The Lost World – review

It feels a bit silly to me to write a review over a classic book.  Maybe because there are so many reviews out there already—maybe because the people reading my review are more likely to have read the book themselves, and thus are judging my opinions.  When I review a newer or less-heard-of book, I’m alerting people to its existence, promoting it (for better or worse).  I’m not really promoting classic books.

But I feel like I should review all the books I read this year, so here goes.

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’m a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and it was refreshing to read more of Doyle’s work.  Despite this book being written in the POV of a character by the name of Malone, rather than good ol’ John Watson, there’s no hiding Doyle’s style.  It felt familiar and pleasant.

I knew the general idea of the novel before I started reading it.  I was never a big fan of the Jurassic Park movies, but I was excited to read the book that pretty much started it all.  I liked Malone, and Challenger, and the rest of the crew.  Doyle has a way of writing lovable jerks—I don’t mean the charming kind, either.  Challenger was hot-tempered and violent and stubborn, but for some reason, I liked him anyway.

There were lots of beautiful scenes in this book, between the jungle and dinosaurs, but honestly the image that sticks with me the most is the tick Malone finds on his leg one morning.  Spoiler:  He thinks it’s a grape, until he touches it and it pops, blood going everywhere.  I shiver just thinking about it.

I guess that’s about all I have to say about it, really.  I liked the book a great deal, and if you’re into easy-to-read classic books, this is one that should go on your list.  4/5 GR stars.

Aaaand I still have a book I read in March that I need to review.  I don’t know why it’s so hard to just write that review; it was a perfectly good book, but I can’t bring myself to do it?  We’ll see.

I’m currently reading Bitten by Kelley Armstrong in real book, and Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen in ebook. 

And you good folks should check out my girlfriend’s comic—Punch-A-Bear by Tabia B.  It’s updated twice a week (though she’s currently on vacation [visiting me!] so there’s a bit of a lull).  It’s funny and adorable, and it needs to be seen by more people.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

Advertisements

Messy

So this whole ‘have a novel ready for publication by the end of the year’ is really messing with me.

I think what I need to do is read some novels from the New Adult category, particularly some coming-of-age ones, because that’s what I want my story to be…but I have such aversion to most of the books in the category that I’m loath to spend money on them (particularly with other big expenses looming on the horizon).  Urgh.  Earlier tonight I even considered for a full few minutes making the story YA. 

I love YA, don’t get me wrong, but it would just change…so much.  The biggest thing stopping me is that my characters would have to get different jobs, which would change the plot quite a bit.  And I like the jobs they have.  Plus, I want to add something non-erotica to the New Adult category.  On the other hand, having a healthy poly relationship in a YA novel would be fantastic—but probably not very publishable just yet.  That can be something for me to write in the future, after I already have a few bestsellers out there and people are wanting to publish anything I will let them.

I’ve also considered biting the bullet and making the darn thing genre romance, but I just can’t.

Alas!  I know my plot needs to be altered greatly.  But I’m not so good at the whole plotting thing (if I were, I maybe wouldn’t be in the mess).  Therein lies the problem.

On the upside, I do think I may have figured out my first scene.  My first scenes are always so, so boring.  That’s one reason I need to read some New Adult coming-of-age stories, so I can figure out how to open the story.  I think I’m going to start with the introduction to polyamory.  Right now, polyamory isn’t mentioned until…a quarter of the way through the story?  Something like that.  And it really needs to come in earlier, so why not opening the entire story?  It will hopefully be grabby for the readers and start the story off right.

BUT WHERE TO GO FROM THERE? 

I’m falling behind on my reading, but I blame a week’s vacation in which my long-distance girlfriend came to visit, and we sat around doing nothing but playing Scrabble and working our way through fifteen episodes of Boy Meets World.  I’ll get caught up on my reading, no worries.  I’m almost finished with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and I’m working on a few others, too. 

I’m going through such a weird time in my life.  I feel like being better at my writing, like reading more, like being more dedicated to the literature-y parts of my life will help.  I hope, I hope.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

Dark of the Moon – review

A few weeks ago, I went to the SoKY BookFest.  Here in Kentucky, there aren’t a lot of writerly/readerly things, so I’ve been looking forward to the BookFest for several months.  As soon as I stepped into the huge conference room and saw table after table, stacked with books and attended by the (140) authors, I thought, “Why can’t we do this every month?  Every week?”  After picking up over $60 worth of books, though, I figured out why it would be a bad idea for me for this to happen more frequently.  I wanted every book.  They were all so beautiful and the authors were right there, and they wanted to talk to me and sign their books for me, and I wanted to buy all their books.

I took a break to listen to Henry Winkler speak (yes, the Henry Winkler), get an autographed copy of his book, grab lunch, and then went back in to get $40 worth of more books.  Then I went to a panel where I listened to three ladies discuss their realistic fiction writing techniques (and had an intense break-through moment regarding my own book–thank you, writerly atmosphere of BookFest).  Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope to attend again in the future. 

That brings me to tonight’s book review–

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett.

I was drawn to Author Barrett’s table by the adorable Sherlock Holmes plushie sitting on top of her books.  She writes a series of children’s books called The Sherlock Files in which Sherlock Holmes’ decedents go around and solve his unsolved cases.  But my attention wavered when I saw the cover of Dark of the Moon.  Here recently, I’ve been wanting to read only books written by women, with women as lead characters–that will hopefully pass the Bechdel test–so the feminine eye on the cover drew me to this book.  

I know I’ve heard the story of the Minotaur, but it’s been long enough that I couldn’t tell it to you.  I briefly entertained the idea of looking it up for a quick read before getting into this book, but I was sucked in so fast, I really couldn’t put the book down long enough.  Anyway, I still haven’t looked it up, so I don’t know what parts of the book are directly from the original story and what’s from Author Barrett’s mind, as this is a retelling of the Greek myth. 

The main character is teenage Ariadne, known to her people as She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess.  Her mother (She-Who-Is-Goddess) is her best friend, as other teenagers on the island are afraid of her for her potential power and proximity to Goddess.  Now, her mother is not Goddess.  This was confusing for me.  Ariadne’s mother is She-Who-Is-Goddess, not Goddess.  So.  Yeah.  It does get explained in the book, so I understand now, but it still sounds confusing.

Ariadne is a lonely young woman, with only her mother and her brother to love her.  And her brother is the minotaur, trapped under the palace where he can’t kill everyone mindlessly.  He’s not a monster–he just doesn’t know his own strength and isn’t able to understand most of what is said to him.  Ariadne goes to visit him whenever she gets a chance…

Until one day, a ship arrives, bringing tributes from Athens.  The Athenians don’t know that they should fear She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess, so Ariadne is able to make a few friends out of the pack, including Theseus.  He’s a charming, quiet young man, but with a secret–he aims to kill the monster under the palace.

Ugh, I loved this book.  The writing is wonderful and the characters are sweet.  It passes the Bechdel test over and over again (yay) and the romance parts are very secondary to the bigger plot.  I was pleasantly surprised at how little romance there was, actually.  

The story is told from Ariadne’s POV (first person, past tense) and Theseus’s POV (first person, present tense), which sometimes threw me off but it wasn’t awful.  Ariadne is strong and fierce, while still being kind and scared of her destiny.  She gives me hope that there are plenty of young women characters out there to love.

5/5 GR stars.  I’m very happy to have a signed copy of this book.

My Goals for 2013

To Do:

Get a tattoo.
Polish The Andersons’ Story.
-Start queries for Anderson.
Read 55 books.
-Post reviews here.
Write Parker’s Story (done!).
Win a NaNoWriMo (done!).
Dye my hair again.
Move to Georgia.
Have a tea party.
Go on at least five adventures.

What have I accomplished this year, so far, you ask?

We are now in May, and the answer is…not much.  So, I’ve made a little To-Do list and plan to keep up with it here—it will turn this blog into a bit more than a reading/writing blog, but so be it.  Some things are small, some are big, some are specific, and some are quite vague, but I want to do these things this year.  At some point.

Get a tattoo—I have an idea in mind.  A phoenix and the sign of the Deathly Hallows.  I don’t have a final picture, and I’m not 100% sure where I want it, but I think on my leg.  Hopefully I will get this in the next few weeks, and hopefully it isn’t the only tattoo I get this year, but we’ll start with it.

Polish The Andersons’ Story—my first novel.  I want a new plot, which will involve new scenes but hopefully I can keep most of what I have already written.  Once I get the new stuff written and everything arranged the way I want it, little edits will start.  Then I will get it read by someone(s) else, and then I will edit again, and then I will start sending out queries.  I don’t know how long this will take.  Hopefully not too very long.

Read 55 books—I’m working on number 18 right now.  According to GoodReads, that puts me at 1 book behind schedule, so I’m doing well considering I stopped reading for a month for Camp NaNo.  I do want to post reviews for each book I read, both here and on GoodReads, and there’s one I read a month ago that I haven’t written a review for yet… I’ll get around to it, promise.

Write Parker’s Story and win a NaNoWriMo—both done, and at the same time!  Whoo!

Dye my hair again—from my natural dirty blonde, my hair went to brown last year and then to bright red earlier this year.  I want to play with some other colors (or maybe just red again), and I think after I move and get a job (and make sure weird hair colors are appropriate at said job) will be a good time to experiment. 

Move to Georgia—this is the thing I’ve been thinking about the most tonight (I’ve been looking at prices for U-Hauls and apartments).   I’ve told my mom that I want to go, which is a big step for me.  She doesn’t like the idea, but she sounded like she wouldn’t really try to stop me, which is good (not that I thought she would, but she can, when so inclined, pour on some guilt).  I’ll be moving with my friend Dustin, and possibly my friend Josh as well.  There are some sub-to-dos involved here, such as (a) quit my job, (b) find a new job, (c) find an apartment, (d) move out of my apartment, (e) actually move, and I will get more specific as the time draws nearer.

Have a tea party—I think I want to do this before moving, as a fun way to say good-bye to friends (including roommates) who aren’t moving with me.  I’ve lived in my current home for three years now, and it will be bittersweet to move out.  I think a lovely tea party would be a good way to leave things.  Then I want to have a tea party at my new apartment, after I move.  This might sound creepy or it might sound fantastic (I’m going with fantastic), but I think if I can meet some nice people on OkCupid in the area, and throw a tea party for them all, it will be a good welcome-to-the-neighborhood type deal.

Go on at least five adventures—the most vague of those on this list!  Moving to Georgia will count as an adventure.  I imagine there will be plenty of exploring I can do once there that will count for the other four.

More will be added as I think of it.  But this looks like it won’t be too shabby a year, eh? 

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

Day 30ish!

I made it to 50k.  Technically, 50,003 words.

The last 3k or so, I was really struggling, but I got them down.  The book isn’t really finished…  As it is, it does tell a story: beginning, middle, end.  But it isn’t the whole story I want it to tell.

I simply cannot keep working on it, though.  Sorry ’bout it.  It’s such a complicated story, and while I do love the characters a lot, I need a break.  I’ve been itching to get back to my first book (since I decided the darn thing needed to be replotted, urrgh), so that’s what I’m going to work on next.  My Andersons are going to be my focus, and I’m going to make them very shiny.  That’s my project.  If I say it enough times, it might just stick–I have a bad habit of making writing promises that immediately fall apart, but I need this.  So.  I’m going to do it.

I had entertained thoughts of participating in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo as well, but I don’t think that’s such a good idea.  I have enough first drafts.  I need some second drafts.  I need some rewrites and edits and polishing and queries.

It’s so odd, isn’t it?  How I can struggle and whine and groan and pull out my own metaphorical teeth for hours, trying to get words on the screen, willing to give a lot to stop… and then I finish, and I can’t wait to move to the next project.  

Let’s do this.

Day 27ish

We’re almost to the end of the month, and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to the 50k mark. (Actually, if you count the 16k I wrote for this story before Camp, I’m well past 50k…but I rewrote a lot of those scenes this month, so I don’t know how much is still usable.)

I’m quite proud of myself, I cannot lie about that. The story has moved far away from the original plot, but that’s because unexpected characters have taken over–if I can write the original story, too (some of which is in the pre-Camp 16k), and rearrange some things, I think this could form into an impressively medium-length novel.

To celebrate when I reach 50k officially, I think I want to get my next tattoo. I’ve been wanting to get it all month, but I’ve been a little distracted, and I deserve something pretty.

I’m thinking about making some big life changes as well. I might be moving out to Georgia–a six-hour drive from where I am now. Thinking about lots of stuff related to that. I wish I didn’t have that to distract me from writing just now, but deadlines are coming up, leases are going away… Wish me luck, eh?

Oh, and I’m vaguely considering blogging about different things here. I like the idea of keeping it to reading and writing, with a hint of personal stuff, but…different things could be interesting, too.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

A plug – and Day twenty-one

I’m going to start this entry with a plug for The Kelworth Files, a fun blog about writing and NaNoWriMo. I was featured as part of the blog’s A-Z NaNo Challenge (the letter Q!) so you should definitely check that out, as well as the rest of the entries.

And as for Camp NaNo itself, I’m a bit behind, but catching up quickly. I keep slacking for a few days at a time, and then writing 3-4k in one sitting. If I can do that a few days in a row, I’ll be just fine. I’m at 33k, only need 17k mooooore. It’s so very cute to look at my bullseye and see the arrow near the 75% mark.

I’ve had a few revelations, which are too much fun. I feel like I might actually be able to do this–all of it. Finish this book, finish my first book, submit it to agents, auuuurgh, I want it all. I went to SOKY BookFest yesterday, met Henry Winkler of all people, and spent $100 on books. Then I enjoyed a panel on contemporary fiction, my genre, and had a non-related revelation about my non-Nano book, the Andersons, and I had to contain my freaking out. It was awesome. I thank the creative writing and reading energy of the BookFest. I really need to find more things like this.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ