Here’s What’s Up: Saturday Update & April Wrap Up

So guys, how ya doing? It’s Saturday although Saturdays don’t hold quite the same sentiment these days – would you agree – it still feels good in theory. We’ve had kind of a rainy, groggy week which oddly enough echoed through a lot of our moods. However this weekend is already GORGEOUS as far as weather goes.

via GIPHY

So Here’s What’s Up: There’s a lot to be grateful for in addition to sunshine and a warm weekend. I’m grateful for audio books – just finished Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse, loved it, better than the first and highly recommend – and physical books – I read Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee, which was very moving as well as Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, an intriguing novella, both recommended. I’m grateful for the time and capacity to read and listen to them. In March I started What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra and finished at the beginning of April. One thing I enjoyed about this book and Catching Teller Crow was that they were fairly simple and by simple I mean the language was accessible and I would say direct.

45285706. sx318

41150898. sy475

36700648

The plots were original, intriguing but not overly complicated. I don’t mind complicated writing or stories but it’s nice to read something straightforward and easy. Ironically both of these books focused on characters who had their fathers (in some respect) but had lost their mothers. The main characters’ relationships with their fathers are central to the plot. Both protagonists are young women, one is 15 the other I think 19, who are going through some kind of transition in their lives while trying to balance their inner struggles. What I really appreciate about how these characters were written is that they felt true to life, even as one is a ghost (that’s not a spoiler). Some YA books turn me off because I feel they exaggerate the lives and abilities of young adults. Perhaps I’ve not used the right word here. I’m not trying to say teenagers and young adults are like children, or they’re weak or incapable of leading extraordinary lives and adventures. No, that’s not what I’m saying. But it seems like most YA’s focus on young people enduring journeys, trials and tasks that would be difficult for older adults with more life experience. And yet, the young people do just fine, for the most part. A lot of the time I read YA novels (not that I read a ton) I tend to forget I’m reading about a 16 year old or an 18 year old. I’m thinking of one story in particular (I will not name, I did like it though for the most part) in which the main character goes from a sheltered little girl to a wise, ass-kicking, lover, queen and warrior in the span of a year or two and we’re talking young teen. It just didn’t ring true. I struggle with stories that suddenly toss in a scene about how young (usually a girl) the character is when all along they act like much more experienced individuals, even though as in the case above they might be a very sheltered individual with little life experience. That’s a big reason why I try to shy away from YA.

36686071

That said, Catching Teller Crow and What the Woods Keep didn’t do that. Their characters felt far more true to life than many if not most other books I’ve read about younger ladies. Beth in Catching Teller Crow read like a 15-year old to me. The authors didn’t try to make her something else, to make her better or stronger. She was herself and perfect as she was. She was a 15 year old girl. The character in What the Woods Keep was a little older and read as such. Sure she had to be braver and maybe some things might feel like a stretch but they weren’t unrealistic in my humble opinion. Check these books out, then come back and tell me what you think. 😀

22571137

About a week or so ago I finished listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is an epic fantasy, so it’s very long and I think long books make great audio books. For one it gives you a chance to settle in to the narrator and their various performances. I also find it easier to finish, it’s less daunting. I listen while driving, working in the yard or around the house, even walking the dog sometimes. Do use caution while listening to audio books and doing other things, better to be distracted away from the book than the task at hand. This was a great story, no doubt. The only reason I’m giving it 4.5 stars is because I think maybe it’s a little too long. However Patrick Rothfuss is a very good writer, the skill and talent is there. The characters are interesting and well-rounded, at least the most important for sure. The plot is pretty cool but sometimes I feel like I lose track of what’s actually going on as most of the story takes place as a retelling of the journey that brought our main character to the present time. Again though I have to say it is a very good story. I’m nervous to start the next book which is equally as long because everyone has been waiting on the promised third book for a long time I’ve heard. Today I visited Rothfuss’ website to see if there was any news. But all he said was when there is news he’ll be sure to share it.

via GIPHY

Oh and to be technically correct, I also finished Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare (started in March). Sorry, but no I do not recommend it and I will not continue the series.

27788505

At present I’m reading the hardcover copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, not quite halfway through it but it’s pretty cool. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria with a large diverse cast of characters. A unique story no doubt, something I see Okorafor does not fail to deliver. 🙂 When I finish Lagoon I plan to read Akata Witch, a yound adult, middle grade (I’ve seen it referred as both?) story, the first in a duology, also by Okorafor.

23309492. sy475

I’ve not yet decided on my next audio book. For some reason I have a tendency towards wanting to start something new and fresh so I feel a weird aversion towards starting the sequel to The Ruin of Kings, The Name of the Wind or Strange the Dreamer. Lol. I think it’s kind of funny of me, but yeah. Probably I need a break from The Name of the Wind so I’ll likely go with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons as my next audio book. I do believe the third book is due out this October. 🙂

I am also still reading Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson, and over there on the couch is Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan and over on that shelf is The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.

43255070

Aside from my reading my novel work has been…meh. I’m a little stuck with some details going forward regarding where things are going. Feels like I’ve been saying that for a little too long. I have no doubt I’ll break through this, I just need to focus harder and knuckle down, something I plan to do this weekend. With over 200k words I feel good, lots to edit, but there’s still a ton of work to be done. I did figure out that one of my characters, a retired schoolteacher is now a yoga instructor. Hey, what can I say, that detail came to me and I think it makes sense, it’s a good cover for what else she’s doing. 😉

There’s a lot of emotion in this thing, a lot of energy. I think it would help me to put more of my own emotions to work this weekend. This whole coronavirus situation has been beating at my brain and heart this week as I think about the future. How long, for real, until everyone is safe? What about all the high risk people? What about all the people who care only for themselves and their situation? What will happen to people who rush the process? What about the people who are quietly suffering, the people who are keeping their fears to themselves and not talking about them lest they worry someone else? How can we help each other’s mental health?

These are some of my questions. These questions are good to think about, not ruminate on but just consider. And I’ve found for a person such as myself, a creative among other things, that putting these emotions and questions, this soul-digging (as I’ll call it) to work for me and my work is one of the best things I can do. How am I feeling? How can I apply that to what my characters are going through to make it more authentic and deep? When I put my own emotions to work it helps me, it helps me in a ton of ways. So when I am feeling all over the place, stuck, down, up, everything, I think, I have got to write something. A lot of times I don’t do that but when I do, man I’m glad I did (like exercise). 😉

What else? Well I’m working on my raised garden beds, first time ever doing this but not my first go round with a garden, just my first garden in a very long time. I’m stoked! My diet and fitness goals/plans got a little off track in April but I’m set to get back on the wagon! Woo hoo! I’ll restart some kind of daily yoga and exercise regimen and hopefully start running again sooner than later.

That’s it for now but stay tuned for some book reviews, a TBR update, expected reading (basically the same as I shared before), some images (I’m going to return to sharing some of my hobby photography, at least just using it in posts), flash fiction, and I’m going to start a regular short fiction column as well.

Cool please feel free to comment, I do love to chat. Bye for now, I hope you all stay safe and well and have a lovely weekend.

via GIPHY

May Reading & Writing Updates

via GIPHY

So it has been a while, again, since I’ve posted but I’m getting it together. 🙂 Of course come on this is fun! Getting behind and running to catch up, not so much.

via GIPHY

But that’s fine. Let’s start off with what I’m reading, well what I’m still reading. I’m still reading My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel and Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness. You might recall that I went ahead and DNF’d Everfair by Nisi Shawl, a decision I did not take lightly but it had to happen. April and these first two weeks of May… Holy cow it’s been two weeks since May started? Good lawd! I was saying, reading has been slow going largely because I’ve allowed myself to be distracted with other things at the end of the day. I’m correcting that now. I’ve updated my site (what do you think?) and I’m getting back to reading. My Great Aunt is still waiting for me to finish Shadow of Night so I better, and will, hurry that up.

I owe you my review for The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst. You’ll find that this week, hopefully tomorrow. Next up I’ll be reading The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan, #3 in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I’ll also be putting up some posts in the next few weeks about my writing experiences. As well I’ll share posts by fellow writers that I find to be especially helpful.

For This Post…

Above I’ve told you things you’ve probably already read if you’ve been here before so what’s new? Besides another episode of Game of Thrones (whoa, this last one was EPIC, at least as much if not more than episode #3, wow) and the Chi and Barry? Well
I got some new books at great prices, of course that meant I had to jump on them while I could. I’ll also share new additions to my TBR as well as my May/June TBR. Let’s get started.

Just today I received my latest book haul from Book Outlet. I’ve mentioned this site before but if you don’t already know about it let me tell you it’s a great resource for cheap books. They sell bargain books and scratch & dent copies. Also with each order you receive points you can redeem in a later order. In fact if you want to FOLLOW THIS LINK to Book Outlet you’ll help me earn points for referring a friend. I’m not just trying to sell you for points, I really think you’ll find their prices are sweet. They don’t have every book imaginable but they’ve got a lot. I figure I’ll get what books I can through them and then buy local or elsewhere.

This most recent haul includes:

This last one, the box set, I got three books for about $15, which I think is fantastic. I’ve heard loads of good things about V.E. Schwab, this series as well as Vicious and basically all her writing. I see on Goodreads the first book in this series is rated 5 stars by Deborah Harkness (author of All Souls Trilogy) of all people! I’ve also listened to some interviews with her on podcasts like Tim Clare’s Death of A Thousand Cuts. This probably bumps this up my TBR for me. These 9 books cost me under $50 with free shipping. Hey, that’s real good. I should be set for reading for a while…

via GIPHY

New Additions to My TBR

The following is a list of books I’ve added to my Goodreads TBR since April 1st until today May 13th. If applicable I give credit to the blogger or person who brought the book to my attention.

43550429

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery by Kelley Armstrong – Thanks Destiny @ Howling Libraries! – This book isn’t out until October of this year. It’s a collection of tales about witches and witchcraft by popular female fantasy authors. Not only does this sound interesting it could also be a great way to find new authors to read (as if I need anymore).

33574211

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – Thanks Sofi @ A Book. A Thought. – The premise of this book, after seeing it on Sofi’s page, reached my interest. Two sister’s go missing and one comes back? Hmmm…

24237785

Planetfall (Planetfall, #1) by Emma Newman – Thanks Tim Clare @ Death of 1,000 Cuts podcast – I was intrigued by his interview with her. She talked about her personal struggles with mental illness and her use of it in her books. As well, when it comes to writing she mentioned that sometimes she hates it but keeps going because she works through things and ideas by writing. This is something I think I also try to do. Point being the author interested me as much as this book about “one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…”

25489443

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip – Goodreads recommended this to me and I added it because I read Riddle Master trilogy by this author and I really enjoyed it. Her writing is creative and poetic, original and dynamic. This book won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 2017. I’m interested in this idea of ancient magic on the rise and a boy learning from his sorceress mother facts she’s kept from him until now.

35965482

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – So I’m pretty sure I heard about this book through Destiny @ Howling Libraries first and then again from Sofi @ A Book. A Thought, who highly recommends it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m forgetting where else I’ve heard about it. This book has some high praises, even as it was just released a week ago (not including early review copies of course). On Goodreads it has 4.25 star rating out of 361 ratings. Roger’s skilled with Words. His sister Dodger’s skilled with numbers. They’re not human but they’re not exactly Gods either. Reed created them. Not their father, but not not their father. Hm…curious? I am.

41870053

The Ice House by Tim Clare – This is the newly released sequel to The Honours which I read in April (here’s my review). You know by now I follow his podcast and am a fan. He’s a very talented writer and I look forward to reading this book probably this month to see whatever became of Delphine now that she’s an old lady.

18746776
7507944

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor – First I read The Book of Phoenix. Then I read Binti forgetting I’d read The Book of Phoenix. Naturally I need to read more of this author and this is book two, Akata Witch being #1. I just added these because I thought I already had, and I just got this and Lagoon below. This is (not Lagoon) a YA series the first released in 2011. In the first book the protagonist, a 12 year old girl, albino thus incredibly sensitive to the sun, befriends some other kids and is plunged into the world of the Leopard people where your worst defect becomes you best asset. They set out to track down a man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. I was hooked at “your worst defect becomes your greatest asset”, cool! Might be a good one for my niece and nephews.

23309492

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – Besides what I’ve already shared, I added this book because well read the blurb:

” It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.”

Yup, you know it, that sounds cool. Have you read any of these? Will you add them to your lists now? Let me know, give me a shout out and link back here if you do please. And let me know what you think if you read or have read these authors. I’d love to hear from you.

May/June TBR

Last but not least here’s what I hope to read from now until the end of June (not necessarily in this order):

  • Finish Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  • Finish My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
  • Start & Finish The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
  • Start & Finish Women Wartime Spies
  • Start & Finish The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
  • Start A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • Start & Finish Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (I’m bumping this so I can share with the young folks)
  • Start The Book of Life (All Souls, #3) by Deborah Harkness
  • Start & Finish The Ice House by Tim Clare – because I just finished The Honours and why not?
  • Start & Finish Home (Binti, #2) & The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3) by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Start & Finish Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Start The Greek Poets – Homer to the Present

And I almost forgot because I haven’t got it yet but Catching Teller Crow by Ambellin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, published in Australia, is now in a paperback edition you can get through Amazon. Yeah!

That’s a great big list for me what with everything else going on, including of course my novel, gosh! Stay tuned there’s lots of fun to come. I’ll probably even tell you about my experiences helping out at my Aunt & Uncle’s sheep farm during their lambing season (AWESOME & inspiring). Maybe you’ll get to see some cute ass lambs. 😉 Thanks for reading my May Reading & Writing Updates.

Okay so whatcha got? Whatcha thinking?

via GIPHY