Friday, March 31, 2017

March Wrap-Up

I've learnt something about myself this month. When I'm upset, I read gay romance. (Or watch hockey movies, but that's another subject.) Anyway, around the middle of the month, I broke my hard drive - and lost over fifty hours on my replay of Dragon Age Origins as well as almost a full month's writing (about twenty pages) of my story I'm working on writing.

So I was left on my old backup computer that doesn't have a period key and suddenly decided it would be appropriate to refuse to be connected to the internet. In my efforts to not think about how much writing I lost for my fantasy story, I found myself mostly looking at my to read fantasy books with much pain - and avoiding them like the plague.

Then I got myself wrapped up in a totally awesome sci-fi story, so that's all good.

Now I have my (new hard drive installed) computer back and am incredibly lazy. I mean, I'm always a little lazy, but I have no posts scheduled for next month. And I feel a little strange about that.

What I've Been Reading...

Timekeeper by Tara Sim - ****
Clockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan - **
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - **

Empty Net by Avon Gale - ***** - Re-read
A Gentleman's Position by K.J. Charles - ***
The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh by K.J. Charles - **** - Re-read

The Private Secretary by Summer Devon - *****
The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian - *****
One Glimpse by Lydia Gastrell - ****

Crashing the Net by Samantha Wayland - ***
Checking it Twice by Samantha Wayland - **
Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth - *****

What I've Been Watching...

I watched the last season (8? 7? I don't even remember now) of Rizzoli & Isles and, while I would have loved to see the show continue, at least they went out on a high note and before the show started to suffer. (Like that old advice to leave the audience wanting more.) I also watched season two of The Librarians and, gotta admit, I like the way things changed between seasons one and two, thanks to the stuff at the end of season one. I also watched a couple of the movies I got for my birthday: The Mighty Ducks and D2. From my birthday haul I've still got D3 and Miracle (another hockey movie!) to watch.

How's your month been? Truthfully, I hope better than mine. Do tell me about all the wonderful things you've been reading/watching or commiserate with me down in the comments. (Or tell me how great your month has been so I can get psyched up for April in the hopes it'll be better.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Ten Authors it Would be Cool to Meet

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

Okay, so I know myself well enough to know that I'd probably never go to any sort of book/author event. However, if I ever got hit by a bout out-of-character behavior, these are the authors that I'd want to meet. (Oddly enough - or maybe not - this could also pretty much double as my favorite authors list. Or the authors whose brains I want to pick.)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #2

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are supposed to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and a diverse book that has not yet been released.

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself... and his newfound kin.

Notes: This is truly diverse fantasy at its best. The main race in the book are not humans but a vague type of avian shifter - and have a culture in place that reflects this. These are definitely not rubber-faced aliens. Besides the people of color, there is also polyamory, mostly, I believe, in the form of open relationships.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

Notes: I have been enamored with this book ever since I first saw the cover. Finding out what it's about just makes me that much more interested - but the less than glowing Goodreads reviews make me a little worried. (Well, that and the truly expensive price! 13 dollars for the ebook, and that's cheaper than the physical copy.)

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

Notes: I will not deny it, the title kept me from looking at this book for the longest time. At least, until I convinced myself that no book would have such an on-the-nose title. And then I came across this. Though, the first synopsis made it much more obvious that the two boys' feeling were for each other. Oh, well, I am so ready for the May release of this totally meta sounding book.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Want to leave me any diverse book recommendations?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top Ten Books You Could (and totally should) Read in One Sitting (I kinda did)

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

I've just realized, it's been a while since I actually sat down and read a book in one sitting. An actual novel, that is, not a comic or manga. something that I should totally rectify. Anyhow, here's a list of ten books that are either short enough to or that totally benefit from reading in one sitting. (And that I read, if not in one sitting, in a very short period of time.)

Monday, March 20, 2017

My Thoughts On: Write What You Know

As some of you may already know, I write. I don't really consider myself an author - mostly because I've only ever finished one story and it was rubbish (as they're supposed to be, of course) - but I do consider myself a writer. Because I write.

I usually write a handful of pages a week - definitely not a high number, but it's a hobby to go along with my fulltime job and my other hobbies. And I like writing.

Lately, I've been giving some thought to the advice that you always hear given to first-time writers.

Write what you know.

Honestly, I've thought that advice was junk for years. I mean, if people only ever wrote what they knew, you'd never have fantasy stories, or sci-fi or steampunk and, really, you'd have a lot fewer romance novels, too.

But, you know, if you look at it a bit differently, it is good advice.

To me, write what you know should be changed to write what you're passionate about.

All my stories that I've worked on have a distinct amount of the unusual about them but I live in what can only be - sadly - called reality. I don't live in a world of ghosts or elves or superheroes, but I've written about each of them.

Write what you know is terribly limiting. But, if we'd change that to 'write what you're passionate about'…

I think passion comes through in writing. (I know it sure does in my own writing.) I think if an author truly loves the subject matter, it shows up. So, maybe you won't be the next J.K. Rowling, but if you write what you're passionate about, other people with the same passion will find your books and love them.

So, maybe write what you know isn't such bad advice. I mean, everyone knows what they're passionate about, after all.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Series: Timekeeper #1
Genre: Steampunk/LGBT
Add on Goodreads

Two o’clock was missing. 

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

T5W - Books I Feel Betrayed By

Top 5 Wednesday is a group on goodreads that you can find here. Every week - or less for some of us ;) - the members get together and post five books that pertain to a specific topic.

And the second of two topics this month that I just can't pass up. Why would I even not take the chance to talk about books that betrayed me? Why? I wouldn't. Ever. Warning: Here Be Spoilers!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

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

After a bit of a hiatus, TTT is now back. And, interestingly enough, the topic this week is Spring TBR. And here I am, haven't pulled together a TBR for the past two months. And, you know what? I like it. But, I can't deny that it'll be kinda nice having a bit more structure for the next couple months. (Let's just ignore the fact that I failed epically when it came to my Winter TBR, m'kay?)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight by Melissa Landers
Series: Starflight #1
Genre: Sci-Fi
Add on Goodreads

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

T5W - Favorite Spec Fiction Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a group on goodreads that you can find here. Every week - or less for some of us ;) - the members get together and post five books that pertain to a specific topic.

Just as I was getting read to stop posting this meme, I was hit with two topics this month that I can't resist. This week I get to talk about five of my most favoritest sci-fi and fantasy books!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rereading a Book You No Longer Love

Lately, I've been doing a lot of talk about rereading. In fact, I have challenged myself to reread 12 books this year. At least, that was the plan.

So, in January, I hit a bit of a slump. Not terribly, but nothing was keeping my attention. I'd pick a book up and put it back down after a half-dozen pages. So, I decided to reread the first book in what I claim to be my favorite fantasy series.

It worked perfectly. I was enjoying it and having a blast and then, about 50 pages into it, I just totally lost interest. I think it was partially because, even though it's been about three years since I read it, I remember things very well. But, also…

Nowadays, I'm looking for books that are more. More than just another straight white cis male going out and saving this fantasy world. I want books that are diverse, books that are inclusive - I don't call diversity one black woman that dies at the end of the series. So, I love the book. I probably - I hope - I always will.

But I just don't want to reread a book that's not something I would currently pick to read new now.

As much as I loved them years ago when I first read them, this is why I haven't reread the Sherlock Holmes stories in years. I'm afraid I won't enjoy them at all and they will feel sexist and racist. (Which I bet they were - though no more than most other books written around that time.)

The fact is, I'd like to keep pleasant memories of books that if I were to read them nowadays, I'd probably rip into.

This has left me very concerned about my intent to reread a lot this year - as I have no idea how some of these books that I loved once will strike me now. (And I do want good memories of them.)

Have you ever experienced this - where the book is well written and you still could love it, but you just want more out of it when you reread? Or if your reading tastes change so drastically that you can't really love the book anymore?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #1

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are supposed to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and a diverse book that has not yet been released.

When I first saw this meme, I knew I had to participate. Well, now that I've finally gotten my schedule shuffled around, I can!

An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.

Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

Notes: Of course my first feature for this would be a book I'm pushing harder than any book since A Wicked Thing. I love this book so much and it's one of my favorite reads of the year so far. (And I see that changing never!)

Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth

Reese Eddings has enough to do just keeping her rattletrap merchant vessel, the TMS Earthrise, profitable enough to pay food for herself and her micro-crew. So when a mysterious benefactor from her past shows up demanding she rescue a man from slavers, her first reaction is to say "NO!" And then to remember that she sort of promised to repay the loan. But she doesn't remember signing up to tangle with pirates and slavers over a space elf prince...

Notes: BTW, this book is free on kindle. (No kindle first or anything, but actually free!) I downloaded it as soon as I saw that because I seriously need more POC in my science fiction. And it's been sitting on my kindle for three months now and each time I see it, I think I should read it because it sounds great!

The Tiger's Watch by Julia Ember

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn't question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

Notes: So, as I discovered, I have very few upcoming diverse books on my list - and those that I have, don't have a cover yet! Then I found this wonderful sounding book and I find myself really, really wanting it. Though, beware, it doesn't get released until August.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What are your go-to diverse book recommendations?