Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #23

Y’all. Last week felt long, but not in a bad way. I felt like I moved through the week like Quicksilver, speeding by and getting shit done in half the time it would normally take. I wrote a short story, edited it, watched movies, went to the zoo, played video games, and worked more than usual!  I used that momentum to my advantage.quicksilver gif.gif

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1k on In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Finish listening to Knight’s Shadow
  • Start reading Revenger

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog postsknight's shadow.jpg
    • Yarp. Three actually.
  • Write 1k on In Great Need of Ghosts
    • uhhh… yeah. Like, four times that.
  • Finish listening to Knight’s ShadowYes! It was a really good listen, too.
  • Start reading Revenger
    • Yes. It’s going kinda slow, but I’m about 75 pages in so I’ll give it a few more days.

Weekly Word Count: 4,009

That word count really tells you how I spent my week. The week before was slow going for the story, with under 1k words but Monday and Tuesday I hammered out the entire rough draft. I’ve revised it to its third draft and sent it to some folks for feedback. We’ll see what they think and see if my brain comes up with anything else to fix about it.

I finished listening to Knight’s Shadow and have a full review forthcoming. I finished it just in time for a new Audible credit, so I’ll be starting the third Greatcoats book soon. I’m struggling with Revenger. I’ll give it this week, but if it doesn’t grab me by then I’ll shelve it for something else on my TBR.

There was no hike this weekend, with my hiking buddy out of town, so I arranged for my family to get together and spend the day at the zoo. The Oregon Zoo was wonderful! there’s still a lot of construction happening as they’re in the final stages of using a bond from 2008, but the new enclosures are so awesome! Elephants have a North Meadow, a central pond, a South Meadow, and an indoor area. It’s designed to encourage the elephants to move, much like they would in the wild foraging for food. All of the elephants were incredibly active, moving from place to place, eating and interacting with one another. And by interacting, I mean interacting. Seeing elephants heed the call of nature wasn’t something I ever wanted to see and now I can’t unsee it. So, hurray… There were a lot of other amazing enclosures and the plan for the polar bear, chimpanzee, and rhino habitats look amazing. I’m excited to go back once it’s all done in 2020. oregon zoo.png

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Polish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Work on something fun!

I don’t have any major projects scheduled until July. I didn’t anticipate that this story would be so close to done so soon. I’ll spend this week hammering it out and polishing it, and see where that takes me. Last night I had a big urge to reread my long fanfic series, or to read other fanfic. I miss it a bit, so I think I’m going to spend the next two weeks reading and writing some fanfic. For once, I have the time and the motivation, so I ought to make good on it.

I should be hiking again this weekend, somewhere on the coast. So I have that to look forward to, and a week of gaming, reading and writing fanfic. What’s not to love?

I’ll be back this week with the review fo Knight’s Shadow. I don’t think I’ll be back with anything else, but let’s keep our fingers crossed. Maybe I’ll get some publishing news.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

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Reading Round Up – May 2019

I feel like I didn’t read much this month, but that’s mostly because the first two weeks of the month were spent non-stop writing. With that in mind, I suppose I didn’t do half bad. Actually, now that I have it all gathered in one place, turns out I read quite a bit!

Title: Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1)every heart a doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: I didn’t know anything about this series beyond the cover copy, so my expectations were basically non-existent. I really liked the characters, especially Jack and Christopher. I think it was a fun story that’s really inventive. Worth the afternoon to read it.
Recommend: Sure. It’s a fun, quick story that leaves you wanting more.

Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2)down among the sticks and bones
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This is the story of Jack and Jill and their time in the Moors! Yes! I loved it. I ached for the twins when they were forced into roles and thoughts that were never their own. I really enjoy how McGuire can narrate such mundane moments with fairytale words. It weaves a spell over the whole story and I desperately want to emulate it.
Recommend: If you liked the first one, absolutely! There’s even more to love in this one.

Title: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)beneath a sugar sky
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This was my least favorite of the three so far. I wasn’t very attached to Sumi and I didn’t much care for her daughter. I also didn’t feel much for Cora either, even though we share a lot of similarities. But, Kade and Christopher are back and I LOVE them, so it worked out. The Wayward Children venture into Confection to bring Sumi back to life so that her daughter can be born and the world saved from the false Queen. A really interesting plot, but I found Confection really frustrating. Nonesense worlds are not for me.
Recommend: Yep. Still totally worth an afternoon to read, and makes you a little warm and fuzzy inside at parts.

Title: Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpoolsecret agent deadpool
Author(s): Chris Hastings and Salva Espin
Format: Graphic Novel
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This comic book is absolutely ridiculous, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s basically Archer, but with Deadpool playing the title role after he mistakenly kills a secret agent and takes his place in the agency. The Merc with a Mouth gets to put his very specific set of skills to good use for once in this wild ride of a comic series.
Recommend: It’s Deadpool. If you like vulgarity, blood and gore, and absolutely insane plots, then you’re gonna love this volume.

Title: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)all systems red
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This is another novella series that I knew nothing about before I dove into it. I just read the blurb that said “anti-social AI” and knew I should give it a try. Turns out, I too love Murderbot. I inhaled this novella and would happily read it again. The first person perspective is witty, casual, and hilarious. I laughed out loud frequently. The action sequences are incredibly well done and often awesome. Seriously, this is a great little book.
Recommend: Yes! I promise, if you don’t mind some F bombs here and there, you will love Murderbot too!

Title: Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2)artificial condition
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: I loved this, and the only reason it didn’t get five stars is because I thought it could have been longer and a little more fleshed out. I also felt that Murderbot’s quest to figure out what happened before it had its memory purged was over too quickly, though I liked that it wasn’t a neat resolution. I also loved ART and hope it makes a comeback soon.
Recommend: Yep. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.

Title: Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)rogue protocol
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I think this is the story where Murderbot really hits its stride. This was a gripping action story with way more emotion than I was prepared for. I still laughed a bunch, don’t you worry, but I also cried a little too. Yet again, it’s Murderbot’s connections with other AI that really standout, this time with Miki, a “pet robot” that surprises Murderbot with how deeply it cares for the people around it. And how much those people care for it.
Recommend: Absolutely. Even if you weren’t in love with Artificial Condition, give this one a shot because it’s a return to form.

Title: The Wicked + the Divine vol. 8wicdiv 8
Author(s): Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson
Format: Graphic Novel
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: While this isn’t a continuation of the story so far, it is a super fun collection of side stories and prequels that give a little more context for the world and story. There are some really funny spoofs included as well, such as the Scooby Doo AU (that’s “Alternate Universe”) that had me cackling in bed and waking my husband repeatedly.
Recommend: If you’ve read the rest of the series so far, you should absolutely read this.

Title: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4)exit strategy
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Holy hell. This book was tense. Nonstop action throughout and a return to Dr. Mensah and her team. I loved every moment of this story, though my fingernails probably hated it since they were chewed to the point of bleeding I was so stressed. Also, yes, I did cry at the end.
Recommend: Yes. You have to read this book, and if you haven’t yet, please read this series!

Title: Evil Eyeevil eye
Author: Madhuri Shekar
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator(s): Harsh Nayyar, Annapurna Sriram, Bernard White, Nick Choski, and Rita Wolf
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This wasn’t on my radar at all but I was a little listless after finishing Murderbot and wanted to listen to something while I did chores. Since it was only a couple hours long I thought, why not? Turns out, this was a really impressive story I would have never tried without my Audible subscription. I loved the narrations, and though the story was a might predictable, I still really enjoyed it. The climax scene was incredibly intense to listen to and it definitely had me sweating.
Recommend: Yes! If you have an Audible subscription, this was one of the Audible Originals for May. I think you can still get it though. It’s only a couple hours long and totally worth it. It was a great way to power through some chores.

Title: “Splitskin”E. Catherine Tobler
Author: E. Catherine Tobler
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor: K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I won’t lie, I don’t think I understood half of what happened in this story, but it was so beautiful, so lyrical and poetic and utterly fascinating that I didn’t really care. I just wanted to languish in the language for a little bit longer. This is definitely one I would reread, in hopes of better comprehension and because the words were just that wonderful.
Recommend: Yes, but only if you can enjoy a story for the craft alone. I won’t guarantee that you like what it has to say, or even understand what it has to say. But if you likes words and how people string them together, you’ll like this story.

Title: “A Salt and Sterling Tongue”Emma Osborne
Author: Emma Osborne
Collection: N/A
Editor(s): N/A
Original Publication: Uncanny Magazine, Issue 28
Format: Digital Publication
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It’s very poetic with a rhythm that hints to the sea. It’s a heartbreaking story, so be prepared for that, but it’s really quite beautiful too. I think it’s worth a re-read sometime soon.
Recommend: Yes. It’s a little bit longer than I normally like, but it shouldn’t take long to actually read. It’s worth every moment.

Title: “The Need for Overwhelming Sensation”bogi takacs
Author: Bogi Takács
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is wild. A lot happens very quickly and I was left wondering what the hell was going on. I felt disoriented through it, but I’m not sure that wasn’t the point. There’s a very steep learning curve and you have to trust the story to give you context as you go. But, I ultimately liked the world building and the magic/science used to power lightspeed jumps. It was an extremely intriguing blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy that I admittedly loved. The plot was a little vague, even as so much was happening. I was never very certain about what the point of it all was. I still liked it.
Recommend: Sure! If nothing else, take a chance on it and see what you think.

Title: “The Librarian’s Dilemma”E. Saxey
Author: E. Saxey
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: A very interesting story about a person who’s trying to modernize and digitize an academic library and encountering resistance from the head librarian. It’s shockingly pertinent to today’s slowly evolving libraries, but also asks a really important question: are there some writings that aren’t worth saving?
Recommend: Sure. If you have any experience with libraries I think this will be much more effective. I know I related to it because of that.

 

The Recap – May 2019

May was a weird month, yo. It started out with this mad dash to get the book done, and then screeched to a crawl as I relaxed and struggled to find my writing legs again in the aftermath.

May Goals

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read a short story each week
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • YES!!!!!!! It took a concerted effort to get it done on schedule, but I did!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. I received a few rejections this month, but everything is back out and waiting for evaluation.
  • Read a short story each week
    • Not quite. I read four short stories, but there was an extra week in May and I didn’t squeeze one in during that week.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! Since I finished Tavi I’ve read/listened to 10 titles! Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Reading Round Up to learn more.

Monthly Word Count: 20,205

The last leg of writing Tavi was… exhausting. I was a woman possessed, the final chapters gripping me by the collar and dragging me along with them. Words came faster than I could rightly keep up, until the very last few scenes, where they slowed and demanded I pay strict attention to what came before so I could shore up any loose ends. I haven’t gone back to read it yet, but I felt really good about everything came together at the end. If you want to read more about the whole “writing a book” thing, I have a post for that.

Short story submissions continue to continue. This month was a little bit tough because I had a story out for 120 days and received a form rejection on it. I raged a bit at that and I’m still salty whenever I think about it. I’m not convinced I’ll submit to that market again, especially since I bought an issue of their magazine and wasn’t super impressed with what they were publishing. But, I also know that if I have a story that fits their call for submission, I won’t self-reject or hold that story back just because I’m a bit miffed at the magazine. That’s just childish.

I’m (still) waiting to hear back about my story that was held for further consideration. There was a bit of movement at that market recently, with a slew of rejections and a couple of acceptances, but mine is still waiting. I’m trying not to get my hopes up which I’m obviously failing at since I’m talking about it here. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m slowly finishing up Transcendent, with only three short stories left to read. I should have read one more this month, but I just didn’t get it in. Probably because my hike utterly destroyed me this weekend.

lava tube cave 2
Lava Tube Cave, 20 minutes south of Bend, Oregon

Speaking of, I did a lot of hiking this month! A trip out to Central Oregon, an extremely muddy (and fun) hike at Cape Falcon, and then a long, sunny hike to the picturesque Marion Lake made May a wonderful, surprisingly outdoorsy month. I hiked a total of 15.7 miles this month! Ok, Marion Lake was technically June, but whatever. It was gorgeous and I have lots of pictures to share.

I’m also beginning to see the effects of these weekly hikes. Calf muscles are making themselves known, my thighs are getting slimmer, and my cardio is already greatly improved. There’s also the sunburns turning to tans and a remarkable mental clarity and reduced migraine intensity I hadn’t anticipated. Aside from the sunburns, all good things.

June Goals

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Keep reading!

Right now, I’m not so sure the new short story will be done by the end of the month. It’s been very slow going, and I don’t know if it’s because my brain hasn’t quite recovered from finishing Tavi or if this story’s challenging prose is slowing me down. It’s one of the most craft-forward stories I’ve ever tried to tell, and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s just very very slow so far. 

Marion Lake
Marion Lake, Willamette National Forest

As usual, submissions will continue and continue and continue until something sticks.

I still love reading short stories and have no desire to cut them from my reading. I’ve got a handful of collections checked out from the library right now, so I should be able to get this one done no problem.

I also have a huge TBR stack from the library on my entryway table so there should be plenty of reading and reviews this month. When I’m not reading or writing, I’ll be outdoors. I’m pretty much living for my Saturday hikes, so expect more pictures in the weeks to come.

Sorry this post was a little late, but the good news for you is that you get double the posts from me today! I’ll be back real soon with my weekly goals summary!

 

BZ

 

Reading Round Up – April 2019

What a busy reading month! Now that I’m back to just the one job, my productivity in all areas has greatly improved. At this rate, I might finally catch up with my 2019 reading goal!

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)a darker shade of magic audio cover
Author: V.E. Schwab
Format: Digital Audio
Narrator: Steven Crossley
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Uh… I freaking loved it. Like, a lot. You should probably just do us all a favor and read my review so I don’t lapse into obsessive squealing right here and now.
Recommend: Hell yeah! I’m basically screaming about it to anyone who will listen to me. And to some who don’t. I’m just screaming, all right?

Title: The City in the Middle of the Nightcity in the middle of the night
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 2/5 Stars
Thoughts: Anders is a very good writer. This book has received a lot of great press and did several things very successfully. That said, I did not like it for some very key reasons. Extremely flawed (unlikeable) characters and a meandering plot were a couple of them. For more details, both good and not so much, check out my review.
Recommend: Meh? It seems like mileage varies with this one. Some folks loved it, others really didn’t. Maybe read some reviews first?

Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)a gathering of shadows
Author: V.E. Schwab
Format: Digital Audio
Narrator(s): Kate Reading and Michael Kramer
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I loved this one almost as much as the first one. This one had less of a sense of wonder, but there was so much more time with the characters and so much tension building up over the course of the book that I kept yelling at the audiobook when things happened. Lots and lots of squealing could be heard in my house. For more details, be sure to check out my full review.
Recommend: Oh my goodness yes!

Title: Trail of Lightning (Sixth World #1)trail of lightning
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: An incredible first book in a new series. I love Urban Fantasy and this one did an awesome job of fitting in the genre while carving out a healthy circle of all new ideas and and style. I loved the breakneck quality of the plot and the dialogue was really natural; I could hear everyone. I can’t wait for the sequel! Don’t forget to read my review for full details.
Recommend: Absolutely! If you like Urban Fantasy at all, I’d mark it as required reading.

Title: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)a-conjuring-of-light
Author: V.E. Schwab
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: So many. So many thoughts. So many feelings. I loved every moment of this book, even as it tore my heart out and stomped it into the dirt. Kell really comes into his own in this book. Hell, so does everybody. Rhy, Alucard, Lila, even Holland. Everyone has to sacrifice something, and they come out stronger for it. This book was both a sprint and a marathon. Every chapter felt dashing, rushed, I read so quickly I’d have to reread it because I’d missed something. But the book kept going, relentless and tearing me to pieces even as it made me laugh. Get all the details in my review.
Recommend: Yes. A thousand times yes.

Title: The Light Brigadethe light brigade
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book is a trip. It hits hard, doesn’t pull any punches, and keeps coming at you. Aggressive is a good descriptor. I personally thought the themes could have been a little more subtle, but I think the frankness and in your face quality of the book more than make up for it. The plot is very compelling. I couldn’t put the book down. I had to keep reading because I HAD to know how everything came together. I don’t often find that Time Travel is well handled in fiction. I struggle with it in television and movies often, but this book blew me away with the unpredictability of any given moment. Read my review for more details.
Recommend: Totally. It’s a standalone, whirlwind ride that makes you think and doesn’t give you all the answers. What’s not to love?

Title: Elevationelevation
Author: Stephen King
Format: Digital Audio
Narrator(s): Stephen King
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: I liked the concept, a man loses weight without manifesting any physical signs that he’s doing so, but the execution was… strange. It was oddly political, with an us vs. them theme of Liberals versus the rest of the conservative town. It hinged on a married couple, both women, who were shunned and reviled by the town, but whom the main character strove befriend. It felt very forced and not actually all that compelling. After Elevation there is a short story called “Laurie”, about a recently widowed retiree and the puppy his sister gave him, against his wishes. That was much better and I loved it.
Recommend: Not on audio. King’s narration isn’t very good (imo), and sadly “Laurie” isn’t included in the physical copy. Not sure I’d suggest this unless you’re an unwavering King fan.

Title: The Luminous Deadthe luminous dead
Author: Caitlin Starling
Format: Trade Paperback ARC
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Holy shit. This book scared me. I haven’t been scared by a book since I was in Junior High. Not since I read The Library Policeman by Stephen King when I was 14. Are you afraid of heights? Drowning? The Dark? Monsters? Ghosts? Losing your mind? Tight spaces? Because this book has all of those things. And the tension just ratchets up over and over and over, until you’re left as drained and exhausted as the characters. This book gave me nightmares of being hunted and seeing faces in the dark. That’s how GOOD it is. Get all the details in my full review!
Recommend: If you want to be creeped the hell out, hell yeah. It’s terrifyingly good.

Title: “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”N.K. Jemisin.jpg
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Collection: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?
Editor(s): N/A
Format: Digital Audio
Narrator: Robin Ray Eller
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I listened to this driving to work with a migraine, so I didn’t absorb it as much as I’d like. It’s an interesting story, told in a first person, direct monologue, where the narrator is speaking or writing to a “Friend”. She tells of an alternate version of our world where a utopia actually exists and describes it in great detail. The narration actually reminded me a lot of a character from Anthem, Sentinel Brin. Their speech patterns were very similar. I should have expected the unconventional narrative choice, since Jemisin’s use of second person point of view in The Fifth Season is why I chose to read that book in the first place.
Recommend: Sure. It’s a pretty story that I’m sure hits heavier when you’re not barely conscious. It is a lot different than other things I’ve read of Jemisin, but not unpleasantly so.

Title: “What Maya Found There”Daniel Jose Older.jpeg
Author: Daniel José Older
Collection: A People’s Future of the United States
Editor(s): Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: A look at weaponized science in an age when science is vilified. I liked a lot about this story, particularly the character driven lens. There’s enough tech sprinkled in, enough implied body horror to keep me interested, but ultimately I didn’t find it as resonant as some of the other stories I’ve read from this collection.
Recommend: Sure. It’s a perfectly good story, and you might get more out of it than I did.

Title: “The Petals Abide”benjanun.jpeg
Author: Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: Interesting. Blends SF elements with a Fantasy tone, about an AI(?) who sculpts organic people into other beings. There’s romance and longing, and really I can’t boil it down into anything more than feelings, than a sense of what was happening. Everything felt shrouded, like I never really saw it, but that was okay.
Recommend: Yes. It’s a very beautifully written story with an intriguing concept.

Title: “Kenneth: A User’s Manual”sam j. miller
Author: Sam J. Miller
Collection: N/A
Editor(s): N/A
Original Publication: Strange Horizons, December 2014
Format: Live Reading
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: The story is exactly what it sounds like: A User’s Manual for a sculpted, gorgeous, ripped dancing machine. Kenneth is made for fun, but he’ll make you beg for it. The format is strange, intriguing in its lack of conventional plot, but no less effective for it. I like the story because it reminds me that stories can be told in all sorts of ways.
Recommend: Yes. At just over 1000 words, this story takes only a few minute to read and should get at least a few chuckles out of you. Cheeky is a good word to describe it.

Title: “Harvest”roanhorse
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Collection: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color
Editor(s): Nisi Shawl
Format: Live Reading, Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: Never fall in love with a deer woman. This story tells of the dangerous affair of one man(?) and the legendary Deer Woman who seeks vengeance for all the deaths of her family. The way this story balances the sensual and grotesque is really powerful and riveting. I wanted to hear more, even when I was blushing. I had to finish reading it once we got back home.
Recommend: Yes! This story really displays Roanhorse’s range. You get a strong sense of her prowess in this one.

Title: “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™”roanhorse 2.jpg
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Collection: N/A
Editor(s): N/A
Original Publication: Apex Magazine, August 2017
Format: Live Reading, Digital Publication
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story shows a different set of Roanhorse’s strengths. She uses humor to tell an important story of identity that resonates no matter your particular circumstances. Set in Sedona, with plenty of regional nods that made me laugh out loud, I couldn’t get enough of this story. But by the end things get serious, and suddenly there’s a twist and damn if Rebecca Roanhorse isn’t a genius!
Recommend: Yes! This story was nominated for and won several awards for a reason. You have to give it a try!

Book Review – A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

Bloggarts,

This book. This whole series. My goodness. If you haven’t had the chance to read my reviews for the first two books, now would be a good time to do that.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

acol hardback

This book picks up directly after the end of A Gathering of Shadows, and lemme tell ya, shit has hit the fan. Each POV gets an “intro” chapter of sorts and each of them ends in a cliffhanger that made me bite my nails and yell at the book. In this book all the major players get POV chapters; Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard, Holland, and Osaron. The first thirty pages of the book is at a breakneck speed where stakes are high and my heart pounded in my chest with fear for all my favorite characters.

So, yeah. Nearly killing all of your characters is one way to start the last book in a series. I’ve been taught over the years that the first chapter sets the tone for your book, that whatever happens in chapter one is what your readers will expect from the rest of the book. As a reader I’m not sure I agree with that, since I’ve read plenty of books that were fast-paced and gripping for the first ten pages or so and then slows down and sets the stage afterward.

But Schwab doesn’t do that here. The stakes are high through this whole book, which is no small feat when you consider that it’s 624 pages long. Red London is under attack by Osaron, the entity Holland brought back from Black London, and it will take sacrifices from everyone to defeat him.

What I loved:

  • The characters. This should be a big “duh” after the reviews I wrote for the series so far. I love them all. Even the side characters that don’t seem all that important. Tieren, Lenos, Hastra, Maxim and Emira. I love them all even as they break my heart over and over again. But of course, it comes back to the main players time and again. I adore Kell and Lila, Rhy and Alucard, and even Holland by the end of the book.
  • The relationships, because that’s what this book is really about. Kell’s relationships a conjuring of light alternatewith Lila, Rhy, Alucard, and his parents. Rhy’s relationships with his parents, Kell, and Alucard. Alucard’s relationships with Rhy, his family (which we see more of in this book), his crew, and with Lila. Lila’s relationships with Kell, Alucard, the crew, Barron, and Calla. We even see more of Holland’s past and the people in his life before the Danes stole everything from him. I think that’s what makes this series so successful for me. I’m a very character-driven, emotional writer. So is Schwab, so her books resonate with me.
  • The magic remains some of the coolest shit I’ve seen in fiction lately. There are rules but there’s still a sense that even the characters don’t know all of them. That there is more to learn, more to the world and powers and the people that simply hasn’t been discovered. And that’s really freaking cool.
  • I loved that, despite all the heartache (and there’s a lot of it) Schwab still managed to give us a satisfying, happy-ish ending. I cried a bunch through this book, and the ending was no exception. But she was able to wrap it up in a way that was satisfying and right. That’s no easy task with any story, let alone one I cherished as much as this.

After all that, was there anything that I didn’t like?

a-conjuring-of-light

Not really. I didn’t like that I couldn’t get my hands on the audiobook, which is more a matter of me being too cheap to buy the thing on Audible than anything else. The audiobook has a 6+ month hold through my library, which I’ve kept because I’m going to listen to it and enjoy it (read: cry) all over again. I had to read the book, which I thought would slow me down, but it really didn’t. I devoured it all the same.

I didn’t like that it ended. How’s that for criticism? How dare you stop writing about these amazing people? HOW DARE?

But, you want to know some good news? A Shades of Magic television show is currently in production, and V.E. Schwab seems pretty involved with (and excited by) the process so far. I try to keep my expectations low for adaptations of books, because they so rarely hold a candle to the source material, and this one’s gonna be tough for me. I will have very high standards, which means I will probably hate it.

I’m still gonna watch the shit out of it though, because I am desperate for any and all Kell content. Seriously, it is taking all of my discipline not to shelve my TBR and drown myself in Kell/Lila fanfic. I even found a playlist on Spotify that I CANNOT stop listening to. That’s where I’m at with my obsession right now.

I’d say send help, but I don’t even want it. I’m happy right where I am.

I won’t have another review this week, but I’ll be back on Friday to talk about the SFWA Reading Series event in Portland Thursday night. I’ll be hanging out, drinking beer, and listening to Rebecca Roanhorse and Sam J. Miller read and talk about their books. I am so excited that I’m sure I’ll have a bunch to talk about after the fact.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

Book Review – A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

Blogland.

How do I even start? What can I say about this book that I didn’t already say about the first one? Oh, this is a good opportunity for you to read that review before you go on with this one, by the way. It’ll prepare you for all the squealing ahead.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

a gathering of shadows

Kell and Lila are back and getting into all kinds of trouble again. Lila’s settled in nicely to life at sea, but becoming part of a crew comes with emotional ties she’s not sure she wants, or can even handle. The charming captain, Alucard Emery, has become her particular friend, and that’s something she’s really not familiar with. Friends.

Meanwhile, back in Red London, Kell’s dealing with the fallout of his mistakes in the first book. The King and Queen have stopped calling him son, have stopped treating him like family and have more or less grounded him. He cannot go anywhere without a pair of guards watching over him. And Rhy’s suffering a similar fate. After his (near) death at the hands of Astrid Dane he’s also got a pair of guards, but it’s the new connection between himself and Kell that has them both feeling claustrophobic.

They can feel each other’s heartbeats, their emotions, even feel one another’s pain. And with both of the Princes agitated and cooped up, they make some… questionable choices. For instance, the country is hosting the Essen Tasch (Element Games), the Arnes equivalent of Magical Olympics. And Rhy is in charge of planning and hosting the event, so naturally, he goads Kell into donning a disguise and competing. Illegally.

Alucard is also entered in the games, so his ship returns to London, and Lila Bard gets a very bad idea. She picks a competitor not so different in build than her, kidnaps him, and takes his place in the competition. Because, oh yeah, Lila’s been working on her magic, and she ain’t half bad.

Meanwhile, in White London, something dangerous is growing. A new threat, that wants nothing more than to spread between worlds in its desire for more.

What I loved:

  • MORE KELL AND LILA!!!!! I love these dummies. I love all their hangups and their trauma and their smiles. I don’t know what else I can say except I love them very much and would read about them until I die.
  • Rhy gets POV chapters!!!! The prince get a lot more screen time in this book, and he becomes much more developed because of it.Image result for castlevania alucard gif
  • Alucard mother-effin’ Emery. I did not need yet another character to love, but Schwab doesn’t care. She gave me Alucard anyway. He’s a jerk, but a very lovable one. Think the “Lovable Rogue” trope and you’ll picture Alucard. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll picture Adrian “Alucard” Tepes from Castlevania and love him even more. Also, Kell hates him and anytime they’re in scene together I cackle.
  • The pace is slower, which I actually enjoyed. It made the building tension slow but in a teasing sort of way. Just when I’d get comfortable with the shenanigans of the Essen Tasch, the narrative would check in with White London and remind me of all the looming bad news. Plus, the slower pace allowed for a ton of character interactions which led to me screaming and squealing and laughing way too much.
  • The narration! Michael Kramer, who does an awesome job narrating most of Brandon Sanderson’s books, narrates Kell’s chapters, and his wife Kate Reading narrates Lila’s. They do a phenomenal job. I can’t imagine anyone reading for them again.

What I didn’t love:

  • The King and Queen. They’re the real dummies in this book, even if I get where they were coming from. Half of the stuff in this book wouldn’t have happened if they had just loved Kell instead of bear a grudge toward him. But, it was believable that they’d treat him with distrust after everything he did.
  • That there is a SIX MONTH wait for this audiobooks and the next through the library’s digital collection. I absolutely cannot wait that long, so I’m reading the last book instead of listening.

Image result for crying gifI can’t think of anything else I didn’t like. I loved this book, almost as much as the first one. I think, the stakes felt lower in this book, but by the end they definitely were not. I cried. Not that it takes much to make me cry, but man, Kell’s last few chapters of this book are… tough.

I’ve inhaled this series, staying up late to read, finding any excuse to listen to the books, like folding laundry and doing dishes. I haven’t been this utterly enchanted by a series in a very long time, and I’m already lamenting the end. I can tell the book hangover on this series is going to be baaaaaaaad.

I’m off on another hike this weekend and the writing is going very well already this week, so don’t expect to hear from me until Monday. You know the drill.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #14

Oh, Blogland, what a week it was. Busy, quick and seemingly never-ending all at once.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish The City in the Middle of the Night

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Between the weekly post, the Monthly Recap, and the Reading Round Up, there was no shortage of blog activity last week.
  • city in the middle of the nightWrite 500 words/day on Tavi
    • *grumble, grumble*… no…
  • Finish The City in the Middle of the Night
    • … No… But I did finish an audiobook over the weekend!

Weekly Word Count: 3,410

So, I was all on track to have this amazing, productive week, only 90 words shy of my goal, when, BOOM! Migraine. I cannot tell you how much that pissed me off. That something as arbitrary and absolutely uncontrollable as a migraine ground my work to a halt. I’m real salty about it.

It’s also the reason why, instead of finishing The City in the Middle of the Night, I listened to all fourteen hours of A Darker Shade of Magic instead. The good news is, I am obsessed with this series now and am gobbling up the second one. I wish I’d read them sooner! The bad news is, I’m still struggling with the Anders book. But, I’m almost there. Just another 60 pages or so.

The only other good thing about migraines is that I completely forget about tracking my submissions. It’s been three days since I’ve obsessively checked The Submission Grinder to see that beautiful, terrifying graph that holds all my publishing dreams in its grip.

While I wasn’t assuming the fetal position and trying not to puke, I was hiking! Blogland, it was an absolute perfect trip out to the Oregon Coast. It poured down monsoon quality rain the whole drive out there, Laurel and I talked about all kinds of things (including some story fodder), and then, right as we arrived, the rain stopped. The clouds moved inland and we have clear skies and the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. By the time we reached the Cape, there were no clouds.

No whales, either. But, there were plenty of birds and plenty of mud. It was a perfect first hike of the season.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night

Another straightforward week, with the same straightforward goals. The good news is I ought to be able to meet them all this time! Heck, you might even get two book reviews this week if I keep to my reading goals.

I’ll need to make up for Monday’s word count, and the 90 words I missed on Sunday if I want to stay on track for the month. Luckily, the book hit a bit of a stride last time I was in front of it, so hopefully that momentum will continue into tonight’s session.

It’s a busy week, work-wise, and there’s a Walk ‘n’ Talk on Thursday. I’d like to have something substantive to talk about while we walk so I’ll need to get some quality work in before then. Thanks to the migraine, I already feel behind.

No time like the present to catch up!

See you all real soon with the review for A Darker Shade of Magic, and then again later in the week to review The City in the Middle of the Night.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ