My Year in Review: Reading

I did this last year and it was sort of fun, so I’ve decided to continue the trend where I brag about how much reading I did over the course of last year. So how did I do in 2015?

 

2015 readedit

Total Books Read: 78

Total Pages Read: 19,299

Longest Book Read: The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett, 681 Pages

Shortest Book Read: Theriac by Becca Mills, 29 Pages

First Book Read: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson 01/02/15

Last Book Read: Every Day by David Levithan, 12/30/15

Books in Progress: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

 

These numbers were a little skewed because I read several shorter books on publishing as well as a few short stories and graphics novels. This is why if you notice in 2014 I read only 39 books (Half of what I read this year) but only read about 6k pages less. Oh well.

Review – Nolander

A couple people asked me what the other book I read on my plane flight was. It was Nolander by Becca Mills. It is a book I wouldn’t normally read, but I’m glad I did. The book is, very loosely, about a girl named Beth who finds out she’s special, which is pretty typical for an Urban fantasy, but that’s where the similarities end. It is the first book in the Emanations series. You can get it for free on Amazon here. The Author’s webpage is here.nolander

 Amateur photographer Beth Ryder is in trouble. She’s taking pictures of things she can’t see, things that aren’t human. Beth has her own dreams, but people like her don’t get to go free. She’s seized by a dangerous organization dedicated to keeping Earth’s shadow world — and its frightening inhabitants — a secret. Forced into otherworldly politics and uncertain whom to trust, Beth must come to terms with a radically altered future — one in which her own humanity seems to be draining away.  

The Good:

The writing quality for this book is off the charts. It’s so well written that I felt smarter by just having read it.

Beth is a good character, just the right mixture of weakness and strength. The bad guys were strong and overwhelming as well as charming. I got a real sense of fear from the supporting cast. Even the ones who barely talked seemed to have loads of backstory, but somehow, the book isn’t bogged down by it.

The fantasy worlds Beth travels to in Nolander are remarkably well done and incredibly creative to boot.

The Bad:

The book is long. A lot longer than I’d normally read. I tend to shy away from anything over three hundred pages. Still, the book kept me wanting to know more.

I’d also have liked to see Beth level up a little more, be a little more in control of her power by the end. I felt myself wanting the author to just get on with it.

The Ugly:

There were these weird chapters told from Beth’s perspective about another character that really threw me out of the book. Unfortunately, the book starts with one. I enjoyed the scenes, but I had to view them as almost a separate entity.

Keep in mind this is a first person book, and while there may be some way Beth learns of these events, it wasn’t made clear why she was able to tell this story during this book. Every time I got to one, I felt myself wanting to skip it, despite them being very well written. I didn’t because the character, Ghosteater, portrayed within them is remarkably likeable.

Overall:

I really enjoyed the book despite it being long (for me). I’m definitely going to read book 2 and am excited to see what happens to Beth. It’s definitely not your traditional urban fantasy because there’s not enough punching or kissing, but if you’re looking for a romp through an imaginative world with compelling characters, Nolander by Becca Mills is the place to be.

Away

So where have I been for the last week? I went to Orlando with the family. We took the tyke to Disneyworld. He had a blast. It was great. I also managed to read two books over the trip. Maybe I’ll post some reviews later. I’m not sure. They were both good. I tried to read a third, but try as I might, I couldn’t get into it, which is fine.

Anyway, the fifth Lillim book, Hardboiled, is with the editor now. The new beta reader loved this one, despite not having read any of the other books, so that’s positive. I sort of wrote this as a jumping in point to the series, so if you wanted to do so, you could skip the first four books.

May Contain Spies has gotten its first two reviews, one four star and one five star, which is awesome. I guess it just wasn’t for the original beta reader? *shrug*

I’m about 13k words into Under Wraps, and the cover is just spectacular. I’m going to try and wrap this one up in the next couple weeks and move onto Abby 2, The Spy Within.

It’s sort of funny because the beta reader for Hardboiled commented that she’d like to see more of Thes Mercer, who is the main character in Under Wraps. I guess my plan succeeded? Mwa ha ha *evil laugh cough snort*

I recently started reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and I have to say, this book is amazing. I really wish I could write like this. I think I might be able to get there, but it’s so far out of my life experience that I’m not sure I could for that reason alone. It’s like when I read The Fault in our Stars. I can’t write like that because of life experience (and well talent, but I think as I keep writing that will be less of an issue)

It makes me sad because even though I love to write sweet popcorn novels, I wonder if I want to write something else? I recently wrote 5k words of a sweet little romance that takes place in Minnesota even though I’ve never been there. I’d like to finish it. The problem is I’d probably have to publish it under a pen name. Oh well.

Crossing Over

The last chapter I wrote for Lillim 5 is 3,500 words, which is freaking nuts. For Hatter and Kill it With Magic, I tried to shoot for 1,000 word chapters. After that, I tried for 2,000 word chapters, but I still break chapters when I need to do it.

How did this happen? I was writing this chapter where Lillim and Thes are walking through Tartarus eating a centaur. This is after they cross a river of fire (points if you know the name) on an ice bridge (thanks Sara). And I decided, how could you have a trip to Tartarus without meeting Kronos? The answer? You can’t.

So my 2,000 word chapter became 3,500 words of epic titanic goodness.

Anyway, this book is really interesting because earlier I wrote the scene that will tie into the revelations books. I think that was chapter 5? I did it all sly like, and you wouldn’t notice it probably unless you read both. So what does Kronos do? He sets us up for Under Wraps! I know, I know.

So yeah, I guess that means I actually have to write those books now.

I also jotted down the premise for Abby 2 after I scrapped my old outline for not being all Michael Bay explosiony enough. I think I’ve got a really good handle on a bad guy and what I want to do with Stephen and Lisa.

I also like how in English you can add a y to the end of virtually any word. I think that’s a thing.

Anyway, I think I’m finally hitting my stride with Lillim 5 now that it’s sitting at like 32k words. I have no idea what it will be at when I’m done, but it felt like a real uphill battle for the first 20k or so. The last 10k have been a breeze. I bet if I sat down and locked myself in a room for a weekend I could finish the whole thing, or you know, go insane because no beer and no TV make Homer go crazy.

I also finished Gone Girl the other day. I would encourage you to check it out, but I’ll be honest the whole book was a bit weird for me. I liked it. Then I didn’t like it. Then I got hooked again, and finally I was just tired and like “Can we please finish…” It makes me wonder how the movie would be, but I think it has Ben Affleck, and I am a fan of him. I mean, Daredevil, best movie ever, right?

Year In Review

This isn’t a writing post. This is a reading post where I get to brag about how much I read. Which… isn’t a whole lot. I was delaying this post because I really wanted to finish one more book, but alas, I don’t see it happening in two days. Le sigh.

2014books

Total Books Read: 39

Total Pages Read: 13,389

Longest Book Read: Incubus Dreams by Laurell K. Hamilton, 722 Pages

First Book Read: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey 01/02/14

Last Book Read: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, 12/28/14

Books in Progress: Deadly Heat by Richard Castle, The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

Here’s to next year.

 

Fault in Our Stars

My wife and I did quite a bit of driving over the holidays, and during this time, decided to listen to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I was just blown away by this book, which is probably why it is super popular. It also made me sad because I don’t think I can write anything like this… ever. It’s just not my style.

Still, it’s full of this weird gallows humor that touches even the most horrific aspects of the book.

There were several times during the listening of the audiobook where I felt like I was running out of feels, or needed a break. This book is intense.

I didn’t really set out to write a review or anything, I just wanted to say that you, and by you, I mean the proverbial “you all” should go read this book.

It’s also surprisingly less sad than you’d expect from a book about people with terminal cancer.

Rise of the Fallen

I’m excited.

There’s this book I read back in 2012 called My Soul to Keep, by Sean Hayden, and if you haven’t read it, well you should. It is awesome.

In a nutshell, it is about a high schooler named Connor. He makes a deal with a demon to… well… become a demon. Connor is then thrust into the world of demonry except his demon powers are super wonky. Hijinks ensue. It’s hilarious.

You can buy it on amazon here. Anyway, my only problem with the book is that it ends in the middle. There were several threads (like what’s the deal with the swords of the deceiver, man) and they didn’t all get, you know, tied up. The book begged for a sequel. BEGGED!

So, periodically for the last couple years, I’ve looked him up to see if he released a sequel. Guess who released a sequel a couple months ago? Sean Hayden. His new book is called Your Soul to Take, and I just bought it on kindle, which is crazy if you think about that I’ve only bought like 6 books ever on my kindle. This is a big deal for me, and I’m super excited to run home and start reading it… like right now.

You can buy the sequel here, by the way, and you should because I’m sure it is awesome.

Anyway, I’m going to go read now. >.>

Good WIll

We started cleaning out the garage because of well, reasons and stuff. We do this every year about this time and every year I find myself giving away my books. This time was no exception, and I got rid of a load of books from my childhood.

I mean, I got rid of Haymeadow and The River (the sequel to The Hatchet). I was going to keep A Wild Sheep Chase, but decided that I was just delaying the inevitable and put it in the box. I like that book a lot, and I was hesitant to buy it originally because it was so damn expensive. ($13.99 like ten plus years ago)

I also got rid of my collection of Katherine Kerr novels. I had the entire Deverry series which, oddly enough, I bought the first one from a Good Will many moons ago.

I have a few more books to take this weekend, and every single one makes me sad. On that note, however, I found my copy of Summer of Monkeys. This is a novel I refer to all the time, but no one else seems to have heard of. It’s by Wilson Rawles, the guy who wrote Where the Red Fern Grows.

My Grandma would always refer to Wilson Rawles whenever I thought my writing was terrible because he had terrible grammar and couldn’t sell his writing. So he burned it all in a fire. Then his wife (English teacher) edited Where the Red Fern Grows, and it became a classic. Think of all the other awesome stories we’d have by him if people didn’t discount his writing to the point where he burned decades of work.

It seems like when I clean out my books I always find a hidden gem I’ve forgotten about. Last year, I found From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler last year. I have vivid memories of them bathing in fountains. I try to explain it to people and no one seems to get it. Sigh.

I also kept The Great Gatsby but donated my copy of Sons and Lovers. I am always hesitant to donate “classics” because I feel like they make me look smarter from their perch on my shelf. (And I’ve actually read them.)

I think I’m going to get rid of my Star Wars novels, but I really don’t want to because I like them. It’s like my Vampire the Masquerade novels. I like them dammit, and you can’t make me get rid of them. Then the next year I get rid of them. (This time it was Deverry.) I wish there was an easier way to store books, like on an electronic device or something…

Vampires

I’m reading Interview with the Vampire right now, and by reading, I mean listening to it in my car because I don’t actually read things. Who has time for that? Anyway, it sorta dawned on me that the book is old, and it’s only from 1976.

I mean, a lot of the vampire lore we’ve all grown up with has probably come from this book, and it’s what, 40 years old? That’s not really all that old. Even White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade is only from 1991. It can barely drink.

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. Nosferatu came out in 1922 and Dracula came out in 1931. That means the world just sort of rode on Bram Stoker’s coat tails until 1968 when Anne Rice wrote the piece of short fiction that grew into Interview. That’s nuts to me.

Vampire lore was just Dracula (which is only like a hundred years old) for 70 years.

Now, we have Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and many other vampire books/movies/tv shows. Vampire lore is constantly changing now, constantly being influenced.

I bet if I dug into werewolves I’d find a similar pattern. Some book a long ass time ago then nothing until the 1930s when the wolfman was made. And… I can’t even think of a werewolf book that’d even be as influential as Interview with the Vampire.

I’m not the most literate guy in the world. I’m just now reading Interview for the first time, and I read Dracula like two years ago. Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of vampire fiction, but I’m kind of surprised that there’s this huge hole of monster fiction. Was it all just comic books?

The first appearance of Blade in 1973. (Yes, this is my copy)

I’m sure there’s someone out there with an unnecessarily detailed timeline that can pinpoint all the vampire stuff up through the middle ages to now, but how many people can do more than go Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, Twilight when thinking about vampire fiction. I’d guess not a whole lot… and that’s kind of sad.

Interesting

There I was, standing there minding my own business on a dark and stormy night, talking to one of my friends, being all like “you haven’t liked my book on Facebook, yet,” nudge, nudge. Because I am now that author guy who bugs everyone about his book. It’s more cute than needy and depressing, I swear.

Anyway, this fellow remarks to me that the guy down the hall from us at work also writes novels for kindle. At first I was surprised, and then I was interested. I know that guy, and I never suspected he was a closet author. (I know, I totes used the word then, and you didn’t even notice.)

So I hit him up today, being all sly with my “I heard you write books on Kindle,” line.

It was like watching the sun rise as his face lit up like a Christmas tree. (Holy over use of metaphors, Batman!)

We wound up having a fifteen minute conversation about his books which ended with me getting free copies of all three of his murder/mystery novels. I’m excited to read them because he was so excited to tell me about them.

Now, I just hope they’re good.

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