Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books Read in 2017

141 things this year, including 91 novels! Crazy.


Middle Grade: 3
The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
This Would Make a Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy
Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Young Adult: 19
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
Temping Fate by Esther Friesner
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

Adult: 69
S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn
Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn
The Queen in Winter by Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kurland, Sarah Monette, and Sharon Shinn
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
Blackout by Connie Willis
The Shores of Spain by J. Kathleen Cheney
The Human Division by John Scalzi
Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Olympos by Dan Simmons
The Seer’s Choice by J. Kathleen Cheney
Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
Don’t Stop Believing by Gwen Hayes
Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins
Forever Mine by Erin Nichols
Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren
Knit Tight by Annabeth Albert
The Trouble With Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell
How Not To Fall by Emily Foster
The End of All Things by John Scalzi
Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Winterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
Redshirts by John Scalzi
I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
After the War by J. Kathleen Cheney
The Barbed Rose by Gail Dayton
Mira’s Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Penric’s Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren
The Amok Runners by Colin Cotterill
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
Mine to Break by Joely Sue Burkhart
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold
Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Artemis by Andy Weir
Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds

Beta Reads: 3
The Rise and Fall of the Blackbird by S. Eli
A Matter of Scythe and Death by J.J. Litke
The Lady and the Pack by Akaria Gale

Short Stories: 3
“Stormfront” by M.C.A. Hogarth
“The Scharz-Metterklume Method” by Saki
“A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short” by Christina Lauren

Non-Fiction: 11
Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet
The Plot Whisperer Workbook by Martha Alderson
Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs
Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Knot the One by Stacey Becker
Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
Eat Fat, Get Thin by Mark Hyman, M.D.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Graphic Novels: 28
The Iron Hand by Scott Chantler
Ms. Marvel: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa
Lumberjanes Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson and various artists
Lumberjanes Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson and various artists
Lumberjanes Vol. 5: Band Together by Noelle Stevenson and various artists
Giant Days Vol. 4 by John Allison and Max Sarin
One Hundred Night of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
Saga Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn and Mallory Knox Ostertag
Ms. Marvel: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson and various artists
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
Giant Days Vol. 5 by John Allison and Max Sarin
Lumberjanes Vol. 6: Sink or Swim by Shannon Watters and various artists
Jedi Academy: The Force Oversleeps by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Monstress Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu
Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke
Giant Days Vol. 6 by John Allison and Max Sarin
Rat Queens Vol. 4 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and various artists
Tag and Bink are Dead by Kevin Rubio and Lucas Marangon
Lucy and Andy Neaderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown

Web Comics: 5
Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
Stand Still. Stay Silent. by Minna Sundberg
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell
Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee
Vattu by Evan Dahm


I read 1/5 the amount of Middle Grade I usually do. This makes me a little sad, since it's a by-product of The Son growing up. We mostly listen to Young Adult books now.

For my wrap-up, I'm going to do a series of top 5's.

Top 5 Greatest Stand-Alone Books I Read This Year:

1) S. A truly unique reading experience. The story didn't come together perfectly in the end-- a little too much of Abrams's beloved "mystery box"-- but I 100% don't care. This book made me more excited about books than anything else I read this year.

2) Ready Player One. The Son's new favorite book, and my favorite book to have shared with him this year.

3) Mother Tongue. I thought I knew a lot about the English language, but I learned a ton from reading this.

4) Station Eleven. Best book I read for book club this year.

5) War and Peace. Duh. A classic. A major accomplishment to finally finish it. Also a damn good book.


Top 5 Ongoing Series I Was Most Satisfied By:

1) Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. I read books 3 and 4 in this series this year, and they were perfection. I hear Sharon Shinn is having publisher problems, and now I'm super worried the fifth book in this series will never be published.

2) The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey. I read book 2 this year and I LOVED it way more than book 1. Avasarala is the actual best and I want her to be the terrifying grandma I never had.

3) The Vorkosigan Saga series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I read 4 books this year, and they were all so incredibly good. A Civil Campaign is a desert island book for sure.

4) Penric and Desdemona series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I read 4 novellas this year, and am continually blown away by how good they are.

5) Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy. I'm not sure This Would Make a Good Story Someday counts as part of the series since it doesn't feature the Fletchers directly, but it takes place within the same "world". This book is amazing and I loved it so much.


Top 5 New Series I'm Most Excited to Have Discovered:

1) Trouble series by Stephanie Tromly. YA Investigative goodness. I did that thing where you read a book and love it, and after a while you still remember you loved it but don't remember why exactly, and then you read book 2 and are like, "Ohhhhhhh, right."

2) Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. I wasn't sure about this, since I loved Westerfeld's book Uglies but then DNF'd the rest of that series. But this was amazing steampunk awesomeness: robots vs. monsters in WWI, complete with friendship, romance, and talking lizards. I listened to the whole trilogy with The Son, but would totally read more books set in this world if Westerfeld would write them.

3) Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Intriguing, dark, and fun.

4) The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel. This fast-paced "found footage" Sci-Fi series hooked me in on page 1 of book 1 and hasn't let go yet. I'm counting the days until the final book comes out this May.

5) The Interdependency by John Scalzi. I finished Scalzi's Old Man's War series this year and am delighted to start another space opera series by him. Long may it prosper.


Top 5 Books That Happy-Surprised Me:

1) The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. I'm not a giant fan of the Anne of Green Gables books, so although I'd heard raves about this book, I was worried that Montgomery's particular brand of whimsy would just be too much for me. But no. I loved this. The perfect slow burn romance.

2) Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle. This is Lit Fic written by a music artist, so I was highly skeptical and very ready to dismiss it as pretentious poser garbage. But I was enraptured by it while reading it, and haunted by it long after.

3) Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins. I read a bunch of Romance this year, but this M/M standalone blew my socks off.  So, so well-written.

4) Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren. Most of the Romance I read this year was book 1 of a series, but this is the only series where I felt compelled to read book 2.  It's New Adult, smutty, and occasionally ridiculous, but I developed a genuine affection for the characters and enough curiosity about all their happy endings to read 4 books and a companion short story all this year.

5) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.  I DNF'd a whoooooole bunch of YA Fantasy this year. I'm just over a lot of the tropes. And on the face of it, this sounds trope-y as hell. But for whatever reason, it grabbed my eyeballs in its tropey little fists and wouldn't let go until I'd finished the book, practically in one sitting.


Top 5 Books That Disappointed-Surprised Me:

1) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I really thought The Son and I were going to puffy-heart LOVE this, and I did love the beginning. But then I didn't love how it progressed, and was pretty meh by the end. I was expecting something really dark and creepy and quirky, but instead it was more like a muddled X-men story with time travel. It wasn't bad at all, but not what I expected. 

2) Knot the One by Stacey Becker. This was presented as a woman's memoir of being left at the altar, and how she put her life back together afterwards. I admit I bought this to gawk at another's misfortune, so shame on me. But a lot about this annoyed me. For starters, her fiancĂ© broke up with her EIGHT MONTHS before the wedding. That is not "left at the altar", dammit!  And Becker strikes me as a pretty annoying person, and her family is a boundary-less nightmare, and by the time the fiancĂ© dumps her I was feeling kind of sorry for him and not blaming him at all for his second thoughts. And finally, a big portion of the book is about her starting to date the guy she did eventually wind up marrying, and she does a lot of "look how much better my husband is than the jerk I was engaged to", but... they are exactly the same, down to the commitment waffling. In fact, I think the guy she married is actually more of an asshole than the one who dumped her. He was less willing to jerk her around.

3) Rat Queens Vol. 4. This one hurts. I fucking loved Rat Queens. But Vol. 3 left off on a cliffhanger, which Vol. 4 completely ignored, picking up the story apparently months later with no explanation of how the previous situation resolved itself. Nope. Not okay. And I'm sorry to say it, but the art has gone downhill since they canned Upchurch. Doesn't mean they were wrong to fire him, but still.

4) The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. I'd heard amazing things about this, and picked it for book club on the basis of those reviews. And it wasn't bad... but eesh, the writing got on my nerves. I always think I like Magical Realism, but I think I just like Garcia Marquez and Allende. This was like Magical Realism bingo. Family saga? Check. Tragic love stories? Check. Obsession with birds? Check. Pointless, shocking violence that comes out of nowhere and clashes tonally with the rest of the book? CHECK.

5) The Amok Runners by Colin Cotterill. Another one that hurts. Y'all know I love Cotterill; I've read the entire Siri Paiboun series so far and have every intention of sticking with it to the end. This book was a prequel to the Jimm Juree series, which I also love. Cotterill self-pubbed it, but that alone wasn't cause for concern: probably his publishers weren't interested in continuing the Juree series, but he had an idea for another story. Why not self-pub when you have the readership? And Lois McMaster Bujold has been self-pubbing novellas in her World of the Five Gods series, and they are magical. But, sadly, this book wasn't up to his usual standards. I don't know if he didn't want to pay an editor or what, but something was definitely off. It was riddled with typos and copywriting errors, too.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cautiously Optimistic

I'll admit it: I've been starting to get scared I would never write again. I have just been so completely out of creative juice for over six months now. I've been wanting to work on the romance, and figure out what the next SFF project is going to be, and be able to brainstorm on a project with Sharon, and the well has been dry as bleached cow skull in the Arizona desert.

A few weeks ago I tried to get something going and reread the 53,000 words of the romance I wrote last May. There's a lot to love there, but the pace is off. I got a burst of inspiration and made a new outline, but then my annual insanely busy period at work happened, so I had to lay it aside.

Now, history has shown that I never accomplish great writing things in December. That said, I'm setting a goal to work for 30 hours on the romance this month.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

End of Summer

It's been a long summer of No Writing for me. I realize now it was a little insane to jump into a NaNo month days after completing Mender. I wrote 50K in May and then just petered out in June, and I haven't written since. I haven't even had a solid idea since, which is beginning to alarm me.

I've been reading a TON, though, so I've decided to be charitable and think of these past three months as Filling the Well.

Now that school has started and it's time for goal-setting, I'm at a bit of a loss. I'd like to get started on my next "real" book-- but like I said, I don't really have an idea. I'd also like to finish the first draft of Master of the Off-Chance, the Romance novel I was working on for MayNoWriMo. I estimate that I've got 25,000 left in the draft, so I think that's going to be my goal for September: finish the Romance. Then I get take stock and see what makes the most sense to do next, whether that's charge ahead with whatever speculative premise grabs me, or dive into revising MotO-C.

Step one is to read what I have so far in MotO-C, because it's super cold right now. That'll be my short-term goal for the first few days of the month.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I Won't Be Finishing

Time to throw some shade!

Not really. As with last year's list, this is not necessarily a list of books I hated. Many I really enjoyed-- yet for whatever reason, I was not left with a desire to read more.

Again, I'll only be providing descriptions/rationalizations for new entries, in blue. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the series that appeared on the 2016, check out last year's post.

And now, on with the countdown.

Series I Won't Be Finishing:

Middle Grade:

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart.
The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce.
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.
Sherlock Files series by Tracy Barrett.
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau.
Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence.

Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. This was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. is a very strange series about a very strange child. I've listened to 3 of the books on audio with The Son, but now he's reading them on his own and I don't see me continuing with the series.

Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler. This was also on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I listened to the first book of this on audiobook. It had a lot of cool elements-- 1930's setting, creepy magic, books as portals to other worlds-- but I just didn't connect with the characters. I've decided not to continue.

Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. two orphaned sisters move to a town inhabited by fairy-tale creatures, and learn about their family's role in managing the relationships between these creatures and the mundane world. The Son and I listened to the first book together. It was cute, but a little young for him, and he wasn't interested in going on with it.

Samurai Detective series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. Historical Mystery series that takes place in feudal Japan. Again, we read book 1, and it was pretty good, but it now seems too young for where he's at, and I don't have enough interest to continue on my own.

100 Cupboards Series by N.D. Wilson. I really recommend this one. It's about a boy who goes to live with his aunt and uncle in Kansas, where he discovers a bunch of cupboard doors behind the wallpaper in his room. Each door leads to an alternate universe... but since they're small doors, he can't quite go through them. It's an intriguing tale, but I kept wait for the  library to get book 2 on audiobook-- which they never did-- and after a while enough time had passed that if I wanted to get it from ILL or something we'd need to go back and listen to book 1 again, and I wasn't willing to go to that much effort.

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. I have very mixed feelings about this one. Another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016, and then in January I put book 6 on my Series Challenge list for this year. I read the first few chapters of it, and... I just didn't care. I felt super guilty and weighed down by this big obligation to finish it, but was dreading having to read it, and then had an epiphany and realized it was ridiculous to expend energy on a series I don't care about when I am in the midst of reading FORTY-NINE other series.


Young Adult:

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.
If I Stay duology by Gayle Forman.
Cecelia and Kate series by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevener.
Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.
City of Beasts trilogy by Isabel Allende.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison.
Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale.

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes. Buckle up, because I have some opinions. Last year, I went on a big booktube spree, and wound up discovering a bunch of wonderful YA books through watching the reviews. I saw so many glowing reviews for this epic Fantasy YA series, and became very eager to read it. I remember checking my library shelves every time I went, but it was always checked out. When I finally got my hands on it, I was appalled. The writing was terrible, the characters were paper-thin, the world was unconvincing, and there were giant logic fails all over the place. It's just bad-- like, "I'm shocked this got published" bad. I do not understand why so many reviewers whose taste I otherwise generally respect are so taken with it. Maybe it's just me?

Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Bardugo's Six of Crows duology, set in the same world as this trilogy, was among the best and most dazzlingly original things I read in 2016. But this one failed to grab me. There's nothing wrong with it-- the writing is solid, the world is interesting, characters are well drawn-- but the plot was entirely predictable. Nothing surprised me, which meant I wasn't left with a desire to read on to see what more happens.

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary J. Pearson. YA Fantasy set in far-future North America. This is another series I heard a lot of raving reviews for, and while I didn't think it was bad (unlike Falling Kingdoms), I wasn't into it enough to want to continue past book 1.

Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Dark Science Fiction about a society on a colony planet in which all the men can hear each others' thoughts. Yet another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I've now decided to bite the bullet and admit I'm not finishing it.

To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han. And another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I just don't care enough to go on with it.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy by Ransom Riggs. Interesting YA Fantasy with a historical twist, about a troubled boy discovering the very strange nature of his beloved grandfather's troubled past. I liked book 1, but not as much as I'd expected I would. I'm glad I read it, but I'm not interested enough in the story to continue.


Adult:

Ender series by Orson Scott Card.
Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James.
Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson.
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.
Dune series by Frank Hebert.
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.
Hitchhiker's Guide series by Douglas Adams.
Ringworld series by Larry Niven.
Uplift series by David Brin.
Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.

Glamourist Histories by Mary Kowal Robinette. Regency with magic. It sounded like an adult version of Sorcery and Cecelia, which I adored. But... I didn't like book 1. I found it boring. The romance was underdeveloped, and I had a hard time swallowing that the magic wasn't used for anything practical.

The Rosie Project series by Graeme Simison. Contemporary "GuyLit" Romance about a fortyish professor with Asperger's, and his hilariously systematic search for love. I really loved the first book, but I was completely satisfied with the ending.

Goddess Summoning series by P.C. Cast. Fantasy Romance series that are retellings of myths and fairy tales. Fun for a book or two, but painfully formulaic for six. This was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016, and I've decided to bag it.

Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Sci-Fi Romance series. It never grabbed me like I expected. I was on the fence about this in 2016, but I'm accepting reality and giving it a pass after 2 books.

Me Before You duology by JoJo Moyes. Woman's Fiction/Romance about a rich paraplegic and the young woman who works as his caregiver. I read book 1 for book club and found the ending satisfying. I don't feel compelled to read more.

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Mystery series set in Botswana. I thought book 1 was charming and fully intended to go with the series, but book 2 didn't hold my interest.

Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron. I feel bad about this one. I loved Aaron's Paradox trilogy (writing as Rachel Bach), and I also really liked book 1 of this Fantasy series about a charming thief in a world of magicians and spirits. Book 2 was on my Series Reading Challenge list for this year. But I was slogging through it, and it was frankly making me kind of dread having to read 3 more books in the series, so I've decided, with regret, to set it aside.

Finally, I read a ton of Contemporary Romance in May while I was working on my own romance-y thing. Most were the first books of series, and all but one I'm not continuing with. Most I thought were pretty decent examples of what they're trying to be; they're just not enough my thing to convince me to stick with them:

Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert
Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis
Silver Pines series by Gwen Hayes
Tumble Creek trilogy by Victoria Dahl
Belhaven series by Emily Foster
Opposites Attract series by Erin Nichols


Comics:

Sin City.

Swamp Thing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I Plan to Finish

This post will be about the series I have in progress that I am invested in and committed to finishing. New series to this list will again be in blue. I  will only write descriptions for the series I began since last July;  if you want to read more about the series I had in progress before last July, check out last year's post here.

Series I Plan to Finish:

Middle Grade:

1) Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy by Rick Riordan. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the third.

2) Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the third.

3) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood. I've read 5 books so far, and one more is forthcoming.

4) Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy. I've read all 3 books and am waiting for more.

5) His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, but now a new book is coming out in the fall! This is a beautiful series about religion and fate, with souls manifesting as animal companions, alternate universes, and sentient polar bears. I've read 3 books and am looking forward to book 4.


Young Adult:

6) Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I've read 2 books and am waiting for book 3.

7) Octavian Nothing duology by M.T. Anderson. I've read book 1 and intend to read book 2.

8) Jackaby series by William Ritter. I've read 2 books and a short story, and have 2 more books to read.

9) Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, but now more books are being released! These are richly rendered Fantasy stories that follow a lineage of necromancers. I've read 4 books so far; there's a novella and a new novel waiting for me.

10) The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Adventure/Fantasy tales in an Ancient Greek-like setting. I was undecided about this is 2016, but I read book 2 this year and now plan to continue. I've read 2 books; there are 3 more books to go.

11) Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore.  Feminist second-world Fantasy. Another series I was undecided about in 2016 but have decided to go ahead with. I've read 1 book and have 2 more to go.

12) Prisoners of Peace series by Erin Bow. That rarest of birds: a trope-subverting YA dystopian. I'm super interested to see where this one goes. I read book 1 and now book 2 is out.

13) The Witchlands trilogy by Susan Dennard. Second-world Fantasy with strong female friendships, an interesting magic system, and writing that's a cut above the usual YA Fantasy fare. I read book 1 and now book 2 is out.

14) Trouble series by Stephanie Tromly. YA Investigative about a girl who moved from Brooklyn to a podunk town in upstate NY, where she falls in with a socially tone-deaf teen Sherlock-type and starts solving crimes. The first book was absolutely delightful, and now there's book 2 waiting for me,

15) Three Dark Crowns trilogy by Kendare Blake. The premise for this sounds almost like a parody of YA Fantasy/dystopian tropes (three teenage magic-wielding Queens must fight to the death to see which of them will rule the land-- complete with love triangle) but the first book sucked me in from page one and never let go to the end. Book 2 comes out next month.


Adult:

16) Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I've read 7 books and a short story so far. Book 8 is out and book 9 is coming out in early 2018.

17) Siri Paiboun Investigations by Colin Cotterill. I've read 11 books and am waiting for book 12 next month.

18) Jimm Juree Mysteries by Colin Cotterill. I've read 3 books and there's a 4th out.

19) Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. There are 21 books in this series so far; I have read 15.

20) Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've read 3 books and 3 novellas, with 1 novella out for me to read.

21) Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. I've read 4 books so far and am waiting for the 5th and (I presume) final book.

22) Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis. I've read 3 books, and have 1 more to go.

23) MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I've read 1 book and have 2 to go.

24) The Rook Files by Daniel O'Malley. I've read book 1 and have book 2 on my series-challenge list.

25) The Expanse series by James A.A. Corey. I've only read 2 books so far; there are 6 out.

23) Golden City series by J. Kathleen Cheney. I've read 3 books and a novella, and have 1 novella left to go.

24) One Rose trilogy by Gail Dayton. I'm reading book 2 right now and intend to continue with the final book of the trilogy.

25) Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy bu Patrick Rothfuss. Epic Fantasy recounting the life story of an epically awesome sorcerer. I've read book 1 and have book 2 on my series-challenge list.

26) Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. Found family aboard a blue-collar spaceship. I've read book 1; book 2 is out and waiting for me.

27) Her Instruments series by M.C.A. Hogarth. Another found family Science Fiction tale. I've read book 1; there are 2 more books in the series.

28) Wild Seasons trilogy by Christina Lauren. New Adult Romance about three female friends and the fallout from their impulsive post-graduation Vegas trip, during which they married a trio of male friends. I've read book 1 and intend to continue with book 2.

29) Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor. Afrocentric Science Fiction novella. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the 3rd to be released.

30) Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Dark Fantasy about a quartet of alternate Londons all threatened by the same wild magic. I've read book 1 and have 2 more to go.

31) The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel. Science Fiction about scientists discovering giant alien robots on earth, told entirely through interviews and military reports. I think this is a duology? I've read book 1 and put book 2 on hold at the library.


Comics:

32) Saga. I've read the first 7 volumes and am waiting for the 8th to be released.

33) Ms. Marvel. I've read 6 volumes and am waiting for the 7th to be released

34) Giant Days. I've read 5 volumes and am waiting for the 6th to be released.

35) Rat Queens.  I've read 3 volumes and am waiting for the 4th.

36) Jedi Academy. I've read 4 volumes and am getting the 5th in the mail today!

37) Amulet. I've read 7 volumes and am waiting for the final volume to be released.

38) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I was waffling about this one last year, but now I've decided to go on with it. A tongue-in-cheek romp through the Marvel Universe, with some good representation and an underlying message of tolerance and empathy. I've read 5 volumes plus a bonus edition, and am waiting for volume 6 to be released.

39) Lumberjanes. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, not realizing the comic was ongoing. Delightful story of five best friends at a Girl Scout-esque summer camp. I'm reading volume 6 right now and am waiting for volume 7 to be released.

40) Monstress. Set in an alternative, matriarchal China with wracked by human-monster wars. Disturbing and violent, with jaw-droppingly gorgeous artwork. I've read the first volume and am waiting for the library to get the second.

41) Mighty Jack. Cute modern-day retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk myth, in which Jack is a latch-key kid looking after a younger sister with autism. I've read book 1 and am waiting for book 2 to be released.

42) Paper Girls. A freaky tale about four paper girls delivering papers in the pre-dawn hours after Hallowe'en 1988, with all kinds of demonic, time-traveling hell breaking loose. I've read volume 1 and am waiting for the library to get volume 2.

43) Lucy and Andy Neanderthal. Cute comic about caveman kids. I read the first book and didn't realize it was a series, but now I see book 2 is being released next month.

Web Comics:

44) Check, Please! 

45) Gunnerkrigg Court. 

46) Stand Still, Stay Silent.

47) Dicebox. A married pair of female blue-collar workers roaming the galaxy, looking to outrun their pasts. Moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

48) Vattu. On an alien planet, a young huntress is taken captive by a conquering empire. Also moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

49) Namesake. Explores the connection between readers, writers, and the worlds of beloved stories. Also moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.


Whoa. Almost 50 series, dude. That's a lot.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I've Finished

Time for this year's update on the many series I've read, am reading, have quit reading, and am undecided about.

This first list will be series I've read in entirety. As with last year's list, this will be just a list with no comments. Series I finished since last July will be in blue.

Series I've Finished:

Middle Grade:

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson and the New Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary
Smek duology by Adam Rex
Spiderwick Chronicles series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
WondLa trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi
Nate Foster duology by Tim Federle

Young Adult:

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
Safe-Keepers trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins
Annals of the Western Shore trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin
Frontier Magic trilogy by Patricia Wrede
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Adult:

Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Chronicles of Chaos trilogy by John C. Wright
Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright
Confluence trilogy by Paul J. McAuley
Samaria series by Sharon Shinn
Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn
Sharing Knife quartet by Lois McMaster Bujold
Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach
My Family and Other Animals trilogy by Gerald Durrell
Hyperion quartet by Dan Simmons
Kushiel Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey (nine books, y'all!)
The Hainish Cycle series by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Secret Texts trilogy by Holly Lisle
Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie
The Connaghers series by Joely Sue Burkhart
Billionaires in Bondage trilogy by Joely Sue Burkhart
The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemison
Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
The Shifting Circle trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Illium duology by Dan Simmons
Old Man's War series by John Scalzi


Comics:

Sandman
Castle Waiting
Locke & Key
Zita the Spacegirl
Three Thieves

Friday, June 30, 2017

End of June. *Sigh*

Guys, this month has been a bust for writing. I don't even have a plausible-sounding excuse. I just lost momentum once the WriMo was over, and then I slammed hard into an intense reading phase. I have read a shitload this month, even for me.

I'm on vacation now, so it'll be at least 10 days before I set any type of writing goals for July. Look for lots of reading-related posts this month, though!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

On to June

I ended May with 51,600 words under my belt (yay!) and having slid into a slump (boo!). I had a nagging feeling I was off track with the plot, and I couldn't seem to force myself forward through that feeling. I was also a bit distracted by participating in the Beta Project on Absolute Write, and almost making it into Query Kombat for Mender, which qualified me for a critique on my query and first page from one of the judges.

After a few days of not working on MotO-C and feeling like crap about it, I decided two things:

1) The goal of finishing the draft by June 12 (the date my laptop needs to go into the shop) was putting too much pressure on me and making me even more reluctant to work on it.

2) I needed to sit down and list out everything I could think of that would need to be addressed in revisions, including changes I wanted to make to the external story arc.

The good news is that these two things seem to have shaken me out of feeling slumpy. I've gone back to the two (short) chapters I completed toward the end of the month, where I started feeling like I was going off the rails, and have set about fixing them. I'm finding it's not a matter of changing what's there so much as it is adding substance to them. Today is the first day I've been back at work on it this week, and I've set a modest goal of 500 words. I've already written 400!

My goals for June:

1) Finish the first draft of MotO-C.

2) Make 5-10 hours' worth of edits to Mender and send out 10 more queries.

3) Finish the 3 books I had in progress when I dropped everything for MayNoWriMo.

4) Read 2 additional books for my Series Challenge (I'm at 12 books so far-- the halfway mark).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 28

I hit 50,000 words today!

That was pretty much the only writing bright spot of the day. I have hit a slump, y'all. Every minute of writing was painful and everything I wrote sucked.

Just keepin' it real. Writing this novel has been mostly rainbows and sunshine and sexytimes, but today it was a slog.

Friday, May 26, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 26

I had another 2k+ day and am up to 47,450 words. Still a lot of smut going on over here.

I may need another plot-planning day soon, since I'm rapidly approaching the end of the results of my last plot-planning day. I just spent 15 minutes making a list of everything I can think of that needs to happen between now and the end, and then cutting and pasting them together in scene-groups and shuffling the scenes into rough order. It is far, FAR from done, but I do know what the next chapter after the one I'm writing now is going to be about, which is more than I knew half an hour ago.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 24

One week left to the month! I wrote the NaNo bare minimum of ~1,700 today, and am up to 43,500. I just wrote a condom-buying scene that I love because I know what's coming later. *evil cackle*

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 23

I wrote 3,000 words today, and am at 41,750 words for the month.

Today I everything I wrote was smut.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 22

38,750 words, and I'm on the cusp of the big midpoint moment. Sexytimes ahoy! ;)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 20

I'm at 34,400 words! I just finished a scene I loved loved loved writing. My couple aren't a couple yet (this is a slower burn Romance with the hook-up not occurring until the midpoint), and this is the first super-romantic scene I've written for them. They are standing in an empty, unheated farmhouse where Maize lived as a child, and Colin tells her about a time they met as kids that she's forgotten about. It was so much fun to write. *happy sigh*

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 18

Yesterday was a thinking day. I wasn't happy with how I'd ended a chapter the day before, so I backed up and had a think about it. I knew the next 7-10K worth of stuff I wanted to have happen, but the puzzle pieces weren't coming together into a picture I was happy with.

I think I got it shuffled in the right order, and as of tonight I'm at 31,000 words. It's a clear path 'til the midpoint now. After that I may have to take another day to plot and think.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hook

Here's the 150-word hook I wrote for Master of the Off-Chance. It's not as long as a query blurb, and it was hard to to convey a sense of character, setting, and conflict in that amount of space. And I really do not dig the last line, but I was sick of fiddling with it, so it's standing for now.


Maize Gersham is a second-generation hippie who’s been drifting though life like a bit of dandelion fluff on the wind, searching for the perfect place to put down roots. Nowhere could be more perfect than Eden House, the now-disbanded commune where she grew up, in the rural Vermont town of Hartfield. Maize blows back into Hartfield like a cloud of patchouli incense, planning to recreate the groovy utopia of her childhood— minus the messy love affairs that tore the commune apart. 

When Maize meets local boy Colin Grzeskiewicz, she doesn’t think much of him— just another cute redneck guy hoping for some free love. But there’s way more to Colin than a baseball cap, a pickup truck, and a great smile. And he’s determined to be her new best friend. 

Now Maize has to decide what “perfect” really means when you’re talking about home and love.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Mid-Month Check In

I'm above 29,000 now! Far short of my grand dreams of being at 40,000 by now, but hey-- it's 29,000 more than I would have gotten in the past two weeks if I hadn't tried this insane challenge.

I feel like I'm floundering around a little, plot-wise. I'm really curious to re-read this whole thing once I'm done and see how well it holds up. I've been devouring tons of contemporary Romance novels  and novellas (only bothering with those rated A- or higher on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) on my laptop Kindle so I have some benchmark to measure against.

Oh, and I have a title (for now): Master of the Off-Chance.

I'm submitting a 150-word hook and the first 750 words to the Beta Project on Absolute Write, so if I'm feeling brave I'll post the hook here so you all can get a better picture of just how Romance-y this thing really is.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 13

I hit 25,000 words today, and am nearly 1/3 through the book.

There's no way I'm going to finish the draft by the end of the month... but now I know I can write a clean first draft at NaNo pace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 10

I'm up to 20,211 words and have passed over from Act I to Act II. This is awesome, but still a little under what I was hoping for. It's really tricky striking this balance between writing as fast as I can but not just vomiting out words to make a word count. I do think that what I have so far is a pretty solid first draft. We'll see how the first half of Act II unfolds.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Days 6 and 7

I wrote 1.5K yesterday, but felt blah about a big chunk of it and ended the day feeling like I was on the wrong track, and dreading having to work on it today. This is NOT what I want, word count goal or no, so I did some thinking and note-taking, and spent most of my writing time today rewriting the scene I wrote yesterday. So I've only made 100 words of progress, but I feel loads better about the book.

My goal is break 15K on the book this evening, then do some planning for the next few scenes.

Friday, May 5, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Days 4 and 5

I couldn't post last night because The Husband was doing some overdue maintenance work on my laptop.

Thurs. I wrote 2K words and today I wrote 3K. The book is just a hair over 13K at this point. I think I'm going to have to slow down for a few days to work out some plot points, but I'm still aiming to finish the draft this month-- or at the very least, break my old NaNo record, which is 62,000 words of garbage. If I can write more than that, and have it be a clean first draft, I'll be happy.

Just not as happy as I'll be if I finish the draft!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 3

2,381 words today. I was determined to hit 8,000 words/~10% of the story today, and I got there, but it was a struggle toward the end. Today's writing was all about the backstory wound. Tomorrow should be more fun and Romance-y.

I forgot to mention I did a Tarot reading for my female MC yesterday. I've owned the same Tarot deck for 32 years (now THAT'S scary-- how did I get this old??) and never done a reading for a character before. But I'm writing about second-generation hippies, and the character gets her cards read, so what the hey. I'd only planned to choose one card from the reading that seemed most apropos to the plot and write about it, but the whole reading was incredibly apropos, so I wound up including all of it.

And I may have found a title. Not ready to post it yet, since I'm still looking for other options (for probably dumb reasons I am pulling the title from an existing body of song lyrics), but for now I'll be calling this novel ST instead of M&C.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 2

Word count for the day: 3,496!

I have two chapters completed!

I am having fun. So, sooooo much fun.

Monday, May 1, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Day 1

That's basically what I'm doing, right? A NaNo?

2,157 words today. Finished scene 1. Kept faithful stats on where and when and what and how much, and need a few more days' worth of data before I can draw any meaningful conclusions.

Going Rogue

So, I'm setting FAaLA aside for a bit and writing a contemporary Romance this month. M'kay bye!

...

What, you want more explanation that that?

Okay. Here's the sequence of events that led to this impulsive and probably ill-conceived decision:

1) After a few days of flying high on enthusiasm for FAaLA, I crashed into meh-ness. I have the set-up all clear in my mind but can't seem to get a handle on the overall plot arc. Maybe it just needs to marinate a little longer? I dunno. Also, I've been reading a TON of Sci-Fi lately to psych myself up for returning to the genre, but maybe I overdid it.

2) I've also been watching a ton of the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV show with The Son (holy crap, it's SO MUCH better than it needs to be), and following the main "bad guy's" arc from villain to antagonist to protagonist/ally has made me re-think Leopold's arc in Mender. I'm still waiting on some agent replies-- including on a partial request-- but if I don't get an offer of representation from this first batch of queries I may go in and do another 1-2 weeks of edits on Mender to sharpen that aspect of the story. I don't want to interrupt the forward momentum of another book to do that.

3) For years, I've been building a modern-day New England town in my mind and wishing I had a story to put there. For a while, I thought it would make a great TV show. Then I came up with a low fantasy premise, but it felt like I was shoe-horning the fantasy elements in there to make it fit with the rest of my "brand". And then I read the Raven Cycle and realized that my idea was a pale shadow of that series. So I have this whole town-- maps drawn, history thought through, minor characters put in place-- and nothing to do with it.

4) Ever since I read Rachel Aaron/Bach's book 2,000 to 10,000, I've been itching to push myself and see just how fast I can write a decent first draft. What holds me back is the fear of fucking it up and writing something that winds up needing tons of revision drafts. Therefore, I think the best way to experiment with this is on a project that meets the following criteria: 1) shorter than my usual novels, with a simpler plot, and 2) something I'm excited to write, yet won't be devastated to just trunk if the first draft turns out to be a hilarious mess.

5) Thursday night I had a dream, and when I woke up Friday morning I had one of those writing moments when several ideas that have been simmering in your story-pot come together on a plate, complete with sprig of parsley for garnish. The town + the story and MC from the upmarket contemporary novel I tried to write in grad school + a romantic hero I love as a character but who would never fit into a Fantasy or Sci-Fi world =  70-80K contemporary Romance, aiming more for Rainbow Rowell territory than Harlequin.

I gave myself three days to plan it-- I know-- and no more than 31 to write the first draft, starting today. I'm going to be keeping track of writing hours and word counts, and probably making a series of very boring posts reporting them all. This month is as much about data-gathering as it is about writing a book.

So that's me this month! I'm a loose cannon, baby!

(Oh, and this book has no title yet. I'm calling it M&C now, for the heroine and hero's first names.)