, this last book is worth reading the first two. It definitely redeems the series, in my opinion.

Since I last posted, I’ve also finished reading Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale, so keep an eye out for another review soon. I’m also making decent progress on N.K. Jemisin’s newest release, The Obelisk Gate, and should have it completed by the end of the month.

In other words, I’m back in the game!

See you soon, Blogland.

 

BZ

August at Last!

Blogland!

It’s here! That phantom month I swore would never come: August!

School ended on the ninth, and though it wasn’t the strongest finish, it’s over and done with and I’m not looking back. The degree is on its way, and tomorrow my Starbucks district is throwing its two graduates a party, open to family, friends, coworkers, and customers.

At first I wasn’t too excited, but now that it’s here, I’m really looking forward to it.

Also, one of my best friends got married on Saturday, and I got to get all glammed up and share in the day with her as a bridesmaid. A stressful, emotional, and truly beautiful day. It was the last hurdle before my life could take on a new normalcy.

Bolt wedding
Me and the AZ bestie at the OR bestie’s wedding!

FREEDOM!

Last night we had my other best friend, who just moved to Salem, over for dinner and watched movies. Trevor and I have watched more Stargate SG1 this past week than we have in months, and I’m actually able to do chores around the house.

It feels too good to be true.

Which is why reality had to make its presence felt this morning.

My library manager called to let me know that, while I was a top contender for the Library Assistant III position, someone with a stronger business and management background was selected.

I had a rough hour dealing with the news. It’s hard to apply for the same position three times and not get it. When you’re literally already doing the job. I was (am) confused and disappointed. But, it sounds like there may be a silver lining that could lead to a better fit for me at the library. We’ll see. It’s all very nebulous right now, and I don’t want to talk too much about it until I have more details.

Now, enough with this hurray and boo-hoo business. There’s work to get done!

So, let’s talk goals.

Today is my first day back at the computer with a mind toward the blog and fiction. That’s going to take some time to get used to, since I haven’t had that mindset since summer 2014. And even then, I had a wedding to plan. Now I’m truly free to pursue my creative endeavors, and I’m excited to get to it.

I woke up at 8:30, but loitered around until just after 9 when I hung up with my manager. Then I spent thirty minutes contacting the people I needed to inform about the news, taking care of the dog, brewing coffee, and moping quite impressively while doing it. There was a lot of talking out loud, which it turns out is a lot less weird when there’s an animal in the house.

Simon grinning
Our dog-child, Simon.

But, now the coffee’s brewed. I’m sitting in my writing room, which is currently just a desk pushed into a doorless closet, and boxes upon boxes of books stacked in one corner. But it’s mine… even if the dog bed takes up the remaining floor space right now.

So, what’s the plan?

Honestly, I don’t really know. I’m still waiting for a little more feedback on The Steel Armada before I get to work gutting and fleshing it out for its third draft. But, I mean it when I say I won’t touch Cards until I think The Steel Armada is at its best.

But, Since the Fire, a short story set in the same world as Cards, and acts as a little prequel is in various stages of editing, and I’d like to get it to a “finished” state. It’s always nice to have completed works waiting in the wings.

There’s also the short story The Portrait of Sterling Madison. I gave it a reread a couple weeks ago, and it’s not as bad as I remember. I’ve also just read a vast assortment of horror, and think now just might be the time to get it finished too. Plus, I think it’d be a good fit for The Audient Void.

But, of course, the real project is working on Jordinn’s Story again. Even now, I’m listening to the playlist I built for it, and I can’t wait to get back to these characters. It’ll be hard to pick up and make it all cohesive after two years away from it, but I’m too excited to care. This part of my mind has been in stasis, sitting with Ellesaire in that basement boudoir, mourning a love that was stolen from her.

For real though, I read the last chapter a month or so ago, to sort of get a refresher, and I cried for how I left them all. It’s time to go back.

But, I don’t think I can just dive in. I’m too far away from it right now. What I need to do is reread it, go over my thin outlines, and get the brain working on those. Flesh out outlines and plan more chapters, that will get me moving in the right direction, so that I can hopefully start writing again by the end of this week, early next week.

In the meantime, I have a book review to write for you all. I won’t go as far back as The Magician King, because the details are hazy now, but The Magician’s Land is fresh in my mind still. I should be able to do it justice.

magicians land
So, here I am blogland. Back at it. The goal from here on out is to get up around 7, walk and feed dog, send husband to work with coffee. Drink coffee, read for an hour while I eat, and then write for three hours before work. That’s my plan. I’m going to give myself time to settle into the routine, but hopefully by September I’ll be comfortable in it and getting work done.

Talk at you all tomorrow! I am so happy to be back!

 

BZ

 

The Audient Void No. #1 Out Now!

Audient Void 1

The Audient Void No. 1 is now available! Featuring original weird tales and dark poetry from the likes of David Barker, W.H. Pugmire, and K.A. Opperman, as well as works from new authors and poets, AND the revival of Barker’s classic column Ye Olde Lemurian!

I worked on a few of the stories as an Editor, and helped the genius behind it all, Obadiah, with any publishing questions and concerns.

If you like stories from Poe, Bierce, and Lovecraft, then The Audient Void is a wonderfully creepy return to the kind of storytelling that makes you jump at the wind in the trees and keeps you up at night wondering at just how much about the world we really don’t understand.

What could be lurking in the dark? Find out in the pages of The Audient Void.

Support the journal by buying an issue, and if you’re so inclined, we’re now accepting submissions for issue No. 2!

Head over to https://www.facebook.com/TheAudientVoid/ to purchase your copy and to learn more!

audient void contents

 

… Still not August…

Hi Blogland,

Just checking in to tell y’all that I’ve updated the “What I’m Reading Page”. There hasn’t been a ton of progress, and what progress there is comes thanks to audiobooks. What I did before them is a mystery to me.

There’s a couple Graphic Novels that have helped get me by as well. But, mostly I’m drifting in a sea of neglected homework. I knew this last term was going to be intense, but I was woefully unprepared for my own apathy toward the coursework. Even though I find the writing exercises in Intermediate Creative Writing interesting, I have ZERO interest in writing a memoir. And the readings for my horror class are also interesting. But, I have absolutely no drive to write eight annotations a week.

Point is, is it August 9th yet? Oh, so close!

I’ll see you all then. In the meantime, keep an eye on my reading page, as I slowly make updates.

 

BZ

Counting

Sometimes, life just gets away from you. You know?

You get so caught up in your day-to-day, trying to be the reasonable adult you’ve been masquerading as all this time, that the things that really matter to you fall away.

This blog is one of those things.

Thanks to those of you who still check in. I see your views on my phone, and the simultaneous guilt and gratitude they elicit in me keeps me going.

You’ve all heard the excuses, the reasons before. School, work, life, blah blah blah. It’s all still here, and it’s all still true. And it’s all still irritating the shit out of me.

But, the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter now.

By mid-August I will be done with my Bachelor’s degree, and hopefully only working one full time job. Also, my husband and I will be settled in our new house!

I’ve got a writing room all planned out, so keep your eyes open for pictures in the coming months as progress is made.

And so I set my sights on August. I hang my hopes and dreams from the peak of the “A” and count the days to when I can put all this energy into the one thing that’s been missing from my life these last two years.

I so desperately miss writing. Here I thought my Sci-Fi writing class would help, and instead it woke the thing in me that demands creation. I’d managed to lull it to sleep with French and Art History homework, and appeased it with so much literature that it had no time to think of writing.

And then I wrote 28 pages for a Cards story.

I can only describe the feeling as a pure and utter longing. An ache that no amount of reading can fully satiate. In fact, even my reading has suffered. I think, since I read The Magician King, I’ve read two books. Two books since March. It makes me want to cry and scream.

I am capable of so much more. But guilt-tripping myself only leads to petulant bouts of procrastination. Instead of finishing Sharp Ends, I read 56 chapters of a Mass Effect fanfiction. One I’ve already read! And now that that’s done, I’ve started another play-through of the games.

I fear that my hard fought discipline has let itself go, and that putting the metaphorical pen to paper in August will prove more difficult than it should. That I’ll sit down, desperate to write anything, and instead I’ll just waste time staring at the desk.

Even as I give life to the fear by sharing it here, I already know that this is a very typical writerly fear. It’s kind of what makes a writer. That inexplicable and absolutely crushing self-doubt. And as much as I try, I’ve yet to succumb to it.

I doubt I’ll start in August.

Anyway, I’ve cast aside some lectures in order to write this. I don’t regret it, but I must curtail it for now. Hopefully I’ll talk to you all soon, but I won’t make any promises. July is going to be a hectic month. But August…

Yeah. August. I’ll see you then.

 

BZ