The State of the Writer: 12/30/18

<–The State of the Writer: 12/16/18          The State of the Writer: 1/13/19–>

A post updated every other Sunday discussing my current writing projects and any completed the prior two weeks.

Finished Projects: 2

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 256,067
Prior Word Count: 256,065
Word Difference: +2
Status: Editing
Progress: Chapter 13 Second Edit

Sephiroth braiding Aeris's hairIf things go well, I should have the second edit of this chapter by the end of this week.  I don’t think I’ll need a third.

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The Vagrant by Peter Newman (The Vagrant #1)

Title: The Vagrant
Series Title: The Vagrant
Author: Peter Newman
Date Added: March 20, 2017
Date Started: December 30, 2017
Date Finished: March 21, 2018
Reading Duration: 80 days
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The VagrantPages: 400
Publication Date: April 23, 2016
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Media: Paperback

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

This was a tough one to review.  I noted that back when I finished it and I still feel the same way.  The novel has both issues and merits, and it’s not a straightforward story, which is not only due to the fact the main character never speaks.  The number of enemies/villains also complicates things.  There’s the Usurper, the Uncivil, the first, and the commander among others.  They’re all part of the tainted essence that made the world the broken place it is now, but it was very hard to keep track of them (the Hammer was my favorite for some obvious reasons).

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The State of the Reader: 2/28/18

<–The State of the Reader: 2/14/18          The State of the Reader: 3/14/18–>

weekly post updated every other Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Purchased: 1

Finished: 3

Title: The Diamond of Darkhold
Series Title: The Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 17, 2017
Date Started: January 14, 2018
Date Finished: February 19, 2018
Reading Duration: 36 days

The cover of The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrauMedia: Paperback

It wasn’t as good as the first or second book, but it was better than the prequel The Prophet of Yonwood.  What diminished it was the ending where the author just pulled something completely out of left field, and it was a space flea out of nowhere, though she did try to set it up earlier, but there just wasn’t enough.  It’s possible I missed something from Prophet, since I didn’t read that, but even so, it’s completely unnecessary to the series as a whole.  I’ll obviously be discussing it when I do my review.

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The State of the Reader: 2/14/18

<–The State of the Reader: 1/31/18          The State of the Reader: 2/28/18–>

weekly post updated every other Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Purchased: 1

Books DNF: 1

  • Shadow Stalker Part 1 by Renee Scattergood – I knew the main character was going to be a “chosen one” paradigm, and I’m fine with that, but after finishing the first part, I’m going to leave it there.  I think what got under my skin was her foster father/trainer told her she can’t stop him when he messes with her mind to calm her down, and that really rubs me the wrong way.  Mental meddling is an invasion, and if someone doesn’t want you to do it then you respect that.  Also the fact that he’s been doing it her entire life without telling her (leaving her to figure it out) bugs me, too.  I get why he’s doing it, but it’s still troublesome.  There was a character named Sephir, so…that was pretty cool.

Finished: 2

Title: Saga, Vol. 8
Series: Saga
Author: Brian K. Vaughn
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Date Added: July 2, 2017
Date Started: February 4, 2018
Date Finished: February 8, 2018
Reading Duration: 4 days

The cover of Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona StaplesMedia: Paperback

Do you even have to ask if it was good at this point?  Saga is quite possibly the best graphic novel series I’ve ever read.  It’s amazing how something that can take place in space involving aliens can be so “human” and relatable.  The ending to this volume is almost literally the polar opposite to the ending of 7.

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The State of the Reader: 1/31/18

<–The State of the Reader: 1/17/18          The State of the Reader: 2/14/18–>

weekly post updated every other Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Purchased: 15

  • Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake by Brittany Batiste – $2.99 @ Amazon
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka – $0.99 @ Amazon
  • The Emerald Dragonfly by Shaun Hume – $0.99 @ Amazon
  • Evolution by Kelly Carrero – $0.00 @ Amazon
  • The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories by Robert W. Chambers – $0.99 @ Amazon
  • Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R. Ellis Davidson – $4.49 @ Amazon
  • The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley – $8.50 @ Amazon
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton – $8.69 @ Amazon
  • The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses by Johann Schiebel – $9.95 @ Amazon
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – $11.35 @ Amazon
  • Modern Man in Search of a Soul by C. G. Jung – $8.95 @ Amazon
  • The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller – $10.20 @ Amazon
  • Saga: Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples – $9.35 @ Amazon
  • The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Quiroz Vega – $2.99 @ Amazon
  • Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili – $1.99 @ Amazon

Yup, I bought a shit ton of books in the past month or so.  Those Amazon gift cards really came in handy.  I’ve already finished Witch Hunt on Crystal Lakeas the author asked me to a beta reading, but since I like to support fellow authors, bloggers, and friends, I bought it as well.  Obviously, I bought Saga (once I reminded it was out.  Thanks Ignited Moth!), and I’m probably going to read it next before I continue with the Death Note series.  The purchases were a mixture of eBook and physical (the less expensive ones are the eBooks), and I currently have a box of books sitting under my end table.

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The State of the Reader: 4/19/17

<–The State of the Reader: 4/12/17          The State of the Reader: 4/26/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Samples Read This Week: 8

  1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: Kept (RWTR/Purchased) – A slave turned rebel and an unwilling soldier.  Neither of them is free.  I can’t stop thinking of a picture I recently used, and I couldn’t stop reading the sample then I reached a part that made me say, “Holy shit, I have to buy this book immediately.”  So I did.
  2. Spelled by Betsy Schow: Passed– The writing style isn’t for me.
  3. Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror by Eden Royce: Kept– I was on the fence with this one.  It seems to have potential, but it’s just not pulling me in.  Alright…I just looked at the blurb again, and it could just be the first story isn’t for me; the others look promising.  I’m keeping it on my TBR list and relegating it to the “library” shelf.
  4. Lavender by Sophie Welsh: Kept (RWTR) – This almost ended up on the passed pile, because the underlying premise of it is such patriarchal bullshit that it really pisses me off.  The titular character is a free-spirited 13 year old girl who just wants to explore the forest near her house, but both her and her mother are under her blacksmith father’s thumb.  The worst part is that he really isn’t presented in a “bad” light even though he won’t let her eat until she agrees to marry the village elder’s son.  He makes her feel bad for not knowing how to cook, clean, or want to marry, and while I get that it’s “that time,” I’m too old, grumpy, and feminist to not have that piss me off.  What saved it was the village elder’s son Eldrin, ironically enough.  He seems just as reluctant to marry Lavender as she does him, and while he does kind of follow her around like a lost puppy, he doesn’t seem forceful or aggressive, so I’m curious where this story is going to go.
  5. The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr: Kept – The first chapter kills off the people introduced in the prologue, and the main character seems to be a medieval detective of sorts trying to piece the crime together.  It’s interesting enough to keep on my list.
  6. The Battle for Oz by Jeyna Grace: Kept (Purchased) – I honestly didn’t have high hopes for this one.  Rewrites of classic stories tend to go for the edgy, snarky, and/or modern viewpoint, and that’s just not my cup of tea (it’s one of the reasons I passed on that other novel that took place in the Emerald City), but this started out showing someone I believe is/was the Red Queen being ousted from Wonderland.  She retains her retinue of guards (and her bitterness) and discovers a way to get to Oz.  From the sample and the blurb, I believe this story has Dorothy and Alice working together to banish her once and for all, and I’m curious what their personalities are going to be like in this iteration and how they might collaborate/clash.  I wound up purchasing it, because it was super cheap (as you’ll see below).
  7. The Stolen Child by Peter Brunton: Kept – The first chapter didn’t show any hint of fantasy until the very end, and it was very realistic about what would’ve happened to 14 year old, homeless Rachael if any authority became involved.  I want to know what she either ran away or is keeping away from.  The second chapter has no seeming connection to the first (save for that fore mentioned bit of fantasy), and I want to see the bridge.  Is she the titular stolen child?
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J. K. Rowling): Kept – Even though there was barely any sample, of course I kept this book in the extended Harry Potter universe.  I’d still like to see the movie, too.

Books Purchased This Week: 6

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Series Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Date Added: December 30, 2015
Date Purchased: April 14, 2017

Media: Paperback
Price: $10.79
Retailer: Barnes and Noble

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The State of the Reader: 4/5/17

<–The State of the Reader: 3/29/17          The State of the Reader: 4/12/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Samples Read This Week: 7

  1. The Vagrant by Peter Newman: Kept (RWTR) – All of the yes to this story.  I’m more than likely going to pick it up this week.  I love the gritty minimalism of it, and the fact that the titular character has neither a name nor says nary a word (or at least hasn’t yet).  The world is so decaying and decrepit with so much more to it being revealed in drips and drops (without the info dump that so many people hate, but I don’t mind).  You can tell the Vagrant is a total bad ass even though he hasn’t really done anything yet, and I can’t wait to see what happens when he does.
  2. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: Kept (RWTR) – I just realized that this and the above book could be considered urban fantasy, so I don’t hate the (sub) genre after all 🙂  This story takes place in a dystopian version of London where clairvoyants are considered treasonous just by nature of their existence, and the main character is (arguably) the city’s strongest one of them all.  She’s used by her boss to spy on people (which really puts me in the mind of Stranger Things), but (according to the blurb so no spoilers), she’s kidnapped one rainy day by a member of a powerful, otherworldly race with unknown motives.  I just realized that I’m extremely interested in this, and it’s not only urban fantasy but also young adult, since the main character is 19.
  3. Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight: Passed – It didn’t grab me.  I thought it was going to have a similar mien to Silent Child, but it read more like a typical mystery with a reporter main character.  It just really isn’t my genre.
  4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Kept – There really wasn’t any doubt that I was going to keep this, but I wanted to read a sample anyway to see if it would go on the really-want-to-read list.  It didn’t catch me that hard, but I didn’t get to the part where Claire walked into the past yet.  I’m still on the setup.
  5. Going Bovine by Libba Bray: Kept (RWTR) – Okay, so this book was hilarious from the start, and once again shows that I will like anything in any genre so long as it’s well written. It’s YA, first person, the latter which I’m not opposed to.  It’s just the matter of liking the person who’s telling it, and I like Cameron very much.  His very first anecdote is about how he nearly died on the It’s a Small World ride in Disney World, and the premise of the book is that he contracts some disease that I’m assuming turns him slowly into a cow (if the title is any indication).  It seems brilliant and utterly irreverent.
  6. Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse by Jack Flacco: Passed – I’m just not in the mood for an apocalyptic zombie story.  There’s nothing against the novel.
  7. Uprooted by Naomi Novik: Kept (RWTR) – I almost bought this book today, but stalled because it’s around $12.  Not that I don’t think the author deserves that money, but I’m trying to curb my spending especially on Amazon, which automatically defaults to that credit card.  I’m half debating putting books back on my wish list since I think you’ll receive word of sales on things there.  I have to research it more.  Anyway, everything about this book is amazing.  It’s told like a fairy tale in a very fairy tale way.  Every ten years or so a girl is chosen to live with the elusive magician in his castle/tower, and the main character is certain her beloved best friend is going to be that girl, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about fairy tales, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Books Purchased This Week: 1

Title: Melkorka
Series Title: The Kaelandur Series
Author: Joshua Robertson
Date Added: January 5, 2016
Date Purchased: April 4, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $0.00
Retailer: Amazon

Nothing cheaper than something free!  (Bonus points to whomever guesses where that’s from, and you have to tell me who says it).

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The State of the Reader: 3/22/17

<–The State of the Reader: 3/15/17          The State of the Reader: 3/29/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Unfinished This Week: 1

Title: Prospero Lost
Series Title: Prospero’s Daughter
Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter
Date Added: June 19, 2016
Date Started: February 11, 2017
Date Unfinished: March 13, 2017
Reading Duration: 30 days

Media: Hardback
Final Progress: 38%; Page 135

Before I talk about the status of this book, I should first explain the “Unfinished” status.  It’s different from “Did Not Finish/DNF.”  I used to call my DNF books “Unfinished” (I know, hella confusing), but I decided to differentiate.  DNF means I have absolutely no interest in finishing the book.  It was either not for me and/or I found the writing not up to par; and it’s likely not a book I’m ever going to pick up again.

Conversely, “Unfinished” consists of books I either didn’t finish for reasons that have less to do with their quality or books I’m setting aside for the time being.  Prospero Lost falls into the latter camp.  It’s not a bad book by any means, but it’s not really holding my attention as hard as something else might right now, and I have so many books to read.  I may come back to it at a later time, but I do intend to write an Unfinished review at some point in the near future..  I need to buy more bookmarks …

So as suggested last week, I’m going to shelf Prospero Lost for the time being and move onto the next book on the fantasy/sci-fi/general fiction shelf.

Samples Read This Week: 7

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Kept (RWTR) – This book starts off so strong and intriguing and also has one of my favorite elements: mental manipulation/mind control.  The first chapter lures you in with the lovelorn plight of a lonely guard then it utterly blows you away with the unexpected.
  2. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Kept (RWTR) – Holy shit do I really want to read this.  It has FFVII, Hunger Games, and Mistborn all over it.  The elite, ruling class literally has silver blood (Silver…Elite ahhhh!) whereas the lower class has common, red blood.  The main character Mare has a voice similar to Katniss, and she and her people are as downtrodden as Mistborn’s skaa.  While I didn’t finish Sanderson’s series for various reasons, I still loved the idea behind it, the detail, and the world building so books that contain similar themes are of interest to me.
  3. Ratha’s Creature by Clare Bell: Kept – I grew up reading animal based fiction/fantasy (e.g. Watership Down, Tailchaser’s Song, Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc.) and was introduced to this story through an 80s/early 90s cartoon CBS Story Break.  The writing reminds me of what I grew up with, so there’s a definite nostalgia factor involved.
  4. Written in Blood by Anne Bishop: Passed – This book has a 4.30 rating, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Bishops Black Jewels Trilogy in high school, but this book just didn’t do much for me.  I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s urban fantasy, and I’m really hard to please in that department.
  5. Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil: Kept (RWTR) – This book throws you right into the fray or should I say flood.  The opening line is gut wrenching, since the catalyst for the story has already happened, and the main character is recounting how everything occurred.
  6. Chime by Frannie Billingsly: Passed – While I loved the fairy tale aspect and the slight subversion with the dead stepmother (as opposed to dead mother), the writing just wasn’t for me.  The main character liked to double back on her sentences and almost seem like she was speaking to the reader, and it was jarring and took me a bit out of the story.  I also found out that this could be considered urban fantasy, so that’s another strike.
  7. Consider Phelbas by Iain Banks: Kept (RWTR) – This is a sci-fi novel written almost poetically.  It has more of a fantasy flare to it, which I really like.  I’m a fan of what I used to call sci-fi/fantasy fusion, which I found is already been named science fantasy.

Books Purchased This Week: 2

Title: The Golden Bough
Author: James George Frazer
Date Added: February 21, 2012
Date Purchased: March 17, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $0.00
Retailer: Amazon

There’s nothing cheaper than something free, and this is a book I’ve wanted for years.  I may still pick up a hard copy, because I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do the combination of reference and Kindle (I usually have fantasy/sci-fi/general fiction on there), but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Title: Silent Child
Author: Sarah A. Denzil
Date Added: March 13, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $0.99
Retailer: Amazon

Books Currently Reading: 5

Title: Riddled With Senses
Author: Petra Jacob
Date Added: January 28, 2017
Date Started: March 19, 2017

Media: Paperback
Progress: 8%

I love the taste of the words.  They’re random, scattered, and deliciously mad, yet they weave the lives before you in such brazen relief.  The narrative doesn’t have just one direction; it has all directions dependent on which way the characters, the carriers of it, decide to go.  It’s equal parts worrisome (to the outside observer and stodgy adult) and equal parts devil may care.

I’ve seen a paltry few shows about British teens (the only one coming to mind right now is The Misfits), and I have to agree with the assessment by Roll Magazine on the back cover that standard portrayals of their American counterparts are tame/genteel in comparison.  I’m looking forward to where Jitty and gang take me.

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: March 4, 2017
Date Started: March 5, 2017

Media: Kindle
Progress: 38%

Speaking of American teens hehe.  Blue and crew are much tamer in comparison to the fore mentioned, but what they’re seeking is more than wild.  This installment seems to be focusing more on Gansey and her, which makes sense since that’s how it all started (plus the title does heavily suggest she’ll be center stage).

Title: The Quantum Door
Author: Jonathon Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: February 18, 2016
Date Started: March 3, 2017

Media: Kindle
Progress: 71%

I’m really curious what the final act of this novel is going to bring.  The main concern of the first two parts was solved, but then something else happened at the end of second.  The book has been very stingy in showing us what’s really going on.  Why is there a quantum door in the first place?  How is that other world connected with our own?  Why is the nature of that world what it is?  Are there other worlds?  And more questions that would be spoilerific to post here.

Title: The Illustrated A Brief History of Time/The Universe in a Nutshell
Author: Stephen Hawking
Date Added: June 25, 2016
Date Started: January 2, 2016

Media: Paperback
Progress: 45%

The latest chapter was on time travel, which Professor Hawking has some doubts on.  He brought up the question of “If time travel is possible, why hasn’t anyone from the future come back to visit us?”  He went over the idea that it might be highly regulated, but humans will always be what they are, and it’s highly likely that someone would slip through the cracks.  It’s possible that time travelers are among us, and we just don’t know about.  They’re either good at keeping the secret or more likely if they told anyone in this time, they wouldn’t believe them anyway.  Maybe that’s the real paradox.

Title: The Mabinogion Tetralogy
Author: Evangeline Walton
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 31, 2016

Medium: Paperback
Progress: 76%

I officially like the third section of this compendium the least.  The main character is the least likable and the most dastardly and selfish.  It’s hard to come back from aiding and abetting your brother in such a heinous crime, and even after the siblings were punished (more or less duly), they still showed little remorse for what they put that poor maiden through.  There’s also a creep factor in that Gwydion proposed marriage to his own sister (ugh and ew) to which she wasn’t really disgusted, but rather just said the New Tribes didn’t like it.  Granted, I love ASOIAF so this shouldn’t be too out of sorts for me, but it’s still super icky.  The sister Arianrhod isn’t that much of a treat either.  When she came to the court, she did the whole “it’s the victim’s fault for getting my brothers in trouble” thing, and I wanted to pull out all of her hair.  It’s really interesting how the first two parts had main characters of honor and grace where this part you really can’t sympathize with them, and you hope they get an eternal comeuppance.

Fanfictions Finished: 0

Fanfictions Currently Reading: 2

Title: I’m the Darkness, You’re the Starlight
Author: runicmagitek
Fandom: FFVI
Pairing: Celes Chere/Setzer Gabbiani

No update from RM, but I need to hop on tumblr to check out the pics from PAX East she said she’d post 🙂

Title: I Will Call You Home: A Recounting of the Fifth Blight
Author: AtheneTseta
Fandom: Dragon Age
Pairing: Leilana/Various

I read Chapter 2 last night, and oh my god…it’s so well written.  It doesn’t even matter that I haven’t played Dragon Age and I’m not that familiar with the culture of the Dahlish elves.  I could learn about it from Athene’s story.  Words from their language is seamlessly woven in, and even though there’s a glossary at the end of each chapter, it’s really not that hard to figure out the gist of the words.  I  may try to read two chapters a session so I can catch up.

Fanfictions Added to TBR List: 0

Books Added to Goodreads TBR List This Week: 1

Title: The Vagrant
Series Title: The Vagrant
Author: Peter Newman
Date Added: March 20, 2017

This came up as a recommendation after I bought Silent Child.  The blurb was a bit more elaborate on Amazon.  It mentioned seraph defenders and something else angelic, but even the shorter blurb on GR would’ve been sufficient for me to add.  The nameless protagonist carries a legendary sword and a baby, and that’s too odd of a combination for me to pass this up.

Total Books on Goodreads TBR List: 442
Change from Last Week: -7

What are you currently reading and/or what’s on your radar to read next?  What would you recommend based on my current and recently added?  As always I look forward to your comments and suggestions!

<–The State of the Reader: 3/15/17          The State of the Reader: 3/29/17–>