Month: April 2013

April/May 2013 Goals

Posted April 30, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Monthly Goals. The text 'monthly goals' underneath a scroll with a key on it. A look back at my goals of the month.

My April goals were as follows…

I Want to Read:
– Yellow Moon by Jewell Parker Rhodes
– The Various by Steve Augarde
– Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

I Want to Write:
12500 words of fiction

I’ve failed to read Moving Pictures (sadness, but I haven’t really been in a humour read and I read, like, 25 other books), but I did read Yellow Moon and The Various!

And quite against my expectations, I also made my writing goal! (Surpassed it, actually, by about a thousand words.) April started off as an abysmal writing month. I barely wrote anything for the first half, but things picked up in the last week or so. I got 10+K written the past week. I’ll take it any week! Here’s to hoping I’m back on top of things for May!
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Book Talk: Kitty Bennet’s Diary

Posted April 29, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Look! A not-OuaT read! :O

Kitty Bennet's Diary (Pride & Prejudice Chronicles #3)Kitty Bennet’s Diary by Anna Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer note: Anna is a friend. I have friendship-bias, but she’s simply an amazing storyteller. *heart* Kitty’s diary is the third in a series, but it’s perfectly possible to read it on its own. You’ll be a bit spoiled for the first two and you’ll miss out on the start of Kitty’s character arc, but it functions perfectly well as a stand-alone book. (I dare bet you don’t even have to have read Jane Austen to enjoy this.)

If I have any complaints about this book (and the series as a whole), it’s that it follows the idea that all women NEED a romantic relationship with a man to be fulfilled in life a little more than I’d wanted. That said, the strong points of Anna’s romances is that they are NEVER about the physical. Characters are always draw to one another because of some mental or emotional attraction. The physical is secondary. (Good thing too; I do not get on with romances where the attraction is purely physical.)

And Kitty is a wonderful character. She’s sassy and snarky and sweet with a touch of a temper, and she’s dealing with some pretty dark stuff. (PTSD, if you’re curious.) She’s assertive and yet constrained by the society she lives in. It’s been a delight to read about Kitty’s adventures and friendships. The plot is fast-paced with many a tense moment, but the book is really all about the characters and their relationships together, about friendship and self-discovery. And romance. I mean it IS a romantic story. Of course there’s romance. ^-~

Thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s made me eager to reread the first two in the series.


Readathon! Except unofficially this April

Posted April 28, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


My unofficial readathon was off to a… rather rocky start. We had visitors during the first few hours and then I couldn’t focus on my book or kept getting interrupted.

I interrupted my own reading all the time too, but that was intentional. I am… seriously contemplating running a couple of read-alongs later in the year. I’m still trying to work everything out and settle on dates and questions and ways to manage it. (The one date I’m certain of is an August/September readalong for Seaward by Susan Cooper. That’s roughly when the book is scheduled to get republished, so it makes sense to host the readalong then.)

This is all very scary and feeling like my questions are better suited to a reading guide than a read-along isn’t really helping, but I’m having fun.

Today’s read has been The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It’s a reread and it’s every bit as lovely now as it was when I first encountered the book. I’ll be tackling Seaward tomorrow and hopefully I’ll find it easier to concentrate on all the reading then. And questions. (Oh! If anyone has ideas for questions on either, please do send them my way. I’ll give you credit if I end up using them! Can’t promise that, but…)

Today has also involved attempting to play Trine 2 with my cousin. That game is every bit as hilarious in multiplayer as I’d hoped. Honestly, we’re neither of us great at puzzle solving. I think we spent half an hour trying to make our way through a timing puzzle? A timing puzzle. (Timing and rhythm, I has them not. We finally solved that puzzle by going “You know what? This is a local multiplayer. Let’s just swap controllers so you can get BOTH of our characters across” and lo that solved the timing puzzle.)

And then my BPAL order arrived. Thanks for not telling me, USPS! Turns out ordering several imps at once is a bad idea (even if it’s sound financial sense) because the scents all mix together and oh my head. (I’m fine with perfumes oils individually, but all mixed up that’s a headache waiting to happen.)

Also, readathons apparently make me very chatty? But today has been a pretty decent day all things considered. Now it is time for bed and tomorrow it is time for more reading. I hope to reread Two Hearts and The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon again as well.

And continue my typocatching and polishing, so I can call this tale done before the end of the month. That would be a marvellous way to end the month.


Book Talk: One Saved to the Sea

Posted April 26, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


And a retelling/folktale for Once upon a Time VII. At the end of the month? A statsie round-up!

One Saved to the SeaOne Saved to the Sea by Catt Kingsgrave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My main issue with this book is one of expectations. I’ve seen this lauded for its sense of time and place and… Narratively it could be set on any remote island chain in any time very easily. The dialogue, though, I felt was wonderful and did have the sense of time and place that I was expecting to find everywhere in the book.

Part of the trouble, too, I think, was that I was expecting a novel, not a novella. There isn’t enough space in this word count to give me the narrative sense of time and place that I was expecting and wanted to experience. (Also, Kingsgrave doesn’t quite follow through on the whole legend she’s building on/retelling, which jarred a bit, because the rest of the plot is relatively predictable.)

But those issues aside, this was a wonderful story. The dialogue was evocative and strong. It was a delight to read. The relationship between Mairead and the rest of the islanders was strong, the emotion taut and tangible, the romance believable and oh so wonderful to read. There is some sex, but if, like me, that’s not really your thing, it is skimmable without ruining the plot. There’s actually a lot to love here and I wish it were a full novel with a stronger sense of the setting and Mairead’s relationship with everyone. It’s already so gorgeously wrought. I loved Mairead as a character, her practicality, her quiet strength, her sense of self, and the way she struggled to fit into the society around her as herself.

I’d happily recommend it. It’s a very powerful and engaging tale. I just wish it’d lived up to all of my expectations. It would’ve jumped right up into my list of favourites on a first read.


Book Talk: The Admonishments of Kherishdar

Posted April 19, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


The Admonishments of KherishdarThe Admonishments of Kherishdar by M.C.A. Hogarth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These tales, as the title suggests, are darker than ‘The Aphorisms of Kherishdar’ (which you’ll have read first if you’re reading them in order). They’re as subtle, though, and I’m afraid that means the world-building is handled a touch /too/ subtly for me in this. These stories deal with the darker side of Ai-Naidar society, but I never really got a strong enough a feel for the world to be as affected by the tales as I could have been. It suits the tales that are being told, but it doesn’t make for the easiest of immersions.

The prose is as lovely as ever. Hogarth experiments a bit with some of the styles in this story, but they work and enhance the tale that’s being told. The implications of some of these stories are haunting and the order of them is chilling. (Just wait until you reach the last story. *shudder*)

But I feel like this is a collection best, ah, enjoyed (given the topics ‘enjoy’ isn’t the right word, but) once you’ve learned more about Ai-Naidar culture and civilisation than I had. It’s got a /lot/ of potential and it certainly has loads of food for thought, but I never really connected with it the way that I’d wanted to.


Book Talk: The Legend of the Morning Star

Posted April 19, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


The Legend of the Morning StarThe Legend of the Morning Star by Elizabeth McCoy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well worth a read! McCoy has a wonderful flair for telling fairytales that read familiar and yet are unlike any I’ve seen. I loved the asides and the tone of this. It was, as another reviewer said, “creepy in the way that good fairytales are”. It was a wonderful, intense read.


Book Talk: Stone Moon, Silk Scarves

Posted April 12, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Stone Moon, Silk ScarvesStone Moon, Silk Scarves by M.C.A. Hogarth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish this had been longer. Just a tad so we could have gotten a slightly stronger sense of Pathen’s relationship with the heads of House Laisira, but that’s more “I want more. T-T Why isn’t there more of the awesome?” than it is “It needs more to work”. It works fine. I just… want more of it.

In ‘Stone Moon, Silk Scarves’ we get to see some of the fall-out of ‘The Worth of a Shell’. Moar world-building goodness on top of everything else! Yes! And Pathen… Oh, Pathen… I loved all the characters in this, but Pathen is so wonderfully complex and conflicted and grumpy and the ending… <3 I definitely recommend reading it straight after ‘The Worth of a Shell’. It really helped my case of the tearing up. In some ways, it’s oh so very much worse in its implications, but in others it is so, so much happier and hopeful.


Book Talk: A Bloom in the North

Posted April 9, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


And the conclusion of the Stone Moon trilogy. (Look! I was good and saved posting it here for today.) Another read for OuaT7 too.

Have more probably incoherent squeefesting.


tl;dr version #2: I loved these books. So much. ‘Bloom’ is all kinds of quiet awesome and answers so many questions and ties everything so strongly together and then adds new things. <3 ‘Bloom’ made me so happy when I finished it. (Sad to leave, but mostly overjoyed at everything. Well, almost everything.)

A Bloom in the North by M.C.A. Hogarth

‘Bloom’ is not filled with as many surprise!twists as ‘Pearl’ was, and this is a good thing. It’s still filled with twisty, plotty awesome, but they’re often twists and turns that you can see coming and that make you jump up and shout “I KNEW IT!” at your book and do a little happy-dance of squee while holding it. Uhm… Weird analogy, bear with me.

‘Pearl’ is like when you’re a child trying to sleep ever though there are monsters under the bed waiting for when the light goes out before they attack you in your sleep. ‘Bloom’ is like the blankie your parents give you to calm your dreams at night. Ish. I did tell you to bear with me. ^-~ (Yeah, sensible analogies? Not my strong point.)

But… yes. ‘Bloom’ is a lot… quieter than ‘Pearl’ was. It was a treat to read them so close together, even though I think it /is/ possible to read this as a stand-alone. (There would be spoilers for both previous books, but, I think, not the kind that ruin those books, more the kind that intrigue. Like a really, /really/ long back-cover text.)

And it answers oh so many questions about Ke Bakil and the Jokka. I was hoping we’d learn more about those answers, but the way Hogarth delivered on those answers, the light it sheds on every single one of the stories before ‘Bloom’… I was thrilled. And LINGUISTIC SHIFTS, people! Oh my love for that. <3<3<3<3

I loved the fact that the trilogy ends with Thenet’s narration. When I noticed that there were narrators listed at the top of each part, I admit that I cheated and looked up who the narrators were and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but oh the sense it makes.

It’s been a long, a very long, time since I read a series of books that made me so happy. And these books did. Right now, I can’t even be sad that there are no more new-to-me stories featuring jokka (that I know of) because that ending just made me way, way too happy to do anything other than squee. I loved Pathen. I loved seeing patterns from the short stories return. I loved the relationships between the characters. And Darsi and Hesa and OMG! Abadil! <3 And seeing everyone from ‘Pearl’ again and some of the people from ‘Shell’ and het Narel and all the twisty-turny goodness and the spies and. Just. The camaraderie, the effect Pathen has on people. And Roika. Oh, Roika. So complicated Roika. I cried. (Well, a little because I was mostly overwhelmed by everything else. And also distracted by the linguistics going on at the time.)


Book Talk: Pearl in the Void

Posted April 8, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 4 Comments


You don’t get shiny pretties today, no. Another read for Once upon a Time 7. M.C.A. Hogarth had already shot up to my ‘favourite author, buy everything’ list earlier this year (hence the frequency of ramblings about her work), but with ‘Pearl’ she pretty much blew up everything I thought I’d figured out about my favourites. O_O

The Worth of a Shell was amazing. Pearl in the Void and A Bloom in the North are, hands-down, two of the most fantastic books I have ever read. They’re so good they leave every single one of my establish favourite must-read authors behind in the dust.

Hence why I’m sharing these now instead of trying to build up a bit more author diversity before I do. (I will resume that attempt after all the stories about the jokkad are up because I’ve already scheduled those for posting. These… are just way too good not to share.)

So! With that in mind: have rambling.

Pearl in the Void by M.C.A. Hogarth

I was going to say intelligent things about this book. I promise I was. But then I actually read it and any and all intelligent things went away and I want to put this books in the hands of bloggers and reviewers who are /really/ good at saying intelligent things because there is /so much/ to be said about everything, about the relationship between the sexes, jokkad spirituality, divination, morality, society, history, how history is shaped, storytelling, friendship, loyalty, fate, LOVE… I’m probably missing scads, but it is ALL there. And it is awesome and glorious and I squeed from the very first sentence and I went (with joy) and I feared and I was swept away by the story and kept guessing and second-guessing and getting it wrong. (O_O I know I’m not nearly as intelligent as some, but it’s actually reasonably rare for stories to blind-side me so utterly as this did.)

I loved it and I hearted it and I wanted to hug Keshul so, so much and I am scared of Roika, partially because he makes /so much sense/ it is utterly terrifying and I shudder to think what would become of Ke Bakil if Keshul had actually liked him. It was fantastic to see more of the Stone Moon empire and I loved Keshul because he is awesome and I keep saying that about all the Jokkad narrators, it feels like, but. Well, you’ll understand when you’ve read a fair amount of them.

And reading this, learning more about their history… (Fascinating, wondrous things they are.) It makes me want to reread all the shorts again because I have a far stronger framework. I spent so much time thinking back on what I’d read and tracing out what led them to this point because, make no mistake, a /lot/ of what you read in the short stories has bearing on this book. I mean, you don’t have to read them and I think I might advise reading them afterwards, but whichever order you choose will add oh so much depth to them and I’m so glad I found these NOW because I only had to wait a little while for the whole trilogy. It’s been oh so long since I’ve fallen so hard for a book.

I want to get everyone all the copies. *in so much book love*


Book Talk: The Various

Posted April 6, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 6 Comments


I do read things other than self-published short stories. I read The Various for Once upon a Time VII. (Also, look. I do sometimes say less-than-nice things about things I read! Just in case my short story round-up didn’t already prove that to anyone.)

The Various (Touchstone Trilogy, #1)The Various by Steve Augarde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled with this book. I didn’t click with Augarde’s style at all. There was too much head-hopping going on too noticeably and the way he tried to ensure we knew what he was referring to (At one point several of the Various are talking about a felix to one another and they go “You know, what gorgi/humans call cats” because obviously kids aren’t capable of making the connection on their own. If they’d been talking to Midge or, well, any other human, I’d have been fine with it, but they weren’t.) The book’s filled with little niggly things that one or two additional rounds of content editing would have caught.

And it’s a shame because the story is a whole lot of fun. It’s fast, it’s twisty, it’s sweet. It says a lot about friendship and loyalty, and it tries to say a lot about racism and discrimination. It’s got a great set of characters: Little-Marten’s vivacy and cheerfulness, Henty’s shyness, Midge’s compassion, George’s mischief, the relationship between all the Various tribes and the relationship between them and the humans. And Pegs. Let’s not forget Pegs. Pegs is very sweet, and reminded me a smidge of Madeline L’Engle’s three Mrses. It’s very definitely the first in a series, but it’s a fun way to spend the afternoon that’s just simple not quite as much fun as it could have been. (Really. So much potential still unused. T_T)

But, yes, the little niggling issues I mentioned in the first paragraph stopped me from engaging with this story the way that I’d wanted to and could have. As a story, it was quite a lot of fun and I’d have loved it as a child.