Book Review · reading

Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

I really liked the title. It fits the book. I have to add that I got this book from NetGalley.

There are two parts to this book: the mystery and romance. The mystery, but I do not know that the romance worked for me.

The main character comes to research and write a book about a twenty year old kidnapping. The love interest interferes.

Blurb from GoodReads:

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

The Mystery:

Some of this I saw coming, some of it I didn’t. I figured out the part I saw coming half way through the book. I enjoyed finding out I was right.

So, IMO, it’s good. It is a fun, enjoyable read. I finished it pretty quickly.

The Romance:

I have to admit, I didn’t actually get the romance. The love interest is hot and cold. Uses him one minute and the next minute he is all hearts and roses.

Plus, the love interest did a few things that I personally would have a hard time forgiving. I think the main character should have made him grovel more. Like, weeks more instead of just forgiving him. It was just too quick.

Favorite Scene:

This is a hard one. There are a lot of really good scenes. But if I had to pick one, I would pick the conversation one between the main character and the love interest’s sister. Not, note, the love interest.

If I had to pick a favorite scene with the love interest, it would be the last one, the one where he declares his love and is practically forgiven. For all that I thought the forgiveness came too quick and the main character should have just driven on, it was pretty good. That might sound contradictory.

I have to say, there were no boring scenes. I also think every single scene did something to push the story forward.

Would I reread Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon? Probably not. It wasn’t bad, but not nearly as good as some of Josh Lanyon’s other efforts.

reading

Books I Wish Had a Sequel

Have you ever read a book and wanted more? It ends, but you don’t want to leave the characters?

I’ve had this feeling a few times. I want to know more, about the characters, about the world. The book has ended, but the character’s life is still going on and I want to know what further adventures they have.

I have had this feeling with a few books.

1) Carnival by Elizabeth Bear 

This is first book I read by Elizabeth Bear. It has a fine ending. The heroes get their happy-ever-after, after a fantastic adventure and the genuine possibility that one of them might not make it and the other would be left forever scarred by the loss. Well, they both make it. But I want to know what happens next. Is there a war or something? The next book doesn’t have to use the same main characters as this one, but it would be nice.

2) The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Personally, I think Brandon Sanderson has a lot of space in this world to expand. Maybe with the main character, maybe not. But certainly he could expand on the emperor or one of the other minor characters. I think he should!

3) Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott

This is the first book I read Melissa Scott and the first cyberpunk I ever read, too. It ends on a hopeful note. But the question I want answered: what happens next? Something must happen next. They get out of all that controversy and nothing happens? Do the characters find happiness? Maybe just a short story? I am not asking for a lot.

4) Sunshine by Robin McKinley

In all honesty, this book never felt finished to me. It really, really needs a sequel. It needs to be a series. Seriously.

flash friday · Writing

Visitation

This post is a little weird. It comes at the end of a spectacularly shitty week. At first I wasn’t even going to write one, but it is Friday evening and I thought why not? It’s mostly incomplete sentences and almost random images. It is a little strange and a new thing for me to do.  I am not sure it works.

Arms raised. Turn. Turn the other way. Look up. Look down.
 
Gentle fingers probe a soft, flabby stomach, move up to bare, sagging breasts.
 
Avoid the large protrusion on the bottom left joint. Wipe off yellow pus and red blood.
 
Get up, dress in a hospital gown and clutch the back with one hand. Lie down on a hospital bed. Get wheeled to a room.
 
Smell disinfectant. Finger is pricked. Swallow pills. Watch blood fill three little tubes.
 
Sign forms. Dress again in normal clothes. Leave.

General · Writing

Doorway to Act II

open doorsI was reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and it talks about the three structure act. It talks about moving from Act I to Act II through a doorway.

The key question to ask yourself is this: Can my Lead walk away from the plot right now and go on as he has before? If the answer is yes, you haven’t gone through the first doorway yet.

Further, the book says this should happen at or before at the 1/5 point of the book. This is an interesting way to look at transitioning from the beginning to the middle, IMO. I hadn’t considered the transition like that before, but more like the number of pages from the beginning of the book.

And, you know, if it feels like middle. But that’s not a quantifiable feeling. How would you quantify it anyway?

I have never really paid attention to when I feel like I’m in the middle of a book as opposed to the beginning. But according to this definition, it should happen when the plot feels inevitable. Like, something has happened and nothing will ever be the same.

Do you agree? Do you this doorway separates the beginning from the middle? And does it usual happen at or before the 1/5 mark?

I suspect this is something I’ll be a lot more aware of when reading now. I was rereading Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K.

guilty-pleasures-by-lkh-book-coverHamilton and you know what? It is true. In Guilty Pleasures, this doorway happens when a close friend of the main character is harmed/threatened by the vampires. This happened pretty much when 1/5 of the book was done. So it works in one book.

But Guilty Pleasures is structured like a thriller. Question is, does it work for other thriller style books? And other non-thriller style books?

 

flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Blooded Scars

Stuff like this comes out of my keyboard when I don’t feel like writing. 😉

 

She leaned close to the mirror and examined the tattoo. It covered up the scar very well, distracted the eye with intricate whorls and angles of black ink.
 
Her man appeared in the mirror, right behind her shoulder. His tattoo was white, bright against the inky darkness of his skin. It made a pretty pattern of slashes and dots on his throat and arms.
 
He put both hands on her shoulders. “Ready?”
 
She turned, met his red eyes. The eyes of a hunter; the eyes she would soon have. “Yes.” This had been decades in the coming, but she was ready now.
 
 
 
The room was prepared, clean, the knives sharp and the drains cleared.
 
She stripped and lay down; the paper crinkled under her.
 
Her maker ran his fingers over her throat. She tracked the movement of his hands when he stroked his knuckles down her arm.
 
She gasped when he slashed her wrists open. The wound hurt. He held her down, pinned her arms to the table so she wouldn’t move. She flexed her fingers against the steel of the table, trying to block the pain. But soft whimpers escaped from her.
 
Warm blood gushed down the drains. Her vision went black at the edges. Her last sight was of her man being led in and lying down in the table next to her.
 
They would be together.

Book Review · reading

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I finished Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett last week. This is the first time I read Color of Magic. I understand there is a movie; I have not seen it.

Blurb from GoodReads:

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

 

Okay, I have to admit the idea of a world transported on the back giant turtle strikes me slightly ridiculous. In fact, large parts of the book strike me as ridiculous. But it works. It all holds together and not in a ridiculous way. That’s amazing.

The idea of the naïve tourist is a good way to explore this world. He’s an insurance analyst. The very idea of insurance seems a foreign concept to other character, the inept wizard. The inept wizard is a cynical type, one who is forced by his leader and circumstance to actually keep his promise to be a good tour good for the tourist.

In the tourist’s travels, while explaining the idea of insurance to people, one person commits insurance fraud. The book never said so, but I suspect the person never gets his money.

I loved the idea of the invisible dragons, dragons that are only real if you are in the dragon area and if the dragon’s owner believes in them. It’s like riding an invisible airplane, while carrying an invisible gun. Sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, it sounds wonderful to me.

The Luggage is pretty damn interesting, too. I mean, the idea of Luggage, with a capital L, that bites and is infinitely large – well, it would never be lost, never be stolen, and you could carry whatever you liked!

Also, the net around the edge of the world that catches anyone who falls over. Good idea. Too bad it is not fool-proof.

I love it. I love it a lot more than I thought I would, considering how utterly silly the idea sounds.

The book ends when the inept wizard falls over the edge of the world. This is a cliffhanger, and I don’t think I approve. But, luckily, the second book is already out.

General · Writing

Procrastinate

procrastinate-productively-work-hacks-03
Funny Procrastination Image!

What do you do to procrastinate?

I’ve been doing it most of the day.

1) Web Browsing

The web is a giant pile of quick sand. First, I was reading responses to Junot Diaz’s essay on how white the MFA program is. (I was a little shocked at how dismissive some of the comments.) Than I found myself reading other things, like stuff on spring allergies.

2) Candy Crush, and its close cousin: Pet Rescue

This could be worse. I could lose hours and hours playing this instead of only an hour or two. That’s because it comes with five lives, and once those are gone, you have to wait a while to gain more. Though I also have 2048 Puzzle now, so we shall see.

3) YouTube.

Music videos and other stuff.

Then I thought enough is enough. Time to write. There is still time to post a blog post today.

How do you procrastinate?

flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dreams

This just came to me. I am not entirely sure about it figured I would post anyway.

Color smeared the sky like a child’s finger-painting.
 
The colors were reflected in the glass and concrete buildings around. He sighed and sat on the edge of the roof, legs dangling in empty air.
 
Four stories below, people walked or biked past. Some strolled and many ran as though they were in the middle of a marathon. Poor things. Why did they bother? Nothing was going to happen tonight. Dreams shattered and it didn’t matter how hard you tried. No one cared.
 
Too bad his building wasn’t taller. He raised his eyes to the too-pretty buildings around him. Like sitting in his micro car and being surrounded by a dozen trucks. He should stay away.
 
But he couldn’t help but think of ways to sneak to the top of one. Maybe the bridge would be easier.

Book Review · fantasy · reading

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

I got Half a King by Joe Abercrombie from NetGalley. There are some errors in the copy, but it’s an ARC and they’ll probably be fixed by time it’s published.

I found out that Half a King was a YA novel only a few chapters into the book. The main character is young, but I wouldn’t have twigged to its YA status if I hadn’t read it online. I will try not to spoil anyone. 😉

Back page summary from Amazon: 

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
 
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
 
The deceived will become the deceiver.
 
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
 
The betrayed will become the betrayer.
 
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.
 
Will the usurped become the usurper?
 
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

 
I really like that line: I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath. It has a ring to it.

The main character, Prince Yarvi, is born crippled in a world that values only strength in its kings. One badly formed arm makes him a cripple, a half a man.

I have to ask: when was the last time you had a main character that was crippled from the get-go? Me, I can’t remember.

So, born unable to wield a weapon, Yarvi trains to become a minister. But his father and brothers are killed so he has to take the throne. He promptly declares war on those who killed his family. He is betrayed just as quickly. Then he vows to take back a throne he never really wants.

There is war and betrayal, all of it driven by politics.

But for all that Half a King isn’t a bleak book. Gritty, yes, but not bleak. I was expecting bleak; other Joe Abercrombie books are bleak. Perhaps that’s the YA effect. I am grateful; bleak books are so hard to read.

After the betrayal, Yarvi lives in harsh conditions. But he lives, and that’s more than his betrayer intended. He finds friends and companions that carry him to the end. His friends are all from different lands, different stations in life before they ended up together. They are all interesting, especially the one named Nothing.

My favorite part: the end.

The ending is a series of scenes, each dealing with a different character. Some of it I guessed from previous events. One part of the end, the most important part, I never guessed. It involved the betrayal of a character that I thought was trustworthy, that I thought fit into another role in the story. No. It was fantastic.

To reiterate: that one scene makes this book a standout. I will always remember that end. Always! It was perfect. Completely unexpected, but perfectly sensible, too.

My least favorite part: the middle.

This has less to do with sagginess in the middle – it has none! It is very sharp and tight in the middle! – and more to do because I thought briefly Yarvi himself was betraying everyone. It didn’t work out that way and I am glad. I was inspired to skim the end to reassure myself Yarvi was a character that I should root for. This, no doubt, is evidence of good storytelling.

Things I would like to know: more about the world.

The focus of Half a King is on Yarvi. That’s fine; he is the main character. But the companions are from other lands, and judging from them, the other lands are different. I am not even sure about the relationship between the other lands to Yarvi’s land. None of that is important to the story so it wasn’t included. But I still want to know.

I really, really liked Half a King and I am looking forward to the next one.

reading

A to Z Challenge Reflection Post

 This is the first time I’ve completed the A to Z challenge. I’ve tried twice before and missed half the letters. Third time’s the charm.

The difference this time is that I was a little more focused, instead of doing random posts about the first thing that came to mind. I still wasn’t very organized. Lots of people planned the whole months’ worth of posts in advance; some people planned a week in advance.

Me? I was lucky if I managed to write a post the night before. I would have been a lot less stressed if I’d managed to write more in advance.

But I managed. Some posts may have been a stretch, but I squeezed all the letters into a post related to the theme.

I enjoyed the challenge. I discovered quite a few new-to-me blogs that I liked and I will be doing my best to keep up with them in the future. Though since I am not doing a good job of following the blogs I currently subscribe to, this is bound to be a little difficult.

As in past years, the biggest problem was people who never commented back. I suspect a few people never even clicked on a link to see who commented, as odd that seems to me.

One of things that helped me figure out which link to follow from the linky link page is the categories. I went mostly with blogs that were on similar topics to mine – books! writing! – and that was better than clicking on random links. The hosts wanted us to click on links close to our own name. I did that, too, but the results were random. I mean, I can’t comment on a post if I have no interest in the topic. I just can’t.

I did notice a few people liked a post instead of commenting. It makes think they had nothing to say, but liked the post anyway. That’s good to know!

One of things I think I got better at during this challenge is picking pictures to illustrate a post. I usually suck at finding just the right picture and posting it.

The most time-consuming part of the challenge was returning comments and choosing the five/ten new random blogs to comment on. I hardly read anything during the challenge. I hardly wrote anything, either.

But it was worth it. The challenge was a lot of fun and I would do it again. But maybe with more preplanned posts!