Friday, April 29, 2016

April Wrap-Up

I don't really have much to say. I thought I was feeling better, then I got a migraine right in the freaking middle of the month. So, yeah, in an effort to not bitch and moan to you about probably everything under the sun, let's get to the books.

What I've been reading...

A Question of Honor by Lindsay Buroker - ****
Labyrinths of the Heart by Lindsay Buroker - ****
Death from Below by Lindsay Buroker - ****

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce - ***
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - ** - My Thoughts
Earth Star by Janet Edwards - ****

The Twilight Kingdom by Anthea Sharp - ****
The Ruins of Karzelek by Ruby Lionsdrake - ****
The Copenhagen Connection by Elizabeth Peters - *** - My Thoughts

Rogues by Ava March - **
American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin - ****
The Song Caster by Danielle E. Shipley - *****

Wolves by C. Gockel - ***
The Prophecy Con by Patrick Weekes - *****
The Better Part of Valor by Tanya Huff - *****

The Sun's Rival by Danielle E. Shipley - *****
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis - ***** - Review: 5/4
The Scarecrow King by Jill Myles - **** - Review: 5/11

Buying ban information to date...
I can buy/get free 1 book for every 5 I read.
Series continuations are free.

Physical books read: 53
E-books read: 38

Physical books bought: 9
E-books bought: 12

I won't go into how badly I failed this month. I just won't go there.

What I've been watching...
I've decided to do this a little different. From now on I'm only going to mention the shows I rewatched. After all, if I liked them enough to rewatch them, say I like them doesn't really tell you anything you didn't already know.

I watched Tokyo Ravens and, while I did enjoy the show, the last four episodes really killed it for me. It was another one of those shows where we are told very clearly who the good guys are and if you disagree with what they're doing, you're one of the bad guys - and I totally disagreed with the 'heroes' in those last four episodes.

I also finished season one of Log Horizon. It's a pretty good show, though I could totally do without what is appearing to be a love square - in that three girls are all in love with the main guy. Blerg.

I've also watched a bit more Fairy Tail. I'm now up to episode 199 and I think the show has almost completely lost me. The Grand Magic Games were bad - and depressing - enough. But just when I thought that the story was getting fun again - even with the crappy time travel - we have one of the asspulls that I hate the most 'solve' everything. Honestly, it felt like the creator just went 'I'm tired of this story arc, how can I get out of it quickly?' and I feel like ... well, like I kind of hate the show now.

I rewatched:
Yu Yu Hakusho season 4
Numb3rs season 5
Okami-San and her Seven Companions

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April Book Haul

Oops. Hehe...

Okay so... I don't know why I've bought so many books this month, all I know is that I went a little crazy.

Or more than a little...

What I bought recently...

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
The Song Caster by Danielle E. Shipley
The Sun's Rival by Danielle E. Shipley

The Copenhagen Connection by Elizabeth Peters
Summer of the Dragon by Elizabeth Peters
A Tyranny of Petticoats by Assorted

Loki: Agent of Asgard: I Cannot Tell a Lie by Al Ewing
The Cassini Code by Dom Testa
Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

Earth Flight by Janet Edwards
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary

Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly

What I've recently gotten on kindle...
A couple of these were free so 'yay me!'

The Aware by Glenda Larke
Quest of the Hart by Mary Waibel
Rogues by Ava March

American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin
The Scofflaw Magician by Honor Raconteur
Entreat Me by Grace Draven

Time's Edge by Rysa Walker
Love Machine by Electra Shepard
The Twilight Kingdom by Anthea Sharp

Buying ban information to date...
I can buy/get free 1 book for every 5 I read.
Series continuations are free.

Physical books read: 54
E-books read: 37

Physical books bought: 9

E-books bought: 12

I had actually thought that I'd be stopping my ban next month - then I bought all these books. For the first time this year, I've bought more books in a month than I read! So, yeah, the ban is staying active a bit longer - and hopefully I won't slip up like this again!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Bookish Things That Make Me Happy

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Why is the only thing that came to my mind when I first read this topic as 'bookworm delights' Turkish Delight? I've never even eaten it, but that's the only thing I could think of! Anyway, I'm sure I'll have forgotten something that I should have had on this list and I'll feel like a real idiot when I see it on someone else's and go 'oh, yeah, that!'

Friday, April 22, 2016

Character Names

My post yesterday on my own fiction writing was about names - naming characters and all that kind of good stuff - so I thought I'd continue the trend and talk about names in books.

I think one of the greatest things about character names is how they can tell you something about the story just by hearing them. I mean, you hear names like Nobby Nobbs and Carrot Ironfounderson and you already know it's not going to be a serious book. You could also probably guess that it's fantasy. (Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett, to be exact.)

Or how about names like Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott and Linette de Limmone? Sounds like fake British, upper crust, doesn't it? So guessing that it's a England setting and not exactly the one we all know isn't such a stretch, right? (Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, in fact.)

I love how names can really set the stage for the story and the world building. How they can tell you a little bit about what your getting into.

I also definitely adore the fantasy names - especially when the author takes the time to make sure that the names fit culturally. (And I do like all those names with '-' and ''' in them. So sue me!)

But there's also a total time and place for 'normal' sounding names. I remember this sci-fi TV show I watched and even though it took place far into the distant future where human's had colonized other planets, the characters still had names like Sara and Ralph and Charlotte. I remember thinking that was really cool and it was so not what I was expecting so it messed with my preconceptions.

And that's something else that perfectly chosen names can do. You can get names that are tailor made for a character. That means something - whether it's a part of their personality or their own past. But also names can lead a person to think the character is one thing while they're something else entirely.

The fact is, I love a well chosen name. A name that works for or against the character.

Do you have a favorite type of character name? Do you prefer the simple sounding ones or the ones you have to really look at to figure out how to pronounce? A name that says something about the character or is the opposite of the character? I'd love to hear your thoughts on character names!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Writing: 'The Thirteenth City' Names

Why does choosing names for characters have to be so darn difficult? It seems that the only time I'm decent at choosing proper names is when it's a fantasy story set on a very, very different world from ours.

The story I'm currently working on isn't set on a different world. (But our world is very, very different than what it's like right now.) I won't go into spoilers - because if I ever actually get this finished, I have some awesome twists on the way!

However, I am supposed to have a diverse cast. That's the plan, anyhow. When I first sat down and started writing, I just went with the first good sounding names for the characters, confident they'd either grow into them or a better one would make itself known.

That left me with:

Zheng - An older Chinese inventor. (I actually researched this name a bit and am super happy with it.)

Legretta - A 30-something history professor. Possibly Russian. Or German. (I don't know. I sort of like the name, but all I can liken her to is the woman from Tales of the Abyss.)

Aileen - A student. Supposedly Russian or German but certainly sounds more Irish. (I HAVE to change this name. It makes her all shy and meek and docile and I can't write a woman like that!)

Soracha - Mercenary/treasure hunter. Unknown origins. (Hell, I wasn't even sure if that was his first name, last name or pseudonym. Then I found out it's a Gaelic name for a girl...)

Mikayla - Pilot. Possibly mixed heritage. Maybe Arabic, but I'm thinking Spanish. (And that's too English sounding of a name but every other one I look at sucks!)

Miles - Inventor. Probably half-Chinese. (And what kind of name is that for a half-Chinese boy? Really?)

Caedyn - Spoiler! (I don't think I could ever find a name more perfect than this one. What I love about it is that it's so simple, but looks complicated.)

Not to mention the fact that I've heard said you should never have two main characters whose names start with the same letter. And I've only been able to find names that end with 'a' that I like the sound of. And when I have to say Legretta, Soracha and Eliska, I start to feel funny.

The I also have the problem of not waiting to have names that are either too popular or too 'out there.' I mean, I don't want the reader to be constantly reminded every time they read a name that this character is from this country and etcetera. The hardest thing though is to choose names that don't already have some prior connotation for me.

(For example, I once named a young woman in one of my stories Daphne. I love the name Daphne, but it was years before I stopped thinking of Daphne Blake every time I wrote the name or thought it.)

So, I put my baby names book and behindthenames to good use. And nameberry.

Then I had:

Zheng - (Which, ideally, will never change because the name goes to the old curmudgeon perfectly.)

Gretel - (I can totally hear all the Hansel & Gretel jokes she heard growing up, and her responses to them.)

Eliska - (I like the name. Beyond that, I think the slight connotation I have with it I can easily ignore.)

Soracha - (Every other name I found that I could see him being called starts with a 'K' and, spoken, that would be too similar to Caedyn.)

Valora - (I actually like this a lot. It's different but no totally out there, and it offers several good nicknames. And it sounds just exotic enough.)

Atticus - (Truthfully, he was never a 'Miles' - at least not once I started getting his character pegged down. And this is a much more classy name. Besides, it's totally believable that an English parent would want to name their child something less foreign sounding. Not sure about history, but his Chinese parent might have been dead by this point. Or the name was a dying wish. Yeah, I think I'm trying to convince myself, but he is totally an Atticus.)

Caedyn - (There's a small part of me that wants to go with an Egyptian name. Eventually, depending which direction the story goes in, it might be revealed that this is the either easy to pronounce or the bastardized version of his name. Or a nickname. Or any of about a half-dozen other options that would explain it. But, for now, I'm keeping this name. And, yes, there is a reason why his name sound simple compared to the others.)

So, I'd love to hear what you think of either set of names. How important are names to you in books? Do you like it when a character fits their name perfectly, or do you prefer when the name is a psych-out and they're the opposite? If you're a writer, do you have problems choosing names for your characters?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Madly by Amy Award

Madly by Amy Alward
Series: Potion #1
Genre: Fantasy
Add on Goodreads

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 

No big deal, then.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh (Maybe?)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

If you know me at all, you probably already have an idea how important humor is to me. I need humor in my books because otherwise they seem incredibly dry and uninteresting. However, I know humor is subjective - ergo the quantifier up there. I hope you find something here you like the sound of though and that it does make you laugh.

Friday, April 15, 2016

To Schedule Posts or Not To Schedule Posts

Ever since I first learnt how to schedule posts on blogger - something that probably took me much longer than it should have - I hardly ever post anything 'now'. For my resolutions this past January, I decided that I wanted to try not scheduling posts quite as far in advance.

You see, sometimes by the time a post goes live, I feel a little removed from the topic. It's not quite as immediate for me as it was when I posted it, and perhaps even my thoughts have changed.

So, throughout much of January and February, I was blogging only a little in advance. Then, during about half or two-thirds of February, I had no energy for my blog at all. My blogger subscription were burying me. I wasn't commenting very much. I wasn't writing any new posts.

I finally, in the last week, managed to get some of my energy back - but by then I decided to just skip most of my 'planned' posts for February and head straight to scheduling March posts.

This isn't unusual for me. Often I'll go through spurts of being super energetic and schedule a crazy amount of posts and other times I have absolutely no ideas for any posts.

I've discovered that trying to 'blog as I go' - maybe only a week in advance - doesn't work for me at all. I need a buffer so when my muse deserts me, I have enough scheduled posts to fall back on until she comes back. (For example, this post was written March second and I would have scheduled it sooner, but I actually had all my discussions between then and now filled.)

The answer for me is definitely to schedule posts. Though, I admit, I'm a little less likely to schedule certain posts/topics a crazy amount in advance, especially if they're answers that can change over time. (Like the end of last month's TTT post about favorite books. That wasn't scheduled really far in advance.)

I'd love to know if scheduling posts is something that works for you and why or why not.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

NSFW Book Tag

Found at The Book Rat and decided immediately that I wanted to do this. How fun. :)

1. What is the LAST book you would want your parents to walk in on you reading?

Thief by Ava March
Or, really, any book that has a cover that looks like that. Even the ones that feature a hetero romance would be cause for alarm from my parents - but a cover like this would probably get a lecture. A very...strong lecture. The good news is, most of the sexy covers for books happen to be the ones I read on kindle. ;) Total coincidence, I swear.

2. It’s storming outside, and you’re home alone for the night. What book would only make matters worse?
I don't read those kind of books. Horror for me is just a big 'not interested'.

3. Have you ever read a book simply because of the controversy surrounding it?
I...don't think so. It's difficult for me to explain this, but I don't go looking for controversy.

4. What is the most cringe-inducing romance or sex scene you have ever read?
Can we include fanfiction? Because, seriously, most sex scenes in fanfiction are bad. Trust me on this one. Otherwise, Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster. I never finished this book, all because of the horrid 'romance'. (Link, if you're curious about my review.) The 'romance' was basically the main guy being all alpha-asshole and not really understanding that no means no. Ick.

5. What book has made you question the author's sanity?
I'm not sure how that fits on here. And, really, in what way? Why would they write something like that? Or, what kind of sick freak are they? If it's the latter...not exactly the whole book, but there was this one scene in The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch that just...really...set me off. I wondered why anyone would write it in the first place and it made me feel sick.

The scene was basically a canvas bag with a bunch of glass shards in it shoved over a guys head. We then get to listen to him screaming until he literally can't anymore and, hopefully, passing out before he dies. Oh, there was also the whole 'drowning in horse piss' thing. Oh, fun. Look, I know there are a lot of people that love these books, but, yeah, I kind of think the author is a sick freak.

Also, I totally don't know if it was in the manga, but the Black Butler anime had a story where this girl Frankensteined parts of her husband's corpse onto her body so she'd never be alone. And then you're treated to her pulling down the collar of her dress so you can see the flesh rotting off of her bones. I ask you, what kind of sick person comes up with that?

6. Have you ever put down a book and not finished it because the content was too much for you?
Yes! Actually, I have. Years ago I bought a sci-fi book that sounded awesome and so cool. I started reading it and the first chapter was fun. Then I got to the second chapter and the main guy met up with his best buddy and almost literally every other word out of their mouth was a curse. I don't think that's needed, especially the kind of curses being ones that I personally never use. (Thankfully, I don't even remember the name of the book.)

The other book that this happened with was The Map of Time by Felix Palma. I was reading it, enjoying it, and the suddenly the main guy fancies himself in love with a prostitute who he's never met, only seen her portrait, and goes down to Whitechapel to hire her. (Where he proceeds to get off by rubbing on her leg.) Their little .... thing was enough to make me leave the book because, hello? creepy!

The third book was The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. Once again, started well, once again, loaded up with horrible language. It's interesting to note that two of these books are steampunk and all in all, it made me leary of steampunk for quite a while.

7. What fictional character do you have the most NSFW thoughts about?
I suppose you don't mean in the 'I want you to die and I'll personally stab you to death with a toothpick' kind of way, do you? I'll be honest though, most of my NSFW thoughts for characters come from the violence I want to perpetrate on them and hardly any from the desire to get them into bed.

However, there is a certain character that I ... well, I was just getting introduced to the world of book guys being hot when I read this book, but Abraxis Wren from Night of Long Shadows by Paul Crilley was one half-elf that I had such a crush on for such a long time.

8. Show us your most NSFW book cover (or drawing/photo inside a book).
I will warn you, it is very tame and might not even be considered NSFW. (But it's not like a own the Kama Sutra.)

This is inside the front cover for Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare.
I will admit, even for how tame it is, I'm really glad this wasn't the cover, because then I definitely wouldn't have been reading this book around my parents. 

9. Have you ever read something from the erotica/romance genre, and what did you think?
Yeah, I have. Although I think I was rather late to start, because for years I would just kind of avoid anything with romance as well as I could. What did I think? Uh... That it's really a mixed bag because some is absolute rubbish and others are actually pretty good.

I just have this problem. I like romance books, but it seems so often that once the couple/burgeoning couple has sex that they lose all their chemistry. Maybe I just like unresolved sexual tension more than the resolved sort. It's as though the characters quit talking when they're alone together because all they want to do is mate make like rabbits. And, really, I'd rather have an emotionally driven conversation than another generic sex scene to read.

10. You stumble across a portkey. What fictional world would you NOT want to be transported into?
Any sexist, rape as a plot device, let's keep all the women downtrodden so they keep popping out babies until they die in childbirth then we move along to the next underage thing world. Which means, probably over 80% of all epic fantasy. However, even though I've never actually read the book, I'm going to say the world of Defy by Sara B. Larson. How can I say such a thing when I've never even read the book?

Because this world has breeding houses for the women. To quote Khanh's delightful review over at Goodreads: 'where women are imprisoned as soon as they get their first period and are forced to spend their entire fertile lives breeding new soldiers for the king's army.' :) I'd neuter and castrate any man that came into that lovely breeding house. :) Seriously, women go through enough crap in this world, I don't need to read fictionalized accounts of men being utter bastards.

This was quite fun. I just wish we'd ended on a different question because I'm getting my 'sexist pigs' rant going. :) So, am I creeping you out yet with my smiles? Because that's sure what I'm trying to do. :)

I tag you and you and you! Get to it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Genre: Steampunk/Sci-Fi
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In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.