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.

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

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #43

Another quick week. I feel like I got a ton of work done, both in the library and in writing, and I had an awesome weekend celebrating my BFF’s 30th birthday.  A whirlwind week to be sure.

Last Week:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
  • Read a short story

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
    • Yes! And then some. More on that below.
  • Read a short stor
    • Yep. I read a few out of Kameron Hurley’s new collection before I had to return it.

Weekly Word Count: 119

That’s more words than I expected since I was editing, but I feel good about the changes made. So good, in fact, that I kept revising until suddenly there were no chapters left to edit. I submitted the story to my preferred market for it last night!

Social activities took up the bulk of my weekend, which for once was exactly what I wanted. We sang karaoke, went to a pumpkin patch, and played video games with friends. It was a nice, relaxing fall weekend.

I’m not reading as much as I ought to these days, but I’ve been playing some video games and catching up on Letterkenny and the Great British Bake Off.

But, the big news, the news I’ve been skirting around this whole blog post is… The Cost of Rain has been ACCEPTED! I’ve signed the contract so now it’s just a waiting game until it’s published. I’ll have more details the closer we get to the publication date, I pinky promise.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Begin outlining/brainstorming for Nanowrimo
  • Read something!

Keeping it simple this week. I’m ahead of my goals for this month, writing-wise, so I have every excuse to take it a little easier this week. Besides, I can use this “down-time” to let my Nano project marinate and start coming together. I’ve built the playlist, which is always a great first step. Now to see where that takes me.

I read a graphic novel last night, and have two more I’m in various stages with. I’d like to get them each done this week, plus start my book club book and read at least one short story. I’m WAY behind on my reading goal, but that’s no excuse not to read as much as I can.

I’m battling some serious Dragon Age cravings right now, which is why I’m reading the graphic novels and eyeballing the novel tie-ins right now. I think another announcement about the next game will be coming out in the next month or so and I am so freaking excited it’s ridiculous. So I read things and wildly theorize and wait.

So, you know. Reading, writing, gaming, lather. rinse. repeat. I don’t know if I’ll be back on the blog this week. I don’t have a book review for you, but if I think of anything else to chat about, I’ll be here.

Til then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #41

Oh, Blogland…

Remember that time when I thought I was back and then I wasn’t?  Oops.

Last Week…?

Weekly Word Count: 746

Well, there wasn’t a last week’s goals because I haven’t been holding myself accountable pretty much since June. I did do a bit of reading last week, which felt really good, so at least there’s that. AND I finished The Lament of Kivu Lacus! I knew I was close to the end, but didn’t think I’d manage to finish it in one morning writing session. Go me!

Let’s move on to the goals for this week!

 What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Read one short story
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s SecretImage result for the first wife's secret

Not anything too taxing here. I should be blogging quite a bit this week because I have the September Reading Round Up and a book review to share. I got a collection of short stories from the library so I ought to be able to read one of those no problem. I’m out of town this weekend for a work conference (which I’m very excited to attend!) so should have downtime in the hotel to finish reading this book club book before our Monday meeting next week.

The hardest bullet point here is the editing. You know how it goes. Editing blows. BUT, I do really want to get this project done and submitted so I think I’ll manage to make time for it Sunday morning.

Now that my BFF is back in town and managing Starbucks stores, I’m spending my Sunday mornings holed up with some coffee, headphones, and writing projects. Just like the old days. Thanks to my job’s early wake up call during the week, sleeping in isn’t as easy as it used to be. But, the husbando NEEDS his beauty sleep, so I get up and have some me time. Reading, writing, that sort of thing. It’s been quite the indulgence and exactly what I need to reset and prepare for the week ahead.

So, that’s where I’m at. Nothing too daunting for my first week back in the writing saddle. I’m feeling good about it, all things considered. I’ll be back soon Bloggarts to talk about all the reading I did in September.

Til then,

 

BZ

 

The Recap – September 2019

Better late than never, right?

September Goals

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

How’d I do?

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

 Monthly Word Count: 750

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

October Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then Bloggos!

 

BZ

 

The Recap – August 2019

Woof. I uh… maybe fell off the map there for awhile. I’m sorry y’all. Work started on August 12th and I’m just now coming up for air. My new job (high school librarian) has been taking ALL of my bandwidth. I’ve barely been reading. I’ve watched a lot of television which we all know is unusual behavior for me, because it’s all my brain can really handle.

But, I dealt with the submissions stuff today and have edits for The Audient Void to work on. I’ve been reading/listening to audiobooks and the day-to-day of work is starting to even out. Hopefully that means I’ll begin working on my writing again soon.

August Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whales rough draft
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. Admittedly, it’s mostly been waiting, but even at my lowest, I didn’t let submissions stagnate.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Definitely not.
  • Finish Whales rough draft
    • Close! I think 1k more and it’ll be done. It’s just a really hard, emotional 1k. Also, renamed The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • No. I didn’t finish a single title in August. That’s really disheartening.

Monthly Word Count: 1,234

So yeah. Writing-wise, August was a low point for sure. It was a blur, and I don’t have much to say other than I’m ready to move on. It’s a little late in the month to set goals, but I’m not going to let that stop me!

September Goals

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

I need to keep things simple for the rest of the month and keep my goals SUPER small. A thousand-ish words, continue submissions, and keep reading. That’s it. That’s all I need to do to feel good come October first. I can do that.

Right now I’m reading Our Dark Duet, as well as listening to Saint’s Blood. I need to read some more short stories and get back on track for my reading goal. I am REALLY behind, let me tell you. Hopefully soon I’ll have a book review for you guys.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

Reading Round Up – July 2019

With a sudden net gain in free-time in July, I read a healthy amount. Most of it nonfiction, so most of these titles will be new to you and sadly the “thoughts” aren’t as effusive as they are when I read more fiction. I didn’t read as many short stories as I would have liked this month, but hey. I’m still good with how much time I spent reading this month.

Title: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1)vm thousand dollar tan line
Author(s): Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A quick and satisfying plunge back into the witty and gritty noir world of Veronica Mars. This book reads exactly like an arc of episodes from the original show. There’s plenty to like here, especially if you’ve watched the movie recently. For a more detailed breakdown, check out my full review.
Recommend: Absolutely! Especially if you’ve watched the movie but haven’t started the new season yet. There are some things you might want to know.

Title: The Weeding Handbook: a Shelf-by-Shelf Guidethe weeding handbook
Author: Rebecca Vnuk
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A really easy read, full of good tips and knowledge but shared in approachable language. I plan on buying a copy for my personal collection. I’m sure I’ll have occasion to use it in the coming years.
Recommend: If you’re in the library field, absolutely. It breaks down weeding collections shelf-by-shelf, making a humongous task that much easier.

Title: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2)vm kiss and tell
Author(s): Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: Another solid contribution to the Veronica Mars canon. Characters, setting, and tone come together to make up for the inconsistent pacing and competing plot lines. Veronica is her usual self, and honestly, it’s starting to get old. Get my full thoughts in my review.
Recommend: Sure. Again, if you’re a fan of the show you’re still going to enjoy this. If you have no idea what the hell Veronica Mars even is, you may want to pass.

Title: Library Management Tips That Worklibrary management tips.jpg
Author: Carol Smallwood
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book was a little disappointing. I don’t think it was the book’s fault, but it didn’t actually have much content I could put to use in my new job. It’s a very broad look at library management aimed more specifically at sizable Public Libraries. I’m working in a high school media center, so a lot of the content did not translate. I still read it, because it’s stuff I find interesting and I may have need of the knowledge someday. Also, the language of the book was… dry. Made it a bit difficult to get through.
Recommend: Meh. If you’re really into best practices for library management and operations, go HAM.

Title: Leading from the Library: Help Your School Community Thrive in the Digital Ageleading from the library
Author(s): Shannon McClintock Miller and William Bass
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: I found the writing really prohibitive in this book. It’s chock-a-block full of lingo and different educational standards and I was a bit adrift through the whole thing. I think there’s valuable information in here, but it may require a reread once I’m settled into my role.
Recommend: Meh. Not so much. Again, only if you’re really interested in the details of how libraries work.

Title: Hacking School Libraries: 10 Ways to Incorporate Library Media Centers into Your Learning Community (Hack Learning Series, volume 20)hacking school libraries
Author(s): Kristina A. Holzweiss and Stony Evans
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Oh man! This book! I LOVED it. Each chapter was really well laid out, with a ton of information, followed by action steps for the reader to take as soon as they’re ready. There were a ton of pictures and diagrams and a huge list of resources in the back. I’m going to buy a copy, for sure.
Recommend: Yes. But again, only if you really want to know more about working in a school library.

Title: “Skerry-Bride”sonya taaffe.jpg
Author: Sonya Taaffe
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent 2: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): Bogi Takács
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It’s short but languid, twisting and turning through the language. Grim with longing, poignant and tragic but lined with hope. It reads like a fairy tale, but it’s in second person which is always fascinating to me.
Recommend: Yes.

Title: “The L7 Gene”jeanne thornton.jpg
Author: Jeanne Thornton
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent 2: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): Bogi Takács
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: Man. I’m still not sure about this story. I… liked it? It’s as far from “Skerry-Bride” as it could be. Straightforward prose, anger in every line, it works for the tale. But, reading it right after something so elegant and artful as “Skerry-Bride” probably did it a disservice. The plot is very intriguing, but the ending is open and a little unsatisfying.
Recommend: Sure. Another short tale with punch, worth the half-hour or so to take it in.