Book Review – Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Bloggos,

The third and final Binti novel is the largest, coming in at a whopping 203 pages. That being said, I think it was the fastest read of the three.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

binti the night maquerade

This novella is the direct conclusion to Binti: Home, resolving the mysteries of the Night Masquerade, Okwu’s fate, and the effects of the Zinariya. Binti struggles with her identity as she copes with the news of the Khoush attack on her family’s ancestral home while she was in the desert with her grandmother’s people.

How much of her is actually Himba? Not only is she part Meduse after the events of the first novella, but now she knows that her DNA is partially Zinariyan, allowing her to use an almost telepathic instant messaging system with fellow Enyi Zinariyans (formerly known as Desert People). If so much of her has changed, is she even Himba? Where does she belong?

And where does she want to belong?

This book is very visceral. Okorafor’s handling of anxiety and representation of panic attacks are wonderfully done. Her description of grief is extremely realistic and yet poetic. I understood Binti so much in those moments, I understood the people around her, trying to interact with her amid her grief. Poignant, powerful, heartbreaking. It was all of these things.

My only criticism, if you can call it that, is that this story doesn’t really feel done. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m not ready for it to be done. I want more, especially now that Mwinyi has joined the front of the cast. I enjoyed him quite a bit.

Really, I enjoyed this whole series. I loved Okwu and his world of black and white. I loved Mwinyi and his patience and understanding. I loved Binti, with all her doubts and fears. I loved Third Fish and her wisdom.

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

If you’re looking for an imaginative, quick read PLEASE give the Binti series a try. I doubt you’ll regret it.

I’ll be back early next week with the Goals Summary. Have a great weekend Blogland!

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 15

Hello Blogland,

I can’t wait to tell you guys all about this weekend! It was not at all what expected, in a multitude of ways. But before any of that, we need to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)dresden wild card
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

 

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
    • Ugh. Did not happen. I thought there’d be time to work while at the conference, and while I managed to squeeze in some quality outlining and write up the beginnings of a query letter, there was no real editing to be had.
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
    • Yarp. And did one better – I also read Dog Men.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yarpitty-yarp. As usual.
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference
    • Oh boy, did I! I have so many stories and thoughts to share, so I’ll have a post up sometime this week chronicling it all.

Weekly Word Count: 366

While I didn’t get as much work done at the conference as I’d hoped (there simply wasn’t time), I managed to get almost everything done this week. Almost. You know, with the big important one left behind: editing. But, I’ve got a much clearer focus and game plan for The Steel Armada than I ever have before. I see where it’s weak and actually have an idea of how I can fix it, and that has me more excited than ever to get to work on it.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit chapters 10, 11, and 12 of The Steel Armada
  • Revise The Seasons per feedback
  • Finish reading Binti: The Night Masqueradebinti the night maquerade
  • Review Madhu’s pages

 

Thoughts

This week’s goals are lofty, yet doable. I finished listening to Cold Days on Thursday, so I’ll have the review up soon. I’ve got the Conference to talk about, and I want to write an “Editing Check-In” post. I don’t think all of those will happen this week because I want to actually get some editing done, but I will definitely meet the posts goal for the week.

I got a personal rejection from the last market I sent The Seasons to, and their feedback was really good. I want to incorporate their thoughts and get the story ready to submit next week while another magazine’s limited submission window is open.

This last Binti novella is really intense so far, so I expect I’ll get it done no problem. And I’ve got the Side Jobs audiobook queued up as well. There’s no shortage of reading materials in my life.

Since we didn’t get as much work done this weekend as we’d planned, Madhu and I agreed to send pages on Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday which is a relief. I could use the extra time to get caught up on revisions.

The biggest thing I got out of the conference was a renewed enthusiasm for The Steel Armada. Do I really believe it could be my first sale? Not really. But, I do think that it’s worth working on, worth finishing, so that once I do make a sale, I can say, well, I also have this.

Plus, I was asked how many more drafts do I think it needs, and I really thought about it… I think it needs two more after this. I’m on the third draft now and there are content edits galore. Characters are melding, motivations are changing/being discovered, the plot is getting ironed out while the world grows and grows. This is a very creation heavy draft. I’ll need one more to make sure all of this new content still makes sense and to fix any pacing and continuity issues. Then I’ll need one last draft to really clean and tighten up everything.

That sounds scary. And so doable. Two more drafts? I can do that! If I buckle down and start treating this project with the devotion it deserves, I could do that this year! Which, if we’ll think all the way back to January, was one of my goals for the year. Finish The Steel Armada.

Man, wouldn’t that be nice?

I’ll be back throughout the week with the Conference recap and a book review!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

 

Book Review – Binti: Home

Bloggos,

I’m back, as promised, to discuss the second novella in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Warning: Mild spoilers below

binti home

Binti: Home is exactly as it sounds; a year after the events of the first novella, Binti is desperate to get home and go on her Pilgrimage. She’s suffering from PTSD from the Meduse attack on the Third Fish and trying to cope with the otherness of being both Himba and Meduse. She thinks that, if she can go home, be with her people and breathe the desert air, things will get back to something like normal.

But, home is full of even more problems. Her family is mad at her for leaving the way she did, her friends have shunned her for being so “selfish” as to leave in the middle of the night and abandon her family, her duty, and her home. Add that she brought Okwu, and tensions are ratcheted about as high as they can go.

So instead of peace, Binti finds strife. Then she sees the Night Masquerade, a mythical being that supposedly only men can see, an omen of heroic achievements and struggle. And then the Desert People arrive to take her into the desert and learn her true heritage.

All the while tension builds between the Khoush and Okwu…

I loved Binti, but it wasn’t until I read this novella that I realized how thin it was. I wanted more. And Okorafor delivered in this installment. There’s more world-building, more character development, more intrigue as multiple plots begin to weave together to culminate in the final novella, Binti: The Night Masquerade.

This series is fantastic so far, and with installments under 200 pages, there’s really no excuse not to pick them up if you think it’d be even the least bit interesting to you. I highly recommend them!

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

I’ll be off the blog for the rest of the week while I’m at the Writers Conference this weekend. Expect to see a bit of activity next week, however, as I update goals, gush about my experiences at the coast, and review the final Binti novella.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 14

Hi Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Anniversary celebrations, good news announcements, and plenty of work to get done.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Saga
  • Read Binti: Home
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Barely. But YES! This chapter was really difficult for me, and was probably about 95% rewrites. These last few weeks have seen no editing because I wasn’t sure how to fix this one chapter, and now that it’s done I have a much clearer path for the chapters ahead!
  • Finish reading Saga
    • Yep! I didn’t expect volume 8 to end as it did, especially after the heartbreak of volume 7. I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Read Binti: Home
    • Yep! Finished it last night and will hopefully get the review done before I leave for the coast on Friday.
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
    • Yeppers! Got a good start on chapter 3 with 593 words.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Chickity-check. This is the one thing I am super diligent about completing.

Weekly Word Count: 2,971

Overall, not too shabby. I would have liked to get Chapter 9 of The Steel Armada edited earlier on in the week, but I’ll take what I can get. I experienced a really rough “block” with this rewrite. It seemed that no matter how I approached it, I couldn’t come up with a solution. I do not like that feeling. I’m planning on posting an “Editing Check-in” of sorts once I finish revising Chapter 10, so I’ll talk more about my experiences then.

Graphic novels are a lifesaver when I really want to read, but don’t have time to commit to something big. Saga is always a delight, and right now I’m making my way through the Dresden Files comics. I love Harry, so seeing all my favorite characters in illustrations is wonderful.

Progress on Sanctuary is slow and steady, which is pretty much exactly what I want. I’m getting a sense for where the story is headed, and building up that backlog of chapters like I planned. Feels good.

Next Week?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

binti homeI plan to post the Binti: Home review on Thursday or Friday morning before I leave for the coast. There’s no WiFi at the hotel so you won’t hear from me over the weekend at all. In fact, I’m planning on keeping my phone on airplane mode while I’m gone. Which just means I will have SO MUCH to talk about when I get back!

Hopefully I can use conference time/downtime to work on The Steel Armada. I’m still torn about which laptop to take. I have this dumb two laptop situation until Scrivener 3 becomes available on Windows. So while my PC has Draft 2 of TSA, all my edits are being done on my old-as-dirt MacBook because Scrivener 2 has Revision Mode. Since The Steel Armada is my main project right now, I’m thinking I’ll take the Mac. But, if I get inspired and want to work on From the Quorum or something new, I won’t have my “current” computer. Or the internet to use Google Drive.

Ugh. Can Scrivener 3 just be out already???

The Dresden Files graphic novels will fly by, and honestly I’ll probably have them done by tomorrow night. I’ll finish Madhu’s pages tomorrow night or Thursday, and then I’m just packing and prepping for the conference. Madhu and I are carpooling, so my Corolla gets a spa day in honor of our guest. I even built a playlist of Writer/Book themed songs for the drive!

agatha christie roomAnd then we’ll be at the coast, wining and dining with writer types and learning all the things! We’re sharing the Agatha Christie room, which has an amazing view, a fireplace, and a balcony! It’s going to be raining and windy the whole time, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying the beach.

I’ve got a handful of writing/book themed shirts for the weekend, I’ll bring minimal makeup since folks will be taking photos, and a notebook and a slew of pens will round it all out. Binti: The Night Masquerade will probably be my book for the weekend, though I might bring a backup in case I finish it too quickly.

Gotta be prepared!

Anyway, I’m basically bursting with all this excitement! I can’t wait to have this amazing weekend and get to tell you all about next week!

I’ll be back soon with the Binti: Home review.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Book Review – Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Hey Blogland!

As promised, I’m back to discuss the Tor novella, Binti.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Binti

I’m a little late to the Afro-Futurism party, but I feel like this novella was a really good place to start. It’s sparse, giving the reader only the details they need to understand the characters and the story, which is different from a lot of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy I’ve read. I’m used to long narratives with lush world building and drawn out histories. Okorafor’s novella doesn’t waste time painting the picture in broad strokes. Instead her novella is like pointillism, her prose is riddled with small details that build the world and characters just enough. The reader is expected to fill in the gaps.

Binti is a 16 year old Himba girl who is doing something none of her people have ever done: she’s leaving home. She’s been accepted to the prestigious Oomza Uni, a university that takes up an entire planet! But, her whole family is against the idea of her leaving their homeland. So, like any intelligent and headstrong 16 year old is wont to do, Binti leaves home in the wee hours to catch her transport off of Earth.

All goes well until a species of sentient jellyfish, known as the Meduse, attack the ship, leaving only Binti alive. If she wants to survive the long journey through space and prevent a slaughter once the ship arrives on Oomza Uni, Binti must do the impossible.

She must make peace with the Meduse.

Binti and OKwu

At only 90 pages, I was extremely impressed with Binti. On the surface, it is a story I cannot readily relate to. I am almost painfully white, I have no sense of tribal duty, my family is not rooted in one spot by any means. I have never been the minority in any setting. Also, I’ve never been any good at math, let alone the veritable genius Binti is.

By all reasoning, it should not be easy for me to identify with Binti. But I do. I understand her, even as her experience and her perceptions are so foreign to me. When she speaks of the desert near her home, I think of the Sonoran desert and I understand her immediately. She is young and uncertain, but also so incredibly gifted with the certainty of youth.

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

This story is worth the afternoon you will spend reading it. And the hours you’ll spend mulling it over afterward. I’ve already started on the sequel, Binti: Home, and will start on Binti: The Night Masquerade after that. This world and the characters are simply too good not to spend my time with.

Next week will be a short one, posts-wise, since I’ll be at the Writing Conference next weekend. But, I should be back on Monday or Tuesday with the usual Goals Summary, and hopefully on Thursday or Friday morning with the review for the next Binti novella.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 13

Hello Bloggos,

Sorry this is so late! I meant to post it last night!It’s that time once again! Let’s talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Edit Lifelike
  • Read Binti
  • Review Madhu’s pages

…And?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • Yep. Barely. Posted the weekly summary and my March Recap.
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Sure didn’t. This is not good y’all. I have got to get back to it! Ugh.
  • Edit Lifelike
    • YES! I’m feeling pretty good about this story. Finally. I think I’m going to let it sit for another week or two and then give one last once over. So close to calling it done!
  • Read Binti
    • Yep! It’s only a 90 page novella, but I’ll have a quick little review up for you guys sometime this week.Binti
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Done and done. This seems to be the one thing I won’t let myself slip on. If only I were so determined when it came to my own editing.

Weekly Word Count: 3,519

This week was actually a good one for me, even if I’m feeling particularly guilty about not editing for the third week in a row. This week was also challenging because I was prepping for my 10 year anniversary. I made my husband’s gift, which was much more time consuming than I originally anticipated. I have no regrets, but it’s set me back a couple of days off I would have spent working.

I’m currently editing chapter 9 of The Steel Armada. I cut out one character, and am having another side character step up and fill that role. It’s working really well so far, but it also means that there is a LOT of rewrites and plot reconsideration that has to happen. I know it’s the best change for the book, but man it is difficult. I hit a wall with it pretty hard a few weeks ago, and I’ve been letting it stew in the back of my mind. I think I’m close to getting the scene right.

Lifelike has seen so many changes this year! This story started out as a First Person POV from the female character’s perspective. It was edgy and sort of an urban fantasy/horror. I wanted her to be an unreliable narrator, and I simply didn’t have the chops back in 2010 when I first tried it. I let it sit, unhappy with it and really unsure how to even begin fixing it.

A couple years later I thought about expanding it into a novella, letting this main character grow. I rewrote it in Third Person and it became less urban fantasy and more… boring. I hated it. I stowed it away again until early this year, when I briefly considered writing it as a comedy from the male character’s perspective. That didn’t go well at all, but there was something good to come out of that: tell the story from the male character’s perspective.

I started out in Third Person, because that’s my default. And man, that felt better than anything else so far. But it still wasn’t right. So I worked at it, and finally decided that to get the feeling I really wanted all these years, it needed to be in First Person.

So, another round of rewrites it was. And now we’re here, so much closer to the elusive “done”.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Saga
  • Read Binti: Home
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Saga vol 8

I feel like there should be more. I feel like I’m forgetting something. But I don’t think so, and given my recent inability to get a single chapter edited I should probably keep this week’s goals simple and straightforward.

I’m still sitting on some awesome, wonderful news, and I’m going to email the powers that be tomorrow to see if I can FINALLY talk about it. So, keep an eye out for a book review on Binti this week, and possibly an announcement.

Until then Blogland,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 12

Hi Blogland!

It’s that time again, let’s talk about goals! Last week’s goals were fairly straightforward, and mostly editing.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 4 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • Technically, no. I published last week’s goal summary, but the Gunpowder Moon review didn’t post until yesterday morning. However, it did post, so I’m calling it a win.
  • Edit 4 Chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Ha ha ha. No. I did manage to get one and half chapters done! But there’s so much rewriting that this project is going to take longer than I originally anticipated. Plus, it takes a lot of energy just to get myself to sit down to work on this. It’s an uphill battle on all fronts.
  • Finish reading Gunpowder MoonGunpowder moon
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yep. It’s the one thing I am at least somewhat diligent about.

Weekly Word Count: 4,130

Thoughts

This last week managed to feel productive, even if I didn’t do all the editing I wanted to. I went back and looked at how many chapters I’ve edited this month, and I’m on track to meet my goal for March. So, I’m going to chill out on the whole “beat myself up for not editing more” thing and maybe I’ll actually manage to get some work done.

Last week I talked about finishing Sanctified. That fic is posted and done, though I’m still getting comments on it that I need to reply to. As you can probably guess from my word count for this week, I am hard at work writing the sequel, and FINAL installment of the Santa Sarita series. This is one of my goals for the year, so I’m excited to work on it and get it done.

That being said, Sanctuary is not one of my main priorities right now. I’ll continue to write and outline, getting a sense for where I want to take these characters in my last adventure with them, but editing The Steel Armada and Lifelike are my biggest concerns right now.

I also finished proofreading the mock up of The Audient Void #5. There is some fantastic fiction and artwork in this issue folks, and I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out. Keep an eye out for release details!

And, I got some very exciting news that I am not currently able to share. Hopefully by next week’s Goals Summary I can tell you all about it!

What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Edit Lifelike
  • Read Binti
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I’m feeling good about this week’s goals. I can get one chapter edited, as much work as that one chapter will be. I melded two characters into one, so there is a TON of reworking and rewriting that has to get done. But I can do it.

I got feedback from my friend Matt on Lifelike, and his comments were very encouraging. I haven’t looked at the story since I sent it to him, so my eyes will be fresh and ready to finally call this story done. It’s haunted me for the better part of seven years. It will be strange not to have it lurking in my brain anymore.

I had to return Quietus because it’s over 500 pages and there was a hold on it. But, I’m going to put it back on hold and get it again soon. I definitely want to finish it. So, in the meantime I have five graphic novels to read by tomorrow (they’re due back to the library) and I’m starting Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti novellas. Binti.jpg

As for Madhu’s pages, I’m still very much enjoying her story so far. I need to buckle down and be a little more critical, but I don’t really see much “wrong” with it. At least not until I know how everything ends!

OH! I also will spend the bulk of Thursday working on a super secret project for my husband. Our 10 year anniversary is next Tuesday and I’m making his gift.

So, that’s what I’ve got going on this week. Since Binti is only 90 pages long, I’m hopeful I’ll have the review for you this week. Also, April 1st is Sunday, so I’ll be back with the March Recap and April goals.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ