New Writing Schedule

Alright, I’m going to try something a little different.  Before, I was doing about twenty minutes a day dedicated to writing.  …Yeah, that wasn’t working so well.

Part of the problem was that in the mornings I’m pretty out of it, so no writing getting done then and when I get home from work I am exhausted (I’ve got a pretty physically intensive job, so there’s that).

However, there is a day of the week where I have no commitments to anyone ever, so what I’m going to try is to dedicate that entire day to just writing.  Treat it like any other work day and do a seven hour stint of writing just that one time a week.  …I have no idea why I didn’t think of this before.

So, I’ll try it out and see how it goes.

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The Desert Spear

Don’t you hate it when what you praised in the first book annoys you in the second?  That’s what happened to me for The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett (check out my review of the previous book, The Warded Man), the second book in The Demon Cycle.  Luckily, that was only in the first section of the book where the entire life story of an antagonist we’d already met was portrayed even though there was already advancement in the main plot!  I am sad to admit I skipped a majority of those chapters (especially since it seemed he was trying too hard to make us hate the antagonist’s culture).

That said, the book wasn’t bad, however, the first portion left such a bitter taste that I found myself annoyed by the littlest of things throughout a majority of the book.  But the last fourth of the book?  …Worth it.  So, instead of me complaining about my nit-picks, let’s focus on the good stuff.

Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer have returned and as a seamless team…at first.  Um, there’s not as much drama as that last sentence implied – this isn’t some infighting story or anything like that.  Again, I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to risk spoiling the story, but let me fangirl about Leesha.  This woman is incredible; I love her so much as a female lead because she is one of the strongest ones I’ve seen.  On that note, Brett does a great job in his portrayal of women throughout and, strangely enough, also makes me doubt the authenticity of the men.  Particularly, there were a few moments where Rojer seemed to act out of character…the rest just seemed a little wishy-washy in their portrayal.

So, moving on, I really loved that Brett introduced a new form of demon (not a spoiler – it’s on the blurb) and he didn’t reveal them to the characters right away.  He did a very subtle integration of the new demon species that had a fantastic payoff, though I wish we saw the characters having a bit more suspicion that something was amiss.

Brett’s writing style seemed to be more telling than showing for the first three fourths.  The entire time I was reading, I was wondering if this was a new development or if I’d just been blinded by the last story to not notice he’d always written that way.  Then I read the last quarter and it felt just like the first book. …I don’t know what happened during his whole writing process, but, for me, there was a very noticeable difference.  Along with an introduction of some new perspectives (although they were characters previously introduced), Brett actually did tell a very intriguing story.  I’m most excited about what he’ll do with the character Renna in future books.

Check out the YouTube version of this review here!  Warning: video contains spoilers.

And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and twitter.

Note: Sorry for the late review.  I totally blanked on it this morning and had to wait ’til I got home from work to finally post.

I Quit!

I finally quit that job I hated!  Oh, it is such a relief to finally be out of there.  For anyone concerned, it’s not like that was the only job I was working.

Actually, the whole reason I quit was because the costs outweighed the benefits.  The entire summer, I was available Wednesdays and made sure I was never scheduled at my first job only to not be scheduled at all by the second job.  It was infuriating.  What sense did it make for me to sit around all day when I could be working?

So, I finally quit and picked up more hours at my first job where I know I’ll get hours.  Even better is that the first job gave me a raise recently.  So, yeah, I think I’ll stick with working a job I like with people who actually appreciate me for a while, even if I am going to still be flat broke.  Getting something more related to the field I studied in school can come later.

But I am so happy to finally be free of that place.  I’m sure you will all miss terribly my tales of woe.

The Black Cauldron

The second book in The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron continues following the adventures of characters introduced in The Book of Three.  It was…there are no words.  It was bad…the essence of the book is just really…dumb.  That’s not to say the story made no sense, but it felt really rushed and…not contrived, exactly, but two steps shy of it.  Events happened quickly, close relationships sprung out of nowhere, and there were way too many convenient coincidences.

So, the actual story of The Black Cauldron is Taran, the rather naive/dumb main character, and company going on a quest to find the Black Cauldron (who would’ve guessed?) and destroy it so the king of darkness can never use it again.  Something like that, anyway – yes, I finished the book, the story is just that undefined.  To say the least, I really didn’t care for it (I can recall one page – count it: one! – where I read an absolutely stunning scene).

Let’s see, what I’ve said about the characters in my review of the last book is pretty much the same.  Taran is dumb, yet somehow gets looked to as a leader, and Eilonwy is a sexist character.  Why would you bother having a character with a background in magic just to put them in the kitchen?  It makes no sense; sure, she goes on the adventure anyway, but not once does she actually use any magic.

Alexander’s writing style was…well, not annoying, but definitely way more tell than show.  I was extremely confused whenever he talked about close attachments between characters who’ve only shared two or three conversations.  It might be a children’s book, but he really could’ve tried harder.  Will I be reading the rest of the series?  Nope.

I’m doing something special with this one on my YouTube channel, so you should definitely check it out here.  Warning: videos contains spoilers (for both the book and the Disney movie).

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and twitter.

I’m Back

I’ve come back to the interwebs refreshed and revamped.  So, first matter of business: there will be a new posting schedule for my blog.  Book reviews, along with corresponding YouTube videos, will be posted on Wednesdays.  The run of the mill writer ravings or updates on life in general will be Mondays, like this one.

But the moment we’ve all been waiting for (drum roll, please)……: I am now on Facebook and twitter!  (Profile pictures coming soon)

I’ll be posting the book reviews I’ll be doing on Facebook (I guess like the book hauls some other book reviewers do) most likely along with some sort of postings about who knows what.  I’ll also post the YouTube videos there, so they’ll be easier to share.

As for Twitter, you can probably check out commentary about the book I’m currently reading – without spoilers, of course.

There may or may not be writing related things on either social media site.  No promises.

… 🙂 It’s good to be back.  See you Wednesday.

The Warded Man

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett is the first book in a series called The Demon Cycle.  Following three different characters – Leesha, Rojer, and Arlen – , this book is mostly about life in a world where demons come out every night for the sole purpose of killing.  I picked this book up because of a review I read from The Critiquing Chemist (you should check her out, she’s got some good stuff) and I do not regret it.

This novel was amazing!  Action-packed and full of emotional turmoil for all characters involved, The Warded Man is nearly impossible to put down.  Part of the draw of this book was that it started out with the main characters as kids in which we actually follow their life story instead of it being told in flashback, but that was absolutely perfect for the story Brett was telling.  The connections I felt with these characters as they grew up was absolutely masterful, though their stories didn’t intersect immediately, by the time they did, I was totally pumped.  I mean it – this book was exciting in a lot more than just action.

I’m not really going to go into a lot of detail about the characters here (mostly because I think it’ll be far too spoilery), but they felt like real people.  Seriously, even the side characters seemed like someone I might run into at the grocery store.  They were so solid, so believable, and so strong.  Have to say that Brett did an excellent job of portraying independent women as well, though I thought he was a little heavy-handed in…um, let’s call it, the dangers of being female (I mean, really, it feels like he’s obsessed with it sometimes).

As for his writing style, it actually flowed so well that I didn’t entirely notice it was third-person omniscient until later in the book.  And when I say omniscient, I mean he takes into account (almost) everyone’s perspective in a particular scene depending on what it calls for.  Normally, I’m not entirely for that style of third-person omniscient since it can get a little annoying, but, in this case, it worked.  His writing was so well balanced, especially during the action scenes.  All I can say is that The Warded Man has left me absolutely ecstatic for the next book of the series.

For a more in-depth review, check out my YouTube video here.  Warning: video contains spoilers.

*I’ll be taking a break from the interwebs for a while, so…’til next time.

I Hate Busywork

Since when is 800 words a “summary”?  I’m expected to read a 14 page scientific article and the superfluous diction which scientists share the sentiment all readers must endure is most assuredly an indication of their expertise on the subject matter rather than the hallmark of insecurity, arrogance, or a rather unprecedented mixture of both undesirable qualities.  After I’m through with that, I’m supposed to write a “summary” that is 800 words exactly, with 5 words of wiggle room.  Uh…no, no, no – that is a reflection paper.  A summary is a reiteration (in the writer’s own words, of course) of the main idea in 500 words or less.  Honestly, it should be no longer than a paragraph…NOT TWO PAGES!

Sorry, I’m just…really annoyed with one of my professors.  As most of you know, I am currently attending a masters program online, part-time.  So, I only take two courses at a time, but it really sucks when half of your courses are nothing but busy work.

I’ve only just started this program and I’m having a lot of fun with one of my classes, but the other…sigh.  Seriously, every week is an assignment and a discussion.  Every week.   On top of that we have a group project, occasional quizzes (that one’s actually not too bad), and journal “summaries” of which there are, luckily, only two that have to be done.  It became so overwhelming that I decided to just ditch doing the discussions because life’s too short to be stressed out, consequences be damned.

And I wouldn’t mind the assignments if they actually had a purpose.  They’re literally a set of questions where you just find the answers in the article he provides.  …I DON’T LEARN ANYTHING FROM THAT!  Don’t waste my time with busy work, you jerk, give me something that’s actually meaningful!  I’m a graduate student, treat me like one!

Sorry about all the yelling, but this professor is just…huff.  You get the gist.

The Book of Three

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (published in 1964) is the first book in a series called The Chronicles of Prydain.  It is quite obviously meant for kids, yet enjoyable nonetheless.

For the most part, this novel follows a young man named Taran as he sets out to recapture his lost oracular pig, Hen Wen, then pretty much stumbles into the adventure he always wanted.  Along the way, he meets an array of characters such as a creature named Gurgi and Princess Eilonwy, among others.  (If this is sounding familiar it’s because there’s a certain Disney film that has these characters in it.)  It wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t horrid either, though the main characters were a little…dumb.

Taran is…so ridiculously naive – he just wants to go on an adventure to be a hero and somehow thinks merely holding a sword will grant him the ability to use it.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…jeez, he’s dumb.  And he gets exactly what he wants only to be taught that reality and dreams are not anywhere close to the same thing.  I didn’t care for this character very much, but what I really liked was that others around him acknowledged (and in some cases poked fun at) his sheer incompetence at being an adventurer.  It was refreshing to see a useless main character who wasn’t blindly followed by people who simply believed he was destined for greatness before he proved himself.  As for Eilonwy, she’s slightly ditzy, whiny, and nagging…uh, yeah, that doesn’t say anything about how women were viewed in this time period.

As for Alexander’s writing style, it was obviously meant for kids.  Also, remember that archaic dialogue I’ve complained about?  It was in here, too, though certainly not quite enough to be annoying, but it makes me wonder if this was his first fantasy work.  Overall, I liked the fairly simple story and I will most definitely continue the series.

For a more in-depth review, check out my YouTube video here!  Warning: video contains spoilers.

Why So Few Last Names in Fantasy Novels?

I’ve noticed something curious lately.  It seems that fantasy authors have an aversion to last names.  …Why is that?  Now, obviously, this isn’t every fantasy novel (I don’t know if this is something that happens a lot in other genres), but, to me, it’s a very noticeable trend – even in books I don’t like.  Brandon Sanderson does it in (almost) every Cosmere book and we all know how much I love his stuff.

Obviously, this isn’t something that bothers me, but I have to wonder: if the story’s taking place on a planet that, at the very least, contains thousands of people, why no family names?  It’s kind of weird when you think about it.

But, then again, for every fantasy book with no last names, there’s another that does have them.  Robert Jordan used them in The Wheel of Time as did Michael J. Sullivan.  Hmmm…I wonder what it says about an author if they don’t use them?  Are they just lazy or perhaps so focused on the story itself, they forget to make even more names?

Who can say?  I, for one, am in the camp of leaving out last names, yet I have no idea if that’s a good thing.  Time will tell.

A Turn of Light

Sigh.  I really need to be more careful about picking up books.  This is the second week in a row where I read a book so horrid, it left my hands in a fit of frustration, causing a crash and coming very close to breaking a lamp.  So, Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda is a fantasy novel following Jenn Nalynn.  All of it takes place in a tiny little village…and that’s it.  I don’t really know anything else other than that there’s an invisible dragon who’s not once described even when the story is in his own perspective.

I made it partway through chapter five when I finally gave up and skimmed the last few pages.  All I can say is that the story was uninteresting and predictable (to the point I could probably tell you everything that happens without reading it).  Jenn was nothing more than a sniveling child who whined about wanting to see the world, but no one would let her (why? – don’t know, don’t care); every other character was just plain uninteresting.

Czerneda’s writing style was also extremely annoying.  She would waste time telling the backstory of all the pigs, the cows, even the frickin’ roses along with describing the entire layout of a house and what each item is used for (including the wall that I really don’t care about) even though Jenn doesn’t even step foot in it, yet describing what the main characters actually look like was apparently too distracting from the story.

Lesson learned.  I’ll read the first two or three chapters of a book before taking it home with me because I don’t want to waste my time like this again.

For more on why this book was so frustrating, check out my YouTube video here.  Warning: video contains spoilers (barely).