The “I Messed Up” book tag

During the last semester, I’ve been saving the URLs of book tags that I’ve seen blogging friends do, with the intention to follow suit as soon as I had free time. Well, that  free time is now, so I’m getting onto the first one. This is the “I Messed Up” book tag, which I found on the Mud and Stars Book Blog aaaaaaaaaaages ago (in fact, it was posted in March). I confess to having to own up to a lot of these!

A character appearance that you misread or imagined differently:

Artemis Fowl from the series of the same name by Eoin Colfer. Basically in my head he’s a Draco Malfoy lookalike, because when we first meet him, he’s a twelve-year-old with a very high opinion of himself, and when the shoe fits, as they say… Despite knowing that he’s always described as “raven-haired” and is supposed to look more like this, I can’t get this picture out of my head.

A character name that you’ve been pronouncing wrong:

I’m trying to think of one other than Hermione Granger, but she’s the only one who comes to mind. In spite of the pronunciation lesson she gives Viktor Krum in the fourth book, I was still saying “Hermi-own” even though I knew it was wrong. I think the closest I got was “Her-me-OH-nee”. It was only when the first movie came out that I learned how to say it properly.

An overused trope that is your guilty pleasure:

While I am not a fan of love triangles, I really do enjoy hate-at-first-sight romance arcs. I love seeing characters begrudgingly forced together and then having to overcome their differences and eventually fall in love.

A cliché character type that you like better on screen than reading about:

I was going to say the “brooding yet sexy hero” because at least if it’s on screen you have the actual eye-candy there, but actually I think even that I hold to a certain standard of writing as well, even for TV/movies. I’m not sure there are really any that I would take on screen over reading if they weren’t written well enough for me to get into it.

A word/phrase you learned because of its use in a book:

I know there must be plenty, but there’s only one coming to mind right now because it was a recent one. In The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins, he refers to the “Hebrew Bible” at one point. I raised an eyebrow, thinking this was a lazy author who couldn’t be bothered looking up the correct names for Jewish holy texts which have nothing to do with the Bible. However, Wikipedia (via Google) informed me that this is in fact a word used by theology scholars.

Have you ever not read or completed a required reading book for school?:

Haha, yes! I’m sure there are plenty but James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Sally Young’s My Place come to mind. They were for the same course and I had several other texts to read as well. If I had had more time, I might have got through them.

Have you ever (or wanted to) skipped a chapter from the point of view of a character you weren’t interested in?:

Not that I can think of, but I’m sure if I read the Game of Thrones books this would happen a lot.

Have you ever cancelled social plans to read a book? ]

I don’t think I’ve ever gone so far as bailing so I could read, but I have declined short-notice invitations to things because I had already decided that night was a reading night. I’ve done it for writing as well. Don’t tell my friends, though; I usually say I’ve got a headache or something! (I am an awful person).

As usual, I’m not going to tag anyone to do this, but please feel free to pinch it if you are so inclined!


P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for one of two signed paperbacks of A More Complicated Fairytale.

#WIPpet and #WWW Wednesday – 25 May 2016

First of all, I’m excited to announce that I’m doing a giveaway! Launching a book in the middle of semester was perhaps a silly thing to do, as it meant I couldn’t properly promote it at launch time. But that’s all done with now, so here I am with two signed paperback copies of A More Complicated Fairytale to give away. It’s open to everyone, anywhere in the world, because if I restricted it to Australian entries I’d probably get maybe two.😛 You can go here to enter. Good luck!

(If you want to know a bit more before entering, the Amazon and GoodReads links are both in the sidebar to the right)/;’

My goodness, this has been a good writing week. You can read a long ramble about the reasons for the sudden upturn in my progress in Sunday’s post, but suffice to say – you know how last Wednesday I was all like, “It’s taken me from November to now, but I’ve just reached 20k on Worlds Apart”? Well, I’ve added over 5k just this week. My aim for the ten weeks between uni semesters was to add another 10k, but I’ve upped that goal to 30k, which will bring me to a total of 50k by the time I return to uni. Fingers crossed I can keep up the momentum! I’ll still try to keep my WIPpets somewhat in sequence so as not to cause too much confusion, but at least I don’t have to worry about running out of material to share from now.

wednesdaybannerFor today’s WIPpet I have five lines, which also happen to make up two paragraphs in my Scrivener file (and it’s the 25th). Quite a lot has happened prior to this scene, but all you need to know is that Princess Adelyn and Carrie Cortain had the royal guards catch up to them while they were trying to escape. Due to circumstances that would take far too long to explain here, Carrie has been taken by the guards and Adelyn has lost all of her memories of who she is, etc., and has been left alone in a giant forest. And yes, there is a reason she thinks she may be Carrie, but again with the “too convoluted to explain” thing.

The girl wandered the forest, her hands brushing against the rough bark of trees as she passed. She jumped every time she heard a noise. The pack on her back made her shoulders ache, but she kept moving. She didn’t know if it would be safe to stop, though she didn’t know where she was going, either.

The other girl had called her Carrie. Was that her name? She assumed so, though they had seemed to be in trouble. Perhaps she had been using an alias. Why didn’t she know who she was, and why was the other girl so keen for her to get away to the point of sacrificing herself? And who was Milton Nethercote, the man she was supposed to somehow locate?

If you are unfamiliar with WIPpet Wednesday, allow me to elaborate. It’s a blog hop where writers get together and share snippets from the WIP that somehow relate to the date (eg. my 2 paragraphs/5 lines thing for today). You can reach our link-up by clicking the blue guy in the right-hand sidebar. Please feel free to join in with us! We’d love to have you.

wwwwednesdayNow onto WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog.

  • What are you currently reading?

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal. Ive only read the first 100 pages so far, but I’ve already witnessed the marriage of a twelve-year-old girl (thankfully, despite my fears, there is no wedding night described), and the violent miscarriage of another girl not much older (it’s set in the 16th century, so basically everything is awful) yeah. It’s going to be a bit harrowing, I think.

I also made a very decent chunk in the audio version of The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. I got the email from my library that was available this morning, so I delayed leaving for work slightly and downloaded it. I’m already halfway through. I’m quite fussy about Alice in Wonderland retellings/adaptations, but I am actually liking this one. I think the fact that the Mad Hatter-equivalent character is not the love interest for once is helping. His connect to Alice/Alyss is entirely different. (I know that in Splintered, the Wonderland love interest was based on the Caterpillar, but I hated that book, so it doesn’t count :P)

  • What did you recently finish reading?

disclaimercoverI finished two audio book thrillers this week. The first was Disclaimer by Renee Knight, about a woman who has to confront her deepest, darkest secret when she is delivered a novel which clearly references said secret. It required a fair bit of suspension of disbelief, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It made me think. Second was Viral by Helen Fitzgerald. It’s about a girl whose worst moment ends up as a viral Internet video. It was good, and really drew attention to the woefully inadequate laws we have around video uploads and that sort of thing. But one of the two POV characters was quite unrealistic, I felt, which let it down a bit.

As Friday night was the beginning of my first weekend with no uni work, I spent it in bed reading The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood, which was a very quick read in the end. While there were some parts I didn’t especially like, the ending was really gripping!

I realised that I wasn’t going to get The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins finished by today, when it was due back to the library, so I gave up and returned it on Monday. However, I’ve put it back on my GoodReads TBR shelf rather than my DNF shelf in the hopes I’ll be able to come back to it when I’m in a better mood for it. It’s one that I do want to give a proper chance to.

I posted two new reviews this week, one for Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (3 stars) and one for World War Z by Max Brooks (3.5 stars).

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

A Gathering of Shadows FinalMy next audio book is Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill, which sounds cute and lighthearted and charming.

It’s not so much a case of reading next, but getting back to reading. The Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel  and A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab have both been sitting, started but not completed, on my Kindle, waiting for me to get back to them once I got rid of all my library books. Kingdom of Little Wounds is the last of my library haul for the moment, so I will actually be able to return to these.

Whew this was a long post! If you’ve made it all this way, you have my thanks. I’ll sign off now, and go and catch some of you on your owns blogs!

~ Emily

“Isn’t the ‘human factor’ what connects us so deeply to our past?” // Review of World War Z by Max Brooks

Title: World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Audio book narrator: Max Brooks, various others
Genre: Horror/Dystopia
Date Read: 11/05/2016 – 18/05/2016
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

worldwarzcoverI’m not usually a fan of zombies. They just don’t really do it for me. But being a librarian/archivist, and knowing that this book was written in oral history format made me interested. I’ve seen reviews recently for Sleeping Giants, which compared it to this book, and that gave me the prompt to finally look this book up. When I saw the audio book was available, I jumped on it, since it seemed like a perfect on to listen to.

After the Zombie War, Max Brooks sets out to tell the stories of the survivors. He had already conducted many of these interviews for use in the report to the United Nations, but these were removed for being too personal, for containing too much of the “human factor”. While the UN wants facts and figures, Max feels that these stories are the best way to preserve the stories of the human race’s resilience for future generations.

Unlike many zombie stories that simply focus on the USA, this one examines the effects of a zombie outbreak across the whole world. It deals with issues that could easily affect a global emergency of any kind, such as lack of government response, public panic, and large companies taking advantage of the situation. It is quite easy to imagine things like phony vaccines being pushed through the FTA, a small nuclear war breaking out between Middle-Eastern states desperate to stop refugees crossing their borders.

I do agree with the reviewers who said that the format of the book means the stakes aren’t very high. The premise is that Max Brooks travelled around after the war, interviewing survivors. There is no need to wonder if these characters survived the situations they were facing; we know they did because they are here telling the story. The fact that we only ever got to hear from each character for one chapter also limited the connection that the reader can form with any of them. However, I do think the format was very clever for the examination of global society that Brooks was clearly aiming for. Even though we only visit these characters once, the story of the war, from outbreak to victory, unfolds in a well-structured way.

The audio book was done very well; Max Brooks played himself/the interviewer and each interviewee had a different narrator, which gave them real character. I did have one qualm with the way the way it was recorded though. Often in audio books, when the text says a character laughs, the narrator actually does just that. Instead of making this recording sound like a real oral history by adding those little things in, it sounded more like the various narrators were reading an oral history transcript, with Max Brooks interjecting with footnotes, or describing the person’s actions. I imagined things were probably inside square brackets in the text, like [laughs] or [is silent for a while]. While it was still good to listen to, I felt it was a bit of a missed opportunity, given how well the format could have translated to audio.

Sunday Summary – May 22, 2016

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This week in writing

Wow, what a weekend. I’ve made some important discoveries about my writing. Namely in how much university weighs me down and prevents me from really reaching potential. During semester, I’ve tried to write what I could on my lunch break and read my book on the bus and during morning and afternoon tea. This gets my reading and writing out of the way during the day so I can concentrate on study in the evenings. I also worded my writing goal “Write every weekday”, which made me always feel like I could have the weekend off.

GIF from GIPHY.com

This week, my last papers for the semester were handed in, and on Friday, rather than write and then log it in my Writeometer project, I would actually use the writing sprint function in the app and see what I could manage. Rather than the measly 250-350 words I could manage when handwriting on my lunch break, I wrote 750-odd words. Yesterday, I upped that two 1100. Today, I surpassed 2000 words, for the first time in the six months I’ve been actively keeping track of my daily writing.

With all that in mind, I have a couple of new goals I want to try to achieve in the coming weeks, at least until uni goes back (and even then, I might try to find a way to maintain this; after all, it’s only 25 minute sprints). As much as I enjoy handwriting, while I have the time to wile away at home, writing straight onto the computer is just so much faster and thus so much more productive. I can’t let that go to waste, so I’m going to do sprints at the laptop, and have my notebook in my bag in case I am inspired to continue throughout the day. I’m also going to try writing in the mornings again. When I tried it before, not only was I groggy, but I was also not feeling the writing. That’s not the case at the moment, and hopefully I can make this last. If I’m really keen, I could do a morning sprint and an afternoon sprint. But we’ll see about that.

This week in reading

poisondiariescoverI read The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood in one sitting on Friday. It was pretty good. And I will finish my current audio book, Disclaimer by Renee Knight, tomorrow.

I’ve been trying to make my way through The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins, but it’s not really doing it for me and there’s no way I’ll have it finished by its due date on Wednesday. I’m returning it to the TBR, though, rather than putting it on the DNF shelf, because I feel like it does deserve a chance when I am more in the mood for something dense.

Tomorrow I will start The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, which has a stunning cover, but apparently some very harrowing content. I’ve got my fingers crossed that like to get through it, though.

My goal of reading for at least half an hour remains the same, though I have been finding extra time now, which is absolutely divine.

This week in blogging

I made it to all the WWW Wednesday participants who visited my blog, plus a few others, and also to EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of the WIPpeteers! Which was great, because I hadn’t managed to do proper blogging rounds for a while and I was starting to feel guilty.

worldwarzcoverMy review of Rebel of the Sands went up on Friday, and I have scheduled reviews for both World War Z and The Poison Diaries for this week. It feels good to be a bit ahead with reviews again, rather than missing review days because I don’t have anything to go up.

I’ve also scheduled another book tag for Thursday. I’ve been saving the links whenever I’ve seen people post them, so I’ve got a few banked up to do.

Only goals for this week are to write the usual Wednesday post and to write and schedule a review for Disclaimer once I finish it.

This week in health and fitness

While I did alternate my meals a bit so that I wasn’t just always eating raw veg and hummus (that had been my plan, to kickstart a healthy eating regime, but it got boring really quickly), I managed to stay within my calorie goal each day, and I know this because I tracked it properly each day. The only days where I really indulged were Wednesday, when I had a giant spinach and feta roll with chips and salad for lunch, and today, where I had nachos for lunch and potato gems for dinner.

I walked after work on two days, and also returned to my Tuesday night dance class after a few weeks of absence. Still not quite up to the five days of exercise a week I’m aiming for, but getting there (and an improvement on the previous week).

Other highlights this week

This year, the Australian TV series, Playschool is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, and as part of that, the Royal Australian Mint has released 3 commemorative coins. We went along to the launch today and I got my photo taken with Simon Burke, who is technically also known for things other than Playschool, but he was a popular presenter when I was of viewing age. It was a morning of music and nostalgia and lots of fun.

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That’s all for this week. See you soon!

“A new dawn! A new desert!” // Review of “Rebel of the Sands” by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 10/05/2016 – 16/05/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

rebelofthesandscover I have to start by saying that I did myself a bit of a disservice in the lead-up to reading this book by forming some completely baseless expectations about it. Some of them sort of turned out to be the case, but I definitely made things up based on what I thought I was reading on the back cover (unfortunately, going into details about these expectations will give things away, so you’ll just have to bear with me). Unfortunately, it meant that I was busy expecting things that weren’t coming that it distracted me from what is actually quite a well-written YA fantasy.

Amani wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of Dustwalk, and when a mysterious foreigner turns up and gives her that opportunity, she takes it, even if it means leaving her only friend for dead. Soon she is caught up with a group of rebels looking for a better way of life, even if it means sacrificing themselves and overthrowing the Sultan to do it.

First of all, credit where credit is due, Alwyn Hamilton has created a flawed heroine who goes through honest character development. In her desperation to get out Dustwalk, she makes some honestly selfish decisions, and it was a breath of fresh air. I find often when we describe YA characters as “flawed”, their flaws are there, but minimal, and Amani was a great contrast to that. When she realises she wants to stay with her new friends and defend them, you can really see the change she’s undergone.

Amani is surrounded by interesting characters, namely Jin, the aforementioned mysterious stranger. His true identity is a spoiler, so I won’t mention it here, but we certainly find out things about him along the way that aren’t necessarily expected. As they travel with a caravan and then join the other rebels, we are treated to lots of colourful side characters who add a lot of depth to the world.

I liked some aspects of the world-building but found other parts fell a bit flat for me. The desert setting, with its history of Sultans and First Beings (djinn, etc), was exactly what I had been craving, but I could never quite put my finger on the time period it was supposed to be. It’s not steampunk, but the characters all wield guns and ride trains, so it’s definitely industrial. Some of the language they used felt quite modern, but it was clearly not set present-day (if they can’t take the train, it’s still camels).

The plot is well-structured and unfolds at a good pace. The only problem is that it never feels very exciting. I think this is partly to do with the writing style; it’s in first person, but as good as Amani is as a character, her narrative voice is not that engaging.

Overall, while I enjoyed this book, I am not dying for the sequel. I do recommend it though, if you want something a bit different from the typical YA fantasy.

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 18 May, 2016

Once again, I have failed at keeping up with everyone’s blogs! However, on the brighter side, I handed in my final two assignments for the semester this week, and now I am free for ten glorious weeks! My aim is actually to get a lot of writing done in that time, but it will mean increased blogging time, too, I hope.

Anyway, now is time for WWW Wednesday, a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog (though I’m posting quite early, so if the post isn’t there yet, check back later).
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  • What are you currently reading?

lastdaysofmagiccoverThe Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins. It’s not exactly wowing me and the writing feels a bit clunky, but it’s early days so I’m not writing it off just yet.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

rebelofthesandscoverRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I actually realised about two thirds of the way through that there was no indication from the book that some of the things I had been expecting would be there, so I guess I did a bit of a disservice to myself and the book by having unfounded expectations. I still enjoyed it, but not as much as I might have otherwise. My review goes up on Friday.

I also finished World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which I was listening to on audio. My review will go up on Monday. I enjoyed it, though my mind wasn’t blown.

I  posted my review of Rivers of London by Aaronovitch on Monday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

kingdomlittlewoundscoverThe Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, which I mostly picked up because of the stunning cover (seriously, go check it out), and The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood are the last two of my library books. I will probably read the Poison Diaries first because it’s shorter, and hopefully I’ll get through it before the due date, though I’m actually keener to read The Kingdom of Little Wounds.

Now for WIPpet Wednesday. My WIPpet maths this week is such – it’s the eighteenth, and so I have a nine-line paragraph because I added the two digits together. Carrie is getting Princess Adelyn out of the city, but they have to go on foot, and they’re getting into the dodgier parts of town.

Princess Adelyn kept her hood raised as they walked. It was still dark outside, but the street lamps lit their way. She wasn’t sure how much longer that would remain the case, though, as they headed into the poorer parts of the city. Once they reached the forest Jasper had mentioned, she didn’t know what they would do to see their way. Carrie seemed to know what she was doing though. She walked confidently through the streets. Adelyn was surprised that a young woman from the part of town where the Cortains lived would know her way out of the city by this road so easily.

If you are unfamiliar with WIPpet Wednesday, it’s a blog hop that I coordinate, wherein us writer types share an snippet from our current WIP (hence, WIPpet) that somehow relates to the date. The date correlation can be as tenuous as you like; we enjoy creativity in that respect.😉 You can join in by clicking the little blue guy to the right.:)

On the subject of this WIP, I am very close to hitting 20k on it! Which isn’t a lot given I started it November, but I’ve had some rough patches lately, writing-wise, so I’m getting excited at any and all milestones.

Now that I’m done with uni for a while, I’m hoping to do some proper promo and marketing for A More Complicated Fairytale. Some people actually bought it despite my lack of marketing! But I’d like to see a few more! (If you’re keen, you might like to use the link in the sidebar to buy your own copy, but I am going to hopefully have a giveaway up and going in a week or so, so you might like to hold off until then).

Well, I’d best be off now. I’m going to the circus tonight!😀 Hopefully this week I’ll actually manage to get around to a lot of your blogs. Until then!

~ Emily

“F*** me, I can do magic.” // Review of Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Title: Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Genre: crime fiction/urban fantasy
Date Read:
06/05/2016 – 11/05/2016
Rating: ★★

Review:

riversoflondoncoverI remember getting this book from the library not long after it was published in 2011, but the fact that I couldn’t remember many details at all made me think that I had DNFed it. However, going by my GoodReads status updates, I did get all the way to the end, but I only gave it two stars. I thought that maybe I should give it another chance to impress me, but sadly, I ended up feeling the same way again.

When Constable Peter Grant meets a ghost while supervising a crime scene, it ends up leading him into a world he never imagined. The string of murders his team are investigating are revealed to have a supernatural bent, and before long, Peter is taken on as an apprentice to a wizard, trying to get his head around Latin while also meeting the Gods of the London rivers, among other events.

One of my main issues with this book was Peter, and the way he was written. Some will argue with me that he’s just a typical hot-blooded male, but it gets not only tiresome but a bit gross when nearly every time he lays eyes on a woman (whether it’s one he knows or not), we got descriptions of her perky breasts, or the hardness of her nipples, or how he’d really like to do certain things to her. The book is in first person, which I am picky about anyway, but when I’ve got a character spouting things like this, it bugs me. If it hadn’t been for that, I might have liked him okay, but I think I would have found his character a bit flat anyway. I thought the narration was a bit similar to Mark Watney’s in The Martian, i.e. fun and snarky at first, but then forever fun and snarky, to the point where it’s just annoying and boring (I know, I know, I’m a crazy weirdo for not liking the Martian).

The plot as a whole was not terribly exciting until maybe the last fifty pages or so. I had trouble keeping track with all the players in the murder investigation, not to mention the subplot that didn’t really have a lot to do with anything, other than to introduce some side characters. Some of the world-building to do with magic was interesting, particularly to do with the history of magic and also Peter’s lessons, but I felt the procedural aspect of the book outweighed the magical aspects by far, which was disappointing, given that it was supposed to be a supernatural crime!

As you have probably concluded by now, I’m not going to continue with the series. While its premise promises all my favourite things, the execution just didn’t do it for me.