Coming This Week: Feb. 29

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I don’t know if there are any Leap Day celebrations or anything, I doubt it, but try and find something fun to do anyway. I’m probably going to do some writing, hopefully a lot of it as it’s my last day of the month to really make an impact on the overall productivity of February. We’ll talk about how that all went come Wednesday though.

For book discussions this week look for:

Red Queen was a re-read in preparation for Glass Sword, and let me just warn you that my initial review lost half to a whole star after that revisit.

Review: Queen Song & Steel Scars

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Queen Song

Goodreads Summary:

Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

As it seems to be Aveyard’s trend, the bulk of this story was interesting enough to keep me reading until the last chapter, when all hell broke loose and I was left mouth gaping. Her skill certainly lies in the ending cliffhanger, but I’m wondering how long that will sate readers. Anyway, this was interesting enough, but I think it will become more meaningful to me when I re-read RQ in preparation for GS, as I really don’t remember the nuances of the first book all that well. I did really enjoy seeing the glimpses of the young king and Maven’s mother though, and I think this will certainly supplement my future interactions with those characters.

 

 

Steel Scars

Goodreads Summary:

Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.

I didn’t like this one very much. It was hard for me to read with Farley constantly telling us what people are feeling and what’s happening and whats going on around her, I desperately wanted more dialogue. Also, it wasn’t broken up into chapters, which made transitions really hard to immediately identify. Aveyard is quickly becoming known for her unreliable narrators, and Farley definitely fits into this category. As opposed to Mare though I found little redeeming qualities in Farley, she’s arrogant and refuses to take responsibility for anything. Those traits made it hard for me to go along with her dismissal of the Scarlet Guards orders. When she finally does start to show some growth, it doesn’t make sense to me, and a lot of it seems to be tied to Shade, and the budding insta-love between the two of them just did not work for me.

 

I don’t know if I am getting disillusioned by Aveyard’s writing, or if these two novella’s were just not up to par. We’ll see in my rereading of Red Queen in preparation for Glass Sword.

 

Back to Basics

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Last weekend I needed to get out of the house. I was basically a hermit all week, and beyond one super productive writing day, my WC was not impressive, or even existent for the most part. So when my husband went to see “Deadpool” Saturday, I went to the coffee shop and demanded I get some writing done!

Well, my Surface does not have Scrivner on it, and while I was initially sad about that, it turned out to be a good thing. I jotted down my plot notes from Scrivner (what I like most about the program) and then just opened the Word document that I use as a backup to my Scrivener one. Let me tell you, writing was so much easier than it has been for me lately. I have been having a tough time rewriting parts of my story because I am trying to use what’s already there too. Well, having a blank page made my creative juices flow so much more easily than they have in weeks and it was a great feeling.

Furthermore, Saturday morning I read Dennard’s Misfit’s & Daydreamer’s newsletter, about getting back into the writing groove and it was so inspirational. She talked about several books she read on productivity, the different “muscles” it works and the different kinds of productivity – pretty interesting actually. But one of her new methods, that I think I should start, was writing a little every morning. She uses prompts or ideas outside of her current WiP, and it’s really to stretch those writing muscles.

I used to do little creative prompts and stopped, but I am certainly going to pick it up again. Do you all have any recommendations for finding good prompts?

Review: Morning Star

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Goodreads Summary:

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied – and too glorious to surrender.

Unfortunately, I was not able to read this as quickly as I would have liked. Because of traveling and whatnot I was stuck reading only a couple chapters a day until I got back home. And by that point I think I had already suffered by not being able to get sucked into the story. I like to immerse myself in my books, and I feel my reading of this suffered because of that. Don’t get me wrong, it was still amazing, but I feel like it would have been more amazing if I had read it in 3-4 days as opposed to 8.

Anyway, there was so much left up in the air when we left Golden Son, and I really had no idea how things were going to move forward. There is defiantly a different tone to this finale than we have seen in the other books. Secrets are out, relationships tested, new allies made and old vanquished. It’s a less blood thirsty reading, and I really appreciated that. Brown’s characters have gone through 6 years of trails, both physical and emotional, and they are all finally understanding their role in the big picture and deciding on the people they want to become. There is so much growth with Darrow – who has finally decided he is more than a sword and that his dream is separate from Eo’s; in Sevro – who accepts his weaknesses and chooses to move past revenge; Mustang – looking past blood family to those who have never wanted her to be anything different and learns to merge her dreams of reform with Darrow’s; Cassius and Victra also make some impressive decisions.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful finale. All the plot points were resolved, and not always in pretty little packages. We loose some of those we love, and some of those we used to love, and just enough people that we hate. While I said it was less blood thirsty, I didn’t mean there was less blood.

I could say a lot more, but I don’t want to ruin it for people who haven’t read it yet. So when you do let me know and we can gush about it!

Coming This Week: Feb. 22

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Well first announcement, my birthday is tomorrow. It’s a pretty anticlimactic one this year. I mean it’s on a Tuesday so there’s that, but it’s 26, nothing really cool about that one is there?

Anyway, book reviews this week:

I was super excited about Morning Star so I can’t wait to see what you all thought about it. The Novella’s are lumped into one review, and honestly I was a bit disappointed in them.

Wednesday I will be talking about some productivity revelations and tips from my favorite newsletter by Susan Dennard.

Revisiting: Golden Son

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As with my revisit of Red Rising earlier this week, I’m taking my original review of Golden Son from last year and adding my new impressions in bold.

Goodreads Summary:

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

War, spies, rebellion, double-crossing, betrayal, revelations, and top notch relationships. This book had it all and it was such a great expansion of the first chapter of the story. I also noticed a marked improvement on Brown’s writing. There was less big info dumps, it wasn’t as sticky in places, and in general you can see how he’s growing as a writer, which I always love to see. 

The beginning was a bit painful (self-doubt, vengeance, loss of pride), and Eo is back with a bigger presence than I was expecting, but as I continue my re-reading experience I am growing to understand his reliance on her to continue his fight for her dream. However, it is also becoming more evident that Darrow has developed his own need for change, and that his Gold friends – especially Mustang and Sevro – are adding greater fuel to Eo’s flame and even improving Darrow’s overall goal of reformation. 

The secondary characters only become more developed in this, I love Sevro (even though he’s so demented), Mustang is still my favorite (she’s so strong and decisive while still being feminine), Pax’s family is amazing, Victra is really interesting, Roque and Tactus threw me a bunch of surprises, Jackal is just beyond understanding, and Cassius never fails to show just how weak he is. The depth and color these characters add I think is a great testament to Brown’s writing. I feel like it’s a pretty rare thing to have so many different and complex characters beyond the protagonist in a “YA” book (or any book really) while still being a close-knit and focused community. 

The twists and depths of the political and social alliances are fascinating. You never know who’s going to turn next or what Darrows next move will be. Especially with the final twist of the book. One of the “bad guys” is gone, but his replacement has no moral limits in what he will do and I think is the most dangerous of all the villains in this story. I have no idea how Darrow is going to get out of the pickle he’s in, but I hope Sevro and Mustang are going to be the ones to get him out of it.

And I have to add a comment about the books Ship. I really hope there is a happy ending for Darrow and Mustang. First, they are just great together, and he doesn’t deserve to lose both of his loves. Second, their relationship would be a physical indicator of the wrongs of the Society and how it can be overcome. I have faith in them, and Mustang, but I’m sure she needs some time to process everything – his was a pretty big secret. I am still devoted to these two, but I also really respect the fact that this is such a background element to the story. There is so much going on that I think if it was more romance focused we would loose a lot of love for the stories. Brown does a great job at adding just enough one-on-one scenes between the two, and just enough internal dialogue on Darrow’s part to show his depth of care for this amazingly fierce woman. Mustang is also my favorite character after Darrow so I will always route for her no matter what. 

Now lets dive into Morning Star and hope that not all of my favorite characters die!

Inspiration from Authors

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I’m one of those Aspiring Author’s who doesn’t really know how “aspiring” they are. I still haven’t decided if it’s anything I am really going to purse as a potential career. I know my MS is getting better, but I don’t know if it will ever be good enough for me to be confident enough to put it out in the world – or try to. Also, I’ve really only had one other idea beyond my current MS and am terrified that if I somehow am able to achieve true authorship I will burn-out very quickly. That said, I do know it’s something I really enjoy – especially when I get into a good routine and see myself making progress.

I know a lot of you follow other aspiring writers and authors in blogs and newsletters, but there is one that I really love. Susan Dennard, author of the Something Strange and Deadly series and Truthwitchhas a newsletter that I adore, and really speaks to me. Dennard constantly talks about how hard the writing process is for her, and I appreciate the honesty, and the tips she has developed for herself to help her get past the self-doubt, the rough spots, and continue searching for that inspiration.

She’s an author I look up to also because she started as a marine biologist, that’s a huge career shift! I mean at least my background has a large writing element so I feel like I already have a toe in the door of this field. Anyway, lately especially I have been having some issues pushing my story forward without losing control of it, and I always look forward to her newsletters and the advice they have.

I definitely encourage you to check out her blog and sign up for her Misfits & Daydreamers series.

Who do you all find encouragement and inspiration from?