Goals Summary Wk 11/14

Hello Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything too intense. But, it was a busy weekend, and a very stressful week for me in general, so let’s discuss.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Read Mass Effect Revelation
  • Write 4k words

Overall, nothing too taxing. However, the only one I completed was the writing. Which, overall, is the best one, I suppose. I only published one post last week, and my reading fell off pretty sharply. But, I wrote 7,109 words last week!

That puts my total word count for NaNo at 11,444 words. Since my goal is 15k for the month, I’m doing really well!

Want to know why this week was so stressful?

Welllllll, I put my two week notice in at Starbucks. That part has mostly been relieving. It’s been oddly blissful at Starbucks for me every since, and I only have one shift left before bringing my time as a Partner to an end. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll have the reaction everyone is expecting me to. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time with Starbucks. I have learned so much, and met so many wonderful people who have become like family to me, but it’s time to move on.

That being said, I thought I was moving on. Even from the library. I had put my notice in there too, but I quickly realized that was a mistake. This new position that was offered to me would have been a wonderful opportunity to learn something entirely new, and to work for two people I respect and admire immensely. But, leaving the library just felt wrong. I thought I could do it, and I was wrong.

So, I backed out of the new job, and genuinely felt awful about it. Nauseous, shaking, on the verge of a panic attack. But, they say the hardest decisions are usually the right ones. And I know that staying at the library is the right choice.

So, I’ve been an anxious wreck all week, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life. Now that it’s all sorted, I feel I can get back to some normalcy.

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Lighting was very well done.

Except we went to Seattle on Sunday to see Temple of the Dog perform on Monday night. We had an awesome little two day trip, and we explored and ate and drank, like we like to do. And the concert was just amazing. A once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of my all time favorite records performed in its entirety. I have zero regrets.

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And we had pretty nice seats!

Even if we had to drive four hours back home last night, and then get up to go to work today.

And so here we are, a day late. Again. What do I want to do this week? Well, it is the holiday week, so things are bound to be a bit lax on the writing and reading front. But, I also have more time off this week than usual, so maybe I’ll prove disciplined.

Here’s hoping!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Mass Effect Revelation
  • Start reading Arcanum Unbounded (I’m bound to tell you all about it as soon as I can)
  • Write 3k words

A little ambitious, what with hosting Thanksgiving in our house for the first time, but the writing has been going really well this month. At least, when I sit down to write.

That’s the plan, Stans. We’ll see how it ends up. If I finish my current book, I should be here to write a review. It’ll be my first tie-in review, so that will be interesting. I hope you’re looking forward to it.

And, I hope you all have wonderful afternoons with your families. Share some food, love, and thanks with the people that matter most. That’s what Thursday is about.

Until then, have so more pictures from our trip!

 

BZ

 

 

Goals Summary Wk…?

Hi Blogland.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, I skipped last week. And I’m posting late this week.

Last week was one of immense upheaval. Trevor and I went to Bend to celebrate his birthday, and we had an awesome time. Some life altering stuff went down, which I can speak more about later.

The main reason I didn’t post at all last week is because of the following:

  1. N7 Day. This is the glorious day, November the seventh, in which Mass Effect nerds rejoice and celebrate the most wonderful game franchise ever created. This year’s N7 Day was bursting with new info about Mass Effect Andromeda, which is set to release sometime this coming Spring. Basically, I was freaking out every 10 minutes as stills, videos, and screenshots were released. Then, in a frenzy, I proceeded to start the entire franchise over again. Sorry, not sorry.
  2. Election Day. This was a horrible evening for my husband and I, and we spent it alternating panic attacks and inexplicable rage. While we’re not Hillary fans, we are Progressives, and we’re very concerned about the country right now.
  3. Promo Set at Starbucks. Wednesday I worked from 10am until after midnight, all so customers could enjoy the spirit of the holidays at their local chain coffee shop. Gag.
  4. I was off, and exhausted. I considered writing, briefly, and then opted to play more Mass Effect instead.
  5. Migraine. The whole weekend.

Basically, last week was hell, but kinda sorta good.

So, two Mondays ago, my goals were:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Beacon 23 Book Review
  • Read A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe
  • Write 500 words a day, 3k total.

So, how’d I do?

Not too shabby! I published my two posts, one of which was the Beacon 23 book review. I didn’t get around to A Borrowed Man, and instead started to read The Vagrant. It was super boring, and I gave up on it, instead reading 6 volumes of the Avatar the Last Airbender graphic novel series. I feel I should mention here that I am open to giving The Vagrant another shot, just not right now.

But, the most important thing is the word counts. I did it, guys. I wrote a total of 4,335 words that week. And only over four of the six days. So, I didn’t write every day, but I pumped out words HARD when I did write. And damn it felt good.

Then I ruined it by being a complete hermit last week. But, I maintain that my work/life turmoil makes it somewhat understandable.

Hopefully I can avoid real life by building my own world instead of indulging in BioWare’s. I’ve started reading fanfiction, and the official tie-in novels, so it’s looking grim…

But! Goals!

This week I want to:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Mass Effect Revelation
  • Write a total of 4k words

So, a pretty simple jump back in. Bummed that I screwed the pooch last week, but I can only make up for it by moving forward. It’s time to put some words on the page!

Thanks for reading along, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey

Hi Blogland!

Quick update before we get on with the review. NaNo is off to a good start. I wrote 1,225 words yesterday and 576 today. Since my goal was 500 a day, things are going really well!

Also, I need to make a small edit to the goals for this week. Due to holds on items at the library, I’ve decided to read The Vagrant by Peter Newman before I read A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe. Wolfe’s novel is renewable, Newman’s is not. The Vagrant is almost double the size of Wolfe’s book, so I’ve scratched the goal to have it finished this week, and instead am hoping to write the review sometime mid-next week.beacon-23

Of course, I’ll mention all that in Monday’s post as well.

Now, on to Beacon 23!

I picked this book off the NEW SCI-FI shelf at my library mainly because of the description inside the jacket:

For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job, and a thankless one for the most part. Until something goes wrong. Until a ship is in distress.

In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail.

At least, they aren’t supposed to.

Now, I had just finished reading the Red Rising trilogy and was dying for more Science Fiction in my life. I ended up reading a lot more Fantasy before I finally cracked this one open, but it was worth the wait.

Beacon 23 is a weird little book. So, the premise is that in the future NASA has strategically placed beacons throughout various sectors of space. These act as lighthouses, directing ships away from hazardous regions of the galaxy.

The protagonist, who remains nameless,  is an operator of one of these beacons. Oh, and he’s a war hero. Though, he doesn’t consider himself such. Much of the book revolves his struggle with PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Some of it’s funny, like when he talks to a rock for a week, convinced that it’s a sentient species of alien. And then sad, when he realizes that in order to cope with the death of eight crew members of a crashed cargo ship, which he feels responsible for, he fabricated the existence of the rock’s personality.

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Interior illustrations by Ben J. Adams. Check out his work here.

There’s a lot of dark, bleak moments. And Hugh Howey does a wonderful job of writing them. His prose is sparse. The protagonist has a very relatable and distinct voice, and his narration of life in Sector 8, in Beacon 23 is definitely memorable.

I don’t want to give too much away, because the book moves in harsh twists and turns that are worth keeping spoil-free. But, suffice it to say that this narrator is lovable, loath-able, and probably more than a touch insane.

But you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.

What really struck me, more than anything else, was the writing. It’s been a long time since I read something that was so straightforward and human, set in a world completely foreign. The narrator’s situation is far from typical, and yet his reactions and thoughts are 100% believable, and powerful. Even when he makes you doubt the last 40 pages with a single line.

It’s just damn good writing. I will say, the book itself is a little stilted, because it was originally published as five individual ebooks. The copy I read is a single binding, referred to as “The Complete Novel”. I think reading them individually, and waiting for the subsequent releases would have made the book that much more enjoyable, because Howey always left the reader on the edge of a cliff, and you never knew how the narrator would respond to it. Would he jump? Turn around and leave? Or simply drop to his knees and give up?

Waiting for those outcomes would have added a really nice sense of suspense and anticipation. I got to bypass that by flipping to the next page.

Also, this printing had really wonderful art before each “book”. I’m not sure if that art was included in the ebook format, but I enjoyed them in the printed edition.

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Illustration by Ben J. Adams

In conclusion, I would purchase a copy of this book. I think that a second read through would probably offer more insight into what’s real and what’s PTSD delusion, and give me a chance to really appreciate the narrator’s struggle even more. There were a lot of funny moments, but there were a lot of really poignant and powerful ones too.

Thanks to this quick read, I’ll be adding Hugh Howey to my list of authors to read, always.

Until next time Blogland,

BZ

 

Goals Summary Wk of 10/24

Happy Halloween!!!

It’s our first Halloween in the house, and my first time ever handing out candy to trick or treaters. It was the best! This whole weekend has been wonderful. We went out with friends Saturday night to celebrate Halloween in a more adult way: with beer and dancing! Photos to follow. And then Sunday was spent recuperating by bingeing on Stargate SG-1 all day. It was the most relaxed I’ve been in months.

shaun-stage-1
I was stopped at least five times with, “you’ve got red on you.”

But, there’s more to discuss here than just the general awesomeness of Halloween. Goals, for instance!

Last week’s goals were:

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write Library of Souls Book Review
  • Write 750 words for From the Quorum

What did I accomplish? Prepare the fanfare! I met all my goals this week! That’s the first time since I started tracking goals, and I’ll say, I did more than just meet them. Yes, I published two posts. Yes, one of them was the Library of Souls book review. And yes, I wrote 750 words of the novel. And another 1,158 words.

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Word of advice: splurge for the fake, washable blood. Red pen bleeds through to the skin…

That’s right, a total of 1,908 words this week! I was giddy with joy and relief as I tracked the word count. It felt so good to just sit for three hours and write something new. And it was actually a really wonderful and quaint scene. Probably complete garbage as far as pacing and fitting in with the rest of the book, but hey, it’s words on the page. Plus, the dreaded chapter 7 is now complete. I’m on to the next one, which is a great way to start NaNo.

Speaking of which, that’s tomorrow! Holy crow! Where did the time go? So, what’s the plan? Write every day. 500 words each day. Anything beyond that is gravy. The end goal is that, by the end of the month, I’ll be writing over 1,000 words a day, every day. Although, I’d be happy with 5k a week. Ultimately I just want this month to help me learn to carve out writing time, while I work 45+ hours a week. It’s a tall order, but I’m coming in pretty confident.

We’ll see how long that lasts.

So, this week’s goals are:

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write Beacon 23 book review
  • Read A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe (hopefully write book review)
  • Write 500 words a day 11/1-11/6 = 3,000 words

That’s a tall order, but that’s the plan. Swing by next Monday for a recap on Week One of NaNoWriMo and  a look at my goal completion!

As usual, until next time Blogland!

shaun-stage-3
That’s a homemade “cricket” bat. Because my husband is the best!

 

BZ

 

Book Review- Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Blogland!

If you haven’t read the first two books, you’re going to want to go do that now. When you’re done with that, you should read my book reviews for them here. All caught up? Good!
libraryofsouls

This book was awesome! I finished it last night cozied up on the couch with Simon. I teared up a little, but not where I expected to, which was kind of nice.

What I thought was really successful about this book is how much I identified with Jacob. I remember when we first read Miss Peregrine’s that someone in Book Club didn’t really believe in Jacob as a character. They didn’t think a sixteen year old would think and talk like that.

But, that’s exactly how I thought and talked at that age. Smart mouthed and left to my own devices, much like Jacob was, I understood him immediately. I worried that, over the course of three books, Jacob would lose his voice. That he might drown in a sea of peculiar children.

But Ransom Riggs did a really wonderful job of keeping each child individual. I often read lines of dialogue, and knew who was speaking before reading the dialogue tag. With as many characters as are in these books, that’s pretty impressive.

The second book was really about developing all these children into the individuals you come to see them as. By the end of it, you’re in love with them all. And then in the third book, they’re all captured and in terrifying mortal danger off screen. The clock is ticking for Jacob and Emma as they try to rescue their friends from the Wights.

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Lots of great quotes in this series.

At first, I was irritated that almost everyone else was out of the picture. But, as I read on, I found that the book worked really well with just Jacob, Emma, and some rotating side characters. The first book was about Jacob. The second book about the Peculiars. And this book was about Jacob and Emma, their relationship.

And it was perfect.

Also, this book had a lot more action in it. People get hurt. Some people die pretty gruesome deaths. There aren’t as many miraculous saves as in the second book, and there are some pretty dark themes explored. Drug use and addiction, kidnapping, torture, etc. I was impressed.

My one complaint, I think, is how much this book covered. The whole concept of Abaton and the Library of Souls is introduced in this book, and then resolved within those same pages. That’s a huge plot element to arrive in the third act, in my opinion. Granted, I’m not sure how else it could have been approached, but I wish there’d been more time to explore the Library and what it meant to Peculiardom.

Same for Bentham’s Panloopticon. I won’t go in to too many details, but it’s an impressive device that allows travel between loops. If you’ve read any of the books, you know this is a big deal. But, it doesn’t really get as much attention as I would have liked.

I think it’s a pretty good thing when a reader’s biggest complaint is that they wished there was more. In this case, Jacob’s story is told. We get a conclusion, one I was quite pleased with, and I feel satisfied in that regard. But, if Ransom Riggs wants to write more books about the Peculiars, I am all for it!

I would really love to read a book about Millard. He was my favorite of the Peculiar children, and spending more time with him would be lovely. But, really, I’d be happy with any of them. Enoch, Hugh, even Horace! I loved them all, and any adventure they want to go on, I’d be more than happy to follow along.

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This one really struck  me in the moment. Thanks Miss Peregrine…

So, I’d say this book was a success. It was better than the second one, and I think better than the first. Although, the first book already has a bit of a nostalgic feel for me. Amazing since it hasn’t even been a full year since I read it, but everything that happens in it seems so distant from where Library of Souls ends that I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about it.

If you’re looking for a quick read series that has a little bit of everything, I’d recommend the Miss Peregrine’s series. Very entertaining, with funny moments, sad ones, and a lot of jaw dropping and awe inspiring ones too. And let’s not forget all the awesome photographs!

On a more personal note, Library of Souls was my 50th book this year. Two more to go to reach my goal, so that’s going well. I’ve already moved on to Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey, and I’m enjoying it so far. Hopefully you’ll see a book review for that soon.

Halloween parties are this weekend, so I anticipate my reading will be thin, but if I’m lucky (read: disciplined) I’ll get A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe done by early next week, and I’ll be on track to read 70 books by the end of the year!

Anyway, I hope you all are having a great week so far! I’ll talk at you soon!

 

BZ

 

 

Goals Summary Wk of 10/17

Hi Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything crazy, but they weren’t overly simplistic either.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Publish the Hollow City book review
  • Finish chapter 7 of FtQ

So, I wrote three blog posts last week! So that’s awesome. And one of them was the Hollow City book review. There’s two down. Now, no huge shock, but I didn’t finish chapter 7 of From the Quorum.

But, I did write 532 words, creating the segue between scenes that was so intimidating to me!

That feels like success.

Also this last week was the release party for The Audient Void #2. Despite the looming threat of a migraine and the 12 hour work day that preceded it, I went to the after party that the Publisher, Obadaiah, hosted. And I had an awesome time! I may have drank a little too much, but I didn’t make a fool of myself and I needed it to calm the fuck down.

As previously discussed, anxiety is a bitch, and I don’t handle new social situations very well. I knew a few people there, but only insomuch as I’ve been in contact with them for The Audient Void. Plus, let me be honest in saying that my depth of knowledge in Weird Fiction is pretty topical in comparison to this crowd.

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Myself, William F. Nolan, and Dan Clore

But, the highlight of the evening was spending a quality 30 minutes, possibly more, talking one-on-one with William F. Nolan, of Logan’s Run fame. He was eager to talk about all kinds of experiences, from poetry, fiction, to screenwriting and navigating the film industry. And he was just really kind and genuine. I’m really honored that I had the opportunity to chat with him.

Other notable guests included Dan Clore, Jason Brock, and Adam Bolivar, the last of whom introduced me to his handmade H.P Lovecraft marionette. Undeniably weird, but also incredibly cute and charming, as he walked H.P. over and allowed me to shake his hand, and agreed to pose for a photograph.20161022_234936

It was an odd, pretty surreal evening that was topped off with a Manhattan that threatened to knock me out cold from the fumes alone. Thanks a lot, Obadaiah!

After a shaky morning after, we played DnD until 11pm with a new group. It was awesome, and I’m really excited for this campaign! In case you’re wondering, I play a Halfling Rogue, named Renna. She’s charming and diplomatic as fuck, and pretty fierce with a spindle-disc. At least, so far.

Anyway, now that you’ve had a recap of my weekend, let’s take a look at what’s ahead!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Library of Souls book review
  • Write 750 words of FtQ

I think that’s fair. I’d like to get another book review in, if possible, but I’ve got my reading stacked pretty high, plus upping the word count goal, and Halloween festivities this weekend. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

And after that comes NaNo! Yikes!!

Until next time Blogland!

 

BZ

Book Review – Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hi Blogland!

We’re here to discuss the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City. hollow-city

I enjoyed this installment, though it was a bit slower. At least, I felt bored a bit more than I recalled being in the first one. It just seems that Jacob and the children spend a lot of time arguing, and when they do get into bad situations they get saved by dumb luck a lot.

Not enough for me to really want to call Riggs out for making things easy, but enough that I was a little miffed when they kept getting missed by bombs dropped during a London air raid. The one person who did get hit happened to have a healing ability that would put Wade Wilson’s to shame. This girl barely batted an eye at the giant hole left in her torso from being impaled on a ruined beam (see cover).

And so it went.

The descriptions were wonderful. The setting in particular was of immense interest. This group of rag-tag children fleeing through a war torn London was really awesome. Frightening enough on its own that adding Hollows and Wights chasing them just made it even better!

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St. Paul’s Cathedral during the Blitz

And of course, I love these characters. Jacob has matured a lot, and his relationship with Emma has as well. Emma herself has grown on me. I remember not being too fond of her in book one. It seemed like she was using Jacob. That she just missed Abe so much that she would take Jacob as a consolation prize. But, by the end of this book, those fears and suspicions are laid to rest.

But, the other children really shine in this book. Horace, who was really just a side character in the first book, has a lot of wonderful, important moments. So does Hugh, Enoch, and Bronwyn. But, most of all, I really love Millard. He’s the invisible boy who has given his life to studying Peculiars. He’s got a smart mouth to  match that oversized brain of his. I like it.

Anyway, the children must find another ymbryne so that they can restore Miss Peregrine. On the way they meet a Peculiar Menagerie, complete with an emu-raffe, which is sort of like a bipedal donkey, and a talking, glasses wearing boxer named Addison. But, once they find Miss Wren, everything falls apart. The children are captured by an army of Wights, brought into the present, in which only Emma, Jacob, and Addison manage to escape.

Now they’re stranded in the present, unsure what to do and where to start looking. And if they don’t figure it out soon, Emma will age forward and die. And Miss Peregrine and her children will be lost to the Wights forever.

Overall this was a good book. Not a great one, but it had a bit to compare to. The first book was really good, and read so fast! This one took its time, exploring Peculiardom and fleshing out the kids a bit more. But, the ending springboards into the next book at high speed. libraryofsouls

I’m ready to dig into it!

Thanks for reading Blogland, I’ll talk at you soon!

 

BZ