Goals Summary 2019 – Wk# 48

Bloggos! Happy Thanksgiving! I know I’m a day early but I’m excited about it and this is my blog so I’m going to scream about the holiday. I have family in town from AZ, our house is super-duper clean, and I’m off work until Monday. So, you see, lots of reasons to be obnoxiously upbeat about the season.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Gideon the Ninthgideon the ninth
  • Write 3000 words

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Gideon the Ninth
    • Yes! That book was difficult to put down, I tell ya what.
  • Write 3000 words
    • YES! I finally just went where my interest was and wrote some Solavellan fanfic. Dragon 4ge day is December 4th (my birthday!) and there was a list of prompts for fanworks. I’ve been writing to a few of those prompts, with plans to share the oneshots throughout the day on Wednesday.

Weekly Word Count: 3,199

This week went by SO fast. I spent the majority of my time cleaning and mentally preparing for having visitors over. Plus a bit of writing and reading. So, a good week. I went to a party hosted by the Editor of The Audient Void which was specifically for creatives. I got to listen to some amazing poetry, see a woman play her custom harp (which was probably one of the most beautiful, bewitching things I have ever seen in my life), and even read my short story, The Cost of Rain. It was a fun night full of support and good vibes. Hopefully they’ll do it again sometime.

There was a Friendsgiving over the weekend, which was a blast as usual. So basically, lots of housework, reading, writing, and social activities.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Read 2 titles
  • Write 3,000 words

Keeping things simple this week. It’s the holiday, we’re hosting, and we have family from out of town. This is not the week to set lofty goals. I do plan to post the book review for Gideon the Ninth over the weekend, and I just finished reading a graphic novel last night. The big question mark for the week is the writing. I won’t have much time, just late friday and all day Saturday. But, I’ll be recovering from the holidays, so who knows what that time will actually look like.

So yeah, easy peasy lemon squeezy. Hopefully. I’ll be back later this week to talk about Gideon the Ninth.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

Blogland! My reading is picking up as the year draws to a close, as is tradition. I’m too competitive not to make a mad dash for my Goodreads Challenge goal, no matter how far behind I am.

City of Ghosts was not on my radar at all until quite recently. I discovered V.E. Schwab this year when a migraine struck and I listened to the A Darker Shade of Magic audiobook. The next two weeks had me feverishly consuming the sequels and adding any and all of her books to my TBR. But somehow, this book got missed.

Then I saw it on the shelf of my school library’s YA section and had a minor heart attack. I bought the audiobook with an audible credit and listened to it in two sittings. I have zero regrets.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

city of ghosts

Cassidy Blake is eleven years old and like a lot of only children, she has an invisible friend. The difference is that Jacob is very, very real. He’s just a ghost! After she fell in an icy river and quite literally died, Jacob saved her and brought her back to the land of the living. They’ve been inseparable ever since, and Cassidy has been able to cross the “Veil” to the land of ghosts, where she explores and takes creepy photographs of the beyond.

It’s all innocent fun until her parents announce they’re starring in a new show, The Inspectres, where they travel the world and investigate haunted cities. The traveling bit sounds cool, but the haunted bits sound… problematic. Especially since, out of her whole family, she’s the only one who’s ever actually seen a ghost.

So off to Scotland they go, with Jacob and the cat, Grim, in tow.

What I loved:

  • I loved the characters. I know, what a surprise, right? But, man, Victoria Schwab writes people so so well. I loved Cassidy’s wry humor and her affection for Jacob. I love Jacob, his nervousness, his timidity, and his sarcastic banter with Cassidy. I loved that Cassidy has a good relationship with her parents and that they seem to really love one another. I thought the whole family dynamic was super believable, especially since I was an only child, at least until I was almost 16.
  • The setting! I’ve always entertained the idea of visiting Scotland, but don’t really know much about the country, or of Edinburgh. Schwab’s descriptions really struck me. I’d love to see the city and the castle and absorb the general vibes of the place. So, thanks for that Schwab.
  • The narration! Reba Buhr read the book and did a fantastic job. I’ve read enough of Schwab now to recognize her writing no matter who’s reading, but I liked the voices and accents she did. It really helped me get immersed in the story.

What I didn’t love:

  • Um… it was a bit lower level than I’m used to reading. That’s not really a problem with the book, it just left me wanting more. The plot was largely predictable, but still good. I just wasn’t as engaged with the material as I would have been with an older Teen or Adult story.
  • I didn’t super like Laura. She felt sort of forced and I can’t really say how or why. I kept waiting for her to be the bad guy, and she wasn’t, so maybe that had something to do with it.

I love Victoria (V.E.) Schwab and this book is no exception. Not necessarily her best, but I’m also not the target audience. For middle school-aged me, it would have been an instant favorite.

There is a sequel, which I’ve already downloaded on audible, but I’m… hesitant. Ok, really talk, the sequel is called Tunnel of Bones and is set in Paris. They are FOR SURE going into the catacombs and… I can’t. Like, just the idea of the catacombs makes my heart race. Creepy, underground tunnels are a major fear of mine. Dunno why but just thinking about them makes me break out in a nervous sweat.

So, yeah. Might have to take it slow with that one.

I finished Gideon the Ninth and started reading Vengeful tonight. Lots of reading and a little writing. Life is good.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #47

The end of the year is creeping up. Does anyone else feel like they’re running out of time?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Gideon the Ninthgideon the ninth
  • Write 5000 words

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Gideon the Ninth
    • No. But, I read two graphic novels and finished an audiobook, so I’m not sad about it.
  • Write 5000 words
    • Hahahaha… No.

Weekly Word Count: 649

I hit a major inspiration block in writing this week. I don’t know if I’m just burned out, if work is too stressful, or if this just isn’t the right project for Nanowrimo, but I’m not being very productive this month. I keep bouncing between the novella and fanfic, and then bouncing between fanfic projects. Then, when I feel totally uninspired, I play video games instead.

I like the idea of writing, I feel that familiar mental swirl of a story taking form, but I lack the motivation to actually put ass to chair and make it happen. I’d rather read, play video games, or watch Disney+. It doesn’t help that my family will be here in a week and there’s still a lot of chorin’ to be done.

Let’s just blame it on stress and move on.

I finished playing Uncharted 4 and Beyond: Two Souls. I liked them both, a lot, and am glad to have played them. They were both right up my alley and long overdue.

I decided to withdraw Lifelike from a market that had it for over six months. The website hadn’t been updated since April and the email for the editor was no longer valid. I think it’s safe to say that wasn’t going to get picked up. Exodus: Descent was rejected today, but it was a personal rejection, which is always nice. Both stories will be submitted somewhere else by the end of the week.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Gideon the Ninth
  • Write 3000 words

Keeping it pretty straightforward again. I have no idea what writing project I’ll work on, and honestly, I don’t much care. I just want to write before the holiday sneaks up and steals all my time. We’ll see if anything demands my attention.

I’m just over halfway through with Gideon the Ninth now. I expect to have it done in the next couple of days. I finished listening to City of Ghosts and will have the book review up before the end of the work week. I want to start listening to the sequel, Tunnel of Bones sometime this week too.

So, yeah. Lots of reading, writing, cleaning, and working. We’ll see where that takes us before the holiday season swallows me whole.

Talk at you soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Book Review – Circe by Madeline Miller

This book was not on my TBR. I’d heard of it, thanks to my work in libraries; there was a lot of buzz around Circe when it first came out. Co-workers raved, it made several awards lists that season, and patrons kept checking it out. And yet, it never once lured me to add it to my To-Be-Read list.

And then my school’s staff book club chose it for its Fantasy Month. Despite my misgivings about it not really being a fantasy novel, I read it all the way to the end. My book club hasn’t met yet to discuss it, but I’m ready to share my thoughts here.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

circe book cover

Circe is the story of the Witch of Aiaia, daughter of Helios, exiled for eternity. She turned evil men to pigs, loved Daedalus, and Odysseus, and later Telemachus. She’s a figure from Greek Mythology, and this book is her first person account of her life.

The problem is, I had no idea who she was before I started this book. You see, the last time I studied mythology was my sophomore year of high school. We read Edith Hamilton and I remember hating it. Sixteen year old me found mythology so incredibly boring I blocked out all memory of the entire unit. Which really did me a disservice because this whole book HINGES on the reader knowing the bare minimum of who the F*&K Circe is! I missed out on a ton of dramatic irony and tension because I literally knew NOTHING about Circe going into this book. Whoops!

What I loved about this book:

  • The writing! Madeline Miller’s prose is absolutely gorgeous and I frequently had to stop and reread lines that took my breath away. The novel is extremely atmospheric and I appreciated how she brought these deities to life.
  • I really liked how Miller wrote Circe’s love for the various men in her life. She described them with details that showed Circe’s affection, that the way she saw them proved her love. It was beautiful.

What I didn’t love:

  • Um… the whole plot? It meandered and not a whole lot happened. Circe spent most of her time moping around and being extremely passive. She didn’t actually become an active character until she suffered at the hands of some stranded dudes who attacked her. She then takes her vengeance on pretty much all men by turning them into pigs. She doesn’t settle down until Odysseus charms her into freeing his men and sleeping with him. Which in hindsight is pretty wack.
  • The pacing. It felt very one note until the last 80 pages or so, when more characters showed up and started interacting with Circe. Looking back I think that was intentional, that Circe let her self-worth be so wrapped up in others for so long, but damn was that a looooong story to get through for her to grow.

I gave this book a 4/5 star rating pretty much purely because of the sheer beauty of the writing. For instance, “But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

Or perhaps, “He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

Those are just the two examples that came to me off the top of my head and I love them. They are gorgeous. Profound. The constellation one in particular hit home while I was reading.

So, my final verdict is this: a gorgeous book that’s just a little too slow for my taste. I like an atmospheric read for my short fiction, but expect a bit more punch for my novels apparently. I’m reading Gideon the Ninth right now, which more than makes up for what Circe lacked in grit, so I’ve got that going for me.

If I get City of Ghosts finished before the end of the weekend I might eke in a book review for it. If not, I’ll talk at you all on Monday!

‘Til then, Blogland!

 

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.

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #45

Fall is fading fast, succumbing to the darkest nights and the frosty air of winter. I’m not ready for it and can already feel the toll on my mood. I hate how early it gets dark after Daylight Savings Time ends. I’m off work at 4:00pm. The sun should not be setting while I’m walking out to my car. That’s some bullshit. It makes me tired, even more so than usual, and generally unmotivated.

Not that I let it stop me this week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read PersepolisImage result for the complete persepolis
  • Start Exodus: Defeat

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. The October Recap is up and at ’em.
  • Read Persepoli
    • Yep. It took some concerted effort. While I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t call it binge-worthy.
  • Start Exodus: Defeat
    • Yep! Nanowrimo started on Friday and so the words are flowing once more!

Weekly Word Count: 3,499

I don’t really have much to say about the week. It was Halloween and school went by really quick because of it. I sang karaoke on Friday night and celebrated the husbando’s birthday over the weekend. I still managed to get some good writing in and am looking forward to continuing the trend this week.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Circe
  • Write 5000 words

I think that’s it. Lots of reading and writing this week. I have the Reading Round Up for October to share this week so that’ll be the blog post. I’m having difficulty with Circe already. I think I’m like 30 pages in and I’m bored. So much telling to start with, which, you know, is supposed to be bad or whatever. I’m going to keep trying. If I could read The First Wife’s Secret then I can read this book.

I don’t have any major social plans this week, which is nice. There’s a Willamette Writers meeting on Wednesday and lots of events at work, but my home life this week should be calm. Hurray!

I’ll be back, probably on Friday, to talk about all the things I read in October.

Til then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – October 2019

And just like that, October came and went. It was filled with pumpkins and rain and friends and all those cozy fall things. It was also a busy work month and a busy writing work month. Which probably explains why it went so quickly.

October Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
    • YES! This story took a long time.
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
    • YES! It’s out for submission right now!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • YES! Three stories are out and The Cost of Rain was accepted this month!
  • Keep reading!
    • YES! I read five titles this month, which is a huge improvement over the last couple of months!

Total Word Count: 865

Holy Crow y’all. My whole month is in the black! When did that happen? I felt like a did a whole lot of nothing this month, but the whiteboard doesn’t lie. I got shit done! I think this earns me a happy dance. happy dance gif 2

I really gotta work on this unrealistic expectations thing I have going. Even when I’m working hard and making progress, I always feel like I haven’t done anything. I need to relax y’all.

But, November is hardly the month for relaxation. Nanorwrimo, birthdays, holidays, family visiting… Yep. There’s the stress. Found it.

November Goals

  • Write 25k words
  • Read 10 titles
  • Continue short story subs

Short and sweet and oh so challenging this month, y’all. I love this time of year. I love the weather and the clothing and the general good feeling of spending time with loved ones. But man, I’m exhausted just thinking about the month ahead.

The biggest stressor is probably my family coming up from Arizona for Thanksgiving. Now, let me be absolutely clear: I AM SO F*&%ING EXCITED to have them spend the holiday with us. I’ve been looking forward to it for the better part of six months. We’ve gone down to AZ for the holidays a few times now, and I love seeing everyone, but this is different. This is my nuclear family coming up and seeing my house for the first time, eating our food, and sharing my space and life during my most favorite time of year.

I don’t know. It feels so much more special this way. I am so happy and excited to see them.

But, all of that being said. Hosting any sort of event with a houseful of people is stressful to me. I like my house the way it is. Husband, dog, and me. It’s quiet and relaxing. An actual sanctuary against the outside world. Inviting others inside is… stressful. That’s all there is to it.
nano 2019

Add to this stress not just normal Nanowrimo stress, but HOSTING Nanowrimo stress and, well, yikes. Again, exciting stuff, but a ton of work. And somewhere in all of this I need to read and write. A lot.

Which means I need to wrap this up and get to work! I’ll be back next week with the Goals Summary and October’s Reading Round Up.

‘Til then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ