Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bittersweet Journals.

I’ve written in journals, sporadically, for years. I used to want to be that person who got to the end of their life and had written every day, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be that person. I’ve gone periods where I’ve written every week, every month, whenever I felt like it. I went almost a year, most recently, writing every day.

But I look back, at journals I wrote in when I was amidst my toughest, most breakable, when I was sinking or mindlessly happy or fluctuating. When I was thinking or considering something, anything, and I’ve felt so changed, in the months or years that have passed, and when I look back at the words I scrawled I feel almost distressed. Because I don’t remember the intensity of my feelings. I don’t vividly remember how close to shattering I was. And it hurts, to see, to relive. And what if someone else read it, I can never stop thinking. What if they read it and didn't realise that it wasn't their fault. That I don't blame anyone. There are excuses and I fill myself with them, but all the same- it's almost too hard to write down anything at all. Because what would they think of me.

But then I remember that it *was* accurate, even if it isn't anymore. It was my life. And I'm so glad to have recorded it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (3)

This week in Perceivable Intensities, I'm sharing some snippets* from the area I'm at right now. I've only got about... 50 pages left to edit/rewrite/decimate (goodbye, 15k), and I'm hoping I'll be able to finish that and reread the whole thing before NaNo starts? Which... may not happen. BUT I STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE. And I actually still have very little idea what I'm going to be doing for NaNo, even though it begins this time next week. But hey! Maybe I'm always this unprepared.
So, these are some snippets that give Ashes, Ashes (which I've officially renamed. Perceivable Intensities, which is a shortening of the original name, didn't fit so well, and... let's just say there's a lot of ash in this book) the exact feel I want for it.
As always, you can follow me on WattPad and gear up for more of this!
*I say snippets, but really- they're words. Put together. With other words. Tending to be rather short. They should really be called "snips," only that sounds... awkward.

I fear we shall always have a bond after this night.

They had both known how far they’d go, what barriers they would cross and crush underfoot. 
They would both go farther.

The sun and the atmosphere are both warm, jovial, but the wind, light as it seems, holds ice, and it settles over her more easily than any of the warmth.

She’s relieved for the silence, letting it carry them along and not once trying to fight it, but it doesn’t last long. After about ten minutes he pulls over, the road all around them deserted and, when he rolls down his window, silent. But not peaceful. Never peaceful.
He rests his forearms on the wheel and a small smile plucks at the corner of his mouth.
‘What?’ Allison asks, watching him not look at her, her own smile beginning to form despite the foreboding the situation is making her feel. ‘What are you thinking about?’

‘Nothing.’ There’s a pause and she comes close to ripping his insufferable face off of it’s insufferable neck. ‘I’m just watching, darling.’
‘You’re smirking.’
‘This? This is not a smirk.’
‘Don’t expect me to ask, then, because you know I-’
‘Worry not. I’m well aware you’re far too grand for the rest of us.'

*whispers* How do you end a post after sharing work you're incredibly excited/proud about/of? WITH SPARKLES! BAM! IMAGINARY SPARKLES FOR YOU ALL.

Friday, October 23, 2015

As Black as Ebony by Salla Simukka.

Publish date- September 2015.
Publisher- Hot Key Books.
RRP- $16.95 (AUD)

Read my review for books 1 and 2!

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The third and final book in the Lumikki Andersson trilogy, Lumikki is out to find out the truth. But, with a stalker on her trail- and a stalker who seems to know more about her than even she does- Lumikki might not get out alive, this time.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for this review copy!
Image Source: Five Mile Press.

What I thought:
Obsession. Obsession. Obsession. Obsession.
Every Hot Key Books title has a list of "ingredients", four elements that sum up the parts of the story in your hands, and when I saw the back cover of As Black as Ebony I wondered if it was a misprint, since I saw four parts obsession.
Nup. That's how intense it was.

As Black As Ebony is the final book in the YA Finnish crime series that retells, subtly, Snow White, and it is full of obsession. And for me, it won me back aster a less than overwhelming second book. Here Lumikki is back with all her questions and tragedy, the horrors of her recent past mere blips, really, in her life- here she is focusing on the longer ago tragedy, the half remembered memory of a sister that her time in Prague helped to resurface.

Being back with Lumikki for one last book reminded me fiercely of why and how I loved her. Lumikki is a faintly broken character, a haunted, shadowy person who hardly seems to exist- she is ethereal and faint and at times she seems to live more inside her head than the real world. And I can't seem to hep but love characters like that, be they darker- like Lumikki- or lighter- like Luna Lovegood. However told, they present some of the very best stories.

There's a stalker after Lumikki in this book, someone who knows more of her past than she herself, and someone who is watching her every moment. It was unsettling, reading their letters, textx and POV, seeing the way they affected Lumikki's stability and were just always there. We also get confusion and fear and new emotion as Lumikki finds happiness in a new relationship, and even get to meet Blaze, the transgendered boy who might be her one true love, the one who broke her heart. I couldn't like him, not with his posessive behaviour and intent belief that no one else could love or be with Lumikki, but it was interesting to meet him.

Rating: Excellent.
Pretty creepy, but also gorgeous and irresistable, and a fairly beautiful ending to a series and characters I adore. I'm so proud of her and her choices.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mini Reviews (16)

Ink and Bone- Rachel Caine.
Not all people can ever love one book, and in a smaller community like that of us book bloggers the same is certainly to be said. And I suppose it hadn't been my turn for a while.

While, from what I've seen, the vast majority of reviews for Ink and Bone have been beyond highly praising, my own thoughts were thick and congested and I only got about 86-87 pages through before realising a DNF was the only way for me to go forward.

Unfortunately, I simply could not get into the story. The world, whilst interesting, was stiff and unyielding to my mind, and I found it impossible to become interested in it. And whilst the characters did seem nicely diverse, they were just as hard to find an entry point with. I kept trying, beyon the point where it was difficult, but no win. The idea is incredibly interesting and clearly it is a story many adore just, sadly, not me.

Thank you to Faber and Factory/A&U for this review copy!
Image source: Murdoch Books.

Thank you to Macmillan for this review copy!
Image source: Pan Macmillan.

Carry On- Rainbow Rowell.
I'm undecided, but it seems I should probably stop pushing Rainbow Rowell books into my face. I've tried the majority of them, E&P being the only I finished. It was a great success- until the end- and I just tend, it seems, to not be enthused like others. Carry On is another sad case of this point. I'd been unsuccessful with Fangirl but was planning on trying it again, so I thought I'd try Carry On as a lead in. Also, it sounded fairly fantastic. In the almost third that I read, though, I wasn't enthused, captivated or won over. Rather, I felt like I was reading something I recognised that didn't have enough of a spin on it to make me really interested. As far as I could tell, Simon Snow is fairly well a reimagining of Harry Potter. It's still set in the UK (although it didn't feel naturally British), but the wizarding world is a little different, especially with it's ruling. But unless there is some major distinctive change to the plot, then it's not enough for me to want to spend hours reading 522 pages about someone whose story I already know and love and would chose to reread in it's original form. And Simon was really annoying, besides.

Clearly there are distinctive changes- the characters aren't exact replicas and as far as I'm aware there's some romance between the Harry and Draco characters (unless that's just the fanfic?), there is swearing and multiple, interiguing POVS- it is diffierent. But it isn't different enough, not for me. And there was something in the telling that just... wasn't for me, either. I'm all for Harry and Draco in a relationship, but Carry On isn't the way I'm going to get there.

I DNFd at 114.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (2)

Okay, so today I’m going to be curating and sharing a little playlist. I used to make playlists that fit my books, but... well actually I just made over the one playlist for the one book about three times over a couple of years, but still. IT COUNTS. It does. *nods* Anyhow, I haven’t made one in about two, three years, so it’s about time I did. And with my editing of Ashes, Ashes coming along nicely (although when you decide to cut a whole dramatic romance from the arc it makes for a lot of cutting, eyebrow quirks at the dramaaaaa and whole scenes aplenty to rewrite) I thought I’d prepare myself to launch back in by making a playlist. Hopefully it’ll either a. give you a unique feel to the story or b. make you want to sign up to WattPad and follow me immediately because you know whatever I release in December is going to be sodding amazing.
Either of those options would be perfectly acceptable.
Also: no affiliation between me and any of these artists. I just think their music makes sense in a world I made up one time and wanted to share the fact.

Allison. Ghost Ingrid Michaelson.
It’s not so clearly cut as the song makes it, but there’s a really good sense of the past and the things the Allison has become of things that happened to her in this.
Also: Hackensack Fountains of Wayne makes for the kind of song that wouldn’t only play throughout the novel, but is a nice representation of Allison’s childhood self talking to her older self.

Allison and Sim. Another Love- Tom Odell.
Basically, this is a better representation of these two than I realised when I considered it. It’s actually giving me all kinds of feels for 1:57-2:13. #sobbing

Walter. I believe- Christina Perri
Walter is a giant softie. He’s... very close *squints* to Allison in a paternal-but-not sense, and isn’t necessarily pleased with her choice to join the, ah, giant corperation he runs that trains people into becoming secret agents. He understands the levels there are to Allison that she can’t even see.

Our villains. Crazy- the Melanie Martinez version.
I like playing around with my villains, and although these ones I do dislike for their villany, there are still questions that get raised. And some of them are a little out of it, too. Crazy on power. On loss. All of it.

The hunting of our villains. Seven Nation Army- the Melanie Martinez version.
Some people go against the rules. Bad move. 'nuff said.

An *event*. Candles- Daughter.
There’s something that happens. It is intense and full of lies. Each party knows more and less than they realise.

Overall. Suspicious Minds- Elvis Presley.
Because hey, they’re secret agents. They trust no one.

BONUS ROUND. New Ceremony- Dry the River.
This also relates to something. Heh.

Hopefully this makes sense to anyone but me. At least a little. OR IT WILL.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cloud 9 by Alex Campbell...

Publish date- September, 2015.
Publisher- Hot Key Books.
RRP- $16.95 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A UK in which every day almost everyone pops a pill. These tablets are taking over anti-depressants and are sending the whole country, and other countries that use it, into a world of happiness. But surely to every cloud there is a dark side, and Cloud 9 is that.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for this review copy!
Image source: Five Mile Press.

What I thought:
Cloud 9 was an idea that could have worked really, really well. Basically, the large majority of the UK takes a pill. It gets rid of bad emotions. No unhappiness. No suicide. Only thing is, it has a secret. The government, they have the biggest secret of all. Dun. Dun. Dunnnnn.
You've got conspiracy, thriller, chase scenes. And a pretty neat cover (particularly colour-wise), too.

Only problem? It didn't work for me. I found it annoying, frustrating and tiring. The characters were the picture of bubbly-hyper-happiness and stony-questioning-rebellion, and besides those words there wasn't really much besides. Hope was over the top in every possibly way, believing with all her heart that Leata meant happiness and everyone ho didn't take it was asking for their troubles. She was a vlogger, too, and her monolouges were full of how she had to present a face, subscriber count, I owe it to my followers and the self-aware, disingenuine feeling character like that.
Tom, on the other hand, was the opposite. Sullen, fairly well addicted to whisky after the death of his father- although this addiction made me frown. He went from nil to, like, full dependancy, bottle/s a day, and only threw up once, and then went cold turky, as it were, in the space of... two weeks? I don't find such a portrait very realistic.

Tom and Hope's interactions didn't interest me a whole lot, and I found them equally frustrating, as individuals. She did a teeny bit of shaming, judged others, was "nice" to people because it was her brand, and Tom- who disliked Hope intently- told her everything he found out for no. apparent. reason. She'd be there and he'd tell her something he'd have chosen to hide from the police, even though her dad was a top Leata lawyer and she was practically a Leata spokesperson.

Writing wise, I felt like this could have been a lot more finished. The characters obviously didn't feel like people besides their structure, there were patches of weird formality, the way Hope and Tom's chapters- told in first and second person- changing frequently, one way in part one, switch in part two, muddled in three, and I couldn't tell if it was intentional.

There were also unexplained shortenings for words (or unexplained until a fair way in), a bvery strange scene of sexual assult that felt way too intentional to the relationship between other characters, and I'm never a fan of pop culture references- we had youtube galore, Star Wars, Bond films, etc. So it was set in the present day (I'd say, with a reference to an upcoming Star Wars film and the present 6 discussed) and yet it was incredibly different. That made for an interesting element, but it didn't get clarified or built upon enough for me to be able to truly appreciate it.

Rating: Oh noooo.
This definitely wasn't great going for me, although it got a little better for the end. The characters were annoying and the plot frustrated me, and I just didn't care.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Writer's Life for Me + OTHER TAGS and SHOUTING.

I am certainly not the queen of the tags. No one so lazy about doing tags as I could win that title, but I'm probably... the jester of tags. Or maybe the creepy butler. I don't know. I'm someone in the palace, probably hanging around corners being all creepy and I should stop now.

The lovely Alyssa of The Devil Orders Takeout was kind enough to tag me in A Writers Life for Me and Secret Life of a Book Blogger tags, and I'm nothing if inefficient. So let's go and hopefully not break many things along the way.

First, let's talk about writing.

1. What Kind of a Writer are you? One that writes. *accepts applause* I... actually don't have a better answer for that. NEXT QUESTION.
2. When did you start writing? What made you want to do it? When I was about twelve. I was at the beginning of a spiel of depression that would last until I was about 16 and it was an escape. A way into a better place with people who were better for me than the ones I had become surrounded by. Also: who doesn't want to write stories in which they cameo as magical fairy princesses. Because I did.
3. What inspires your stories? Myself. My imagination and experiences. My wishes and hopes and fears and dreams.
4. What themes do you like to explore in your writing? Things that make me happy and sad. Pushing characters to the limit. Death and hope.
5. Are you a panster or a plotter or a bit of both? I definitely have always been a panster, but... at the moment I'm kinda in plotter mode? Which is weird and exciting and I quite like it.
6. Where are you at in your journey? (Querying, agented, published.) I'm at the writing, editing, sharing, planning stage.
7. Have you ever entered any writing contests? YUP. SURE HAVE. I haven't won any, but I tend to consider any experience good experience. Unless it's shit experience and then I don't think that at all.
8. Who are your writer heroes? Catherynne M. Valente, because she can write about a place I feel desperately at home in every moment. In blog land I look up to Alyssa, for her wildly gorgeous creations, Chiara for her passion and the fact she has all of the skills, and Cait for sharing her wonderous snippets and making me want to share, too, even though it's scary.
9. Have you been to a writer conference? Nup. I've wanted to, but haven't ever been to one.
10. Three tips you'd give to newbie writers: Write. Believe in yourself. Set goals.

And if you've still not had enough of me, let's continue! LET US ALL LEARN ABOUT MY SECRET LIFE.
The secret? It. Doesn't. Exist. I've really wowed you now.
This is the quickfire round, btw. It involves excessive shouting.

1. How Long Have You Been a Blogger? FIVE YEARS.
2. At which point do you think you'll stop blogging? WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK THAT.
3. What is the best thing about the community? IT'S SPIRIT.
4. What is the worst thing? And what do you do to make it okay? Well we're a giant pot of people with different beliefs and values, and we can clash. I try to be honest.
5. How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use? ABOUT TWO MINUTES BECAUSE I GO TO THE PUBLISHERS SITES AND DON'T USE GIFS.
6. Who is your book crush? KAMI GLASS.
7. Which author would you like to have on your blog? CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE AND SARAH J. MAAS.
8. What do you wear when you write your blog posts? CLOTHES. WHAT DO YOU WEAR no don't tell me please I didn't mean it.
9. How long does it take for you to prepare? Ah... what? I have SET DAYS. I'M ALWAYS PREPARED.
10. How do you feel about the book blogger community? IT'S LOVELY.

I'm going to tag people, for once. I'm tagging Chiara, Glaiza, Val and Lili. xx

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (1)

In the lead-up to publishing Perceivable Intensities (or the alternate title of Ashes, Ashes) on WattPad in December, I've decided that every week leading up I'm going to share something about the story as I edit it for publication. It may be a snippet, a character portrait or really totally fun background information. Possibly what I share will be a good representation of how my editing has gone that week.

For week 1, I'm going to paint a character portrait of my protagonist.

Name: Allison.
Age: 18.
Activity/Role: Agent- secret.
Description: Dark brown hair, cut short, curls straightened out. She wears a guarded expression, which is a fairly good representation of how she keeps herself. Allison doesn't like interacting, she likes working and proving herself.
History: Her history is revealed later in the draft, so obviously I'm not going to negate my purposes behind that. She is the goddaughter of Walter, though, and he adopted her aged 7. Allison joined the service when she was 17. She grew up in a mountainside village that was always cold. She believes she has to prove her worth to everyone, since some might think she got accepted as an agent as a special favour and because of her family links.
Partnered to: Sim, Pepper.
Favourite person: Walter.
Biggest fear: Being open.
Dark secrets: Yes. Many.
Favourite activity: Secretly, Mason hunting. All other times? Professionalism when kicking asses.
About: Allison was one half of the best team. She and Sim had been partners for three months when they were assigned the Mason case, and putting the leaders of the criminal family to excecution or inside a high security prison only bought their prowess as a team more into the spotlight. She terminated their partnership, however, after their latest case (tropical island, security code, laced chocolates, stolen nuclear devices) and it is at this stage, around abouts, that the story begins.
Describe her in five words: Insecure eye quirk of doom.

You can follow me on WattPad in preparation for December, when Allison and co. will be released on the WORLD. Until then, see you next week. (And, like, during the week. I'll be here!)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Blogging and writing and changes and me.

Things, I fear- or, perhaps more accurately, am aware- are going to be a little quieter around the old blog over the next couple weeks. Changes, you see, are afoot. It's rare that I write up a post and the actually post it when I'm done. I schedule, see, but here I am, writing a post that I'll press publish on the moment I'm done. Because I have nothing else scheduled, and have time, now, so my dear needn't be bare.
As it stands, though? Changes.

A while ago I wrote something. Something more writerly than reviewery, and I published it, and when I published it I felt this enormous pride in sharing something that was so different to what I'd shared before. And the response was incredibly and awe inspiring and it made me so incredibly happy and passionate. And ever since I wrote that one thing, I've wanted to share more of my own work and not just reviews, and after considering it? It's what I'm going to do.

I can't really think of anything more wonderful than sharing the work I've done and my passions. My love for books, the reviews I've written. My love for writing, and the things I've created, whether they be told one way or another (ooh lala, she hints).

But... right now? I've just started editing the story- we call it Perceivable Intensities and you can read more about it here- I'm going to be sharing online come the beginning of December (and when I look at the amount of time between now and the beginning of December? It seems like not much time at all), and I'm doing a genre shift with a different novel (in addition to cutting off it's sequel and making the two books a single one) and, ah, NaNo's coming, isn't it? And that is snagging at my thoughts.

I'm happy, though. I feel like I'm doing the things I want to be doing, and it's good to be busy, for me, because when other people are reading my main focus WIP and I start querying it, having a bunch of other focus areas is going to be really, really good.

So I don't know what you're going to see here, over the next few months. I do know that, although I'll be online over the December-January break, I won't be blogging, same as the past two years, so really I've only got a month and a half left over here until hiatus time. I think in that month and a half so many things will have changed already.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mini reviews (15)

Mini Reviews.

I find the journey I am taking with this series to be very interesting. I enjoyed the first book well enough, although didn’t fall head over heels for it, the second book strengthened the various characters and their positions, although the love triangle it brewed was frustrating yet humorous and very nicely done (more on that in a moment), but now all that has been outshone by the third and penultimate book. It took things to a whole new level, showed Sophronia... well, I’ll get onto that in about four minutes. Just, it makes it a little difficult to then go and review the second book because it’s all rather clouded.

I feel like there were two main points to the plot arc of this one: make Sophronia a realer character and create a multi faceted, multi person romance for her. And it did both of those things marvelously.
I was rather hesitant at the beginning when all the girls, Sophronia’s best friends, turned on her with fickleness and she had to fend for herself- it frustrated me that this element of bullying, however realistic, had to be bought into such a story (the friends, to be honest, play a very slim role in this edition), and it didn’t feel true to their characters, whatever the motives. I didn’t ever really reconcile with that early half, even when the later one appealed to my senses better.

So, Sophronia starts up a prim romance with an Earl’s son, mostly just teasing and practice on her behalf, and we start to see her confliction about Soap, and although I enjoyed many elements of this love triangle I simply love Sophronia and Soap too much to have been on board. It also felt rather unnecessary. Very well done and useful to get into Sophronia as a person, but Soappp!

Sophronia, for her part truly does fill out her character in this one. She takes a risk and makes a  mistake that leaves her with deep guilt and pain. I realised, at that point, how much she had grown on me. Which is basically to say: endlessly.

I don’t know what to say, months later. I am still truly stunned, speechless (except for “I loveddddd it!”) and blown away by the mastery that is this edition, the penultimate, in a series I have enjoyed from the beginning and, with this, grown to love mightily.

After the events at the end of the second book Sophronia is changed, weighed down. She blames herself and quietly holds herself accountable. The impression of this was intense, striking.

Most of this book takes place, intriguingly, on a train, and I do feel like that is hard to achieve in a way that keeps the plot moving (none of the puns), but it made for some truly fantastic moments, not to mention close quarters for Sophronia & Co. (minus, sadly, Agatha) to fight for victory and be close, and also for the greatly aforementioned love triangle to spark, what with both contenders being on the train. In the single carriage.

It’s terribly hard to describe what the last quarter of the book did to me. It was emotional, riveting, intense and horribly moment to moment. I felt so intensely held by the story, so afraid for and with Sophronia, and I’m sure I held my breath (or at least breathed very shallowly) for a good few pages.

This heat up. Sophronia is a glorious, fierce, imaginative pile of wonder. Soap is so incredibly sweet I could pop. Dimity is better- and more present- than ever, living my fear of blood to the end. Sidheag is chummy and feels the full brunt force of her friends love. It’s terrifying, inventive, terribly high stakes and exciting as anything.

So rather splendid all round.