Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #46

Ah geez, here we are again, late on a Tuesday. But, we’re here and we’re ready to talk about the week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Circecirce book cover
  • Write 5000 words

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Reading Round Up is out now!
  • Finish reading Circe
    • Not technically. But I did just finish it before writing this so… hurray?
  • Write 5000 words
    • Hahaha no. Writing ground to a halt over the long weekend. Whoops.

Weekly Word Count: 3,414

That’s not a bad word count. At least if it wasn’t non-Nano season.  But it is Nano season so, uh, that’s not so great. I needed at least 5k to stay on track, but I’m feeling really unmotivated with this story. I don’t know if it’s all the distracting video games right now (Uncharted 4, Beyond Two Souls, Jedi: Fallen Order) or if I’m really just not ready to tell this story.

There’s also the fact that my weekends are pretty full this month. November is always a struggle for me, creatively, because it’s the holiday season and there are birthdays to boot. My social life doesn’t mellow out until the late winter and that’s when I can really start pumping out words. Which means I really have to hunker down and focus if I want to hit 25k this month.

In personal news, I’ve started a new medication to potentially help prevent my migraines. I’m skeptical, mainly because I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’ll know in the next couple of weeks if it helps or not. Fingers crossed.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Gideon the Ninth
  • Write 5000 words

Well, here we are. Reading. Writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. The two blog posts will be a cinch this week because I’ll have the book review for Circe. If Gideon the Ninth is as gripping as it sounds, I might even have that review to write too. And I’ve only got two hours left in the City of Ghosts audiobook. Reviews could abound.

I’m not too optimistic about the writing, but I won’t give up. I can come back to it and keep going out of sheer force of will. That’s my usual m.o. anyways.

I don’t have much by way of plans this weekend, other than cleaning and prepping for holiday visitors. Writing and reading should definitely happen.

I’ll be back soon Bloggarts with the Circe book review!

‘Til then,

 

BZ

 

The Reading Round Up – October 2019

October was a wonderful return of my reading habits. You can tell a lot about my mental state by the number of books I read, and October was a breath of fresh air, like opening the front door and stepping outside for the first time in months. I loved it, even if I didn’t love everything I read.

Title: Vicious (Villains #1)Vicious
Author(s): V.E. Schwab
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I could go on forever about Schwab and how much I love her and this book. In fact, I sort of did in my review. You should check it out!
Recommend: Yes! This is the first book in a short series and a fantastic introduction to Schwab’s writing. You should absolutely give it a shot!

Title: The First Wife’s Secretfirst wife
Author(s): Addison Moore
Format: Kindle ebook
Goodreads Rating: 1/5 Stars
Thoughts: Hm. I have a lot of thoughts about this book and none of them are good. I purposely chose not to write a book review for this title because I didn’t want to be hurtful to the author. That’s how much I disliked this book. I’ll just leave my Goodreads Review here for you:

So. One star. I don’t want to sound cruel because I know writing is incredibly hard work that comes from a personal place, always. That being said… The plot was tangled in so many subplots, the characters were inconsistent and jumped to so many conclusions. If the main characters had just TALKED to one another they could have figured it out in half the time (like I did). The writing was repetitive and featured a lot of jarring and sometimes misused vocabulary. Ultimately not worth the time. Wah, wah.

Recommend: Absolutely not.

Title: The Last Tsar’s Dragonslast tsars dragons
Author(s): Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: This novella was confusing. I liked it, because I liked the interpretation of Rasputin. But I didn’t find any of the other characters likable or compelling. Also, the dragons hardly featured in the book at all and were a bit of a macguffin. Which, given the title and the awesome artwork, was pretty disappointing.
Recommend: Meh.

Title: Dragon Age: Knight Errantknight errant
Author(s): Nunzio De Filippis and Christina Weir, with Fernando Heinz Furukawa and Michael Atiyeh
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I was always going to love this. It’s a Dragon Age comic and Varric is in it. Yes. I love it. BUT, I thought this one was pretty especially well done. I liked the character dynamics and how things keep leading us to Tevinter. We’re getting closer to the next game and I CANNOT WAIT.
Recommend: Sure. If you’re a fan of the series you definitely should. If you’re not familiar with the Dragon Age franchise, it’s probably not the best place to start.

Title: March: Book One (March #1)march book one
Author(s): John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, with Nathan Powell
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: It took me a while to get into this book. The artwork is amazing and I love the choice to do the entire thing in black and white. The narration really did feel like being told someone’s life story, which was great but also made me want to take breaks. I needed to absorb what I’d been told from time to time. Not a binge-able book for me.
Recommend: Oh, for sure. I think now more than ever, this Graphic Novel series is so important.

Title: “Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light”kameron hurley
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Meet Me in the Future: Stories
Editor(s): N/A
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is very untraditional, which I appreciate. Not much actually happens, but there’s power in the lines nonetheless. I liked it and could probably use to read it again to let it steep in my brain.
Recommend: Yes. I love Hurley’s writing and she’s fast becoming one of my new favorite authors.

Title: “The Improbable War”kameron hurley 2
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Meet Me in the Future: Stories
Editor(s): N/A
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story was so so short. It hit hard and fast and honestly I’d need to read it again to even begin to tell you what I thought of it.
Recommend: Yarp. See above.

Title: “The Women of Our Occupation”meet me in the future
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Meet Me in the Future: Stories
Editor(s): N/A
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I’ll be honest, I read these stories in quick succession, and while I know I enjoyed them all, this was the only one that really struck me. It was the longest of the three, which probably had something to do with it. This wasn’t a story that I necessarily liked, it didn’t leave me with any strong feelings one way or another, but it left me thinking. I always like that.
Recommend: Yarp.

Reading Round Up – September 2019

There wasn’t much reading in September, unfortunately, but I still ought to talk about what I did manage to read.

Title: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)our dark duet cover
Author(s): Victoria Schwab
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book took me entirely too long to read. It had everything to do with my own personal and professional turmoil and utterly nothing to do with the book. I love the characters and the world and the crazy way music is intertwined through the whole thing. It’s very artfully done and sets a really high bar for YA fiction. As far as I’m concerned, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab is one of the best writers around and a new favorite. Read my full review for more details.
Recommend: Yes!

Title: The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited (The Adventure Zone #2)TAZ v2
Author(s): Clint, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy and Carey Pietsch
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I love The Adventure Zone podcast and I particularly love these characters. Listening to the podcast was wonderful, but the beauty and wonder of the graphic novel adaptations is that it does that thing we all wish we could do with every piece of media we love: it lets you experience the content as if it were the very first time. Add that the artwork is fantastic and you really can’t go wrong with these adaptations.
Recommend: Absolutely! Gotta have my good, good boys!

Title: X-Men Season Onexmen season one
Author(s): Dennis Hopeless and Jamie McKelvie
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: Hmmm… I don’t have a lot of thoughts on this. It’s a short look at when Jean Grey came to the X-Men. Cyclops, Archangel, Beast, and Ice Man are the main characters which I enjoyed. I didn’t love Jean’s characterization and I hated that she was the only girl in the whole book. The whole “two boys like me, oh noes” plot was irritating. I liked the art though!
Recommend: Meh. If you’re a big X-Men buff and want to read about some early school days stuff, why not?

That’s all I got in the month of September. October is already off to a better start so there should be much more to talk about in the next Round Up. I’ll be back this week with a book review for Vicious and then quiet through the weekend while I attend a library conference!

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

The Recap – September 2019

Better late than never, right?

September Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus
    • No. But I did write a little bit (800ish words) which, given the last few months, feels like a win.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep! Stories are out.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes, kinda? I read three titles in September which is better than August’s zero. I’ll take it.

 Monthly Word Count: 750

September feels like fog. The first half in particular. The new job has been all-consuming and the only way to turn my brain off has been television and movies. Somewhere in the middle things in my brain calmed down enough that I started reading again which felt like coming home. I really don’t function on all cylinders without a book in hand. And with reading came the itch to write. It wasn’t much of an itch at first, I’ll admit. It was more of a fleeting idea, a thought there and gone again before I could latch on and do anything about it. But I was thinking about my writing again, and that meant everything.

October Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

I’m really close to finishing this short story. I’m working on the final scene today, though I think it may take multiple sessions to get down. It’s very heavy, depressing stuff and the story is dictating the pace. Which was actually a bit of a relief. Usually, when my routine has been gutted and I’m reeling, I’m avoiding my writing and wracking up the guilt. This time the story was nowhere to be found. It didn’t want me to work on it, it didn’t call for me and make demands. What a nice change of pace.

Exodus has been neglected long enough. It needs some tweaks and polishing and then I want to submit it. As a novella, finding markets for it is challenging, but my dream market for it is open right now so I REALLY need to get on this project. Luckily the writing is clean, it just needs a little work streamlining it to be the best it can be.

As ever, short story submissions will continue until there’s nothing left to submit. It’s nice always having this bullet-point completed.

My reading habits are back. I finished reading Vicious on Friday and I’m almost done with The Last Tsar’s Dragons. I expect I’ll finish it tonight. My TBR pile from the library is absolutely out of control and I’m sure I’ll have to return some things because of holds, etc. I also have about two hours of reading left in our book club book and plan to finish that while I’m at a library conference next weekend.

There is no shortage of books in my life. Hallelujah!

Hiking season, while technically still possible, has come to a mutually decided halt. We’re hermit-ing up, longing for hot chocolates, hot toddies, and all things fall. It’s my favorite time of year and I’m excited to share it with all my favorites.

With some luck and a lot of self-discipline, I should be around the blog a lot this week. I need to do a Reading Round-Up and get back on track with my weekly goals. There’s also the matter of the book review of Vicious. So, yeah, expect to see me a bit this week.

Until then Bloggos!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab

It took me a really long time to read this book. It had nothing to do with the story, and everything to do with my tumultuous summer, which I should have planned for. I always have a tumultuous summer. There’s no escaping them, apparently.

But, once I finally focused and spent some time in these pages, I remembered why I refused to return the book to the library despite my lack of reading. If you haven’t read my review for This Savage Song, now would be a good time.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

our dark duet cover

After This Savage Song, Kate Harker fled her hometown of Verity, and left more than just her demons behind. She thought she left monsters, bad and good, but it turns out monster-hunting is a profession just about anywhere these days. She’s made some friends, computer nerds mostly, and together they are the Wardens, unofficial protectors of the city.

Meanwhile, back in Verity, August had very big, soulless shoes to fill. Leo may be gone, but he haunts August’s every step as the Sunai tries to be the leader, and monster, he was meant to be. It’s destroying him, but it’s the cost of success for the FTF. He’s determined to pay it.

But when a new kind of monster, one that feeds on violence and fear, climbs into Kate’s head and learns about the brutality of every day life in Verity, there’s only one course of action to take. Kate abandons her new life, risking the trip back into the city she left behind in order to warn August and help save Verity, even as it tries to kill them both.

What I loved:

  • The characters. I loved Kate and August in the first book and though there is a lot of tension between them in this book (which hurt to read) they were still utterly fantastic. I will love that violin wielding boy, forever and ever, amen.our dark duet cover 2.jpg
  • The stakes. The plot was a little slow to start, but once August and Kate got on the same page again it was nonstop. Lives are at stake, the city is at stake, and their relationship is at stake. It’s all so freaking good and pulls on every heartstring. Muah!
  • The writing. Victoria Schwab (aka V.E. Schwab) is a FANTASTIC writer. I adored her Shade of Magic Series, which led me to this duology and I couldn’t be happier. She really flexed her writing muscle with these books and I was torn between speed reading to find out what happened next and pausing to appreciate the music that echoed off the page.

What I didn’t:

  • Um… That there’s only two of them? I don’t know. The ending was perfect and inevitable. It was a tiny bit predictable, but I think knowing how it HAD to end actually upped the emotional stakes. It was sad and beautiful and perfect. But it was still sad. So I guess I didn’t(?) like that.

I feel sort of rusty at these book reviews right now. I’m out of practice in so many aspects of my reading and writing life right now. But, it’s like riding a a bike, right? Writing a bike?

Something like that.

I have a ton of reading lined up for the rest of the fall, so expect to see some more regular book reviews from here on out.

See you then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

Book Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

I’ve been a Veronica Mars fan for a long, long time. I first watched the show as a teenager, and fell in love with the scrappy, witty, tiny blonde Junior PI. And then I fell in love with Logan Echolls. That love has never died, well over a decade later. Back in 2014, that love led me to read this book, even though I hadn’t seen the movie.

I gave it a four-star rating then. Now, with the revival freshly released on Hulu, I rewatched the original series, got my hands on the movie, and reread the book!

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

vm thousand dollar tan line

This book takes place in 2014, about two months after the events of the movie. Veronica is back in Neptune, with her PI license renewed and running Mars Investigations while her father, Keith, heals from the car wreck that nearly killed. Logan is back on deployment with the Navy, somewhere in the Middle East.

It’s spring break and the streets of Neptune are flooded with Co-Eds partying their brains out. But when a girl goes missing, and Sheriff Lamb is unwilling to look into the matter, the Chamber of Commerce decides to hedge their bets with the only (reputable) private investigators in town. Veronica takes the case, vowing to find the girl and restore Neptune’s reputation as a spring break destination.

And just like that we’re plunged right back into the gritty and witty noir of the show at its peak.

What I loved:

  • The writing. This book reads exactly like an episode, or a mini-arc of episodes, from the original show. Veronica’s voice is clear and consistent. You hear her narration just like her voice overs from the series. The other characters are also well done, particularly Keith and Wallace.
  • The plot. It’s just twisty enough, giving you all the pieces, but putting them together in a way you just can’t quite manage on your own. This is something the show did super well, and the book keeps that tradition alive.
  • Pacing. The really tricky thing about mystery stories is how the information is parceled out while still keeping the story interesting. Placing your breadcrumbs in just the right place is critical to a successful mystery story. This book nails it. Plus, they’ve got the end of chapter cliff-hanger down to a science.
  • The world. Guys… I LOVE this show. I have loved this show for the better part of my life. My personal sense of humor and style were directly impacted by this series and it will forever have a special place in my heart. So, give me a solid noir story with these characters in this setting? I’m going to have a favorable opinion of it. There’s just no two ways about it.

What I didn’t love:

  • The writing. In this sense, I mean that the prose itself was really simple. The writing has one job, and that’s to tell this story. There’s no frills, no flourishes. It’s windowpane writing, words you’re meant to peer through and fall into the world. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I would have appreciated a little more depth.
  • Not NEARLY enough Logan. I recognize this is a purely fandom complaint and totally personal, but COME ON! We watch this show for like, three reasons, tops. And one of those reasons is Logan “Lovable Asshole” Echolls. Gimme MOAR!

So yeah. That’s it. This is a super fun, quick read. Perfect for a weekend getaway or some other sort of leisure time (read: unemployment). At just over 300 pages, it’s neither intimidating nor underwhelming. It’s the Goldilocks book of fangirling. If you liked the show and have watched the show, it’s the next logical step in your consumption of all things Veronica Mars.

annoy like the wind

I’ll be back on Monday to discuss goals I didn’t manage to share with y’all. I did update my whiteboard, and I am doing some work this week. I think I’m back in action. Maybe.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Reading Round Up – June 2019

June was a tumultuous month for me. My reading, much like my writing, came and went. I was distracted and had trouble committing to much of anything. That being said, I read more than I thought I did! Hurray!

Title: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)in an absent dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Trade Paperback ARC
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I had low expectations for this book, since I wasn’t overly fond of the third one, but I LOVED this book. It tells Lundy’s story, of how her door opened and her time in the Goblin Market. I found it to be a perfect blend of cynicism and whimsy that really captured my attention.
Recommend: Yes, though you’ll want to have read at least the first book, preferably all of them first.

Title: Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2)knight's shadow
Author: Sebastien De Castell
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator(s): Joe Jameson
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This story is much darker than the first, and let’s be real the first book had five days of torture and a weeklong Purge scenario. I really liked this book, but less for the actual plot and more because I love the Greatcoats (especially Kest and Brasti) and Joe Jameson’s narration is fantastic. I love listening to Falcio talk, which is fitting, seeing as he does so damn much of it. See my full review for more details.
Recommend: Yes. Just buckle up and prepare yourself for some discomfort and some irritation.

Title: Revenger (Revenger #1)revenger
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A – Did Not Finish
Thoughts: This book struggled from page one. I’m hesitant anytime I read a story with a teenage girl protagonist written by a middle-aged man, but I also like to give it a fair shot. I made it about 80 pages before I finally had to call it. The plot was slow to build, the characters were either unlikable or pretty cliched. There were a lot of cool concepts, but the writing and characters weren’t compelling enough to convince me to do the work to read it. When I have a TBR that’s literally overflowing I don’t have time for bad books. Sorry, not sorry.
Recommend: No.

Title: The October Man (Rivers of London 7.5)the october man
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I’m usually pretty ambivalent about the Rivers of London novellas, but this one was really good! It was fast paced, introduced all new and likable characters, and had a really intriguing plot. It also made me want to visit Trier really badly. I liked Tobias, although his narration wasn’t super different from Peter’s, just with a lot less humor and geekery.
Recommend: If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll like this installment.

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)this savage song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Format: Trade Paperback, Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book surprised me, which is silly since it’s by Victoria (aka V.E.) Schwab. She absolutely blew my mind with the Shades of Magic books, and after this book I think I’ll trust her with just about any book she wants to give me. Verity is a post-apocalyptic (sorta) version of the Midwest. In this world, literal monsters are born from violence. There’s the Corsai, made of shadows and teeth, the Malchai, which seem to be even creepier vampires, and the Sunai, which eat the souls of sinners with a song. It’s incredibly imaginative with wonderful characters yet again. I did give it four stars because it was a little slow to start and felt a little bit… tropey. Like, it very much felt like a typical YA book until about page 100. Not that that’s inherently bad, but it’s not my fave. Pretty much everything after that was spectacular though! Find out more in my full review!
Recommend: Yep! Treat it with patience until around page 100 though.

Title: “Where Monsters Dance”A. Merc Rustad
Author: A. Merc Rustad (now Merc Fenn Wolfmoor)
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is… weird. In a really good way. An imaginary friend turns out not to be so imaginary, and the main character has to save them in a hidden dimension of benevolent monsters. I really liked the blend of reality and imagination.
Recommend: Yep. This is a visceral and whimsical tale well worth the read.

Title: “Be Not Unequally Yoked”Alexis A. Hunter
Author: Alexis A. Hunter
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It was so unbelievably up my alley. A young Amish man lives with a terrible secret: sometimes, he turns into a horse. The lines are blurring between him and the mare he becomes, until finally they are no longer separate identities. This story accomplishes so much. It’s a trans story, it’s a coming out story, it’s a first love story, it’s a story about religion and family and finding your place in a world you don’t really fit into. It does all of that with beauty and grace and ethereal quality that kept me hooked.
Recommend: Yes! I think there’s something here for just about anyone.

Title: “The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad”molly tanzer
Author: Molly Tanzer
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I liked this. It’s more straightforward than a lot of the other stories in this collection, and it’s Weird Fiction, which I read a lot of. The plot was a little predictable, but I liked it nonetheless. A tale of body-snatching, dark rituals, and how fear and hate can have unexpected consequences.
Recommend: Sure! It was a fun story.

Title: “Kin, Painted”benjanun
Author: Penny Stirling
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I had to take some time to really marinate on this story. It’s very quiet, with not much action at all. A nameless character struggles to find their “paint” in a family full of artists. The art in this story is more than expression, it is identity. What I really liked was that, while the character struggled and experimented, the family members never once judged or condemned. They support the main character and treat them with kindness and patience. I loved that. It was a lovely and hopeful note to end the collection on.
Recommend: Yes. Honestly, I recommend the entire collection.