Camp Nano Day 28

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What do you do when you’re 30k in a novel and realize the entire story is in the wrong genre?  I don’t know about you, but I had a mini panic attack.

A Siren’s Tale is currently somewhere in the Fantasy genre, and as I was writing today it struck me that the story should be in the Surrealist genre.  I loved how the beginning is set up, it has a hazy quality as we see the main character, Mara, change subtly from a woman to a siren. But somewhere along the way I lost all of that and traded it for a very fact-like fantasy story. The beauty was lost and I got bored.  I’ve been complaining recently about how hard it’s been to write A Siren’s Tale, but I wasn’t sure why it was so hard.  Today it hit me. Only this realization has come a bit late in the game. I’m over halfway through the story and I’m afraid if I go back at this point that I’ll never finish it. Which is why I’m plugging on, hating most all of it, but looking forward to the editing very much.

It’s hard to stick to stories sometimes, especially when the perfectionist in me is screaming all day long about how terrible the writing is.  What are some of your tricks to silencing the inner editor?  Or, how do you stick to a story when it bores you?  Let me know in the comments how you get yourself to finish novels, I’d love for as much advice as I can get.

Been Here All Along By Sandy Hall

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Goodreads Synopsis: Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.  

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

I knew I was going to like the book as soon as I started it. Been Here All Along is one of those fantastic stories that starts right out the gate with personality.  Gideon is at a school event and is complaining about and it was one of the most relatable things I’ve read. At one point he complains about being forced to clap at events like this saying, “I also dislike clapping. What are we, trained seals?” And Gideon and I instantly became friends. 😀

Been Here All Along is one of those short fluffy adorable reads that you want to pick up when you’re having a shitty day and just want to be reminded that the world isn’t all bad.  Despite only being 224 pages I thought it was well paced and well written. Though I could have lived without the POV jumps.

The romance between Kyle and Gideon is adorable. They get along so well, and it’s based on a foundation of friendship that’s just beautiful.  I also liked that they communicated well. It’s always nice when a story doesn’t use miscommunication or non-communication for drama points.  This is probably why I don’t read or watch a lot of romance, because this happens all the time.

Throughout the story each of the characters are developed pretty well. I had issues with the ex-girlfriend Ruby, but I wouldn’t say that’s because she was written poorly. More that she was just a terrible person and I couldn’t stand her.

In the end Been Here All Along was a great story, well worth 4 stars.  Has anyone else read this book? I’d love to talk about it in the comments. 🙂

 

Heir of Fire By Sarah J. Maas

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Goodreads Synopsis: Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

This was the book that surprised me by being half decent and getting a three star rating. For those of you who don’t know, I undertook reading the Throne of Glass series because a friend recommended them to me. I’d read the first book before and it wasn’t really memorable, but gave the series another try.  And I ended up disliking most of the series, Heir of Fire is the one exception.

If you take out how unbelievably annoying and stupid Celaena is and her insane amount of angst, then this story is actually half decent.  There are a few characters in here that really made a difference to to the story.  The first is Rowan, who for most of the book I liked. Finally here was a character who doesn’t put up with Celaena’s shit and I really liked that about him. Though towards the end the actually became friends and then he decides she gets free passes again.

The other character that I loved, and actually continued to love till the end of the book is the witch Manon.  She is wonderfully written, she badass, smart and unlike Celaena knows when to actually keep her mouth shut and do what needs to be done. Without whining about it.  She’s an unbelievably strong woman, and in all honestly is what Celeana should have been.  I don’t have enough praise for this character here but that’s because I feel like I could write an entire essay on why she’s so good. I wouldn’t want to bore you all. 😀

So why didn’t this book get a higher rating, you ask? Well because in all, there just wasn’t quite enough to make it an amazing read. There were a lot of really weird sexist things going on with the Fae. All the talk of “mates” and being attracted by “scents” given off from females was just gross. Rowan and Celaena started to like each other, and come on a girl can only have so many love interests before it gets boring. Plus it ruined Rowan’s character.  They started doing weird wordless conversations in each other’s heads, but it wasn’t explained well so mostly I was confused.  Also Maas seems to have an obsession with the description word “purr” but then continually uses it wrong. I think I counted 9 times the word was used wrong.  And finally, again, I could call all the plot twists and “surprises” which made for a boring read. Everything was so obvious.

In the end, I liked the character of Manon enough to give the book a star just for her. Making my rating 3 stars exactly. No more, no less.

Camp Nano Day 24

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I haven’t had a chance to write much the past two days, my weekend was busy as hell. So there’s no better time than Monday to start the week off strong.  As of Friday I hit 25k in A Siren’s Tale!

The goals now are:

  • 30,000 words by April 29th.
  • 35,000 words by May 5th.
  • 40,000 words by May 11th.
  • 45,000 words by May 17th.
  • 50,000 words by May 23rd.

Which gives me roughly a week to write 5k, hopefully that’s enough time to allow me leeway.   I don’t want to stress myself, just push to get this story done.  If I finish on time then I will be able to take a 2 week break to let the 1st draft rest before continuing on to edits.

It’s now almost the end of Camp! Crazy how time flies. How are you doing this month with your writing goals?

The Serpent King By Jeff Zentner

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Goodreads Synopsis: Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace. The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

I was unsure about this book from the start, since I tend to be wary of books with christian themes and or characters. But this book did end up being a 4 star book for me, though I still had mixed feelings even at the end.

I knew this would be an emotional read, and it definitely was. Dill’s character is realistic and easy to sympathize with. I related a lot to his struggle to become his own person, even if it meant hurting people he loved. He’s stuck trying between trying to do what will make him happy (and ultimately be healthier for him) and what his parents want him to do.   This is one of those books where it’s very easy to hate all of the antagonistic characters.  Both of his parents are terrible people, and it was hard to read at times because I can’t understand how people can be so disgusting to their own children.

Thankfully there were ups to the book. Dill has two friends who do their best to help and support him. Travis, his best friend, is literally this sweetest, funniest kid ever. I loved his friendship with Dill.  Lisa, the other friend, I actually hated. She was selfish, self-centered and spoiled.  Her story-line was hard to get through because I couldn’t sympathize.

I felt like The Serpent King ends in a fair place. In this sort of a story there’s no way you can have a 100% happy ending, and in the end Dill takes control of his life.

4 NetGalley Reviews

I’ve recently been trying to catch up on my Netgalley reads, so today’s post might be a little long but it will be worth it. I’ve received a couple really fantastic books!

The Animators – 4 stars:

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether. Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, as I did not ask for it but was suggested it by NetGalley.  The Animators surprised me and I actually really enjoyed reading it.

The writing is really vivid and I fell in love with the prose first, Whitaker has magic when it comes to putting together words.  And from this fact alone I will be watching with anticipation for her next book.
But back to The Animators. Wow, this book is an emotional roller coaster. I love that both the main characters were artists, and that they worked on cartoon movies (adult cartoon movies).

Sharon and Mel are adorable. Both wildly different and yet they work together so well. They took care of each other, put up with one another, and made a brilliant team. The Animators is a beautiful story of friendship and love and loss and life.   It was easily a 4.5 read for me and I recommend it to you all.

 

Ever the Hunted – 3 stars:

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Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple.  The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

I still have mixed feelings about this book, and it’s been weeks since I’ve finished it.

For one I was never as invested in the characters as I wanted to be. Britta could be really great at times, and then really dumb at other times. And right off the bat I disliked the love interest Cohen, who was the typical YA arrogant dick.  Cohen had the whole “I loved you so I left you” complex going on which is a huge cliche and one of my personal pet peeves.

But I did like the world, I thought it was pretty well developed and would continue to be interesting in the second book.  However by the time I finished Ever the Hunted I didn’t really care either way about what happened to the world, or the characters.   There were weird things going on with the romance, on top of the author is pushing the “one-true-love” cliche.

And I mean…I didn’t hate this book. I wasn’t ever truly bored, I just didn’t care as much as I wanted to.  “Meh” is a good word to sum up how I felt about Ever the Hunted. 

The Butcher Bird – 3 stars:

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Goodreads Synopsis: Oswald de Lacy is growing up fast in his new position as Lord of Somershill Manor. However, there is still the same amount of work to be done in the farms and fields, and the few people left to do it think they should be paid more—something the King himself has forbidden.
Just as anger begins to spread, the story of the Butcher Bird takes flight. People claim to have witnessed a huge creature in the skies. A new-born baby is found impaled on a thorn bush. And then more children disappear. Convinced the bird is just a superstitious rumor, Oswald must discover what is really happening. He can expect no help from his snobbish mother and his scheming sister Clemence, who is determined to protect her own child, but happy to neglect her step-daughters.
From the plague-ruined villages of Kent to the thief-infested streets of London and the luxurious bedchamber of a bewitching lady, Oswald’s journey is full of danger, dark intrigue, and shocking revelations.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

When I first requested this book I didn’t realize it was the second in a series, thankfully this fact doesn’t seem to hinder the reading much. Most of what I assume you need to know from the first book is told in this one, as either flashbacks or thoughts about what happened.

The Butcher Bird is a fast read, the mystery thrown into a historical fiction is a great blend of story.  Our main character, Oswald, though at times a little naive, is a good man. Which makes him easy to like and to cheer for.  He’s always seeming to get the short end of the stick as well, which is frustrating and made me want to continue reading in hopes he’d finally get a rest by the end.

I thought I would be pretty sure of the ending, but the more I read the more I was surprised by twists and turns. And the ending was not what I expected, in a good way. The Butcher Bird is about a 3.5 read, and I’m definitely interested in reading the rest of the series.

Saint Death – 5 stars:

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Goodreads Synopsis: A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick. Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

This is the best book I’ve read all year. I mean it completely blew my mind and tore my heart out.  Saint Death is a perfect book. It has a relatable character, somewhat experimental prose, and a stunning/devastating ending.

Saint Death is a short book, but it pulls you in from the first page.  Starting off introducing the setting with the body of an unknown girl, and moving into introducing the main character Arturo.   As a character, Arturo is a perfect blend of good friend and struggling human. His desire is to help, but he’s also angry and hurt. He gets pulled into a turn of events that shouldn’t happen to anyone, but they do and he deals with them as best as any human can.

Through Arturo’s story Sedgwick speaks to the truth of what happens on the US/Mexican border.

“It is a wall that is being built. And these are the bricks in the wall: the drug gangs, the police of Mexico and of America, MIGRA, the DEA, the governments and politicians of these two countries. Then there are the biggest bricks of all. Companies; these giant corporations that are more powerful than anything, more powerful even than the countries where they operate. The maquiladoras here; they pay no taxes. None. They pay wages so low that even a job still means living on the poverty line. ¿And why does this happen? Our leaders; they tell us that this capitalism of theirs will save the world; that it will create jobs so that everyone will get richer. ¡It’s a lie! ¿How can there be a consumer society when its workers do not earn enough to consume anything?”

Saint Death is a book I 100% recommend to anyone and everyone, you’ll not be disappointed by it.