Book Review – Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Hey Bloggos,

I wasn’t able to finish reading Skyward before the book was due back to the library. The thing about Sanderson books is that they’re very popular, and holds abound. And if there are holds, you can’t renew. So, instead of accruing fines on a book I intended to buy anyway, I just went and bought the dumb thing. Which, it turns out, was a sound decision.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

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So, here’s the thing. I’ve been slowing down on my mad dash of consuming Sanderson content lately. I don’t know. I think that last signing I went to (for Oathbringer) really turned me off to his books, through no fault of his own. There’s just such a cultish fervor surrounding Sanderson and his books, and I am definitely guilty of such behavior. So, I took a step back. I still haven’t read Oathbringer. And I wasn’t even all that excited to read Skyward.

That is, until I actually got a few pages into it.

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This book reminded me why so many readers love Brandon’s books. Why I love Brandon’s books. It’s full of amazing characters, hilarious dialogue, and a plot that absolutely held me captive. I loved Spensa and the world she lives in, which I should have expected; Sanderson does world-building better than just about anybody else in the genre right now.

Spensa is the sixteen year old girl who just passed her pilot’s exam. But it doesn’t matter, because the Defiant Defense Force has zero interest in letting her fly. You see, Spensa, aka Spin, is the daughter of the DDF’s only coward. Her father abandoned his Flight during the Battle of Alta, and was subsequently shot down for his cowardice. Spensa has trained and studied her whole life to get into the DDF and prove them wrong about her dad, but Admiral Ironsides won’t give her the chance. They sabotaged Spensa’s test, and suggested she take a job elsewhere.

That is, until Captain Cobb, callsign: Mongrel, accepts Spensa into his classroom. It’s her one chance at redemption and she refuses to let it pass her by, no matter how difficult the Admiral makes her life.

Spensa is allowed to take her Flight class, and nothing else. She can’t join her Flight in the mess hall, she can’t bunk in the academy, and she can’t use the learning resources beyond her classroom. So, she lives in a cave she found by chance, sleeping in the cockpit of a crashed ancient starfighter.

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In her spare time, because why not, she repairs the ship in hopes that she’ll be able to fly it when she graduates, since Ironsides is unlikely to let her fly no matter how well she does in her training. And, naturally, she’s out to find out the truth about her father, and what really happened that day at the Battle of Alta.

I’m not going to go into more details from here, because it would be spoiler-y and I really don’t want to ruin this book for anyone. There were quite a few zigs and zags that I didn’t anticipate and really enjoyed. I would prefer to preserve those for readers.

Know that this book did make me tear up a couple of times, and made me cheer out loud at least twice. My husband laughed at me as I read the last fifty or so pages on the couch, because I was yelling at the book quite a bit. In true Sanderson fashion, things do not end how I thought they would.

Thank goodness this is the first of a planned four book series, with the next book set to release in Fall 2019. I do not want to wait long to spend more time with Spensa and her Flight, callsign: Skyward.

I’m still reading Lies Sleeping. I’m having difficulty adjusting to my utter lack of free time lately. That and Red Dead Redemption 2 and a renewed fervor for all things Dragon Age is really putting a damper on my reading. But, it’s less than 300 pages and due back on Tuesday.

I’ll get it done.

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 49

Hi Blogland,

Last week felt unreasonably long. Like, each day just took forever and was needlessly complicated. I slept a lot of cope with it, which made achieving my goals a little tricky.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
  • Read Lies Sleeping
  • Write 2k words

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
    • Yes? I just did them this morning before I opened WordPress. I’m counting it.
  • Read Lies Sleeping
    • No. But, I did finish Skyward!skyward
  • Write 2k words
    • No, but I got real close.

Weekly Word Count: 1,586

I don’t really feel like I accomplished much this week. I wrote some overdue blog posts, and spent a lot of my free-time (such as it is) binge reading the newest Sanderson book. I did play some Red Dead Redemption 2, and on Sunday we made a fancy dinner, bought a Christmas tree, and assembled our new coat rack!

I was way too excited about that coat rack, by the way.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Lies Sleeping
  • Write 2k words

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got going on right now. The blog posts should be easy since I’ll have the Skyward review to write. The new Peter Grant book isn’t very long and they always read fast, so I’m sure I’ll get that done as well. Really, the only question mark on this list is the writing. I’m feeling a bit mentally checked out right now, which is pretty typical post-Nano. We’ll see if I can pull out of this funk.

If not, that’s what video games are for.

So yeah.  I’m feeling good about my odds of meeting my reading goal for the year, and I’ve done a lot of writing this year. Just gotta stay productive and coast on into the new year.

Talk at y’all soon.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – November 2018

Bloggos,

Video games are how I decompress, and apparently I really needed to decompress this weekend. I completely missed the fact that Saturday was the first of the month and spaced on writing up my usual monthly recap post! I’m so sorry for the delay.

November Goals

  • Write 800 words/dayLogo_of_National_Novel_Writing_Month
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep Reading!

How’d I do?

  • Write 800 words/day
    • YES! This was a really big win for me and I am still doing (exhausted) happy dances.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep! Both Lifelike and That Which Illuminates Heaven were submitted to various magazines in November.
  • Keep Reading!
    • Um… Yes! I read four titles in November, more than I thought I did.

Total Monthly Word Count: 25,069

November was intentionally straightforward. Three bullet points are not remotely daunting, but the prospect of writing 25,000 words sure as hell is. I needed to keep the docket relatively clear in order to make time and mental space for the giant hurdle I’d set for myself.  And it worked.

Did you see that word count? Did ya? It’s the most I’ve written in a single month in all of 2018 and I am ecstatic about it. I worked hard, stayed up later than I should, drank a TON of coffee, and committed myself to making the time to make my goals, which is the entire point of National Novel Writing Month. So, that was a wild success!

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As for submissions, my stories continue to do well but not quite well enough. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with every email notification, but it’s getting easier. I think I’m becoming desensitized. Which, if that could hurry the eff up, that’d be great. The sooner I don’t feel the sting of rejection, the better.

And then there was the reading. Despite my four titles and my one book review, I don’t feel very successful on this front. I tried to read A Map of Days, and had to abandon it because I simply wasn’t motivated to pick it up. I am on the cusp of doing the same for Skyward, although I am motivated to read it, only too late. I’m out of time with it and there are a slew of holds on it. I’m going to move on to Lies Sleeping and buy Skyward so I can read it at my leisure.

Adding two books to my Did Not Finish pile in November does not feel good, but I’m not really surprised either. There’s simply too much going on in the month for me to feel accomplished at everything I wanted to achieve.

December Goals

  • Write 10k
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read three more titles!

Another straightforward month. It’s December, a busy time at Starbucks and in my personal life so I want to give myself some wiggle room. The holidays are stressful enough without adding my own unmet expectations into the mix. Besides, I want to end the year on a happy and accomplished note, so I can springboard into 2019 ready to shine!

I’m confident that I will make my reading goal for the year. I only have to read three more titles, and I think two of them are a shoe-in. I just have to pick a third book that will read quick.

Short story submissions will continue until each story finds a home. I am stubborn, infuriatingly tenacious, and there’s a steady supply of ice cream in my house. I will get these stories published!

The writing goal might be a close thing if I let video games get in the way. 10k feels like nothing after the blistering word count of November, but that’s kind of the point. I can’t write at that pace for two months in a row, at least not right now. I’ll just burn out if I try. So, I’m going to dial things back and write a little bit each week. Slow and steady wins the race or something.

Hopefully you’ll see some more book reviews this month, and I’ll get good news about one of my stories. Fingers crossed!

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 48

Bloggos!

I maybe spent the bulk of my weekend playing Red Dead Redemption and completely forgot that I was not a rough and tumble outlaw trying to eke out a living in the late 1800s in the Wild West. As such, I did not post either of the blog posts I’d hoped to and for that, I’m sorry.

What in tarnation was I supposed to do, anyway?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Read Skyward
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. There was just the one post, actually.
  • Read A.V. submissions
    • Yep! I’m really impressed with the submissions so far, and can’t wait to see what we finally publish.
  • Read Skyward
    • …no. I made some progress, but not nearly as much as I should have, thanks to my galavanting across the virtual plains.
  • WRITE!
    • Yep! This week was pretty much just icing on the cake so any writing was going to put this goal in the black.

Weekly Word Count: 1,434

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So aside from doing my best Billy the Kid impersonation what the heck did I do this week? Well, I wrote a bit, which was enough to tip my word count over my goal for the month, so that’s amazing. I read all of those Audient Void submissions, and have a handful more to read today. I read 80ish pages of Skyward, but it won’t be enough to finish the book before I have to return it on Wednesday. It’s a pretty big book, even if it reads super fast there’s only so much I can accomplish in two days.

I’m thinking if there’s anything else I accomplished this week, but I think this was really it. Madhu and I went for a Walk ‘n’ Talk, we got rained on and sought shelter at Starbucks.

I got a lovely rejection on That Which Illuminates Heaven, and have it out again already. I’m still waiting to hear back about Lifelike and The Cost of Rain. Just that constant, low-key buzz of stress. Forever and ever, amen.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
  • Read Lies Sleepinglies sleeping
  • Write 2k words

This should be fairly doable, if I can just keep my gaming time down to something like reasonable. Once I return Skyward I’ll be diving into Lies Sleeping, which I know will read very quickly. Writing goals can go back to something like normal. A chapter a week would be ideal, but December is a busy month so I’m giving myself some leeway on that. Besides I did well enough in November that I bought myself a bit of breathing room for this month. But I’ll get more into that in the next post.

Tomorrow is my birthday, which is nice. I already got my present from Trevor, and have been playing it for a week or so now. Spyro is just as much fun as I remembered, and it was a beautiful work of fan service to see my favorite childhood game fleshed out in today’s graphics.

I also commissioned a friend/artist on tumblr as a little gift to myself, and as soon as I get it, I’m sure I’ll post it everywhere I possibly can.

So yeah. You’ll see me around a bit this week, to make up for all the missing posts from last week. And if I’m dedicated, you might just get a book review at the end of the week.

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Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 47

Oh, Blogland. How does November seem to fly by with ever increasing speed? How has Thanksgiving come and gone already? How am I supposed to get anything done if the whole world just keeps zipping past me?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Barely. And let’s be honest, there wasn’t much substance there. But, that’s how I felt this week, relatively substance-less.
  • Read Audient Void submissions
    • …No…
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
    • No. And I finally bit the bullet and moved this book to my “Abandoned” bookshelf on goodreads. It just didn’t grab my attention enough to compete with Nanowrimo and Spyro. I’ve moved on to the next book in my TBR pile.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! Oh my goodness, so much yes!

Weekly Word Count: 8,682

Do you see that word count? Do ya? Holy moly do I feel like a rockstar whenever I think about it. Granted, I’m so tired from all the writing that I don’t feel quite as excited as I probably should about crossing the 24k word mark on my manuscript, but I still feel really good about my progress so far. Less than 1k to go this week to officially make my Nano goal!

With all the writing this week, it really makes sense why I fell behind on everything else. Honestly, I’m not really even mad about it. I’m bummed about the Audient Void submissions, but I should be able to knock those out this week no problem.

Also, I maybe sank more than eight hours into playing the remastered Spyro games… Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

spyro gif.gif

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Read Skywardskyward.jpg
  • WRITE!

I have a surprising amount of free time this week, which I’m really excited for. It’ll be nice to get caught up on my reading, finish up my writing for the month, and get some chores done around the house.

That’s if I can keep my Spyro time to a healthy level. Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

So yeah. Writing, lots of reading, and plotting out how to wrap up this year. Can you believe it’s almost over already? We’re we just here, talking about the updates to the blog and all my dreams and hopes for 2018?

Yikes. I think I may be getting old. Time is going WAY too fast these days.

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 46

Blogland,

This past week was a weird one. I felt monumentally exhausted all week, until Sunday arrived and I found myself just bubbling over with productive energy.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • WRITE!

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line editsthe hanging tree
    • Yes! Finally. Don’t know why they took me so long, but at least now they’re done and I can continue reading the Audient Void submissions.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! Until Sunday I had only written 15 words on my nanowrimo novel, but then I went to the Write-in and joined some sprints in my writer’s discord to churn out the most words of the month yet!

Weekly Word Count: 5,943

So, the blog was pretty active this week, with three posts, including the book review and photo changes across social media. I took a big leap and had professional headshots done and I freaking LOVE them. Sorry if you follow me on multiple platforms and was inundated with my virtual squealing.

The Barker line edits are out the door and off to land on Dan the Designer’s desk, and then Obadiah’s for final approval. I look forward to seeing the final copy. I even managed to get some pleasure reading in this week as well, finally breaking the 100 page mark on A Map of Days, and finishing Monstress vol. 3. I’m hoping to finish reading the Peculiars book this week so that I can move on to the newest Sanderson novel. That one will only take me a couple of days to power through, I’m sure. I tend to inhale his books more than I do read them.Monstress vol 3

But, really, the highlight of this week was the writing. I’ll be honest, I spent the majority of this week avoiding any and all responsibility. I kept waffling on downloading the Spyro Reignited trilogy, and that indecision pretty much paralyzed me. I wanted to play so. freaking. bad. But, I know myself, and I know I won’t get anything else done if I let myself start a new game halfway through Nano.

On Friday, I think, I wrote a little tumblr prompt because I am a weak woman, and when I can’t seem to write the project I should, I write something else instead. That was 700 words-ish, and I think it was enough to remind my brain that we had work to do.

Saturday was Pre-Thanksgiving (aka friendsgiving), so there was no writing, but lots of fun and delicious food to be had.

And then Sunday I wrote over 5,200 words. I stayed up too late, but when you’re on that good of a roll, you don’t stop for something as trivial as sleep! The crazy part, to me, is that I’m already five chapters into this novel. Over 15k words. And really, I still have no idea where it’s going. This is the most panster/discovery novel I have ever written, and at first it was really stressful. Now it’s almost freeing. There are no restrictions on how characters can or should be. No rules as to what happens, no guidelines to hinder the possibilities of this book.

Which, of course, means the revision process will be a complete and utter nightmare. But who wants to think about that when I can think about how the seven Archangels interact with one another when they meet in my protagonist’s outdated kitchen?

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
  • WRITE!

You’d think with the Thanksgiving holiday, I’d have more free time this week. But, sadly, it’s not the case. Today I work at both jobs until 5pm, and then have my usual social engagement. Then tomorrow is another of day of both jobs until the evening. Wednesday I have a bit of free time, but it will all be devoted to prepping for Thanksgiving. Then the holiday itself, which will be busy and relatively screen free.

Black Friday I work and will finally have some free time in the afternoon. Each year my Nano chapter challenges Wrimos to write 10k words on Black Friday. I came SO close last year, crossing 9k, but I don’t plan to try for it this year. Instead, I’ll aim for 5k, since all my other goals are more or less Nano goals cut in half.

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The latest and greatest stats for my nano novel.

Then Saturday is another day with both jobs, and then Sunday is the final Nanowrimo Write-In. I may have to rely on the Write-In once again to hit the week’s word count goal if Friday doesn’t pan out.

So, yeah. Lots of reading this week, and LOTS of writing. We’re entering the home stretch of Nano, and I have just under 10k to go to meet my own personal goal of 24,000 words. Anything over that is just gravy on the mashed potatoes. I’m hoping that somewhere in there I’ll trip over the actual plot of this novel and know where to go in the coming months.

But that’s a discussion for another blog post.

Until later, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Book Review – The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant #6) by Ben Aaronovitch

Blogland,

This is my first post written in the new WordPress editor. If you have tried it already and have any hints or suggestions, please let me know, because this is a trip. I think I like it. Image result for uncertain gifIt’s very clean, with less clutter to distract the eye. But that means I have to relearn how to navigate a system I’ve used religiously for like… seven years.

A/N: 108 words into the new editor and I already had to revert back to the Classic Editor. The new format handles content in blocks, which doesn’t really allow me to embed gifs and pictures the way I like to. Or at least, I wasn’t able to figure out how to do in a timely fashion. I’ll keep poking at it for awhile and see if I like it. As of this moment, it’s getting a thumbs down from me.

Additional A/N: Turns out, reverting back to the Classic Editor part way through royally screws with the formatting. I was unable to resolve it no matter how much I tried until I went back into the new editor and manually fixed every single error. I officially hate this “update” and I doubt I will be using it in the future.

After bouncing around the entire library consortium, I finally got my hands on the only copy of The Hanging Tree available in the whole Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service. It’s been a very popular book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Peter Grant and company are back at it, this time investigating what seems to be a routine drug overdose. Except, the deceased shows evidence of thaumaturgical degradation (aka her brain was a bit gooey from exposure to magic). And, Lady Tyburn’s daughter was at the scene.

As if that isn’t a big enough pain in Peter’s backside, there’s a member of the demi-monde, known unironically as Reynard Fossman (etymologically speaking, Fox Foxman), has come to the Folly to offer Nightingale something he can’t refuse: Newton’s Third Scientific text, the Principia Chemica.

Alchemy. It was rumored that the genius had worked out the laws that governed transmutation and the like, but that the text was lost to mankind. Until Reynard waltzes in and tries to sell it to the highest bidder. Because, why would he only offer it to Nightingale?

And guess who else has his metaphorical eye on the prize? Yep! None other than the dastardly Faceless Man himself.

Which, it’s about stinking time! My biggest gripe about the last Peter Grant story I read was that there wasn’t enough substance in regards to the Faceless Man and Lesley. I wanted MORE! Well, this book delivered, let me tell you.

All the things I’ve come to expect from a Peter Grant book remained true for this one. Fantastic dialogue that begs to be read aloud, a wide and dynamic cast of characters, an intricate and compelling plot told in a voice that is self-deprecating, fun, and clever as hell.

All that being said, it took me longer to read than I would have expected, mainly because I’ve just been too tired to stay up and read lately. Which, as I’ve discussed, is really shit timing. Every book under the sun seems to have a release date this month, and here I am too swamped and too sleepy to do a darn thing about it.

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One of those November releases is the next book in this series, the long anticipated Lies Sleeping. But, DO NOT read the synopsis for this book before you’ve read The Hanging Tree, otherwise you’re in for a giant spoiler.

I found that out the hard way while I conducted research to recommend the library purchase a copy of the newest book in the series. Whoops!

Also, my library doesn’t own any of the Peter Grant books, but several of the smaller libraries in our consortium own copies. But, none of them had purchased Lies Sleeping yet. Two weeks before the book is out and no one had bought it yet?Not acceptable. So, I recommended the purchase, and now I’m first in line on the hold list.

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So, in summary, this book was another solid entry in the Peter Grant series and the perfect book to read just a week or so before the newest installment is released here in the US. It’s nice to be caught up.

I’ve got a slew of books queued up for the rest of the year, which I mentioned in yesterday’s goals summary post. I’ll be a busy reading bee all the way through the new year.

Just the way I like it.

I’ll see you all again on Monday, maybe sooner if I have something to talk about. But we have a friendsgiving celebration on Saturday, so don’t expect much from me the rest of this week.

Until later, Bloggos.

BZ