Book Review- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Hello Blogland!

Some updates are in order. Firstly, I’ve received my “No Thanks” letter from that agent I queried. Which was completely expected, and didn’t actually hurt my feelings in the least. I submitted on a whim, on the off chance that he liked what he saw. But, this is my first novel. I have zero expectations for it, other than providing a learning experience for myself. I have to go through with all the editing and querying, because how else am I going to learn how to do it?

In addition to that rejection letter, feedback from Beta readers is trickling in. I haven’t looked at any of the responses too closely, because I’m not in a place where I can really do anything with their suggestions yet. I need to print out the novel again, and get it organized before I start the next round of edits.

School is in the final stretch, and I’m not really paying much attention to it. Not the best way to the end the term, especially when I’m fighting for Summa, but these classes sucked and I have zero fucks to give.

There, I said it.

Also, I was in Disneyland last week celebrating my aunt’s 50th birthday, and have a ton of pictures and memories to share. The highlight of which was asking Kylo Ren if he was “totally shredded”. Let’s just say, he wasn’t amused.  And that made it even better!

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“So, rumor has it you’re totally shredded…”

Anyway, that should get you mostly caught up with the happenings in my life lately. I’ll update the What I’m Reading page right after I publish this.

So, Dragonflight!

How I neglected to read this series my entire life thus far is a mystery. But, just like my reticence to read Rawn’s Dragon Prince series, which I love, the covers of McCaffrey’s iconic series gave me doubts. Plagued with the oddly sexual and sexist covers of scantily clad damsels astride virile beasts, these books didn’t appeal to me. Which is a perfect example of why you should never judge a book by it’s cover!

I loved this book! At just over 300 pages, it was a quick read. The characters are distinct and likable, even impetuous Lessa, who very nearly bungles everything time and time again. F’lar is my favorite, Lessa’s love interest and leader of the Dragonriders of Pern.

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There’s been about a million covers for these books, but this is the cover of my copy.

So, here’s somethings you might want to know. This series rides a very tenuous line between Science Fiction and Fantasy. The opening of this novel reeked of Sci-Fi, with commentary on planetary rotations, colonization, and inter-space travel. And then, as the reader is brought to the planet’s surface and introduced to characters, the world is shown to be quite medieval. Swords and castles, beds made of straw, and archaic rituals and traditions based on lineage and the preservation of the male line.

It’s a rough transition. But, I’m told that the science fiction comes back in later books. Apparently there’s, like, 26 of them or something, and that time travel and space, and dragons are all key parts of the series. It’s kind of insane.

Insanely awesome!

There’s a reason this series is a main-staple for every fantasy fiction fan. Short, fast-paced, with high stakes and great world building, this series is high on my to be read list. Though the character names and places are complex, rife with politics and personal drama, the actual language is fairly straightforward, making this story a relatively easy read.

Also, despite the total “damsel in distress” feeling evoked by the cover, this book actually tackles some feminist themes. Lessa trumps assumptions about women through the entire book, and while I wasn’t a fan of her shortsightedness and impatience, I appreciated her stubbornness and insistence on equal treatment. She balances nicely with the ambitious, yet patient and traditional F’lar, as well as irritates him beyond measure. As every good love interest should.

But, I can’t really talk about these characters at length without mentioning their dragons. Dragons impress upon a human at birth. They hatch and find their human, instantly forming a bond that can only be broken by death. The dragons are telepathic, able to communicate with their riders as well as with other dragons. F’lar’s dragon is a large Bronze male named Mnementh. And Lessa’s is the queen, Ramoth the Golden.Pern Crop

These two were instantly my favorites, as they were both sarcastic, moody, and mouthy. Put them together and giving feedback and advice to their riders, and I was laughing a lot.

So, this book is the first in a vast series of Science Fiction/Fantasy books full of politics, romance, danger, and humor. Short and quick, Dragonflight was a wonderful introduction to the world of Pern. I don’t know when I’ll read the other two titles in this particular trilogy, hopefully later this year, but I know they have to be on my “To Be Read” list. There’s no way I can pass up the opportunity to spend more time with F’lar and Lessa and their dragons.

You most likely already know about all the awesome that is this series, but if you’re like me, and haven’t read them yet, pick up a copy. You won’t regret it!

Book club continues with Red Rising by Pierce Brown, and I should be back sometime this week with a review of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Book Review- The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Hello Blogland!

As promised, I finished The Magicians Tuesday night, and Book Club met last night to discuss. It was another thin showing for the Clubbers, with only three of us in attendance, but the conversation was lively, and surprisingly on topic. The Magicians gave us a lot to talk about.themagicians

Now, I’ve been thinking about how to handle this review for a couple days now, and I’m warning you, it’s going to be different. Instead of blathering on in excruciating detail, as per usual, I’m going to talk more about the book’s effect and feel. There are simply too many subtle, crucial details throughout the novel to sum them up here in anything close to a satisfying way.

So, this book review isn’t likely to be as spoiler heavy. I feel safe in saying you can read on without concern.

So, a few things to know up front about this book. Many critics tout it as “Harry Potter goes to college” or “Potter for adults”. I find both of those sentiments to be grossly generalizing of each series. Really, the only thing these books have in common is a male protagonist, a group of devoted friends, and a magical educational institution. Quentin has nothing in common with Harry, and though Alice could be a parallel for Hermione, she’s too much of her own character to really make that connection stick.

Another thing to understand about this series is that, though magic is clearly very important, it is by no means what this series is about. As far as I can tell after reading the first book, this series is about battling the constant ennui that is the side effect of unrealistic expectations.

A friend explained it as if Narnia and Harry Potter had a 90s crack baby.

So, through what seems an odd set of circumstances, Quentin is accepted to an elite magical college called Brakebills. He has intense classes, and he’s of course a brilliant student, or he wouldn’t be there. But, the actual rules and definitions of magical study are left to the reader’s imagination. Very little time in scene is spent in classrooms.It was nice, and a bit strange. I expected to see more of the day to day grind of magical coursework. Instead we’re given brief glimpses of awkwardly dexterous fingers and snippets of archaic languages woven into spells. It’s all very vague.

Quentin’s time at Brakebills takes up a HUGE portion of the book. Over half of the book is spent following him and his small group of friends through their school days. But, eventually they graduate and leave for Manhattan. It’s not until they’re there, in the last 150ish pages, that the story really unfolds.

And it’s right about then that I absolutely hated Quentin.

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Jason Ralph as Quentin in The Magicians on SyFy.

And it’s something that I really liked about the book. You see, you don’t hate Quentin at the beginning. You think, things will get better, he just needs to live a little. And the story goes on, and nothing is ever really good enough for him. He has spurts of happiness, but he always ends up spiraling back down into this all-consuming dissatisfaction. And in Manhattan, he hits rock bottom.

As much as I hated Quentin, I loved that the book could make me feel that way. Because I really hated Quentin. A lot. And I continued to hate him until about the last 20 pages. Up until then I vowed that I wouldn’t read the next two books in the trilogy, because I didn’t care what happened to the little jerk. But, by the time I closed the book I knew I had to read them.

So, really, serious applause needs to go to Lev Grossman for toying with my emotions so masterfully.

Some other things to mention if you plan to read this book. It’s weird. It’s not a bad weird, but some things happen that seem very strange, and they get glossed over until the very end when everything comes together in this neat, blood-soaked bow. Also, it deals with very adult themes. It’s a coming of age story wrapped in a magical version of reality, and Quentin deals with depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, and sexual relationships. And he doesn’t have a great track record with his decisions. He consistently makes bad decisions in a very realistic, if magical, unforgiving world.

But, it also does a fantastic job of making the protagonist realize that he’s not the hero of this story. I think that might be the weirdest part of this book. We follow Quentin. He is the main character, but he is not the hero. He’s not the one who saves the day, in fact, he’s usually the one that fucks it all up. And when he finally realizes it, it transforms him.

I don’t know what Quentin will be like in the next book. Maybe all this growth will finally make him ready to be the hero. Or maybe he’ll continue to let depression and anxiety destroy him from the inside. I don’t know. But I know that the formula for the first book can’t be followed in the second. So I’m curious to see how Grossman handles the next installment.

I should pick up Magician King sometime in March; my reading is pretty booked until then.

I hope you enjoyed this different take on a review. It’s not as long, which is probably a good thing, and it doesn’t really spoil anything, which is also probably good. I enjoyed The Magicians, and I would recommend it to others. It was nice to see the different interpretatthemagiciansalternateions that the Clubbers had of it.

Also, the series has been turned into a television show, premiering January 25th on SyFy. If you don’t want to wait, you can stream the Pilot episode now at SyFy.com. I haven’t watched it yet, but one of the Clubbers did, and she approved.

Now I’m off to get a smidgen of homework done before work. I’m currently reading Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones. I should have it done before Bands of Mourning releases on Tuesday, and so should have a review out before then too.

As always, you can follow my reading by following me @BZelwen on twitter, adding me (HIMluv) on Goodreads, and of course by checking the “What I’m Reading” page.

Thanks for reading!

 

BZ

Brain is Melted…

It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that wanted to melt my brain. This Witchcraft class might be the death of me. It’s interesting subject matter, but the textbook is so… dry. Also, writing papers is so freaking boring.

Thesis statements? Elaborating on quotes to further hammer my point into the reader’s brain, as if they can’t make conclusions of their own? I hate it. I always have. And it’s exactly why I’m an English major.

Anyway, first week of homework is done for that class. Tomorrow will be a mad dash of reading and quiz taking in my other class in order to make time to finish The Magicians in time for Wednesday’s Book Club meeting.

Tonight’s plan is to read as much as I can of the novel, then eat dinner and watch Howl’s Moving Castle with the husband.

So that’s pretty much all I have to say. Things are calm today. Sundays are my one day off a week, and I share it with Trevor, so we do chores and make food. Easy days.

I’ll see you soon Blogland, most likely tomorrow or Thursday. Sometime this week I’ll have the book review for The Magicians up. Have a good week!

 

BZ

Book Review- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I read Howl’s as the last Book Club title for 2015. I’d meant to read it for years now, and finally managed it.Howl's moving castle

I have to say, I’m so very sorry that I put it off for so long.

Howl’s Moving Castle is one of those stories that is more than a simple book. There’s magic, in the literal sense, since Howl is a wizard, but the story itself is told with such whimsy and an air of old fables that reading its pages makes you feel, instantly, as a child.

Sophie is one of three sisters, and as the oldest, she’s doomed to a boring life inheriting her Stepmother’s Hat Shop. Turns out, that’s no so terrible, since Sophie has a knack for hats. She sits and sews and molds them, talking all the while, and the hats sell like mad.Sophie_H

On her way to visit her sister, she stumbles into a handsome young man who immediately shows an interest in her. This terrifies the timid Sophie, and she hurries on her way. She soon forgets the man as she talks with her sister, and then returns to her lucrative hat business.

But, all that changes when the wicked Witch of the Waste visits Sophie’s shop, and after a dissatisfying purchase curses Sophie into an old woman.

As an old woman, Sophie decides that the only person who might be able to help her in the slightest is the dread Wizard Howl. He’s renowned for eating the hearts of young, beautiful women, but Sophie figures she has nothing to fear from him now, wrinkly as she is.

Grandma-sophie So she sets off to find his moving castle, encountering a lopsided scarecrow on the way, which she rights as she speaks kindly to it. Once inside the castle Sophie meats Michael, Howl’s teenage apprentice, and Calcifer, the demon that lives in the fireplace.

Surely, by now, you understand that this novel has whimsy leaking out of every line.

Anyway, Sophie makes herself at home, and promptly strikes up a bargain with Calcifer. He has entered a contract with Howl, which he wants out of. If Sophie finds a way to negate the contract, Calcifer will help her out of her own curse.

The details are sparse, but the accord is struck, and Sophie uses the excuse of the filthy castle to convince Howl to let her stay. And so she stays, cleaning and listening, learning as much as she can of Howl and his life in the castle, hoping to find some hint as to his and Calcifer’s agreement.

But, as time goes on, Sophie finds herself thinking less and less about curses and pacts, instead living day to day in the castle, taking care of its residents. This includes the Wizard Howl, who is far from the terrifying Casanova his reputation would have her believe.

book HowlPart flamboyant magician, part petulant man-child, and part awesomely powerful wizard, Howl is endearing in the way only the truly irritating, yet good-natured can be. In turns a hopeless romantic, an arrogant fool, and a shockingly relatable man, Howl is a fascinating character. And as the tale goes on, Sophie and the reader alike find themselves less interested in the supposed plot than in the life that is living in the moving castle.

This is intentional on the part of Ms. Jones, by the way. The plot seems to melt away as characters are developed, arguments are had, and frustrations slowly give way to affection. By the time all the pieces come together, you’ve forgotten why you’re even there.

Without spoiling too terrible much, the ending of this book is fantastic, and made me cry. All the odd ends and wayward bits turn out to have been entirely on purpose, and perfectly placed. It’s only revealed to the reader in the last five pages or so, and it’s very whirlwind, but it all ties together with a flawless red ribbon.howls moving castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is a fairy tale. A glorious fable to be read to little ones as they drift off to sleep. Or to be cherished by adults who still foster some sense of childlike wonder in their hearts. This is a book that I must own, and that I will revisit multiple times over the course of my life. A reminder that not all magic is bright and flaring, and that there are all kinds of love and devotion.

This story reminded me very much of Stardust by Neil Gaiman, though it was published over ten years before Gaiman’s own romantic fairy tale.

This is probably my shortest review yet, but honestly, there’s nothing about this book I could say that would truly do it justice. Read it. Please. If you have any appreciation for whimsy, wonder, and romance, you won’t be disappointed.

 

BZ

Book Review- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hello Blogland!

To say Book Club met last night would be generous. Two of us met, and I was the only one who read the book.

Needless to say there wasn’t much discussion happening. But, I promised a book review, and I’m not deferring it for a whole month.

So, let me preface this by saying that Hush, Hush is not my typical reading fare. Usually there’s magic, and swords, or some sort of weaponry, and though I never shy away from romance, it’s rarely the focal point of the stories I read.
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So, the entire concept of Hush, Hush is that angels are real. Which has me immediately interested. There are angels, and we learn there is a hierarchy within their society, Archangels at the top, Angels of Death somewhere in the middle, and apparently Guardian Angels falling low on the totem pole.

And where there are angels, there are those that have been disgraced, those whose wings were stripped from their shoulders, and who fell from grace. Quite literally, Fallen Angels. These creatures walk the Earth, appearing as humans, but are immortal. They don’t have physical sensations, and so can never truly join in the human experience.

But, when an Angel sleeps with a human, it creates what’s called a Nephilim. These are also immortal, but are much closer to being human. They have interesting abilities but have no affiliation with God or the Devil (both of whom are conspicuously absent from this book).

Being Nephilim sounds rad, right? Oh, except for the fine print that says that, for two weeks during the Hebrew month of Chesvhan, Fallen Angels will assume control of your body so they can party it up like humans.

Talk about awkward.
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Anyway, the main character is 16 year old Nora Grey. She seems a reasonable enough teenager at first. Focused on school, one good friend, but socially capable. She’s likable, at least initially.

And then we meet Patch, the mysterious transfer student that Nora gets paired with in Biology. Really, at this point, I have to wonder how many biology teachers are responsible for teenage romance.

And that’s really my biggest problem with this book. It’s riddled with clichés and tropes. Now, that doesn’t necessarily make a book bad, if its aware of its hackneyed status and is poking fun. But Hush, Hush isn’t so tongue in cheek. In fact, it reads like someone took Twilight, and instead of Vampires went with Angels. Over protective boyfriend fully assembled.

So why did I keep reading?

Honestly, because Patch is a really good character. He’s interesting, complex, and probably the only one in the entire book that seems fully fleshed out. I want to know more about him and his world. If Fitzpatrick had written this for adults and completely developed the angels and their hierarchy, then followed Patch on his quest to become human, it would have been a great book.

Instead, for unknown reasons, Patch, an immortal Fallen Angel, has fallen for a 16 year old girl with a sliver of Nephilim blood.

Puke.

Anyway, he’s mysterious and gets into trouble often. But Nora is inexplicably drawn to him. Yet again, a hapless female child is “meant” to be with some overpowered immortal being. And, so far, there’s no apparent reason as to why.

So, as the story continues, Nora has a string of close calls, and she thinks it’s Patch’s doing. But she continues to talk to him and find herself in situations where they’re alone. Because she’s sixteen and dumb, I suppose. There’s no other reasonable conclusion.

But, it turns out that Jules, the love interest of Nora’s best friend, is a Nephilim sworn to Patch. Basically meaning that come Chesvhan, Patch gets dibs. Well, Jules knows that Nora is very distantly related to him, carries his Nephilim blood, and if he kills her, Patch will become human, which is what Patch wants. This will also keep Patch from possessing Jules every year, and make him vulnerable to Jules.
nephilim

So, Patch’s original plan, before he ever really knew her, was to kill Nora so he could be human. That’s why he enrolled at her school. Honestly, don’t question it, it just makes your face scrunch and your head hurt. Just shrug and keep reading.

But, he gets to know her and he falls for her and yadda yadda. So, instead of letting Jules kill her, Nora tries to jump from the rafter of her gym (she was being hunted by Jules so it wasn’t just some whimsical suicide attempt. At least there’s that.), but Patch saves her, unable to let her die for him.

And that gives him his wings back, making him her Guardian Angel.

A little convenient, but all right. Patch dispatches (hehe) Jules, and they go about their lives. Until book 2! Which I’m currently reading and generally disliking.

Now, I do want to say that I didn’t hate this book. It’s… it’s like watching a movie and thinking, “wow, this is terrible. Like really bad. But, dammit, I’m having such a good time.”

That was my exact experience with this book. Plus, Patch is a compelling character, and the dialogue is pretty good. I laughed a lot, not just at the corny bits either.
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But, I am having a hard time with the second book, and am only continuing because I need to know what Patch is up to. I don’t really care about Nora at all. It’s the dark lurkings and secret nature of the world of Angels that has me turning pages.

Anyway, thanks for getting this far. You should be hearing from me soon, with a review of the sequel, Crescendo.

Until then Blogland!

 

 

Book Review- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Hello again,

I want to start by acknowledging that this book carries a lot of weight with a lot of people. It’s resonant and revered. And if I’d read it when I was sixteen it would have been one of those books that shaped me. It would have reached in and stirred me up, leaving me different by the time I was through.
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Almost ten years too late, it still had an effect, just a much smaller one.

I do want to say that, in general, I’ve been sort of raw around the edges lately. I think it’s mainly because of Shadows of Self, and how much that ending hurt me. But watching Attack on Titan, barely sleeping, and constantly bouncing between my two jobs and school assignments has me frayed.

Music helps, but it hurts too. Songs like Hozier’s Work Song make me cry while I drive to work. And I’m not sure if, at the end, I’m relieved or ashamed. Probably a little of both.

Anyway, Chbosky’s only novel is disarming in its straightforward and genuine narrator. Charlie writes a series of letters during the course of his Freshman year of high school to an anonymous recipient. There he shares his experiences and struggles as he tries to “participate”.

You see, Charlie is pretty… well… fucked up. His best and only friend killed himself over the summer, he has anger issues, and seems overly sensitive, crying at the drop of a hat.

But, the letters show us his efforts to be a good friend and learn how to interact with people, especially the opposite sex. You can’t help but to love Charlie, and you fall in love with Patrick and Sam because, through Charlie’s eyes, they are perfect. Infinite.

Now, without giving away the biggest part of the book, just know that this book is pretty dark, and it depicts teenagers doing all kinds of things that adults think they shouldn’t, but in reality they do. Experimenting with drugs, drinking, gambling, sex. You name it, Charlie knows someone who’s done it before.

I think it’s Charlie’s innocent narration of such dark events that makes the novel so striking. And it’s the same thing that makes the beautiful, bright moments so unforgettable.

As I mentioned before, this was a selection for Book Club. I was the only one who genuinely enjoyed reading it. I read it in two days, taking my time to absorb Charlie’s simple yet striking prose. The other Clubbers struggled to pick it up, and had to fight to finish it in time.

It was also interesting, because two of us really identified with Charlie, mainly because of his incredible introspection. His attention to details and feelings hooked me, because I’m that way, and was even more so as a teen.
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But, one Clubber said she had a hard time reading the novel because she found his intuitive introspection unbelievable, especially for a sixteen year old. Which then floored the two of us who really “clicked” with that aspect of Charlie’s character.

One girl, though she identified with Charlie, was super angry at the end of the story. Angry at how all those around Charlie never noticed, never bothered to ask him, or offer to help him. That they took his presence and his giving nature for granted.

Whereas, come the end of the story, I didn’t feel that way at all. I just felt sad. Not upset, not numb, or raw. Just pure sad. Which was kind of nice. Feelings are often so convoluted, mingling together and confusing me. To have one true, unbastardized emotion at the hands of a paperback was freeing.

I think it’s amazing that a 213 page novel could be so different to each of us.

I don’t want to paint this book in too dark a light. It is heavy, to be sure, but there are a lot of light, happy moments too. And because of the dark themes and subjects, those happy moments are really bright and important.

I will say that I think a second read-through would really be a benefit, because you could read between the lines of all his letters, knowing the ending, and find the truth obscured just behind them.

Anyway, thinking it all over again is making me sad. And not in that pure and freeing kind of way. I think I’m too raw now. There’s too much other stuff knocking around in my brain to leave enough space for pure, sad thoughts.

If you want resonance, if you want a poignant story that will cling to you, but you don’t want to be happy about it, then I suggest you give The Perks of Being a Wallflower a chance.

I’m grateful that I did.

BZ

Book Review- The Princess Bride by William Goldman

All right, I’ve found a couple minutes between reading and writing assignments, so here I am.

My limited free time has found me absolutely obsessed with Dragon Age: Inquisition. This is technically my third playthrough, but my second one only lasted 6 hours before I got bored and deleted it. I didn’t like the decisions or the back story. Humans are so boring, especially in a game that holds so many Elven secrets. So, now I’m over 60 hours into my Dalish Elf mage playthrough, and I’m romancing Solas, because I like sobbing in my spare time.

"Our Love Can Endure" by Mae'thnial Mahariel
“Our Love Can Endure” by Mae’thnial Mahariel

I’m not sure I’ve adequately conveyed my level of obsession. Phone background? Solas picture. Fan Fiction? Following nine different stories all about Solavellan (the name my particular brand of shippers have given the romance between Solas and the Dalish Inquisitor, Lavellan). A playlist has been made, chock-a-block full of sad/angry/confused songs that more or less scream, “WHY?” I’m even a member of a fan page on Facebook. I’ve got it bad.

And I regret nothing.

But, when I’m not gaming for hours at a time, I’m still reading, and so, let’s discuss The Princess Bride!

Princess Bride

Now, this will be an easy review because if you’ve seen the movie, you’ve read the book. I’m not kidding. Most of the dialogue from the film is verbatim from the book, which made it a fantastically fun read. Book Club, of course, loved it.

There were some added scenes, like more fleshed out backstories for Inigo and Fezzik, and though I loved them, I can understand why they were condensed in the film.The book is a little disorienting because the narrator speaks directly to the reader, telling how his father read the story to him as a child, and once he revisited it as an adult, he discovered that his father cut out all the boring bits to tell a tale of “True Love and High Adventure”.

Now, I made an attempt, back in 2011-ish, to read this book, and for whatever reason, was unable to finish it. I was worried as I reopened it that I would succumb to the same problem, and be faced with the hard truth that The Princess Bride, a most beloved film, was based on a boring book.
The Princess Bride

I’m glad to report that the book is anything but boring. I loved it, and now cherish it on my bookshelf, glad to keep it safe there and in my heart.

I know this is a short review, but really, if you’ve seen the film (and if you haven’t, I say this: Inconceivable!) then you’ve read the book. That said, if you love the movie (and if you don’t, I say this: Inconceivable!) please, please, please read the book. You won’t regret it.

Now, this was a Book Club read, which means we’re down to three books left. Next up: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. We have a short month between meetings, so we opted for the shortest book remaining on the list.
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I’m still reading a ton for school, though I’ll admit I didn’t finish Martian Time-Slip. I made it about 40 pages, but the slow story just couldn’t keep up with my Dragon Age addiction.

Moving Mars, by Greg Bear is doing much better, thanks to a shaky romance that reminds me just enough of Solavellan that I can read it with rapt attention.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in, say hello, good work today, sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

Oh, wait. I’m not the Dread Pirate Roberts…

BZ

A Fortnight with the Princesses

It’s actually kind of cold in our apartment. I dislike it.

I just finished reading A Princess of Mars, and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by it. When one keeps the publishing date in mind, the story is really quite spectacular. My typically modern tastes and experiences with Science Fiction and Fantasy made the first few chapters of the book difficult for me. There are a lot of clichés and conventions, which in 1912 were groundbreaking, but are know fairly boring, and even irritating.

And I had a hard time letting go of those irritations. But, once I did I couldn’t put John Carter’s story aside. I loved the simple world building, and the overly generalized characters. Descriptions were quick and often straightforward, leaving nothing to the imagination, and personalities were told to the reader instead of displayed.

And yet I was thoroughly enthralled, and I plan on reading the other two stories in the original trilogy. I have to know if John Carter makes it back to Mars, and if Dejah Thoris and their unhatched child yet live!

But, before any of that, I have to start reading The Princess Bride. And Sunday I’ll start reading The Martian Chronicles. And if I can squeeze in a novella from The Kingkiller Chronicles, that’d be greeaaat.

Anyway, I just wanted to swing in and keep you all posted. I’m going to get ready for bed and start reading the next Book Club book. That meeting will be here before I know it…

Have a great night, Blogland!

BZ

Book Review- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Why hello there!

I know it’s been awhile. And I know you all know why by now. I can only complain about my hectic schedule so many times, so just insert rant here.

School’s going well, and my classes are bomb.com this term. Anime Art History and The Literature of Mars. Yes please. I just finished reading H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, and Trevor and I watched the 2005 movie with Tom Cruise. I’d seen it before, but had forgotten just how intense it was! Definitely a nail-wrecker.

Anyway, book club met a couple weeks ago to discuss Gone Girl, and I’m finally here with a little time to give it a review. In general, the Book Club felt pretty much the same about Flynn’s uber-popular novel: Great book, but we have a strong hate/love relationship with it.
gonegirl

*Here come the spoilers*

The first half of the book is spent split between the two main characters, Amy and Nick. Nick’s point of view is in the book’s present, detailing life since the morning Amy went missing. Nick’s chapters are pretty condemning, and though I wanted to root for him (He quoted The Sure Thing the first time they met, he’s gotta be a good guy, right?), the evidence was impossible to ignore.

Especially since Amy’s chapters are all diary entries spanning their entire 5 year marriage. And as the chapters get closer and closer to the day Amy disappears, the chapters get darker and darker. The diary tells the sad tale of a marriage gone sour after years of miscommunications, negligence, and indifference. It broke my heart to read, and it also terrified me. Amy’s chapters showed just how easy it is to take your spouse for granted, and as someone just through with their first year of marriage, it was a cautionary tale.

And then I got to part two.

So, you see, Amy’s chapters? Yeah, they’re bullshit. Turns out, Amy is a complete psychopath. And I mean that in the clinical sense. She has an utter disregard for anything but her own goals. She feels no remorse for her actions, and has no qualms with fabricating her own murder and pinning it on her husband.
amazingamy

So then I cheered, because I’d been right, Nick was a good guy! His wife is just fucking crazy (excuse my French). And then you find out that Nick’s been cheating on Amy for over a year, and that’s why she’s doing all this.

Now, I don’t think that infidelity is grounds for putting a man in jail for life. Especially when the wife is as unfeeling and removed as Amy. It’s understandable that Nick would cheat, really. But that doesn’t make it right either.

As the story progresses, Flynn twists things so hard that the feelings you had toward Nick circa part one are gone, and replaced with an unruly mixture of shame, fear, and awe. Shame, that he cheated and he continues to make poor decisions in that regard. Fear, because you can’t see how he’s going to get out of the web of lies Amy has set up for him, and you really want him to. And awe, because this crazy bitch thought of everything.

Seriously, everything.

And all you want is for Nick to get away. Which was a nice touch. Usually in these kinds of stories, it’s the wife who needs to get away, but Flynn takes the trope and spins it in a new direction. Refreshing.

But, and I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no happy ending here. By the end you’re left with a sour taste in your mouth, a simmering loathing in your gut, and a tingling in your brain, like a waking limb.

This book is complex, and distressing. Hell, it’s just plain stressing. It keeps you guessing and it keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down.

But I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.

This story is beyond memorable. The characters are vivid, and the stakes are high. Also, I read this book while I was taking my Noir Lit and Film class, and it was really neat to see conventions from the genre linger in Flynn’s writing, and equally nice to see he recognize them and then make them her own.

Gone Girl is an extremely well written story that took root in my imagination. And though the story left me uncomfortable, it’s a good thing. Because I think that’s exactly what Gillian Flynn was going for.

Achievement unlocked.

Next up for the Book Club, The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I look forward to a much lighter, humorous read after this story.

As always, thanks for getting this far. I’ll see you next time!

BZ

The Comedown from the Perfect Trip

Blogland!

Vacation was quite possibly the best four days ever! We ate all the delicious food, drank a ton of beer, and spent nearly every waking moment outdoors, soaking in the unlikely sunshine and warm weather. We both rocked sunburns, though mine turned to tan well before Trevor’s. My Alaskan man is by far the whitest person I know.

whaleface
That look? I’d just spotted my first whale in the wild. A juvenile Gray Whale. I was completely mystified, and a tad emotional here.

As promised, have some pictures sprinkled throughout this post!

But now we’re back, and life is settling back into that all too familiar sprint. Work, eat + read, homework, sleep. Work, work, eat + read, homework, sleep. Somewhere in there I squeeze in a social life, but usually it’s just playing Magic The Gathering with our circle of friends. Or maybe staying up far too late to watch a couple episodes of Game of Thrones while we snuggle on the couch.

I like those nights.

lighthouse
Trevor caught this as we made our way down the 114 steps of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

I’m still reading, and a lot. Summer school has kept me dashing from novel to novel, and this Noir Literature and Film class has been awesome. Probably my favorite class so far at ASU, and I have this professor again in the fall, for a Science Fiction class. I’m excited.

I’m still reading for fun, though I’ve kept that to novellas and short fiction since I finished The Gentleman Bastards. And, of course, there’s Book Club. We’re meeting next week to discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I started it tonight, and so far, I actually enjoy it. We’ll see what everyone has to say Wednesday night.

After this we’re reading The Princess Bride, which will be fun. And my next pleasure read? I want to do something brand new. Something I know nothing about. But, also something fairly manageable in size. I only have a week off from school before I’m write back at it.

The Rogue Brewery Tour Train! So much fun!
The Rogue Brewery Tour Train! So much fun!

Maybe something different. Like, I, Robot. Or Lord Valentine’s Castle. Or maybe the newest Veronica Mars book, because why not?

Who knows? Certainly not I.

And writing? How’s that going?

Well, it’s not. And it’s slowly eating away at me. But, edits for Vessels are coming along, with only three (?) more chapters before the changes can be made in the computer. That’s going to take forever, but it’ll be worth it to see just how drastic the change is.

Tidepools during low tide at Cobbles Beach at Yaquina Head.
Tidepools during low tide at Cobbles Beach at Yaquina Head.

Plus, round two edits will go much faster, since the first round deal with a lot of the cohesion problems. I’m looking forward to it, kind of.

I haven’t dug up Cards yet, true to my word. But, after a bit of silence, Mal poked his head in, wondering just when he’d get to tell the rest of his story. And of course, Whit, Cora, and Jacob had to chime in as well. So, looks like there will be a sequel! I always thought so, but it’s nice to know that almost a year later, those characters still waiting around.

And what of Jordinn and Ellesaire? Of Joanna and Troy? Well, they’re still there. But, they’ve waited a long time as it is. What’s another year of school? And that story is still very much alive in my mind. I’m eager to get back to it. I won’t start the Cards sequel until the first draft of Jordinn’s Story is finished.

So, tentative plan:

I’d like to have Vessels ready for round two edits before Christmas. I’d like to continue editing through numerous drafts until I’m done with school. Any writing on Jordinn’s Story, or various short pieces for Caladria in the meantime is great! Once school is done, I’ll go back to normal human work hours. And if I can swing it, maybe even a little less. Like 30-ish. From there it’ll be all about polishing Vessels and finishing the rough draft of Jordinn’s Story. Once that’s done, I’ll start editing Cards and begin writing its sequel.

Me after nearly falling face first into the fragile ecosystem, and slippery by nature areas known as tidepools.
Me after nearly falling face first into the fragile ecosystem, and slippery by nature areas known as tidepools.

And of course, I’ll be reading constantly throughout.

School and the second job definitely threw a wrench in my writing spokes, but I think the lessons in time management and prioritization are worth it. I have accomplished a lot with very limited time. So when life calms down, I’ll have room to work on all the projects I want, and the skills to prioritize them and actually finish them on a set schedule.

And that’s invaluable to a writer.

Anyway, I have to go watch a movie for my noir class. Then to bed, so I can start my final paper in the morning before work. And then Saturday morning, I’m off to pick up my childhood best friend from Portland! I can’t wait!

Trevor took this postcard worthy shot from the walking path up from the lighthouse. It was a perfect trip.
Trevor took this postcard worthy shot from the walking path up from the lighthouse. It was a perfect trip.

Have a great night Blogland, as ever, thanks for reading this far!

BZ