Book Review – Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson

Bloggos,

If it’s been awhile since you’ve read the first two novellas in this series, I recommend checking out my reviews for Legion and Legion: Skin Deep before delving into this one. I know I needed the refresher before I tucked into this book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Image result for legion lies of the beholder

Stephen Leeds is back, and so are his aspects. Ivy, J.C., and Tobias are still front and center, but a few others come in to play over the course 105 page novella. Personal faves were Lua and Jenny, an all new aspect intent on harassing Stephen as she follows him and writes down every bit of his adventures. His own personal biographer, all in his head!

In this story, Leeds and Co., are on the hunt for the elusive Sandra, who recently texted Stephen a single word: Help. Leeds panics. Sandra hasn’t contacted him in years, and now she reaches out in apparent distress? His anxiety is through the roof, and Ivy and J.C.’s distrust of the situation does nothing to help. But that’s what Tobias is for.

To make matters worse, Leeds is losing control. Two of his aspects have disappeared, turning into Nightmares. Spectral/undead versions of themselves, intent on harming Leeds and his remaining aspects. Turns out, his personas can kill one another. And that’s a painful lesson to learn.

This lack of control only ups the stakes for Stephen. He has to find Sandra. She was the one that helped him gain control in the first place, maybe she can help him again. But as the hunt continues Leeds begins to question who and what is real, and whether the price of ‘normal’ is really worth it.

I have a lot of warm fuzzy feelings for this story. It’s the first Sanderson book I’ve read in quite a while, and it really reminded me why I love him so much. It also struck a resonant chord in me, because Legion is a very personal story for Sanderson and it really showed in this novella.

Leeds is a man with voices and characters in his head. People as real as the neighbors you wave to each morning or the barista who hands you your coffee when you’re running late to work.

And that’s how it feels to be an author. You create these people, often times without really meaning to, and they are suddenly vibrant and demanding and so much more real than you ever anticipated.

The end of this novella actually brought a tear to my eye. And while that’s not unheard of for Sanderson stories, I definitely wouldn’t say I expect to get emotional from his books. This was a bittersweet tear, a feeling wholly satisfied and melancholy.

It was beautiful.

I know Sanderson is widely admired for his giant works of fantasy. Books like Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, Elantris, and Warbreaker. And they are wonderful. I love them all. But man, I think he’s actually at his best when words are at a premium. All three Legion novellas were powerful in their own way, and let’s not forget the Hugo award-winning The Emperor’s Soul.

Legion: Lies of the Beholder is available in a few different formats. As a standalone e-book and in a hardbound collection of all three novellas called Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. This is the copy I read courtesy of the library, and will eventually Image result for legion lies of the beholderpurchase, once we catch up from our expensive vacation. The cover art is phenomenal, and even better are the ink-blot chapter illustrations that change over the course of the series.

I was impressed with this book overall. Can you tell? I was impressed with the clever plot, and the depth of emotion Sanderson put into so few pages. I was impressed with the book design, both for the cover and the interior and would greatly recommend the series to fans of detective stories with a slight Sci-Fi spin.

I’m making good progress on War for the Oaks, and am optimistic that I’ll be able to review it next week. After that I’ve got a few more Urban Fantasy novels queued up, so we’ll see what strikes my fancy.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review – Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Blogland,

I went into reading this book with very mixed expectations. I’d heard multiple firsthand accounts of how brilliant it is, but actually knew absolutely nothing about it. I’ve never read anything by VanderMeer before, and all I knew about Borne was what I could glean from inside the jacket flap.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

borne

Rachel is a scavenger, eking out a living in the City for herself and her partner Wick. Tensions are high, with resources in the ruined city scarce and the giant, hyper-intelligent bear, Mord, wreaking havoc wherever he pleases. Wick and Rachel are distrustful lovers and partners, helping one another and keeping more than their fair share of secrets to boot.

One of those secrets is Borne, a sentient blob of biotech that grows and grows and grows. Rachel tries to raise him in secret, just another topic to avoid with Wick, but Borne quickly proves too curious and clever to be satisfied with Rachel’s small apartment.

With the secret out, Borne explores their domain of the Balcony Cliffs while Rachel and Wick let their secrets drive a wedge between them. When all the lizards have disappeared from their ruined halls, when all the small critters that scampered in the walls have vanished, and when raiders attack their home only to mysteriously abandon the Cliffs, Rachel refuses to entertain Wick’s accusation.

“Borne eats and eats,” says Wick. “But nothing comes out.”

And so begins the battle between Rachel and Wick about Borne. The decisions in which will shape the rest of their lives.

I have some pretty conflicted thoughts about this book. On the one hand, I very much enjoyed the story and the characters. Rachel, Wick, and Borne are delightfully complex and I often found myself disappointed in them as often as I was pleased. The world is developed extremely well, and I’d be happy to spend more time to learn about the City and the Company that deteriorated it so.

But…

VanderMeer’s writing was a struggle for me. Don’t misunderstand, it is beautiful. But it’s also strange. Just like the book itself. I had a hard time, not because the prose is overly Image result for borne vandermeercomplex or wordy, but because the sentence structures were often bizarre. There were entire paragraphs, large chunks of the page that were only a sentence or two. Those were immediately followed with sentence fragments and sentences that played with word order. You have to scavenge the story from the page. And while I can appreciate the mastery of craft behind such a novel, it frequently pulled me from the story, jarred me from the world, and allowed my mind to wander when all I really wanted was to know what happened to Rachel and her makeshift family.

 

See? I’m conflicted. It is a beautiful book. It’s a book that makes the reader work. And I’m not opposed to doing the work, but I felt that Borne could have balanced storytelling and readability a little bit better.

I can’t say if this is true for all of VanderMeer’s stories. I’ve only read Borne, and I’m only a third of the way through the Borne novella, The Strange Bird. So far, I don’t feel like it suffers as much from the jarring language as the novel did. Or maybe I’m just acclimated and notice it less. Either way, I’m struggling less so far. Which is a good thing.

I should be back this weekend to write up my review for The Strange Bird and probably to vent about how stressed I am about this trip. I’ll be fine once we’re on the plane, but each passing day my anxiety grows and grows. Just like Borne.

I need a beer.

 

BZ

Book Review – Broken Homes (Peter Grant #4) by Ben Aaronovitch

Hi Blogland,

This week got off to a slow start with a migraine that refused to respond to medication. Yesterday was my first day without pain, and I had some obligations in the morning and then work in the evening. So, now it’s Friday and I’m finally here with the review for the next Peter Grant book! Beware some minor spoilers below.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

broken homes

I think this was my favorite of the books so far. As I’ve come to expect, Peter takes the reader through an all new area of London, furthering my mental image of the city with each flip of the page.

A string of suspicious but seemingly unrelated murders have piqued Nightingale’s interest, which means Peter and Lesley are on the job. From the car accident that revealed a murder in progress to the Housing Authority worker that committed suicide on the Underground. It all links back to a stolen book, a German tome on the industrial uses of magic and an architect from the 60s.

You see, the Faceless Man wants that book, and he wants the building the architect used to mine magical energy.

So, Peter and Lesley move into a vacant flat in the rundown Skygarden Tower. It’s a low income area with passionate tenants that have called the tower home for decades. They have monthly meetings to discuss how to combat the city council and keep the building protected.

Which is unfortunate, because the Faceless Man intends to blow it up.

This book takes its time setting up the history and lore, including how Skygarden Tower was designed, the purpose it serves, and the lives of those who call it home. Including a wood nymph named Sky who may be the spirit of the land the tower is built on. The Rivers are present, including the return of Peter’s almost lover Beverly Brook, and Zach the half-fae even makes a comeback!

But, once you reach the last 70 pages or so, things really take off. I felt like there were more action sequences in this book than in the previous one, and we get to see Nightingale really take off the gloves and unleash some monstrous power on the Faceless Man’s flunkies.

And, you know, Peter throws himself into danger in order to save civilians, like the proper copper he is.

There’s a lot more going on in this book, including some very interesting character developments, but I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say I really liked this book and it launched me into Foxglove Summer the very next morning. foxglove summer

I’m hoping to get a ton of reading done over the weekend. I’m running out of time on these Interlibrary loans!

I should have another book review out next week, and I think it’s just about time to have a big Submission discussion, where I talk about my submissions so far and then share what my submission process looks like and what resources I use.

So, keep an eye out for both of those sometime next week.

 

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Book Review – Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant #3) by Ben Aaronovitch

Bloggoroonies!

It’s midnight, I just received another personal rejection on The Cost of Rain, so while let’s talk about Whispers Under Ground so I can ignore this damn unpleasant feeling in my chest for a few more minutes.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Whispers_Under_Ground

The third book in the Peter Grant series continues the tradition of sharp wit and dialogue with another twisty-turny plot that leads Peter and Co., throughout London. This time it’s a US Senator’s son that’s been murdered in the underground. There doesn’t seem to be anything too magical about it, except that the murder weapon appears to be a shard of some sort of ceramic. A shard with an incredible strong vestigia (magical odor/signature of sorts).

So in come Peter and Lesley, searching out the elusive origins of the pottery. But between the unofficial interference from the FBI and the erratic behavior of the victim’s fae roommate, Zach, things aren’t quite as easy as they could be.

railway lines
Turns out even ghosts aren’t safe from trains.

The pottery leads them all over the city, until they finally find a secret passage down into the underground. That means that the BTP (British Transport Police) have to be brought in, which really means that their one-man X-Files agent assists Peter on the case. And they have to dodge the over-eager, religious FBI agent that’s so keen to solve the murder that she (illegally) carries a firearm through the city. And, as always the Rivers have a role to play.

Peter had his hands full in this book. Poor guy.

This book was a lot of fun. I really liked Lesley’s added role as she’s become Nightingale’s second apprentice and Zach was an unexpected delight. He’s half fairy which makes him, well, a bit of a shit, but I found it endearing. He eventually proves to be very integral to the investigation, and I was glad to have him around as much as he was.

As I’ve come to expect from this series, London is vibrant and almost shockingly real on the page. I feel like, even though it’s been thirteen years since I’ve been there, that I have a familiarity with the city thanks to these books. To clarify, I know I don’t. It’s a monstrous metropolis and reading a few books will not help me navigate it should I ever return, but at least I’ll remember some points of interest!

So, if I liked the plot overall, liked the characters and the setting, why only four stars? Well, I guessed the ending AGAIN! Though, this time I think I just happened to be very perceptive. It wasn’t as obvious and really hinged on my being suspicious of a certain detail early on in the book. But still, I called it two books in a row!

Another factor in my rating was that, after the intense end of Moon Over Soho and the revelation of the existence of The Faceless Man, this book had very little to do with him. There’s some legwork to be done, some old school policing in researching who went to the right school at the right time to have been a rogue Magician’s apprentice and so on. There’s more character development and we get to see the full breadth of the Folly’s network and resources, including the Bodleian library at Oxford!bodleain library.jpg

I will admit, as a library worker, that bit made me really happy.

But, there’s still surprisingly little about the biggest threat in the series so far. So, four stars it is.

I’m about one hundred pages short of finishing Broken Homes. I’m looking to finish it tonight or tomorrow. I’m running out of time to get all these books read before the due dates, and they aren’t eligible for renewal. I need to step up my reading game!

I’ll be back on Monday to talk about my week and complain about writing my query letter, which is my main goal for the day. Wish me luck y’all, because it’s gonna suck.

Until then,

 

BZ

Book Review – Bloodlist (Vampire Files #1) by P.N. Elrod

Bloggos,

My brain is all melty from the 16+ hours I worked on editing The Steel Armada over the last two days. It was a wild time, where each chapter got about two hours worth of work, including three separate read throughs. I added a total of 68 words to the manuscript, and that’s after counting all the stuff I cut.

My brain is pudding dribbling out of one ear right about now.

So, let’s talk about Bloodlist!

Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars

vampire files #1

You’re probably looking at that rating and cringing. You’re used to my other three star reviews, which are usually pretty negative. I’m not one to give a low rating lightly, and giving anything under a four usually brings me physical pain.

But, I’m not angry at this book. I’m not upset or even all that disappointed. I listened to it. It was interesting enough to ensure I kept coming back to it, although I didn’t think the narration was anything mind blowing. It’s hard to compete with James Marsters though, let’s be honest.

So, why the low rating then? Because I have no strong feelings about this book. I am neither disappointed by it nor would I recommend it. I read it. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t necessarily good either. It just was.

The book is set in post-Prohibition Chicago, and the lead character has just become a vampire. It has a lot of noir storytelling elements, which I appreciated, but it also featured a lot of mobsters being the 1930s equivalent of dudebros.

The man character, whose name literally just escaped me for two whole minutes, Jack Fleming was all right, but I didn’t really root for him. I liked the side character, his Private Investigator buddy… Escott? Yeah, that guy. He was intriguing.

But, there was little to no explanation of what the rules of Elrod’s brand of Vampirism were. I mean, I think Jack didn’t really know and we’re learning along with him, but… still. It was a little boring. It took awhile to get going and actually get to the plot. Which is a really common problem with the first book in a series.

I would say Bloodlist definitely suffers from that. My Goodreads rating said, “I feel neither glad to have read it, nor upset that I took the time.” I think about this book and my reaction is… *shrug*.

That being said, I’m open to giving the second book a try, if I ever find myself with a lull in my audiobooks. It wasn’t bad it just wasn’t good either. I do wonder if I would have liked it more reading a hard copy. Sometimes the audiobook leaves something to be desired.

However, I did enjoy listening to it when that migraine struck. Always gotta have a audiobook queued up, just in case.

I just went to read the synopsis for the second book in this series, and it really didn’t pique my interest either. Maybe someday, when I’m real bored, I’ll come back to it. But for now I’m going to stick to the Peter Grant books.

I am glad I gave this series a shot though! You never know what you might like if you don’t give new books a try!

I don’t think I’ll be back again this weekend. I’m going to take some quality time to decompress from my editing marathon and just enjoy my time off with a good book. I’ll be back to talk at you all on Monday!

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant #2) by Ben Aaronovtich

Bloggos,

I’m in the midst of a fierce battle with a migraine. After a dose of Excedrin and Advil Migraine, I think we’ve reached a stalemate; I’m functional, but the damn thing refuses to leave me be. I’ll take it, since it means i’m not cooped up in bed writhing with pain and boredom.

Moon Over Soho is the second novel in the Peter Grant series, and while I enjoyed it just as much as the first book, I did give it a slightly lower rating. Beware minor spoilers for Midnight Riot (Rivers of London in the UK). Now would also be a good time to read my review for the first book if you haven’t already.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Moon over soho

PC Peter Grant is a magician. Well, he’s still an apprentice, but man can he make a mean werelight! His mentor, Constable Thomas Nightingale, was shot at the end of the first book which has him largely out of commission in this one. That’s a bummer for me, because I love him dearly, but he pokes his head in frequently enough that I’m not too put out about it.

Peter’s been busy while his governor is on medical leave. A string of seemingly unconnected deaths all have one thing in common: the victims were all jazz musicians. And while that’s the biggest case he’s working, there’s also the matter of the vagina dentata attacks happening throughout London.

Yes, you read that correctly. Vagina dentata. There is a pale woman running about the city who’s chomping off men’s dicks with her genitalia. It’s horrid, but the way everyone speaks about it, uncomfortable and dancing around it, is kind of hilarious.

And of course there’s the river folk and all their idiosyncrasies that Peter has to navigate. It’s been a very trying summer. But when he follows up a lead on one of his possible murder victims, Peter meets Simone and he’s immediately smitten. She helps him pass the time, all while he investigates the magical jazz scene in Soho, where she lives.

Now, let’s not forget that Peter’s father is a jazz musician and, even though Peter doesn’t have musical talent of his own, Jazz is in his blood. He knows good music when he hears it, and appreciates it all like a sommelier does a good wine.

I think that’s such interesting character development for this character. Mid-twenties, sarcastic as hell, mixed race cop, who also loves jazz. Say what?

Meanwhile, both Leslie and Nightingale are off screen a lot, healing from their ordeals from the first book. In that way, this book is really about Peter. We learn a lot about him and his family in this book, whereas, in the first one, we were meeting a ton of characters and establish dynamics and setting.rivers of london

I really enjoyed this book, because Aaronovitch’s grasp of London is really on display. When I read these books I feel like I know the city too, even though I’ve only been there once, as a teen. And it really makes me want to go back.

So, why not five stars then, you ask? Well, here’s why: I called the outcome. I knew pretty much from the moment a certain character appeared that they were responsible for what was going on in some way. It was a little frustrating. I’m not entirely sure if this was intentional on the part of the author, but I thought Peter was a bit oblivious not to see it.

That being said, the ending was really freaking good, and it set the stage for the larger, over-arcing bad guy of the series. The Faceless Man. Turns out, there’s another magician besides Nightingale, and he’s been a very busy, very bad man.

And he’s been training apprentices too.

dun dun dun

I’m slowly making progress on Whispers Under Ground, the third novel in the series. I also have the first graphic novel waiting for me at the library. I’m swimming in Peter Grant books, and am running out of time to read them!

I finished Bloodlist yesterday, thanks to this stupid migraine and a mountain of laundry that needed folding. I started Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and I’ve got the first volume of The Adventure Zone graphic novel just begging to be read. So there will be no shortage of reviews on the blog, especially if I get cracking on these Rivers of London books.

Sorry this one’s a little short today, but between the migraine and the heat, I think this is all I can manage. Talk at you all again Monday, when I check in for the weekly goals summary.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

Book Review – Brief Cases (Dresden Files #15.1) by Jim Butcher

Blogland,

Sorry for the delay on this. I’m working hard to get The Steel Armada done in time for my August 1st deadline. And I’m working longer days at the library than I’m used to. Time to kick on those time management skills!

Brief Cases is Butcher’s second collection of Dresden short stories and novellas. I listened to it via my library’s Libby app which allows for downloads of ebooks and digital audio while simultaneously listening to its predecessor, Side Jobs, on CD in my car.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

brief cases

This book was a ride, let me tell you. While Side Jobs has a couple stories from side characters’ perspectives, Brief Cases really branches out. Luccio, Marcone, Butters, Molly, Maggie, and Mouse all have moments of first person narrative and in the audio recording, everyone but Maggie and Mouse have their own narrator! And of course, James Marsters is back and fantastic as always as Harry Dresden.

I really loved all of these stories, though Molly’s broke my heart. Being in Marcone’s head was really fascinating. He’s cold, almost unfeeling. But he has a code and he keeps to it. His motivations, on the surface, are steeped in his business, but deep down there’s some sort of emotion there; he just won’t acknowledge it. But you get to see how he thinks towards Gard and Hendricks, and how fierce he can be when it comes to their well being. They are his responsibility and he takes that very seriously. Marcone.jpg

I loved every minute of it.

Butters’ story was a little scary, but mostly sweet as he finds his feet on his first mission with Fidelacchius. Remember that Fidelacchius is the sword of faith, but Butters is a doctor, a man of science. He’s learning how those two worlds can blend and be a force of good. It was a very heartwarming tale.

And then there’s the last story, where Harry takes his daughter Maggie and their dog Mouse to the zoo. Each of them has their own version of events and their own antagonists to face while keeping the others in the dark about what they’re doing. It was really nice to get some time with Maggie, because so far she’s been pretty non-existent since she came into the Dresden world. Which made her feel like a MacGuffin in Changes, and not actually a character we should have any feelings about. Seeing her and her struggles (she has anxiety and it was really touching to read about) helped make her more real in my mind. And of course, anytime we can be in Mouse’s head is a good time.

There are, of course, Dresden centric stories in this collection, but if I’m being honest, I don’t really remember them. The Bigfoot stories found a home here, and now that I’m researching I do remember them, and they were good, but the side characters really have the standout stories in this collection.

This is something that has me concerned about The Dresden Files for a while, that I like the side characters more than I like Dresden. I find them more interesting, more compelling, I want to know more about them. I thought this would be a universal problem, but when I spoke with a friend he said he has a love/hate relationship with Dresden, that he identifies with him A LOT, but that he finds his arrogance and his lone wolf tendencies frustrating.

Meanwhile, I’m over here dreaming of spin-offs. Thank goodness for short story collections, huh?

If you’re a fan of the series I hardly need to recommend this book to you. If you haven’t read The Dresden Files, you might tell from my reading and my reviews, but I highly recommend them. They are fun, action-packed, and chock-a-block full of a wide range of fascinating side characters. This book is no exception.

I’m still (slowly) listening to Side Jobs, so there will be one more Dresden review sometime this summer. Then it’s the long wait for the next book, Peace Talks

I hate waiting.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be back this weekend to talk about Moon Over Soho, and hopefully share some good news about finishing this freaking book.

Until then,

 

BZ

Book Review – Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Bloggos,

Welcome to the first book review of July! I am super excited about this review, mainly because it is my first time writing about my thoughts on an Advanced Reader Copy, known colloquially as an ARC. Thanks to working in a library and being homies with the Collection Development Librarian, I can raid her ARC shelf anytime I’d like, and finally one caught my eye.

Now, if you follow me on Goodreads or Twitter then you probably saw all kinds of weird comments from me about this book as I slowly worked my way through it. I did my best to keep my posts and thoughts spoiler-free, and I will endeavor to do the same here.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kill the Farm Boy

 

Kill the Farm Boy releases in the US on July 17, 2018! You can still preorder a copy from Amazon or through your local, preferred retailer. Thanks to Edelweiss and Emily Byers for access to this ARC.

*A/N: I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars, but the Goodreads rating system does not allow for it. So, I decided to round up because I liked the book more than I didn’t.

I have not read any of Dawson’s or Hearne’s books before, and after reading this book I think that’s a mistake I need to rectify. If you haven’t gathered from the title, cover, and tagline on the book, Kill the Farm Boy is a comedy. And I think it’s a pretty successful one at that. Humor is such a tricky thing to write well, because what an audience finds funny is so incredibly subjective.

Gustave
The look of a goat with a desperate craving for old boot leather.

I personally love puns and wordplay. I chuckle at the occasional dick joke. A talking goat calling his human companion “Pooboy” is funny to me. An aspiring Dark Lord who really just wants to be a food critic and whose magic always results in some sort of unexpected bread product is delightful. A rogue who trips over her own feet and blames the chickens is hilarious. Judge me as you will, but I make no apologies.

But, its more sophomoric tendencies aside, Kill the Farm Boy actually touches on some bigger themes and topics, like what constitutes ‘family’ and who your herd is, and pokes fun at the failings of crony capitalism and corporate governance. I think the commentary, though slim, is fitting and pertinent to American readers today.

In all of these ways, I think Kill the Farm Boy is very successful. I loved all of the characters, and the world of Pell is very well thought out and often tragically (read: hilariously) named.

Where it struggles is in the pacing. It took over a month to read this book, and while that was not all the book’s fault (mental health can be a bitch), the meandering plot didn’t exactly compel me to pick it up, either. I think there were some jokes that the story could have sacrificed to tighten up the plot a bit more, but at the same time, I enjoyed those side plots and jokes quite a bit.

Big takeaway #1: When I opened this book, I always enjoyed myself. I just didn’t feel the urge to open it very often.

I do think that the next book, for Kill the Farm Boy is the first in a planned series, may suffer less from the plodding sensation, since there’s less character introduction and “personal quests” to be done. I’m thinking this was the big introduction, and that from here things may streamline.

Big Takeaway #2: I will read the second book. I liked this one enough to give a sequel a shot.

So, I’d say, if you’re up for a laugh, and don’t want to take anything too seriously, give this book a try. But, I’d recommend giving yourself plenty of time, maybe whilst vacationing on a nice sandy beach, surrounded by glittering crabs and mai tais? Because this book is definitely a leisure read.

Speaking of leisure, I spent my entire day off sitting on the couch reading Midnight Riot from cover to cover. It was lovely. I’ll be back later in the week to tell you all about it!

Until then,

 

BZ

 

The Recap – May 2018

Blogland!

I can’t believe it, but May has come and gone. Hello June! This morning, as I stepped into my office my bare toes found rays of sunshine that were so warm I smiled. That’s a simple joy, a promise of summer and the warmth to come over the next couple months, and I am here for it!

Now then, what the heck happened in May?

May Goals

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading

How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
    • YES!!!!! I wrote a total of 15,758 words for The Steel Armada this month. That’s just over 500 words a day. Now, I didn’t actually sit down every day, but I did write more this month than I have any other month this year.
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
    • Nope. I finished chapter 3 and started chapter 4, but that was it. Just under 1,000 words total for the month on this project.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yeppers. Lifelike is still out (day 41!), and I just received another rejection on The Cost of Rain this morning. Don’t worry, I just turned around and sent it out to another magazine. No tears over here!
  • Keep reading
    • Slowly but surely. According to Goodreads, I read four titles this month. Not great, but I’ll take it.

Total May Word Count: 18,545

I kept May’s goals straightforward because I wasn’t confident in my ability to meet my word count goals. But, I did well! I’m really proud of myself.

During this month I wrote a ton, outlined some chapters, and had a heck of a time corralling ideas into something cohesive. This rewrite is a wild ride, and for now I’m following wherever the characters lead me. I think I’m starting to see how it all gels together, but I won’t know for sure until I get there. Scary stuff, but fun too.

Oh, Sanctuary, I’m so sorry I didn’t get more work done on you. I may have to admit that this project is going to take longer than I initially planned. As long as I finish it this year, that’s fine, but a part of me was really hoping to knock this one out quick.

I did write a couple tumblr drabbles this month, which padded my word count a bit, but they were good fun and had good responses from readers, so yay!

Short story submissions are trucking along. I have a couple thoughts for blog posts about this process so far, so that will probably go up sometime in June.

Reading has ground to a bit of a standstill as I’m caught in a battle of wills with The Master Magician. I’m having a really tough go of it, but I only have 70 pages left. I’m going to make an effort today and tomorrow to just get it over with.

Honorable Mentions?


Betrayal-at-Baldurs-Gate

I’m wracking my brain to think if there were any extra-curricular activities this month. I’ve been table top gaming with my husband and our good friend Ben. One such game saw me acting as the “Game Master” for the very first time. I was nervous, but I had a blast, and I’m definitely considering running a game as a nice storytelling alternative when I need a break from blank pages and condemning cursors.

The blog had its best month EVER this month! Here, have some stats!

  • Posted 11 blog posts; 4 Weekly Goals Summaries, 3 Book Reviews, 2 Editing Check-Ins, 1 Monthly Recap, and 1 personal post about my laptop.
  • 525 views, with 406 visitors!
  • Links were clicked 14 times!
  • 7 comments were left!
  • 8 new followers!

This blog is a tiny thing, a determined little tank engine of a site that keeps chugging along despite its relatively low viewership and interaction. There are plenty of writing blogs that have thousands of followers and a number of views that would make my head spin. But that isn’t this blog. And that’s fine. I initially created this site as a place to hold myself accountable and to share my writing experiences. This year, I’m finally doing that. And book reviews, random thoughts, and opinions on fandom and fanfiction.

This consistency in posts is proving itself in the blog’s stats this year. Expect a post about it around the end of June, a sort of six month update.

Madhu and I have been going on biweekly Walk ‘n’ Talks. She’s a morning person, so we usually hit a local park around 9/9:30, before the masses, and march about talking about our books. We hash out any foggy areas in one another’s feedback and I tend to do a lot of brainstorming/thinking out loud when I’m with her. Plus, I need motivation to do more activity out of doors. I’ve been a bit of a hermit this month.

Which brings us to June.

June’s To-Dos

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Write chapters 4 and 5 of Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Straightforward worked last month, why change it? I am upping my workload on Sanctuary, mainly because I don’t want to sit on this project forever. I’d really like to have both The Steel Armada and Sanctuary done by November so I can work on something new for NaNoWriMo this year.

Short story submissions will continue until the stories find homes. It sort of feels like cheating making it a goal for the month, but I suspect that, as the rejections pile up, it will be harder and harder to convince myself to carry on. So, I keep it on the board. That way I’ll be reminded and determined to keep submitting.

And the reading. We all know by now that writing and reading go hand in hand. What’s the phrase? Can’t stop, won’t stop! Also, a quick shout out to the lovely folks that left series recommendations on my review for Skin Game. I’ve got the first Vampire Files audiobook on hold, as well as the first book in the Peter Grant series. I appreciate you both, and can’t wait to try these stories out!

As for non-writing/reading plans in June… I got pretty much nothing. Which is wonderful. We’re supposed to start playing Gloomhaven this month, which I can’t wait for. I’m trying to keep myself spoiler-free for this game, but what little I’ve heard about it sounds very, very exciting.Gloomhaven

Um… other than that, yard work, a couple of nebulous hiking plans, and catching the Farmer’s market on Saturdays. That’s all I got, but it’s wonderful.

Happy June, everyone.

 

BZ

 

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