Month: December 2015

Culture Consumption December 2015

Posted December 31, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Monthly Round-up. The text 'monthly round-up' beneath a wrapped package. What I've been up to the past month.

December is slowly coming to an end. Who’d have thought 2015 would go by so rapidly? We’re also looking at a new title for this monthly section! Whoohoo! (Or boooooooo. Your choice.) December was a month of much reading, most of it nonfiction, so let’s just get right to it all!

What I've Posted

What I've Read

21 Days to a Novel by Michael A Stackpole: You know when you read advice from an author whose work methods are so different from yours the advice just doesn’t work for you? That was this book for me. I did find a couple of things in that that were really useful (such as an actual guideline on a good length for descriptions that I think I might actually be able to work with), but all in all it wasn’t really for me.

22 Fantastical Facts about Dolphins by Justin Gregg: Best consumed in fact-sized bites than read all the way through. The facts look to be written as stand-alone pieces and it means reading it in sitting generates a few “You just said that!” moments, but it’s a very entertaining and accessible book. I’d happily recommend it if you’re interested in some of the weirder facts about dolphins, but struggle with more scholarly texts. Gregg writes with as much eye for what amuses as for the scientific background.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld: My thoughts can be found here. Not entirely my thing, but I really liked it. Darcy’s chapters were especially fun and the way the text discusses the act of writing is fascinating.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: My thoughts can be found here. Enjoyable, but not quite as… savoury as I was hoping for. Still, if you enjoy Rowell’s work, you’ll love this and it you’re a fantasy fan curious about her works, this looks like a perfect entry point.

The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St George: My thoughts can be found here. I really loved this. It’s such a wonderful take on Cinderella. I’d highly recommend it!

Charisma +1 by Jessica Brawner: This book covers some of the basic etiquette guides of visiting a convention, whether you’re a professional on business or a fan looking to have a good time. Most of the, ah, conventions I have experience with are outdoor events, which means some of the advice isn’t immediately applicable to me, but that doesn’t stop it from being an interesting and humorous read. While the advice is pretty universal, the text itself is relatively US-centric, though, so you may want to keep that in mind.

Clover by CLAMP: A reread. I read this for the first time years and years ago and I think I got more out of the story this time around. It’s one of those stories that rewards rereading. Very enjoyable if you like twisty graphic novel stories.

How to Write Fiction Sales Copy by Dean Wesley Smith: I read this in hopes of feeling a little less anxious about writing copy for my own books. Not sure that it helped much with that, but I really liked the analysis of the structures Smith uses. He’s got a very easy, conversational style. I really liked the concept of author issues that he brought up.

The Long and Silent Ever After by Carlie St George: My thoughts can be found here. I think this was my least favourite of the three, but it’s still a good story. Ramps up the action and ties everything up… messily. (I hope you weren’t expecting happily ever after!)

The Lord of the Rushie River by Cicely Mary Barker: Another reread. This is a childhood favourite, but I admit I only reread it because it was short and I needed that one additional book to get to my reading goal for the year. Still, it’s a very sweet almost fairytale about a little girl waiting for her father to return home and the help she received from swans. It’s a story about kindness repaying kindness.

Millon Dollar Professionalism for the Writer by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta: Lots of common sense advice in this one, but sometimes it’s good to have it said. I really liked the fact that the book had two very different perspectives and included some practical examples (albeit unidentifiable ones) of the difference that being polite and professional can make.

Million Dollar Book Signings by David Farland: This book is about far more than book signings. That’s the main focus, but because book signings are so often tied to book launches you’ll find a lot more little tidbits about publishing in general. It’s easily one of the most fascinating books I read. Though, while the advice on how to hold a successful book signing/launch is pretty universal, it’s also entirely US-centric.

Night Calls by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel: My thoughts can be found here. Not my kind of story at all and I actually wish it’d come to my attention in a different way, but it’s a solid and entertaining piece all the same. If you like quieter, low fantasy fiction with a strong sense of community, you’d probably really enjoy this.

The People the Fairies Forget by Cheryl Mahoney: My thoughts can be found here. Fun retelling mash-up. If you’ve read the other books by Cheryl, be warned that this may contain more Marj than you might have bargained for, but the other characters are certainly worth her presence.

The Price You Pay Is Red by Carlie St George: My thoughts can be found here. Good, solid little novelette. If you enjoyed The Case of the Bloody Little Slipper, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this as well.

Queers Destroy Fantasy (Fantasy Magazine #59) by various: A good solid collection, though I was surprised by the number of already well-established names in the field. I’d have loved to have seen some more lesser-known authors in it, actually. But aside from that, as I said it’s a solid collection. I liked it, but there weren’t any stand-out stories that I still recall.

Stranger by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown: My thoughts can be found here. Not quite what I was expecting, but no less enjoyable for that.

Uncanny Magazine #7 by various: Ooooh. I’ve been looking forward to reading this for a while (but I’m entirely hopeless at keeping up with magazines). I really enjoyed this, though my memory for short storie is so appalling that I honestly couldn’t tell you much more than that. I think my favourite was the short story by Ursula Vernon?

Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan: I’m not planning on writing any fight scenes at the moment, but it’s a fascinating read in general. I’ve read bits of it, I think, online, but it’s just really nice to have everything collected in a book. I enjoyed Brennan’s narrative style and the way she uses a variety of different examples and I’m impressed by how much detail she managed to give about a scene she absolutely did not want to spoil for people. This deals almost exclusively with how to write a fight scene on a technical level, though, not with the nittygritty stuff such as “Can someone with X wounds accomplish Y?” so if that’s what you’re looking for… I’m afraid this book isn’t it. If, however, you’re looking for what to do on a narrative level, this is a very nice guide and I’d happily recommend it in addition to any other kind of research you’d need for your scene.

What I'm Reading

Nothing! :O To be fair, this is mostly because I’d like to avoid starting off 2016 in the middle of a book written by an American when the whole point of the year is to read non-Americans. If I’m not reading, I can accidentally be in the middle of it when the year changes. And I’d like to start it the way I’d like t continue it: reading fewer American authors.

This will be hard, I’m sure, since there’s at least one American author released a book I want to read ASAP. (I must be good and wait. I can be good for half a year. I can postpone running out of new-to-me reads again. That’s it. I’m just savouring having a new-to-me book again.)

What I've Played

Nothing! :O This month has been All About The Books. :O Oh, and Star Wars. There was also Star Wars.

What I've Watched

Equestria Girls: The Friendship Games: Entertaining. I actually really liked Sunset Shimmer trying to figure out what was going on with the magic and Twilight Sparkle investigating the magic and things going so wrong for all of them. And, of course, friendship saves the day. Not sure the finale quite worked for me, but it was a fun way to spend some time when I needed a pick-me-up.

The Librarians (season 2): I actually quite liked the resolution of the story with Prospero, though the video game episode has kind of stolen my heart juuuust a little. I’m still not entirely on board with the show’s take on writing as a magical force (there’s so much more interesting stuff you can do with it!), but it’s a lot of fun to watch and it just makes me happy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Yes, I actually managed to see it before the end of the year! In short: I really enjoyed it. If you want a one-sentence review it goes something like this: Can I have a BB-8 of my own, please? I don’t actually like watching films in the cinema, but I’m really glad I made an exception for this one. I had a blast and I’m really looking forward to seeing where the franchise goes from here.

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Goal Review December 2015

Posted December 30, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Goals / 0 Comments

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

December, because of an issue my webhost had, saw me lose a few posts, most notably my monthly posts. By the time I got everything fixed, I more or less decided that December was going to be a complete free-for-all on all fronts.

Last Month's Goal
I Want to Read:

  • Anything!

I Want to Write:

  • Anything!

December saw me more tired than I have been in a while. I was finally making improvements too, damn it! It’s always one of the busier months, what with holiday celebrations happening all around me and trying to keep up with the people who celebrate so I can wish them well on the appropriate holiday. (Sadly, I failed miserably.)

Still, I have done my best to make the best of it and spent my holiday working hard to get all of the back-end stuff that desperately needed doing for pretty much most of this past half year done. I’ve made a decent amount of progress on the ebooks at least. Huzzah! More on that in a later post since this one is about looking back. I’m really glad that I got those ebooks done. I’ve also been trying to catch up on my mail since NaNoWriMo saw me abandon keeping up for a month.

Speaking of, I’ve managed to rework a couple of paragraphs and little else. All of my spare energy this month has gone into reformatting ebooks or reading. I read quite a lot, though most of the books are also short nonfiction books and I snuck in a few relatively quick rereads just to make up for the reading ground I’d lost over the course of November.

At the time I’m writing this I’ve managed to read 22 individual books. As I said, most were pretty short (think ‘less than 100 pages’), but even so. I’m really happy. November saw me read only 3. I may manage one more book in December; I’ve forgotten about one of the books on my demisexual fiction list and missed out on it in my earlier bout of reading all the demisexual fiction.

I’ve also started work on an essay about how these books represented demisexuality in fiction, but since just about all of the authors on the list are American and I write essays pretty slowly anyway, you can probably expect to wait a while for it. It’s been my top writing priority over the holidays, though, so hopefully I’m grossly overestimating the time it’ll take to get it done. And then… I’ll have to see what I can do with it once it’s written.

And that’s more or less what I’ve been up to this month. It has also, almost miraculously, involved watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That was a good way to spend an evening and it was surprisingly (and blessedly) quiet in the cinema. But mostly I wanted to read books and enjoy quiet and at least try to relax and catch up on much needed rest. (I failed spectacularly. I’ve spent most of the month keeling over.)

For now, it’s back to work with me. I have a ton of stuff still left to do that I really want to get done whilst I have more time to devote to doing it than I have been having recently.

Have a lovely end of the year, everyone!

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Book Talk: The People the Fairies Forget

Posted December 27, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: The People the Fairies ForgetThe People the Fairies Forget by Cheryl Mahoney
Series: Beyond the Tales #3
Pages: 359

Tarragon isn't your typical fairy. He scoffs at gossamer wings and he never, ever sparkles. Plus, he's much more interested in common folk than in anyone wearing a crown. All he wants to do is enjoy good food and good parties, but he can't quite resist sparring with Marjoram, a typical Good Fairy if there ever was one. Against his better judgment, Tarry becomes the reluctant defender of the ordinary people Marj is trampling underfoot in her efforts to help the royalty.

That includes people like Jack, a goatherd stuck on the opposite side of a mass of thorns from his true love Emmy, a maid in Sleeping Beauty's castle. Or Catherine, who has no desire to marry a very un-charming prince just because her shoe size matches some girl he danced with. Or Anthony, whose youngest sister Beauty got involved with a great and terrible Beast.

Tarry has to set down his supper, brush up on his magic and his arguments, and try for once to wrangle some kind of Happily Ever After out of the mess.

Also in this series: The Wanderers, The Storyteller and Her Sisters, The Lioness and the Spellspinners
Also by this author: The Wanderers, The Storyteller and Her Sisters, The Lioness and the Spellspinners

I’ve finally gotten around to Cheryl’s latest release, The People the Fairies Forget! HUZZAH! That only took a month longer than I’d initially hoped, if not two. But here I am, here we go. My thoughts of Cheryl’s latest book. Earlier this year, back in the beginning of November, I interviewed Cheryl as part of a release blog tour. You can read that interview here.

But for now, a book burble! Standard disclaimers about knowing the author and being friends yet offering as unbiased an opinion as possible apply.

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Book Talk: The Spindle City Mysteries

Posted December 23, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Yep. Today you get three novellas for the price of one post! Carlie St. George’s Spindle City Mysteries also known as “fairytale retellings meet noir detective”. Well, maybe also know as that. It’s certainly a good description, so before I even get to my thoughts in general: if that description sounds good, go read the first story on their website (it’s free!) and enjoy.

Book Talk: The Spindle City MysteriesThe Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St. George
Series: Spindle City Mysteries #1
Pages: 62

It was half past eleven when I saw her. She was standing at the top of the staircase, with restless fingers and defiant eyes, wrapped in blue silk that clung to her hips.

Jimmy Prince is a private detective with a tendency to make bad decisions, take on hopeless cases, and ask too many questions. But no one is answering his inquiries about Ella, the mysterious dame who slipped into the Prince family gala, stayed for a dance, then disappeared at midnight leaving just a single bloody glass slipper behind. With the help of his trusty assistant Jack (a street-savvy teen runaway who is as tough as she is resourceful), Jimmy finally catches a break when one of Spindle City’s most powerful players, the Godmother, lets slip that Ella is part of a much larger conspiracy and not at all who she seems. With every new clue, Jimmy finds himself a step farther down a path that threatens to uncover some of the city’s best kept, and most deadly, secrets.

In Spindle City, all kinds of tales get told… for a price. Asking the wrong question is a guaranteed one-way ticket to the long and silent ever after.

Taking on this new case might just be Jimmy Prince’s biggest mistake yet.

Information for the other two novellas in the series can be found below the cut, don’t worry, but you’ll get the most out of them if you’ve read them in order. While The Price You Pay Is Red stands on its own reasonably well, The Long and Silent Ever After does not and you’ll need to have read The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper first. Though they’re separate cases, the overarching narrative is tight enough that I’d actually have been happier reading it as a single book rather than three episodes tying together.

Anyway! Thoughts and rambling below the cut and, considering this post features three related novellas there are SPOILERS GALORE.

SPOILERS FOR ALL THREE SPINDLE CITY MYSTERY NOVELLAS.

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Book Talk: Carry On

Posted December 21, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 344

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he'll be safe. Simon can't even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can't stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you're the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.
Based on the characters Simon and Baz who featured in Rainbow Rowell's bestselling novel Fangirl, Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

Also by this author: Fangirl

Carry On was actually the last of the books I read for my demisexual reading list. A friend (and big Rowell fan) mentioned the possibility to read Simon as demisexual, so… Well, that bumped it straight up the TBR pile, of course.

It wasn’t originally recommended to me as such and the recommendation I had was more of a “Maybe you could? I don’t know.” kind of suggestion and… Well, I’ll get to that later on in my rambling. For now, let’s just get started with said ramble.

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Book Talk: Stranger

Posted December 20, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: StrangerStranger by Sherwood Smith, Rachel Manija Brown
Series: The Change #1
Pages: 432

Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

Last of the books that were recommended to be because they featured demisexual characters! Well, just one demisexual character. Again, this is one that had me going “Yes, this!” at some things and slightly dissatisfied with others due to my own expectations.

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Book Talk: Afterworlds

Posted December 18, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 4 Comments

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Book Talk: AfterworldsAfterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Pages: 608

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld comes a “masterful” (Cory Doctorow) novel-within-a-novel that you won’t be able to put down.
Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.
Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

Another one of the books that I read because of the lure of a demisexual character. This time a depiction that made me go “This! Yes, this!” Up to a point anyway.

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