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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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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Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #6)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 5                                                                               Saga: Volume 7–>

Title: Saga, Volume 6
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: June 11, 2017
Date Started: June 17, 2017
Date Finished: June 22,, 2017
Reading Duration: 5 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera

Pages: 152
Publication Date: June 29, 2016
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


After a dramatic time jump, the three-time Eisner Award winner for Best Continuing Series continues to evolve, as Hazel begins the most exciting adventure of her life: kindergarten. Meanwhile, her starcrossed family learns hard lessons of their own.


I think I’m going to do this review in bullet points and pretty much just copy and paste from my notes, because I’m lazy, and I just added two more books to my review pile.  So here goes:

  • Blue (Wreath’s tongue) is definitely a Romance language.  I can kind of understand what they’re saying.  Thank you junior high to college level French.
  • Hazel is combination of colors just like Hazel (Alana and Marko’s daughter) is a combination of worlds.  Also holy shit *spoiler* she has four wings. *end spoiler*
  • The two reporters, Doff and Upsher, actually did pick up that obscure Oswald quote Alana says on the Circuit when she can’t remember her lines.  Someone warned her that that might happen, and she completely brushes off and then gets high.
    • Speaking of the reporters, Doff (the green-skinned one) recognizes the similarities between Alana and Marko’s story and him and his partner, which is a double entendre because they’re gay, but homosexuality isn’t accepted on their planet Jetsam.  Upsher, though, is too caught up in getting the story and refuses to see it.  His argument is that them kissing won’t send shock waves through the universe like Alana and Marko’s relationship and offspring will, but he’s missing the point Doff is trying to make.  They all just want to live their lives free of persecution based on whom they love and whom their family is.
    • Upsher (blue) is also kind of an asshole.  Doff actually has a heart and cares more about others over just getting a story.
  • Only the royal robots have colored screens.  I didn’t notice this until a character mentioned it, but then I remembered that Dengo the janitor only had a black and white face.  Also at least the royals literally have blue blood.
  • Again this series kicks ass with its inclusion.  Petrichor (which refers to smell of rain) is a trans woman from Wreath who *spoiler* accidentally finds out Hazel’s secret. *end spoiler*  She (Petri) is someone who 100% understands having to keep certain parts of your body secret to protect yourself and possibly your family.  I think it’s an awesome parallel, though I’d love to hear a trans person’s perspective at some point.

If you’re not yet reading Saga, and you enjoy science fantasy, space opera with brilliantly written characters, amazing artwork, and a story that will both keep you on your toes and make you think, I’d highly suggest you buy or borrow it.  I’m lending my Volumes 3-7 to my friend next week, because no one should miss out on this story because they’re currently short of funds.

And so it goes on…

<–Saga: Volume 5                                                                               Saga: Volume 7–>

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Saga: Volume 5 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #5)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 4                                                                               Saga: Volume 6–>

Title: Saga, Volume 5
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: June 6, 2017
Date Started: June 12, 2017
Date Finished: June 15,, 2017
Reading Duration: 3 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera

Pages: 152
Publication Date: September 9, 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


Multiple storylines collide in this cosmos-spanning new volume. While Gwendolyn and Lying Cat risk everything to find a cure for The Will, Marko makes an uneasy alliance with Prince Robot IV to find their missing children, who are trapped on a strange world with terrifying new enemies.


The volume reveals a Hunger Games vibe when it’s discovered that Landfallian soldiers were originally chosen by lottery, but as the war raged on, it moved away from the original progenitors whose descendants never know its horrors, and the commentary here is brilliant.  How many super powers have started or ordered wars that will never touch them?  Also, it’s never made clear (at least not yet) who started the conflict between Landfall and Wreath, and even if this knowledge is never revealed, it doesn’t matter.

We don’t know why the wings and the horns are at each other’s throats besides the symbolic Paradise Lost/war of Heaven vs. Hell motif, which brings up some interesting questions about the narrative’s take on that.  Obviously, the prevailing notion is that Heaven/God were right and Hell/Satan were wrong, but to look at it objectively, it was really a battle of free will vs. determinism; knowledge vs. belief (or if we want to be harsher, ignorance).  Having the Landfallians own the wings whereas their moon is populated by “horns” whom they’d dubbed the derogatory “moony,” implies there might have been uprising and revolution on the satellite’s part.

It’s not like slavery, especially of the sexual sort, isn’t tackled in the most horrific way in this series, and again, Saga blurs the lines between hero and villain.  The “heroes,” Alana and Marko, don’t always perform the most virtuous deeds, and the “villains,” The Will and Prince Robot IV aren’t always the most nefarious monsters in the room.  There is always someone or something far worse.

And it goes on…

<–Saga: Volume 4                                                                               Saga: Volume 6–>

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The State of the Writer: 7/2/17

<–The State of the Writer: 6/25/17          The State of the Writer: 7/9/17–>

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: 266,754
Prior Word Count: 267,254
Word Difference: -500
Status: Editing
Progress: 3rd edit of Chapter 10

It amazes me how the smallest change to a story can have a momentous effect, and I’m not even talking about tweaking a plot point.  Deciding what Sephiroth was going to do with his coat in one scene means I have to make sure the text following abides by that decision.  When he was wrapping it around Aeris, that means the cuffs of his shirt are more accessible, but if he’s wearing the coat, she’s probably not going to be able to unbutton them, unless the stick out past his coat, which they don’t because the coat covers his wrists.  One little change and you have to ensure that what follows reflects that.

I was too tired for two nights in a row, so I wasn’t even able to work on it, but when I finally sat down to edit, I realized it wasn’t going to be quite as difficult as I suspected.  There are parts of the scene where she has her hands on his black shirt, and I initially thought “How the hell am I going to change all of that??  I need to rethink the entire scene D:” Then I remembered that he could just unbutton his coat and everything would be much easier *headdesk*  This is why you don’t edit tired or drunk.

Unfortunately, since I’ve made significant changes this time around, and I may make more since I’m also rethinking the nightmare scene I wrote later in the chapter, I’m going to have to do a 4th edit.  Usually though, by the time I get to that point, it’s just a read-through so long as everything flows properly.  Let us hope.

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The State of the Writer: 6/25/17

<–The State of the Writer: 6/18/17          The State of the Writer: 7/2/17–>

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: 267,254
Prior Word Count: 267,565
Word Difference: -311
Status: Editing
Progress: 3rd edit of Chapter 10

When I finished the second edit, I realized I didn’t like the pacing of the chapter.  Something was off.  It was too long, too drawn out, too…something.  I created an outline as I’d said I was planning last week in order to organize my thoughts and figure out what the chapter is supposed to accomplish.  I won’t know how much it’s helped until I reedit and reorg then do yet another edit afterwards.

Right now I’m at a part that I need to change, and it’s amazing how something so simple as Sephiroth not taking off his coat can be complicated in writing.  You have to make sure the text following takes that into account, and anything you miss could cause confusion or give away the fact that extensive changes were done.  Even though we all know writers spend a great deal of their time editing, that being evident in the text breaks the illusion necessary to suspend disbelief.

Quote: I always wear a coat with lining whenever we go anywhere.  In case you grow cold or are tired or frightened, I can just wrap you in this.”


Project: Book Review
Title: Silent Child
Author: Sarah A. Denzil
Status: Drafting

I’m deciding whether or not I’m going to do this review like I did the one for The Light of the Fireflies, where I split it into two parts.  The first is the spoiler free review, and the second is where I have to spoil it to talk about specific points.  I may be able to say what I need without doing the latter, but I’ll figure that out for sure when I have time to work on it again.


Project: Book Reviews
Title: Various
Status: Planning

I’m still five reviews behind even though I’ve completed or started two since my last weekly update.  Saga: Volumes 4-6, A Court of Mist and Fury, and Half a King.


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: 6/18/17          The State of the Writer: 7/2/17–>

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Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples (Saga #2)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 1                                                                               Saga: Volume 3–>

Title: Saga, Volume. 2
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: May 23, 2017
Date Started: May 27, 2017
Date Finished: May 29, 2017
Reading Duration: 2 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera

Pages: 144
Publication Date: June 19, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback

From award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan (Pride of Baghdad, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, Done to Death), Saga is sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and horrific monsters, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters her strangest adventure yet… grandparents.


The thing  you have to remember about war is that the only truly innocent parties are the children, and sometimes even they are forced to fight.  I wonder if we’ll ever find out what caused the initial conflict between Landfall and its moon Wreath, not that it matters at this point.  Generations have come and gone and they’re not only still fighting, but the war has mostly moved away from the original combatants to distant corners of the universe.

Stories like this make you sympathize with both sides just by nature of having Alana and Marko being together and producing Hazel.  Both of them fought on opposite ends, but neither of them care about that anymore.  This little family is one blip in an eternal bloody conflict, attempting to escape and ever pursued by those who wish to kill or exploit them.

In this volume, we’re introduced to Barr and Klara, Hazel’s paternal grandparents who are none too pleased their son eloped with their world’s mortal enemy, but like all grandparents, they don’t let such frivolity occupy them for long, especially considering the stakes.

This story continues to impress me.

5 stars.

Note:  I know this is not the greatest review, but I’ve pretty much been shotgunning the series, and I didn’t take very good notes on the second volume.  It’s hard to go on pure memory when it’s just one overarching narrative.  If the purpose of a review is to convince you to read the story in question, I hope I’ve at least done that.

<–Saga: Volume 1                                                                               Saga: Volume 3–>

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