Graceling

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Goodreads Summary:

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away.

After reading some reviews, I have to agree, there is a bit of a Feminist overkill.

Katsa seems to take every measure to strip herself of her femininity, mentally and physically. I don’t know if I would consider myself a feminist, but I know I could make it on my own, I’m confident and independent and I don’t need a man to save me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t look pretty, take pride in my appearance and my femininity. Katsa just goes overboard with it sometimes. Ok fine, you don’t line to wear dresses, whatever. Ya, I get having long hair can be annoying, but you don’t have to hack it all off and try to make it look like a boy. And just because someone offers to protect you doesn’t mean they think you are helpless, maybe they just don’t want you killing and torturing people to “protect” yourself since that’s the only way you know how to do things. I mean seriously.

And don’t even get me started on the marriage thing, honestly, not all men want to marry you just to make you their servant. The depiction of marriage portrayed in this is so archaic. She thinks the title of wife will make her different, but devoting herself to Po as his partner and lover won’t? That doesn’t even make sense to me. Marriage is a partnership, not an ownership, and with all the other modern flare this book pulls in that’s the thing that irks me the most. In general though, the modernity of the book annoyed me throughout. I would be in a flow of conversation that was easy and then all of a sudden things would get stiff and I felt like in was thrust into an Austen book with proper decorum as the underlying dictator of life. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

There was an interesting story though, and I liked the idea of the Grace’s though I would have liked some info as to where they came from. It seemed to drag a bit too. Po was a great character, and I really liked Bitterblue. I was Content with the ending, I think their devotion to each other, yet unwillingness to marry, makes more sense with their goals, not as an anti-marriage stance, and it was clear they pictured being together for a while, if not explicitly saying forever.

Since the series doesn’t follow the same protagonists I don’t think I am going to continue it, especially since the reviews for the second one, Fire, were not all that great. Since I liked Bitterblue though, I may read her book, which is the last in the series, it seems like they can stand alone as well as be a cohesive series so we’ll see how that goes. I have a lot on my TBR list before I decide on Bitterblue though.

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Coming This Week: Sept. 29

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So, if you noticed the word count bar to the left you can see that it’s not filled. And I said I would finish Recovery last week. Well, the days got away from me and that didn’t happen. But I am practically done! Today I am going to finish the last scene and do the epilogue. Then all this week I am going to work on getting the words from my journal onto the computer, which is really why there isn’t any recorded progress. I have 11 pages to get into the Word document, which based on general estimation is just about 3,000 words (which would put me over my word count goal!) and it takes time to type all that. But I promise, this is the week! Wednesday and Friday I will tell you all about how I’m finishing/finished and how awesome and terrifying it feels!

Anyway, as for book discussions this week, look forward to seeing ones for Graceling and These Broken Stars. Both books surprised me a bit, but in completely different ways.

As a side note have you guys heard of Hozier? I have been listening to him a lot this past weekend and he will certainly help me get through the end of my first WIP this afternoon, as well as a latte and probably a cookie. Though if I have that cookie I better run, my workouts have been pretty inconsistent these past couple weeks. I think it’s time to throw a new workout into the routine to break the monotony!

What are you all up to this week?

How will you Publish?

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UnknownI rad my first Indie book this past week. And I also found a blog post (I don’t remember where) that talked about the process of e-book publishing. It raised a lot of good questions and pointed out some pros and cons about it all.

While the thought of indie/self-publishing appeals to me, it also doesn’t. I’m such a snob that the little grammar and inconsistencies of the idie book really bugged me. I feel like if I was ever to get to the publishing stage I would want to go the traditional route, with more eyes on the book I think a much cleaner and final version would be the one to reach my readers. And I don’t want to do something if it’s not going to be polished to a shining gem.

Though, I do think using smaller publishers, self-publishing, and e-book publishing (I have no idea how all of these overlap or anything, I haven’t gotten to that stage in my writing so I haven’t really looked into it) is a great way to get your writing out there if you don’t want to go through the trials of traditional publishing or you don’t really care how your work gets into the world, as long as it does. I know this is a very narrow look at it all, obviously, I don’t really know what I am talking about just yet.

Now, we’ll see if my mind changes in a few years, after a hundred rejection letters. Anyway, what do you all know about the different venues of publishing, and what path do you plan on taking, or have taken already?

 

The Fortune Hunter

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The Fortune HunterGoodreads Summary:

In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything – except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

Full of passion and drama, THE FORTUNE HUNTER tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.

Historical Fiction used to be my go-to genre, and I would say this is a Historical Fiction in a loose sense. The setting, the environment, the decorum, they all have their roots in historic countenance, but there was an undeniable modern tone to the whole story, which made me like it all the more.

I really enjoyed the story, it was a good romance story, but it also looked at the constraints of Victorian society, highlighted the difficulties of being a female heir, and the difficult situations that often arose from marriages for money and position, not love. Charlotte, our main protagonist was very interesting (most of her character is fabricated, but that’s ok with me). She is a photographer, an heir, and almost completely inexperienced when it comes to men. While she has a couple suitors who are only after her money, she falls for the known womanizer – Bay. Even though she knows his past, he gives her every encouragement that she is the woman to settle him and his philandering ways. Though this sweeps her off her feet, she is still smart enough to resist his urge to elope, and makes choices like going to London to work with her god-mother, as opposed to staying and watching him like a hawk. I was very impressed with her, she is a good balance of naive and independent, she’s brave and strong, and determined to set a name for herself separate from her money – largely ignoring the public opinion that often looks down on her.

Bay is interesting, caught between his womanizing ways and the girl he can see a future with, only to come under the spell of an Empress of renowned beauty. I liked the complex story he’s given, he somehow feels bound to the fulfill the notorious ways that all of his friends assume from him, and I think this is one of the reasons he makes his mistake. He has a great story though, and a believable and encouraging transformation. He comes under Charlotte’s spell immediately, and it catches him off guard. Then he is conned into being a guide for the Empress, who he is obviously mesmerized by – like every other man – and manipulated into becoming her lover (though he doesn’t fight real hard against it at first). He enters into the affair right before Charlotte leaves, and somehow convinces himself it’s her fault for not eloping with him – he believed to elope would force him to remain loyal. Basically, he’s a douche at this point. However, he begins to see the manipulative ways of the Empress, her desire to own him and not just love him, and when Charlotte breaks off their engagement when she finds out about the affair he finally gets a dose of reality and realizes his mistakes.

Though it’s a bit cookie-cutter, it’s done in a great way. Bay’s discovery of the truth of the Empress and his true feelings is an interesting path. And while he’s caught in the Empress’ clutches, Charlotte finds herself bonding with another young gentleman, who definitely is attracted solely to her, not her money. The lose of Charlotte, his reduction to an Empress’ plaything, and the threat of losing the few things he truly loves (his country, his horse, and Charlotte finally shakes him from his caviler lifestyle to admit his true desires. So he wins the Grand National steeple chase that has always been his dream, get’s Charlotte back, and they head off to America so she can fulfill her photography dreams.

The Empress is very interesting, I pitied her while also hating her. She’s lived a charmed life and isn’t used to not getting what she wants, making her extremely manipulative. She has no qualms about ruining Charlotte’s love life, and is so vain that she can’t see that Bay would rather be with Charlotte instead of her, and won’t let anyone take a photograph of her because she’s beginning to get wrinkles. While it’s clear her husband ignores her, which is awful, and she yearns for love, she does not look for an equal relationship. The way she uses Bay is ridiculous, and he can’t see that she’s manipulating him into becoming her lover until it’s done and it almost ruins his life. She’s so superior that she finds visits with Queen Victoria troublesome and blatantly offends other nations royalty. And though she ditched her husband to hunt in the U.K. for an undetermined time, she also left her daughter there, and never talks about her, what kind of mother is that!? Basically, she is a horrible person, so horrible Bay literally has to go to American to get away from her.

Overall, really good read, loved the modern tone of the language and the introduction of independent women in a time when it was almost impossible to do anything beyond your husband.

The End is Nigh!

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So, if you noticed my word count bar, you see that it’s almost full! I will finish this week, no matter what. I have decided that after I finish this last big scene (which I worked on yesterday and got a new twist out of), and the epilogue (which will be pretty brief, like a summary of an epilogue) I will stop working on this manuscript.

I am planning on creating a rough outline for the sequel to Recovery, I have been keeping notes about it as I get ideas, but I want to organize them a bit and try to get a solid plan in the works. My original plan for this series has changed so much since I started writing that I need some time to go back to the drawing board before I get into editing or starting a new draft.

Also, I want to outline Dearest Evangeline, I don’t want to lose steam on this idea, and I think if I can get a rough character sketch and outline, along with some of the snippets of text it will be safe to sit for a little while. I also plan to work on it while I go through and edit Recovery, which it going to be a long process!

I’m really excited about all of this though, just now I realized that I have three books in the works, what!? And I am looking forward to the editing process, even though I know it’s going to give me a ton of doubts, I think my writing has improved as I’ve moved through my first WIP and I know that my ideas have gotten better.

Do you guys have any methods for this stage in your writing? Do you just start from the beginning of your draft and edit it like a normal document or something else? I know I will eventually print it out and edit by hand, but I want to get it cleaned up a bit more before I go down that road or I will be wasting a lot of paper and ink.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

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Goodreads Summary:

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

There was a lot going on in this book, and I don’t know if it was all good. The first part of it backtracked into the Epilogue of the second book, which I was a bit confused about at first, but ended up really enjoying. I did not however, like the new character Eliza. I actually kind of hated her, not because of her personally, but because it took forever to figure out why she was significant and she would bust into the story – with pretty boring little side notes – and interrupt major relationship/battle/climactic events. Once we finally figure out who she is, I was still like “ok? I get why this is helpful, but I still don’t understand why we had to deal with her interruptions the whole time.” I think the message could have been provided without having to have her in the story, she felt frivolous to me.

I’m glad that Karou and Akiva finally get back together, and even though it’s a pretty slow rekindling, it makes sense. I mean, they are in the middle of a war here, it’s not like they have time for a long conversation to hash out details and nights alone to reforge their bond. But it worked, and both of them worked better once they had figured out the details between themselves.

Honestly, the best part of this book was Ziri and how he dealt with being in the wolfs body. It was really interesting to see how he changed the wolf, and it showed how smart and capable he was. I also liked he and Liraz’s developing relationship – my wish from the second book with came true!

The deal with the Stelians also kind of got on my nerves. Taylor just introduced so many new things into the last book, I thought it got a bit muddled at times. Though, we finally get to see where Akiva is from and whatnot, I just wish there had been some more foreshadowing/information in the second book, it was all still pretty vague then.

Then we have the angles in the human world seeking weapons, the discovery of Karou’s chimera hideout and its corpses, Zuze and Mik (who I really like), stupid Razgut, and this thing with the doorways between the worlds and the monsters that threaten to destroy Eratz and then move on to Earth. There is just so much!

Overall, I liked it, but the second one was my favorite. The ending was satisfactory, it wasn’t the happiest it could have been, but it fit the story and didn’t leave me wanting. It did seem to set up for a spin off series though, and I’m not sure I will invest in those, I enjoyed these books, but I didn’t love them.

Coming This Week: Sept. 22

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I don’t think this week will be as exciting as last week, but it should still be a good one at least. Over the weekend my husband and I went and saw “This is where I leave you,” and it was actually real good! I cried more than I thought I would, but it was all good tears. This weekend we are going to go see “The Maze Runner,” I’m hoping the crowds will have thinned a bit, and I need to refresh on what happens in the book, it’s been a while since I’ve read it.

Anyway, I have made some good writing progress, so look for all sorts of fun chatting about that on Wednesday, and I’m thinking maybe a talk about publishing on Friday – nothing serious though.

Tuesday and Wednesday I have book discussions on Dreams of Gods & Monsters, the finale of Taylor’s series; and The Fortune Hunter, a historical fiction set in Victorian England – I know, I’m shaking things up.

Work wise, still plugging away at pulling together photographs for all the exhibits we’re working on right now. It’s a slow process, especially since there is only me to do it, I only work part time, and I have other stuff I also need to get done, on top of intern managing. And I feel like I have a problem. This is the second intern I have managed since I have had this job, she is much more component than the last intern I had, but for some reason I just don’t like her, and I didn’t like the last one either – so why do I keep claiming them all for myself? I know it’s because I have a huge collection that I just don’t have the time to focus on, but I’m always really excited about it, and I like the whole “teaching aspect” – for the first week, then I am just annoyed that they can’t do things on their own. I think I have unrealistic expectations of peoples capabilities. . .

Well! Now I need to get to work, so see you all this week!