The Three Things Tag

What’s this?

Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas saying

Too goddamn easy

I apologize for nothing.  It’s fall.  It’s almost October.  They’re selling candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins.  That pretty much means it’s spooky time.

Dancing skeletonsThe sad part is this post isn’t even about Halloween.  It’s about listing things in threes and I yoinked it from Cupcakes and Machetes.  So let’s get into it without any further distractions.


3 READ ONCE & LOVED AUTHORS:

Grace DravenGrace Draven is the author of the Wraith Kings series, which is this fantastic paranormal romance.  It was my top series last year, and I can’t wait for the third book to come out.  I actually just got an email from Goodreads and Amazon about her newest release Phoenix Unbound that I downloaded a sample of.  As my newest favorite author, I can’t wait to see what else she puts out.

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20 Questions Book Tag

Another one from the indomitable Writer Michelle Payne.  I think I can answer 20 book questions 🙂

1. How many books is too many books in a series?

Hm, that’s one of those “it depends” questions.  If the series remains fresh and relevant, keep going, but if the plot lines are going stale and the characters are stalling, I think it’s time to retire it.  I’d say 20+ books is too much with the same characters and setting.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

They’re evil and I love them. Re: Strange the Dreamer.

Strange the Dreamer cover

3. Hard copy or paperback?

I prefer paperback.  They’re easier to carry around and to read.  Hardback usually has an annoying cover that, while aesthetically pleasing, tends to flap around and get in the way.

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Top 20 Books of 2017

I set my Goodreads challenge to complete 15 books, and I read 73.  There’s something to be said for underestimation.  I low-balled it because last year, I put 20 on my challenge, but only finished 19; however, I discovered that by putting books on my schedule/to-do list, I could complete them like a fiend.  At some points I was reading eight at a time, but I mostly stuck with my favorite number: seven.  That…was too much though, and while I love to read, I also want to have enough time to do other things.  So I cut down to four, which might still sound like a lot, but one is a Kindle that I read on my lunch break; one is a fiction/fantasy; one varies between a classic or a non-fiction/reference (before I was reading one of each); and the last is a graphic novel/manga, which are easy to breeze through.  Compare this to two Kindles, one fiction/fantasy, one classic, one non-fiction/reference, one graphic novel/manga, and one library book. I’m currently borrowing Death Note from the library for my manga, and I’ll borrow fictions/fantasies from there, too.


Total Books Read: 73

  1. Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin
  2. In the House of the Wyrm by George R. R. Martin
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Rest in Piece by B. W. Ginsburg
  6. The Missing Orchid by Fia Black
  7. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh
  9. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. The Illustrated A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  11. Descendants by Rae Else
  12. The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton
  13. Riddled With Senses by Petra Jacob
  14. The Quantum Ghost by Jonathan Ballagh
  15. Radiance by Grace Draven
  16. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K, Vaughn
  17. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. Eidolon by Grace Draven
  19. A Father’s Protection by K. J. Hawkins
  20. Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn
  21. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (edited) by Patrick Thorpe
  22. Saga: Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughn
  23. Silent Child by Sarah K. Denzil
  24.  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  25. Saga: Volume 4 by Brian K, Vaughn
  26. Saga: Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughn
  27. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
  28. Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn
  29. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  30. Talon by Julie Kagawa
  31. Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn
  32. Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh
  33. Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven
  34. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  35. Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
  36. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Volume 1 by Katie Cook
  37. Poetic Edda: The Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes by Anonymous
  38. Never Never: Part One by Colleen Hoover
  39. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  40. Never Never: Part Two by Colleen Hoover
  41. Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover
  42. The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess by Akira Himekawa
  43. Goldie Vance Volume 1 by Hope Larson
  44. Shadows on Snow by Starla Huchton
  45. Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Goss
  46. Monstress #1: Awakening
  47. An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
  48. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  49. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  50. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  51. Dweller by Jeff Strand
  52. Abstract Clarity by B. W. Ginsburg
  53. Chobits, Vol. 1 by CLAMP
  54. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  55. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  56. Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba
  57. Master of Crows by Grace Draven
  58. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
  59. The Diamond Tree by Michael Matson
  60. Promethea, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore
  61. Blink Once by Cylin Busby
  62. Death Note, Vol. 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba
  63. The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
  64. The Daemoniac by Kat Ross
  65. The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
  66. Death Note, Vol. 3: Hard Run by Tsugumi Ohba
  67. Death Note, Vol 4: Love by Tsugumi Ohba
  68. Gyo by Junji Ito
  69. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
  70. Parallel by Anthony Vicino
  71. Death Note, Vol. 5: Whiteout
  72. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  73. Death Note, Vol 7: Give-and-Take by Tsugumi Ohba
Total Fiction/Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 46 (63%)
Total Classic: 3 (4%)
Total Non-Fiction/Reference: 4 (5%)
Total Graphic Novels/Manga: 20 (27%)

I was going to do this whole shebang with “Most Read Author,” “Favorite New Author,” “Favorite Series,” and all this other stuff, but I decided on just doing a Top 20 with that number as an increase from the original 10.  I marked around 14 books as potential Tops and figured I could find six more.

20. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

The cover of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David EaglemanOne of the best parts of reading this book was the perfect timing when I read it: in the midst of watching a Let’s Play of SOMA, which I’ve spoken of at great length (even though the review/essay is still to come).  Incognito explores the intricacies of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious processes and how the latter two form the foundation of the first.  It’s written in such a way that psychological novices can still follow with relatable analogies and examples, but the volume is not without some major issues, which I started noticing around Chapter 4 with Eagleman’s views on beauty/attractiveness that spiraled unfortunately towards racism (yes…really).  He also didn’t fully explore the reasons behind why we have unconscious biases, which never just come out of a vacuum.  While the author has a flair for piquing interest in subjects that could easily come off as tedious, his essentialism and (seemingly) unwillingness to take environmental influences into account raises my brows (and hackles) a bit (e.g. his insistence that having a Y chromosome essentially makes one more violent without considering this propensity could be due to how those perceived as having a Y chromosome are treated from [often before] birth is only one of many).  While I enjoyed the book for what information it imparted, especially for those unfamiliar with psychology, the fore mentioned (and other) issues prompt me to insist it be read with a discerning eye and copious grains of salt.

19. Dweller by Jeff Strand

The cover of Dweller by Jeff StrandThis novel was like a more fucked up version of Harry and the Hendersons, if the Hendersons were a once brutally bullied loner and Harry was a man eating abomination.  I really wanted to know where the monster came from.  Was he some government experiment gone wrong?  A throwback from an early time?  A creature from an alien dimension?  Everything about him just breeds more questions, but his relationship with Toby is both poignant and disturbing.  A lot of fucked up things happen in this book.  I was initially unsure about Strand’s writing style, but it grew on me as did Toby’s character.  It made sense why the author wrote it in this way: it perfectly reflected the MC’s mental state.  This is one of those books that has the perfect ending, as in there’s no other way it could’ve ended for these characters that would’ve been as satisfactory.

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The State of the Writer: 9/17/17

<–The State of the Writer: 9/10/17          The State of the Writer: 9/24/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include (but not be limited to) any and all work(s) in progress (WIPs) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, and reviews.  Additionally, this post will showcase what writing projects I’ve completed in the past week as a sort of weekly roundup, as I’ve seen other cooler bloggers do.

Finished This Week: 3

Project: Book Review
Title: Gaslight Hades
Author: Grace Draven
Date Posted: September 11, 2017

One book review finished out of many needed this past week, but I’m starting to look at the reviews as yet another long term project, especially if I’m going to finish three or so books a week.  This novel is in the running for my Book of the Year, and Grace Draven may very well be my new/current favorite author.

Project: Award
Title: Not Really Another Liebster Award
Author: Inkbiotic

As the title states, it’s not really another Liebster award, but rather one I scooped up on Ms. Inkbiotic’s blog as it was so offered.  It was a great deal of fun, and it roused her out of hiding to answer my questions in turn.  I call that a win 😀

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The State of the Writer: 9/10/17

<–The State of the Writer: 9/3/17          The State of the Writer: 9/17/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Finished This Week: 2

Project: Essay
Title: The Unfinished Seventh – An FFVII Comparative Essay

I managed to revive and finish a project I hadn’t touched in about sixth months in order to post it on September 7, 2017, the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII.  I worked on it for about eight hours straight on “due date” despite fatigue and brain fog standing in my way.  I was highly encouraged by posts on The Well-Red Mage’s and Cheap Boss Attack’s sites about Squeenix’s magnum opus, and I knew I had to finish so I could be counted amongst such great company.  It’s already generated some amazing discussions, and, like every essay, meta, or analysis I write, I learn a host of new things and am inspired with fresh ideas for later projects.  Feel free to give it a read if you’re interested in comparative analysis involving how Greek tragedy inspired numerous aspects of the FFVII narrative especially in regards to Sephiroth’s character arc!

Project: Book Review
Title: Stone & Iris
Author: Jonathan Ballagh

I’m making some headway on my mammoth book review pile, but I’d planned on reviewing one a day.  Ah the best laid plains…I’m at least happy I was able to get this review out there.  This brief story deserves all of the accolades and required two readings on the part of yours truly, which I’m not ashamed to admit.


Project: Story
Title:
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 261,408
Prior Word Count: 263,453
Word Difference: -2045
Status: Editing
Progress: First edit of Chapter 11

Hopefully, you’re not growing tired of feather pens.  I’ll probably keep this up throughout the first edit at least.  I’m cutting out a lot of words, as you can see from my word count above.  When I initially wrote it, I put in situations that would be better served elsewhere.  Since this is a letter chapter, I want it to be more about her thoughts/feelings and not necessarily more action based items.  But I also don’t want it to be boring and/or extraneous.  It’s a constant balancing act.

Quote: He’s never hurt me in any way, but his hands make me feel weaker.  It’s a different kind of weakness though, almost a sleepy one. 

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Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh

Title: Stone & Iris
Author: Jonathan Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: May 25, 2017
Date Started: July 1, 2017
Date Finished: July 5, 2017
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction

Pages: 32
Publication Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Self
Media: Paperback

Shares Paradigms With: SOMA, The Matrix


A mysterious breakthrough brings Alison Shaw to the edge of her vanishing world. Everything she knows will soon be gone—everything except the memory of an unlikely friend. But is their bond strong enough for her to hold on to? And is a memory worth living for when nothing else is left?

This book was gifted to me personally by the author, but I still write my review with critical awareness and in good faith, though I suppose it remains entirely possible, if not probable, that I have some unconscious biases based on our cordial rapport and friendly correspondences.  I believe writers need to support one another, giving critiques when necessary and giving credit when and where it’s due.
I had to read Stone & Iris twice in order to understand it.  This is one of the best things any story can force me to do in regards to being ingenious enough to require knowledge of the end in order to comprehend the underlying intricacies of the plot.  I hesitate to divulge too much detail, since uncovering the truth about Alison, Jeremy, and David is the core revelation that leaves you reeling, and it more than likely will require at least two reads.  Since the story is only 32 pages, it’s not a lengthy foray per se, but if you want to understand what really happened, it will require more than just a pondering skim.
Though it doesn’t take place within Ballagh’s Quantum Worlds Series, Stone nevertheless lays a foundation for it, and it could be considered the precursor to the artifex (the androids in his fore mentioned Quantum Worlds duology) and AI technology.  The narrative appears to be confusing, because it’s supposed to be.  Certain characters switch roles in seemingly nonsensical ways that nevertheless have valid reasons.  Writing a story that is purposely haphazard is no easy feat, because you’re seeking to deliberately confuse the reader so that they will wonder why they’re confused.
The author told me that Stone & Iris is the work he’s most proud of, and that pride is more than warranted.  It’s a calculated yet bittersweet story about consciousness and reality that shows the lengths to which we will cling to what we truly love.
5 stars.

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The State of the Writer: 8/13/17

<–The State of the Writer: 8/6/17          The State of the Writer: 8/20/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
Title:
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 266,752
Prior Word Count: 266,754
Word Difference: -2
Status: Posting Chapter 10
Progress: Posted to WP

The process of posting can be as arduous as the process of editing.  I’ve posted Chapter 10 here, as I’m sure some of you have seen (if not I linked it), but I still have three other sites to replicate that on, all with different nuances of method.  I’ll try to get it up on AO3 tonight, since that’s the easiest one.  I’d say the hardest is Deviant Art, since tumblr’s made some updates so I don’t have to go through and add italics any more after I copy and paste, but DevArt is all HTML coding, which I’ve become quite adept at.  The easiest thing to do is switch to HTML on WordPress and copy/paste from there.  Unfortunately, DA has an unknown character limit, so you have to estimate how much you can post.  I’ll have to split this chapter into at least two due to its length.  Once it’s posted where it needs to be, I’ll start editing the next chapter.

Oh!  I also fixed the image for Chapter 9.  How I missed this in my reviews I don’t know, but the words were “Chapter 10 Excursion” instead of Chapter 9 *facepalm*  I’d post a picture of it so you could see what I meant specifically, but it looks like I deleted it entirely.

Project: Book Reviews
Title: Various
Status: Upcoming

I posted the review for Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner (which I DNF) yesterday.  Seems like I’m posting one review a week.  I want to up that. I did post a mini-review of sorts for Tales of the Arabian Nights on Goodreads, which I wasn’t going to do, but some of the reviews I saw for it pissed me off, so it was more of a review response than an actual review.  I talk about this more and in fact copied what I wrote in my upcoming State of the Reader.

The current and upcoming list is as follows:

  1. Talon by Julie Kagawa
  2. Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
  3. Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh
  4. Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven
  5. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  6. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
  7. The Beauty Thief by Rachael Ritchey (DNF)
  8. The Poetic Edda by Anonymous
  9. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Volume 1 by Katie Cook & Andy Price
  10. Never Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher
  11. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  12. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess by Akira Himekawa
  13. Goldie Vance Volume 1 by Hope Larson & Brittney Williams

Project: Game Review
Title: SOMA
Developer:  Frictional Games
Let’s Player: ChristopherOdd
Prior Word Count: 1071
Current
Word Count: 1738
Word Difference: +667
Status: Drafting

Just completed some work on the review right before this update.  I’m in story summary mode, which I always have a dilemma with.  Do I summarize and analyze concurrently or do I save the latter for afterwards?  I usually settle on a happy medium: I’m bringing up questions and ideas in the summary that I’ll explore in a thorough analysis afterwards.

What’s also difficult is triangulating all of my information sources.  Neither Wikipedia nor the SOMA wiki adequately recount the story to my liking, but I need some plot point reminders, just enough to spark my memory.  I don’t recall the order of everything, and a lot of the timeline pages I’ve found paint with too broad of a brush, missing some seemingly minor but integral elements e.g. Carl, first encounter with a WAU node, etc., and I think they order the events differently, though I’m less concerned about that as I am missing something vital. This is going to be a long term review project that I might slate for finish the first two weeks of September when I’m on vacation.


What are you currently working on?  Is it a creative writing project, essay, review, or something else?  Have you just started something new or are you wrapping up a long term project?

<–The State of the Writer: 8/6/17          The State of the Writer: 8/20/17–>

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