Reading Recap – 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.

 

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #1

Bloggos,

I hope you all had an awesome first week of the year! I know it felt incredibly long to me and especially exhausting. I spent yesterday doing some shopping and meeting friends at the local board game cafe to play some really interesting new table top games. I wanted my weekend to be focused on turning my brain off and recharging for the week ahead.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Although that’s easy to do during the first week of the year. There’s a lot to talk about.
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whales
    • Yes!
  • Write 1k on Tavi
    • Yes! I wasn’t sure this would happen, but I ended up writing about 1300 words and finishing chapter 8!
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita
    • Yes… and no. So, it turns out, I had already done some brainstorming and outlining back in October. I have no memory of this, but that’s cool since I no longer agree with the route I had planned. I’ve made some new plans, but nothing concrete. But, I did do a tiny bit of writing on this so I’m counting it a win!

Weekly Word Count: 1,477

The first week of the year is always a busy one on the blog. Goals Summaries, Monthly Recaps, and the blog overhaul and Yearly Review. Lots of writing about writing, collating the stats and accomplishments of the year and analyzing my failures and successes so I can make the most of the year to come. Honestly? It’s one of my favorite times of year, when I can really dig deep into my process and figure out how to tweak for even more efficiency and output. It’s like giving my mind a tune-up!

When it came to listening to Spying on Whales, I didn’t know if I’d really be able to finish it. The book is great, and Pyenson’s passion really shines through the narrative and his narration, but I am not great at reading/listening to nonfiction. Even something as interesting to me as the past, present, and future of whales (I freaking LOVE whales) still had me zoning out for large chunks of text. I frequently had to rewind a segment and figure out where my brain had turned to white noise.

But, I still finished it last night, and really enjoyed it. I don’t think the problem was the book, but more my short attention span. If you like nonfiction, or want a broad overview of the history and lives of whales, I highly recommend it!

I jumped back into writing my urban fantasy novel this week after ignoring its existence during the whole month of December. As expected it, it was sort of slow going. It’d been long enough away from the text that I didn’t really remember where I’d left and felt pretty distant from my narrator’s voice. So, I spent a lot of my “writing” time reading the manuscript over from the beginning. writing gif

Now, that’s always dangerous with a rough draft because it makes me want to edit. I see the repetitious sentences and the clunky passages and I cringe. But, that’s not the point of this readthrough. I needed to get back in Tavi’s head, so I could tag along with her on the crazy journey of this utterly pantster novel. And it worked! In fact, it not only worked, but got me excited about this project again. With rough drafts I’m always terrified that I’m going to hate them when I read them again for the first time. I fear that I’ll read the first few pages and wonder what the hell I was thinking, writing this garbage? But Tavi really surprised me! I think it’s really good. In a few places I even managed to forget I wrote it, I was so enthralled with the dialogue and the narrator’s voice.

So, that’s good.

Santa Sarita is percolating. The characters are taking up space in brain again and I’m almost ready to sit down and really hash out some words on this fic. I think it’s going to be much different than I originally planned, and that’s probably for the best. There’s a reason my first attempt at this story flopped, after all. In the meantime I’m going to write some small tumblr prompts and get used to writing these two once again.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related

This looks really thin to me, but jumping up from 1,000 words to 3,000 is going to take some serious effort. And even then, I’ll still be about four thousand words behind my monthly writing goal. Which is okay. The point is just to write consistently again after so much time off. The words will come.

knight's shadowI have a backlog of tumblr prompts to work on, the majority of them for Santa Sarita, so that should be an easy one to knock out this week. I also have a nebulous idea for a blog post, but we’ll see if I go with that or something else I’ve been sitting on for a while. Don’t expect a book review this week. Sadly I have zero interest in writing reviews for nonfiction, and my time with Knight’s Shadow has been really limited lately. Honestly, all of my time is limited lately, so if I’m going to make my writing goals expect my reading to slow down.

Thank goodness for audiobooks! I just downloaded Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and though it’s pretty far over my head, I figure I’ll still know more about astrophysics by the end than I do now.

In other news, I received my rejection letter from Oregon Literary Arts. I was not a recipient of a fellowship this year, but better luck next time! I also received a rejection on my horror short story Lifelike last night, and it’s already off and onto the next magazine. Getting two rejections in one week feels bad and it feels kinda good. It means I’m working hard and eventually one of these emails will be an acceptance!

Talk to you soon, Blogland!

 

BZ

Book Review – Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell

I didn’t plan on reading this book this year. I got it for free on Audible months ago, almost as an afterthought. It was a moment of, “I have an extra credit, what the hell do I get?” Browse, browse, browse… “Ooooooh! I keep meaning to read that!”

Well, courtesy of a powerfully nauseating migraine on Monday and Tuesday, I finally listened to it. Yep, all thirteen hours in two days. Mainly because I was confined to my bed thanks to unabating queasiness, but also because I enjoyed it that much.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

traitor

This story is strongly reminiscent of The Three Musketeers, but less the book and more the Disney adaptation. You know, the one with Oliver Platt as Porthos, but if it had an R rating. Actually, now that I think about it, can I get that remake? Please?Image result for porthos gif oliver platt

But, really, there are a lot of similarities here. Falcio val Mond, the disgraced First Cantor of the now disbanded Greatcoats, has seen worse days. Though, by any accounts, failing to prevent the murder of the man you’re supposed to be guarding is hardly a good day. Especially when he hasn’t paid you yet. That’s how the former Greatcoats, the dead King’s judiciary force, start this adventure: on the run from a murder they didn’t commit.

Kest and Brasti follow Falcio because, well, honestly, what else would they do? The whole country hates the Greatcoats, has branded them traitors, so they might as well stick with their best friend and eke out a living. But that all changes as they rush to escape the city and take a job guarding the first caravan that would take them. And like any good story, the Greatcoats flee one sort of trouble only to tumble into trouble of another kind. Namely, foiling the plot of the evil and greedy Duchies to unite the kingdom under a false monarch.

What really impressed me about this book was the relationship between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti. They are brothers, well and truly. They care for one another, they tease each other, and they fight with and for one another. Their dynamic was everything to me as I listened to this book.

It didn’t hurt that the plot and world-building were pretty great too.

So, why not five stars? Well, I figured out the big twist really quick. Like, before it was even actually hinted at. But, the narrator (Falcio) kept on not realizing it until the very last chapter of the book. He’s supposed to be smart y’all, and he couldn’t figure it out, while everyone else around him (myself included) did.

That loses a star at minimum. Thank goodness I liked the characters, setting, and the narrator so much! This is the part where I mention how wonderful Joe Jameson’s narration was and how sad I am to have to read physical copies of the rest of the series, since the library doesn’t own the audiobooks. He’s apparently quite the prolific narrator, so I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for other projects of his.

Image result for falcio val mond

I’m just now tucking into the next book, Knight’s Shadow, but hopefully I can make good progress on it. I’m sure it won’t take too long, but with the holidays expect an early 2019 review on this one.

I’ll be back on Christmas Eve with the usually Goals Summary!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ