Book Review – Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Hey Bloggos,

I wasn’t able to finish reading Skyward before the book was due back to the library. The thing about Sanderson books is that they’re very popular, and holds abound. And if there are holds, you can’t renew. So, instead of accruing fines on a book I intended to buy anyway, I just went and bought the dumb thing. Which, it turns out, was a sound decision.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

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So, here’s the thing. I’ve been slowing down on my mad dash of consuming Sanderson content lately. I don’t know. I think that last signing I went to (for Oathbringer) really turned me off to his books, through no fault of his own. There’s just such a cultish fervor surrounding Sanderson and his books, and I am definitely guilty of such behavior. So, I took a step back. I still haven’t read Oathbringer. And I wasn’t even all that excited to read Skyward.

That is, until I actually got a few pages into it.

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This book reminded me why so many readers love Brandon’s books. Why I love Brandon’s books. It’s full of amazing characters, hilarious dialogue, and a plot that absolutely held me captive. I loved Spensa and the world she lives in, which I should have expected; Sanderson does world-building better than just about anybody else in the genre right now.

Spensa is the sixteen year old girl who just passed her pilot’s exam. But it doesn’t matter, because the Defiant Defense Force has zero interest in letting her fly. You see, Spensa, aka Spin, is the daughter of the DDF’s only coward. Her father abandoned his Flight during the Battle of Alta, and was subsequently shot down for his cowardice. Spensa has trained and studied her whole life to get into the DDF and prove them wrong about her dad, but Admiral Ironsides won’t give her the chance. They sabotaged Spensa’s test, and suggested she take a job elsewhere.

That is, until Captain Cobb, callsign: Mongrel, accepts Spensa into his classroom. It’s her one chance at redemption and she refuses to let it pass her by, no matter how difficult the Admiral makes her life.

Spensa is allowed to take her Flight class, and nothing else. She can’t join her Flight in the mess hall, she can’t bunk in the academy, and she can’t use the learning resources beyond her classroom. So, she lives in a cave she found by chance, sleeping in the cockpit of a crashed ancient starfighter.

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In her spare time, because why not, she repairs the ship in hopes that she’ll be able to fly it when she graduates, since Ironsides is unlikely to let her fly no matter how well she does in her training. And, naturally, she’s out to find out the truth about her father, and what really happened that day at the Battle of Alta.

I’m not going to go into more details from here, because it would be spoiler-y and I really don’t want to ruin this book for anyone. There were quite a few zigs and zags that I didn’t anticipate and really enjoyed. I would prefer to preserve those for readers.

Know that this book did make me tear up a couple of times, and made me cheer out loud at least twice. My husband laughed at me as I read the last fifty or so pages on the couch, because I was yelling at the book quite a bit. In true Sanderson fashion, things do not end how I thought they would.

Thank goodness this is the first of a planned four book series, with the next book set to release in Fall 2019. I do not want to wait long to spend more time with Spensa and her Flight, callsign: Skyward.

I’m still reading Lies Sleeping. I’m having difficulty adjusting to my utter lack of free time lately. That and Red Dead Redemption 2 and a renewed fervor for all things Dragon Age is really putting a damper on my reading. But, it’s less than 300 pages and due back on Tuesday.

I’ll get it done.

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 49

Hi Blogland,

Last week felt unreasonably long. Like, each day just took forever and was needlessly complicated. I slept a lot of cope with it, which made achieving my goals a little tricky.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
  • Read Lies Sleeping
  • Write 2k words

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
    • Yes? I just did them this morning before I opened WordPress. I’m counting it.
  • Read Lies Sleeping
    • No. But, I did finish Skyward!skyward
  • Write 2k words
    • No, but I got real close.

Weekly Word Count: 1,586

I don’t really feel like I accomplished much this week. I wrote some overdue blog posts, and spent a lot of my free-time (such as it is) binge reading the newest Sanderson book. I did play some Red Dead Redemption 2, and on Sunday we made a fancy dinner, bought a Christmas tree, and assembled our new coat rack!

I was way too excited about that coat rack, by the way.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Lies Sleeping
  • Write 2k words

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got going on right now. The blog posts should be easy since I’ll have the Skyward review to write. The new Peter Grant book isn’t very long and they always read fast, so I’m sure I’ll get that done as well. Really, the only question mark on this list is the writing. I’m feeling a bit mentally checked out right now, which is pretty typical post-Nano. We’ll see if I can pull out of this funk.

If not, that’s what video games are for.

So yeah.  I’m feeling good about my odds of meeting my reading goal for the year, and I’ve done a lot of writing this year. Just gotta stay productive and coast on into the new year.

Talk at y’all soon.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – November 2018

Bloggos,

Video games are how I decompress, and apparently I really needed to decompress this weekend. I completely missed the fact that Saturday was the first of the month and spaced on writing up my usual monthly recap post! I’m so sorry for the delay.

November Goals

  • Write 800 words/dayLogo_of_National_Novel_Writing_Month
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep Reading!

How’d I do?

  • Write 800 words/day
    • YES! This was a really big win for me and I am still doing (exhausted) happy dances.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep! Both Lifelike and That Which Illuminates Heaven were submitted to various magazines in November.
  • Keep Reading!
    • Um… Yes! I read four titles in November, more than I thought I did.

Total Monthly Word Count: 25,069

November was intentionally straightforward. Three bullet points are not remotely daunting, but the prospect of writing 25,000 words sure as hell is. I needed to keep the docket relatively clear in order to make time and mental space for the giant hurdle I’d set for myself.  And it worked.

Did you see that word count? Did ya? It’s the most I’ve written in a single month in all of 2018 and I am ecstatic about it. I worked hard, stayed up later than I should, drank a TON of coffee, and committed myself to making the time to make my goals, which is the entire point of National Novel Writing Month. So, that was a wild success!

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As for submissions, my stories continue to do well but not quite well enough. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with every email notification, but it’s getting easier. I think I’m becoming desensitized. Which, if that could hurry the eff up, that’d be great. The sooner I don’t feel the sting of rejection, the better.

And then there was the reading. Despite my four titles and my one book review, I don’t feel very successful on this front. I tried to read A Map of Days, and had to abandon it because I simply wasn’t motivated to pick it up. I am on the cusp of doing the same for Skyward, although I am motivated to read it, only too late. I’m out of time with it and there are a slew of holds on it. I’m going to move on to Lies Sleeping and buy Skyward so I can read it at my leisure.

Adding two books to my Did Not Finish pile in November does not feel good, but I’m not really surprised either. There’s simply too much going on in the month for me to feel accomplished at everything I wanted to achieve.

December Goals

  • Write 10k
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read three more titles!

Another straightforward month. It’s December, a busy time at Starbucks and in my personal life so I want to give myself some wiggle room. The holidays are stressful enough without adding my own unmet expectations into the mix. Besides, I want to end the year on a happy and accomplished note, so I can springboard into 2019 ready to shine!

I’m confident that I will make my reading goal for the year. I only have to read three more titles, and I think two of them are a shoe-in. I just have to pick a third book that will read quick.

Short story submissions will continue until each story finds a home. I am stubborn, infuriatingly tenacious, and there’s a steady supply of ice cream in my house. I will get these stories published!

The writing goal might be a close thing if I let video games get in the way. 10k feels like nothing after the blistering word count of November, but that’s kind of the point. I can’t write at that pace for two months in a row, at least not right now. I’ll just burn out if I try. So, I’m going to dial things back and write a little bit each week. Slow and steady wins the race or something.

Hopefully you’ll see some more book reviews this month, and I’ll get good news about one of my stories. Fingers crossed!

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Wrimo Wrap Up 2018

Hiya, Blogland!

I wanted to take this chance to talk a bit about how my NaNo season went this year. Now, a lot of this will probably end up in my monthly recap for November, but I’ll try to go into a bit more depth here than I do there.

I was really straightforward with my goal for Nano this year: 800 words each day, or 24k words for the month. Now, if I’m being honest, 800 words isn’t all that much to me. When I do sit down to write I almost always pump out at least 1000 words, and usually closer to 2k before calling it quits for the session. In a free day, with proper motivation and focus, I can write 5k before my brain liquifies and dribbles out my ears.

So, 800 felt really doable. Which was the point. I work over 40 hours a week most weeks, and this is the first major writing project I’ve undertaken since working both jobs again. I went from 25 hours or less at work, to 40+. That’s a big change in routine, and I needed to be realistic with myself when setting the goals for Nano if I wanted to do well.

Still, 800/day nagged at me. Was it too easy? Too doable? Should I have stretched for 1000 words a day? Would that have been the better challenge? Truthfully, I don’t know. I think I could have done it, but I would be even more exhausted than I am now, and my recoup time would leak even further into December. I don’t want that. I want to keep working on this novel into the new year, and hopefully finish it by March.

And, well, I’m off to a great start because I made my goal for the month. I wrote 25,069 words in the month of November! It was a struggle and there were a lot of days where I didn’t write at all. Sundays were my most productive days, and that’s directly thanks to the local Write-Ins my Nano Chapter hosted each weekend. I also need to give a shout out to my writer’s discord community, for all the impromptu sprint sessions and encouragement they provided this month. They were a huge help and motivator.

Average words a day: 835
Total Manuscript word count: 25,488

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Here’s the thing about NaNo that so many people seem to miss: it isn’t really about the word count. Yeah, crossing the 50k threshold is one hell of an adrenaline rush, and it’s feels beyond amazing to know you could write so much in so little time. But, it doesn’t matter how many words you vow to write. It only matters that you write them.

National Novel Writing Month is about making time for your writing. It’s about establishing a writing habit and working out that writing muscle. Because it is a muscle. The more often you write, the easier it is to continue to be consistent and productive. If you write in spurts and starts it’s harder to get back into the swing of things and feel like the work you’re producing is actually worth a damn.

I think that’s my one complaint about NaNo. A lot of writers are willing to sacrifice the quality of their writing in order to log the sheer quantity that the terms of the traditional challenge demand. One Wrimo (Nanowrimo participant) confessed that when she’s sprinting, she doesn’t use punctuation. I was floored. How could that even be possible? How could you go back and read it, how could you edit it into what you’d originally intended?

And then she admitted, “I always mean to edit, but I usually never make it back to the novel. I move on to the next one.”

During National Novel Writing Month, the words are king. You are advised never to edit, not even if you decide to change your word choice. Just strikethrough the one you don’t want to use and write in the new one. Every word counts, don’t cut ANYTHING!

But I can’t do that. It’s why my sprints are so comparatively slow. 300-500 words in 15 minutes, maybe just over 600 if it’s a 20 minute sprint. And I think that’s good. But others pound out over 1000 words! It’s mind boggling.

I’d rather write to my usual quality than hoard words on the page like a dragon hoards gold. Nano for me is as much a celebration as it is a challenge. It’s a time for writers to come together and cheer on one another as we all work toward whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves.

And that’s exactly how my month went. Celebrating the love of storytelling that brings us all together and encouraging each other through the struggles of writerdom. And despite the stress of the challenge and the looming holidays, I freaking love it.

If you participated in Nano this year, I hope you enjoyed yourself, and are proud of all the hard work you did to reach your writing goals.

I’ll be back soon with the monthly recap, so keep an eye out for that!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 48

Bloggos!

I maybe spent the bulk of my weekend playing Red Dead Redemption and completely forgot that I was not a rough and tumble outlaw trying to eke out a living in the late 1800s in the Wild West. As such, I did not post either of the blog posts I’d hoped to and for that, I’m sorry.

What in tarnation was I supposed to do, anyway?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Read Skyward
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. There was just the one post, actually.
  • Read A.V. submissions
    • Yep! I’m really impressed with the submissions so far, and can’t wait to see what we finally publish.
  • Read Skyward
    • …no. I made some progress, but not nearly as much as I should have, thanks to my galavanting across the virtual plains.
  • WRITE!
    • Yep! This week was pretty much just icing on the cake so any writing was going to put this goal in the black.

Weekly Word Count: 1,434

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So aside from doing my best Billy the Kid impersonation what the heck did I do this week? Well, I wrote a bit, which was enough to tip my word count over my goal for the month, so that’s amazing. I read all of those Audient Void submissions, and have a handful more to read today. I read 80ish pages of Skyward, but it won’t be enough to finish the book before I have to return it on Wednesday. It’s a pretty big book, even if it reads super fast there’s only so much I can accomplish in two days.

I’m thinking if there’s anything else I accomplished this week, but I think this was really it. Madhu and I went for a Walk ‘n’ Talk, we got rained on and sought shelter at Starbucks.

I got a lovely rejection on That Which Illuminates Heaven, and have it out again already. I’m still waiting to hear back about Lifelike and The Cost of Rain. Just that constant, low-key buzz of stress. Forever and ever, amen.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
  • Read Lies Sleepinglies sleeping
  • Write 2k words

This should be fairly doable, if I can just keep my gaming time down to something like reasonable. Once I return Skyward I’ll be diving into Lies Sleeping, which I know will read very quickly. Writing goals can go back to something like normal. A chapter a week would be ideal, but December is a busy month so I’m giving myself some leeway on that. Besides I did well enough in November that I bought myself a bit of breathing room for this month. But I’ll get more into that in the next post.

Tomorrow is my birthday, which is nice. I already got my present from Trevor, and have been playing it for a week or so now. Spyro is just as much fun as I remembered, and it was a beautiful work of fan service to see my favorite childhood game fleshed out in today’s graphics.

I also commissioned a friend/artist on tumblr as a little gift to myself, and as soon as I get it, I’m sure I’ll post it everywhere I possibly can.

So yeah. You’ll see me around a bit this week, to make up for all the missing posts from last week. And if I’m dedicated, you might just get a book review at the end of the week.

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Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 47

Oh, Blogland. How does November seem to fly by with ever increasing speed? How has Thanksgiving come and gone already? How am I supposed to get anything done if the whole world just keeps zipping past me?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Barely. And let’s be honest, there wasn’t much substance there. But, that’s how I felt this week, relatively substance-less.
  • Read Audient Void submissions
    • …No…
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
    • No. And I finally bit the bullet and moved this book to my “Abandoned” bookshelf on goodreads. It just didn’t grab my attention enough to compete with Nanowrimo and Spyro. I’ve moved on to the next book in my TBR pile.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! Oh my goodness, so much yes!

Weekly Word Count: 8,682

Do you see that word count? Do ya? Holy moly do I feel like a rockstar whenever I think about it. Granted, I’m so tired from all the writing that I don’t feel quite as excited as I probably should about crossing the 24k word mark on my manuscript, but I still feel really good about my progress so far. Less than 1k to go this week to officially make my Nano goal!

With all the writing this week, it really makes sense why I fell behind on everything else. Honestly, I’m not really even mad about it. I’m bummed about the Audient Void submissions, but I should be able to knock those out this week no problem.

Also, I maybe sank more than eight hours into playing the remastered Spyro games… Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

spyro gif.gif

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Read Skywardskyward.jpg
  • WRITE!

I have a surprising amount of free time this week, which I’m really excited for. It’ll be nice to get caught up on my reading, finish up my writing for the month, and get some chores done around the house.

That’s if I can keep my Spyro time to a healthy level. Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

So yeah. Writing, lots of reading, and plotting out how to wrap up this year. Can you believe it’s almost over already? We’re we just here, talking about the updates to the blog and all my dreams and hopes for 2018?

Yikes. I think I may be getting old. Time is going WAY too fast these days.

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

That Time of Year

I love it. Really I do. I love the holidays and the change in the weather and the excuse to be cozy at any given moment. I love fall drinks at Starbucks, and pies, and hot chocolates on weekends shared with the people I care about.

But, I also hate the time all of that demands. It always seems like so much requires my attention during the fall. Work gets busier as the air earns its chill, NaNoWrimo holds me hostage, and then there are the birthdays and holidays that require my attention.

It’s exhausting, and I love it. But, did I mention it’s exhausting?

I have so many things I want to do, and so many of them simply get missed in the shuffle of everything else. And when I’m not actively working on something, odds are I’m asleep. Which, I can’t reasonably blame myself for sleeping, can I? I mean, I suppose I can, but it’s not very realistic. A girl’s gotta sleep sometime.

But, this is mostly just me complaining. I’ll survive. I always do.

How was your holiday weekend? I hope it was everything you wanted and you’re prepared to finish out the year strong!

Talk soon,

 

BZ