Saturday, May 18, 2013

Robots abound

I've been reading Pluto lately, and it's really making me want to look into more robotics and AI style sci-fi stories.

I understand that Pluto is a reworking of an Astro Boy arc by Osamu Tezuka. And man, it's making me want to pick up Astro Boy as well to read this, despite the fact that Astro Boy is one of the few Tezuka books I've never before really had an urge to check out (along with Kimba - pretty much anything else I'm curious about)

I love the depth of character everyone is given. I have to keep reminding myself at times which characters are robots and which ones aren't. I love the mystery - it has a sort of desperation and fear to it that I find sort of addictive. there's a real weight to the proceedings.

I've been stopped at Vol. 5 thanks to not having 6 on hand. I'm thinking it'll be time to order the rest. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rewriting is boring :(

I've realized I need to rewrite an entire chapter of my WIP.

I really don't want to. I really want to mess around with a new idea.

Trying to push through getting this book to a state I could try getting a beta for is trying my patience. Luckily I have almost gotten through the first half of the first edit.

Here's hoping I can get through it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New-to-me author review: Dragonsong

"Dragonsong" is written by Anne McCaffrey.

I'd stayed away from these books for years, partly because of the overhyping in my circles, but also partly because of some of the weirder things people associated with the series. Finally tried it. Glad I did.

As always, there may be spoilers behind the cut.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started and run by the awesome Broke and Bookish blog. This week's lists are the top ten books I've read that deal with tough subjects.

Warning, there may be slight spoilers!

1. A Lesson Before Dying. I loved this book, but there were times it was very difficult to read. It was not only about racism, overt and institutional, but also the internalization of said racism - the way the oppressor can get the oppressed to do half the work for them by instilling self-doubt and even self-hate. 

2. The Earthquake Bird - The main character in this is so unsure of herself - of what she's done, what she might have done, how she even really feels. It's a story about a woman who feels lost and is foundering utterly

3. Monstrous Regiment - There's going to be a bit of Pratchett on this list. I could have probably made a top ten just out if his work. This one deals with sexism in a sometimes hilarious, sometimes somber way, with a fantastic side order of the meaning of war, the problems with blind zealousness and the deep impact of war on those left home.

 4. A comic that grabs you by the feels and doesn't let do. Its so impactful because of the little things.

5. Night Watch - Faith. Honor. Duty. Doing what one must vs. doing what one wants. What is justice? What is "right"? there was a lot tied up in this book, which I found both fascinating and moving.

6.The Eye, the Ear and The Arm - The tension between modern life and history, between honoring the past and growing from it, is a running subtext throughout this book.

7. In My Hands - A Holocaust memoir. I think that's all that needs saying.

8. Small Gods - Faith, zealotry and honor are at the heart of this story about a fallen god given one final shot at pushing itself back to power.

9. Old man's war - You could make the argument that this doesn't deal with any REALLY tough issues, but I thought it did - with the idea of identity and what makes a person themselves, with issues of youth vs experience (and the attempts to meld the two)

10. The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Not in Hugo's story so much, but for a side character, in whom we get to see the impact of business, capitalism, money on creativity. On the way that humans claim to love art, but are often more than happy to destroy art and abandon the artist without a second thought. It was heartbreaking.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lost in Midworld

Goodness. I just finished reading the first five Dark Tower comic books more or less back-to-back. And... wow.

As always, possible spoilers behind the cut.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What I read in April

This month had a couple big disappointments. Chief was The Secrets of Jin Shei. It was a, book whose main characters were all women, sharing a secret circle and a promise of friendship and support to one another. This is a sort of book I have been WAITING for. and it disappointed me. I suspect part of the problem was just my hopes for it outweighing what the book could have delivered, but some of the characters were barely characterized, some of the plot choices made no sense, and worst of all, the author repeatedly chose not to show us big important plot moments, but to have characters talk about those plot moments over tea later. Boo, I say.

The second big disappointment was the second Bob Moore book. The first was a fantastic if a little over-described superhero tale about a regular old PI working in a world full of supers. I thought it painted a great world and some interesting characters. But this one... well, it fell short. Partly because... no, MOSTLY because by the end I was left with a feeling of "so what?" It felt like the events of the plot had no real conclusion, no purpose.  I felt like I'd wasted my time. Disappointing. Not sure if I'll try the next book in the series. Maybe once I've got some distance on the disappointment.

Finally, I read Every Day for book club. I've seen a lot of people whose opinions I generally trust rave about this one, but I found it sort of... meh? The concept - that the main character wakes up every day in a different body, so0rt of like Sliders with a hard deadline and no established sense of self for the main character. But the main plot revolved around the main character trying to maintain a relationship with a young woman, and he does so in often very creepy ways that I think were meant to be sweet. I got actually uncomfortable reading this one.  

Not much to say on the Pirate King and The Beltway Boys. Pirate King is book 11 in a series, but I felt like most of it made sense without the first 10 and what didn't... well, I'm not sure I want to know how 70-year-old Sherlock Holmes came to be spending so much time with a young lady. Fun book though. May read more of the series later. And Beltway Boys? A book about the Nats' 2012 season. Engaging if you like the Nats and sports stats, decently well written, but in the end one good season wasn't really enough to have a general-audiences book on.

Continued my Dark Tower reread with Wizard and Glass, which was actually a little better than I remembered. This book is always saved for me by them presence of Cuthbert and Alain, whose characters I love despite their limited appearance in the series. Supplemented it with a reread of the Pyrdain books, starting with The Book of Three, which was decent but clunkier than I remember. It is YA, so that's part of it, and I do have to admit to really liking the characters. It's interesting though, to be reading these two fantasy juggernauts at the same time, and so close on the rereads of two others (I'm less than two years out of rereads of both Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings). Seeing the ways they feed off one another and the ways they diverge is fascinating.

Last book this month was a book club selection, Watership Down, which also happens to be one of my very favorite books. It may be about bunnies, but it's also about adventure, and friendship, and lonliness, and loyalty, and politics, and the power of stories, and the power of having something to protect, and... so much there. SO much. A fantastic book and everyone should read it.

 This was a weird month for manga. I didn't read two books in the same series at any point in April, so I'm going to do this in list format. Not linking to GR since I don't tend to write much on Manga reviews.

- Angelic Layer Omnibus 2 - Angelic Layer is by its nature a kind of kidsy, girly story, and I was caught off guard by how much I likied the first part since girly is often not a terribly big selling point for me. But the main character is just so earnest and intense and dedicated and upbeat that I couldn't help but cheer for her and it made this ending very satisfying. :)

-Blue Exorcist 9 - It pleased me that Yukio and Rin are finally starting to open up to one another, but with some of the behind the scenes developments in the story, I suspect it may be too little too late. We shall see

-Fairy Tail 24 - Can I just say how happy I was to see Cana taking center stage for once? She's been sort of middle stage since the beginning and we know next to nothing about her, so this arc should prove to satisfy my curiosity on that score. 

-Toriko 5 - Left the series here. I had been listlessly following along because it wasn't a BAD series, it just wasn't grabbing me. I figured five books was enough. I may go back to this later - there were flashes, especially in this volume, of something I could really love. But for now, just too much else to sink my... eyes? .. into.

-The Color of Heaven - Goodness, this series. I love this series. The Color of Heaven continues and completes Ehwa's journey to understanding herself, her world, her body and the nature of coming to love another. I found the ending to be poignant and sweet.

-DuRaRaRa Saika 1 - I loved the first Durarara arc, but this one... vol. 1 blew me away, and I am super excited to continue reading. Things seem more extreme and faster paced. I guess it hepls that they're not introducing characters at this point really and can get right into the action, but still...

-Nabari No Ou 1 - Stopped reading Toriko and replaced it with this. Good move so far. There's nothing new here - ninjas with magic powers, a kid with a secret power hidden in him, spunky chick, steadfast friend, yadda yadda yadda. But just as unique ideas can make terrible books, so can worn out ideas make something that can give you a lot of enjoyment. I found the characters to be a lot of fun despite their familiarity of trope.

-Barbara - This is a weird one. I don't think this is one of Tezuka's better books, or even one of my favorites of his, but I think its interesting to see him trying out more adult themes and story directions. The idea of what a muse is and what it can do to an artist is long-trod ground, but the wild and unkempt way in which Barbara interacts with the worlds of those she chose really seemed to capture the idea better than a lot of others I've read.


 The saddest book this month was Truth - it's both a sad book in its own right and its author died this month, which was what compelled me to do a reread of the book. I know a lot of people who hated this book for being too "heavy handed" (which I utterly disagree with) or because they felt the art didn't fit the story (still disagree but I can definitely concede that it's a matter of taste). I've always found it to be a strong central tale that adds a lot of shade and nuance to Isaiah that you won't see in his other appearances, where we see only what he became. This is use of continuity at its strongest.

My sister loaned me the first Oz comic from Marvel, and my GOODNESS the art is beautiful. I was never a big fan of the first book and I think the textual side of it seems to be a pretty good adaptation, but the main story was told in the art, the style, the expression, the colors. I loved it and will be reading on in the series.

Another revelation this month was City in the Desert, an independent book about a couple of monster hunters working out of a city that's set in a desert (obvs.) It's not a kiddie tale, and it does run through a range of themes about the importance of power, where it comes from, how it is weilded and why it's given to who it's given to in the first place (that is, largely power resides with the person who seems to have it).  The art was an unusual style but I thought it fit the book really really well.

Finally, I got the first Gambit trade of the new series, Just as much fun as I remembered from the individual issues, with the story being part Mission Impossible, part James Bond. A few lapses of weak writing kept it from being a truly excellent book for the fun factor, but I definitely continue to enjoy it. :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New-To-Me-Author review: After Dark

"After Dark" is by

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You Read When You Need Something Light & Fun

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started and run by the awesome Broke and Bookish blog. This week's lists are the top ten books I go for when I need a light, fun read.

1. Howl's Moving Castle - Love this book. Love the characters. Love the fantasy. Love what a quick read it is.

2. Retribution Falls - Adventure and steampunk and piracy! Backstabbing and double crossing! Hilariously flawed characters? Yes please!

3. Any Night's Watch book - Terry Pratchett has written so many great books, but the ones that speak most to me are the Night's Watch ones, and especially early in the series, they're incredibly fun and funny, endlessly rereadable.

4. The Hobbit - A children's tale, written as such, it's definitely a breath of fresh air after my normal diet of generally serious and often lengthy fantasy books. It's just a tale that makes me smile.

5. Jig the Goblin series - Especially the first one. Skewering the tropes and tendencies of fantasy stories while turning the narrative on its head? I loved this story and return to it reasonably often. 

6. The Perilous Gard - Light and fun more because it's a children's book than necessarily because of themes, but I always found it to be a quick, upbeat read.

7. The Moist Von Lipwig books - Yeah, yeah, more Terry Pratchett. So sue me, these books are great!

8. Fairy Tail manga - Much like Retribution Falls, it's the sense of fun and adventure that mkes this an easy one to come back to when I need something to breeze through and enjoy.

9. The Parasol Protectorate series - To greater and lesser extents depending on the volume, but I thought overall the series had a wonderfully wry sense of humor that generally kept things moving along at a great and often funny clip.

10.  Any of the Redwall books except for Loamhedge - I loved these books, though in Loamhedge the somewhat disturbing themes that I could mostly enjoy books in spite of spiked to a point I couldn't enjoy it anymore. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why you should be careful before you throw a gauntlet

I've seen a lot of people talking recently about the alleged thrown gauntlet of a quote from Zach Snyder in a recent interview. In talking about the upcoming Superman movie and after being asked how he can bring something new to the table with Marvel not only dominating the movieverse for superheroes but also pushing out so many in recent years, he took an expected pre-season arm-flexing position.

"It’s Superman. If you get it right he’s kind of transcendent. The Superman shield is the second most recognizable symbol on planet Earth other than the Christian cross. If you get it right, that’s the question you’ll be asking everyone else. That should be the question you’re asking Iron Man and Thor. How is it that you feel you can be making a superhero movie in a world where Superman and Batman exist?" - Copied here from Nerdreactor, originally coming from an SFX interview.

I can't get too upset about this, because to me, this is like the coach of, say, the Jets saying preseason that they're going to win the Superbowl. It's something they say because there's a certain rivalry among teams in their world (comic books, NFL, etc.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013


I talked a while ago about how despite some interesting ideas, I was unable to get myself invested in Toriko, a manga about a world obsessed with gourmet food and the people who brought it to them and prepared it.

Now this week, I started another series with a lot of elements I've seen a lot of times before - its about modern-day ninjas, a pretty teenage "chosen one" over whom the ninjas are fighting, there's a perky female sidekick, a steady friend, a dotty mentor, a main character thick with apathy...

But I really liked it. It seized me the way some of my favorites did in their first volume. I don't know that it will become a favorite - I suspect it very well may let me down later - but that feeling of hitting the first book and being yanked into the story so thoroughly is an amazing feeling I'll always adore when it happens :)

Things like this make me hyper aware of how difficult it is to determine what'll be good. I think the writing in this series may be better than in Toriko, or maybe the translation is? But from the outside I would have felt like I'd definitely like Toriko more. And yet... I guess that's why we really can't judge a book entirely by its cover.

I'll probably write more about the series as I get further into it, but here's the Goodreads review of the first volume

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Pull List: April 24

This week's books are: Earth's Mightiest Heroes 13, Avengers Arena 7, Alpha 3, Demon Knights 19 and Jonah Hex 19. May be more later today as I didn't get through my books yet this week. As always, spoilers may be beyond the cut.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Retro review: Watership Down

This review can also be found at Goodreads. As always, there may be spoilers behind the cut.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I thought I'd like more or less than I did

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started and run by the awesome Broke and Bookish blog. This week's lists are the top ten books you either ended up liking more or less than you thought you would going in.

1. The Thirteenth Tale (Liked less) - I was VERY excited about this book in book club, and in the end, this is one of the biggest literary disappointments in my life. I didn't find it compelling, or well written, or possessing of particularly interesting characters. The mysteries were awful and it was less homage to classics than it was stealing plot points to the point it ruined its own plot.

2. The Help (Liked less) - Everyone talked about how amazing this book was. I got about halfway in and wasn't terribly gripped. It felt like the book wanted me to applaud a pretty basic understanding of institutional racism, and I thought the characters were kind of flat and left me uncomfortable and not in the thought-provoking good way. It's one of the few books I stepped away from without finishing, and I don't regret it. I read "A Lesson Before Dying" instead, which I found far more engrossing.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Liked better) - A friend in college loaned me this book. I'd been heading about this Harry Potter thing for a while and stayed away because of the hype and because I felt like I'd already read this premise twice before - both in the Circle of Magic books and the Wizard's Hall book. but I was bored, out of other books, and gave in to her urgings. SO glad I did, it's now one of my favorite series. :)
4.  One Piece (Liked better) - This looked SO stupid! A pirate made out of rubber having cartoony adventures on the high seas? I caught some of the 4 Kids dub of the anime and that only cemented my opinion. But then I had a chance to read the first volume, and I fell in love. In love with Luffy and his outlook, with the quirky cast of characters, and most of all with the sense of hope and optimism that threaded through the manga. 

5. The Secrets of Jin-Shei (Liked less) - A story set in a fantasy version of China, populated by female characters and focused on their interactions and friendships, lives and struggles? Count me there! But some writing decisions that just didn't work for me left me pretty ambivalent about this book by the end.
6. Hogfather (Liked less) - I'm a fan of Terry Pratchett, and Hogfather is widely considered one of his best books. Everyone I knew who liked his stories liked this one and recced it. So I finally read it and... it was okay? I mean, it was well-written and engaging, the characters were fun and the themes it explored were very interesting to explore. But it just never grabbed me.

7. Kushiel's Dart - I hadn't ever read a fantasy book that read so much like a romance at the time. I didn't think I'd like it, but I was very, very wrong. And while Carey isn't one of my top five authors or anything, I've enjoyed to one extent or another everything I've read from her since.

8. Santa Olivia (Liked less) - After reading the Terre d'Ange books, I was ready to give anything Carey wrote a go. and while I liked Santa Olivia and its ties to superhero literature, it never captured me the way Kushiel's Dart had.

9. Crimson (Liked more) - I always thought of comics in a particular and not terribly flattering way in my high school days. But after graduating from college, I had a local comic book store which I sometimes went into for some of the games and other stuff they offered. And in there as well was the first trade of Crimson. I bit back my pride, bought the book, and started not only giving comics books an equal chance, but to check out anything Ramos did.

10.  Goblin Tales (Liked less) - I love Jim Hines' work. I loved the Jig novels, I loved the Princess books and to only a slightly lesser extent, I loved Libriomancer. But for some reason, I just couldn't get into this collection of short stories. Probably part of the issue being that I don't really like reading short stories. I want a story I can immerse myself into for a while.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dry and dusty

There's something about fantasy books set in the desert that I like. They always seem a little fresher than otehrs. Don't have to try as hard to get me invested.

I think it's because fantasy writing in general doesn't make nearly enough use of them in the West. Everything is wrapped up in that typical fantasy setting - the temperate climate with four distinct seasons, forests and rolling hills. No grasslands, no deserts, rarely even long passages at sea. The typical fantasy setting is to history what the "good old days" are to America's culture. It existed in parts, in details and pieces, but not in any meaningful and complete way in the manner most people seem to see it.

And like the Good Old Days, people tend to forget the worst parts in favor of their own mental setup.

But stories written in the desert tend to be harsh. People know it's not all flowers and bard songs on the desert. So things are automatically different?

I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting jaded about it in my old age. :)

The book that set all this off, incidentally, was City in the Desert, which I reviewed over at Goodreads this week. I duplicated the review below the cut. I highly recommend the book if you like slightly off-beat comics with a good sense of humor.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

women's stories

I finished The Color of Heaven last night, the last book in a  lovely trilogy about a girl and her single mother as the girl grows up and discovers womanhood, love and sexuality.

this series wouldn't be for everyone, but I was so glad I read it. It's not a fast read, but I found it to be gripping all the same, sweet and personal and focused on the incredible feeling of finding someone and loving them - whatever sort of love that may be. It's about waiting, about disappointment, about happiness in the midst of sadness. 

Its worth reading. Loved it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Edits and rewrites

I've finally gotten to a point where I feel my edits are making positive progress. Its not great, but I figured out an answer to something character-wise that's been bothering me for ages. So, there's that.

I've also found myself adjusting dialogue. I think I did a good job on the first pass of making everyone's speaking voice unique in text, but I've taken it a little further in this one, adjusting word choice and even cadence. Tiktela's impatience and disinterest in the interllectual pursuits means he tends to use shorter words and sentences and plainer words as well - no similies for this guy. But his brother, who under other circumstances would be a professor at uni instead of a mercenary, speaks slower, longer and more varied, with more precise word choices. It's actually been kinda fun putting their words under the microscope. 

Another thing I've been working on is the physical gestures. I was good about my slimier characters, but Ferrana and Xyltzel both lack most of what it would take to make humanoid gestures - no shoulders for shrugging, no hands for certain gestures, etc. I'm surprised at myself over how many I missed.

So I guess what I'm really saying is all clear on the editing front!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

En Media Res

I've done it again. I've picked up a book in the middle of the series and end up spending a while trying to work out what's going on.

In this case it's "Pirate King" by Laurie King.  For the first time, I actually had to step away from a book I was reading in this manner and go look up one detail - why Sherlock Holmes was in it and what his relationship was to our hero. 

That worked out, I've been enjoying the book thus far, but there's a part of me that's bothered at finally having been bested by a serial series. Most books are written such that things you can't work out are also not that important, and who knows, maybe this sticking point would have been addressed later in the book than I've gotten too. 

Of course, its not enough to make me start series at the start all the time. But it may make me a little more careful.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Rewind

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is rewind - we get to pick an earlier topic we missed. So I picked top ten literary jerks.

1. Courtland Gamboge, Shades of Gray series - Nothing redeemable about this guy. Heck, in the story I didn't even like reading about him. I never got the feeling he was going to win. I never got the feeling he'd do serious harm. He was just a hateful, horrible jerk without purpose for me.

2. Luke, Freakangels comics - Only reason he's not no. 1 is that he serves as an actual tension-building character in the series so his jerkness serves a purpose. But this guy... ugh. he obtains the ability to control minds, so just guess what he uses it for. Just guess. :-/

3. Matoba Seiji, Natsume's Book of Friends series - You work for him? It means you're expendable and he'll use you as he sees fit. You're a yokai captured by him? It's slavery or death? and you're completely unattached to and unafilliated with him but he wants your help? He'll make it happen. Whatever he has to do, say or threaten, consider it done. Ugh.

4. Cordelia Delgado, The Dark Tower series - Sold her neice to a much older man to bear his child, against her wishes and by coersion, likely to get a comfortable life for herself. she's terrible to Susan all the time , she's horrible to most other people around her, and at the end... just ugh.

5. Joffrey Baratheon, A Song of Ice and Fire - Perhaps the paragon of jerks. Only this far down the list because he's in a world that sort of manufactures jerks, and you can see how his came about and was fostered.

6. Carcer, Night Watch (Discworld book) - One of those guys who never cops to understanding just what it is he did. Oh, he knows. He gets that he's a murderer. Revels in it even. But drapes himself in claims of innocence like a robe, and it's infuriating.

7. Izaya, Durarara series - He's willing to do just about anything for his own amusement.

8. Percy Weasley, Harry Potter series - Here's my moment of shame - I actually really like Percy. I found his arc pretty strong. I sympathized with someone who loved his family but didn't want to be like them, didn't want to live so poorly, to be laughed at by people with power, to be harnessed by his name his whole life. So he struck out on his own, and while he made massive mistakes and made choices that made him a true-blue jerk, he learned from it and I can't hate.

9. Hal Jordan, DC Comics/Mr. Fantastic, Marvel Comics - I'm sorry, I can't help it. They're jerks!

10. Quentin Coldwater, The Magicians - I don't necessarily mind when a jerk is our main character. But I want the jerk to have some redeeming qualities. Quentin managed none. I hated him by the end and wished for nothng more than his death. Alas, I was disappointed in even this.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The book is better

I've said this often of movies, but the same is true of comics.

I recently read the new Gambit series in its trade form, and while I liked it as a series of issues, I definitely liked it *more* as a collected whole. 

I think part of it is the immediacy of the story. you don't have a month in between pieces to forget details of what happened, slip out of the mood the previous book had put you in, etc.

But I also think part of it is pacing. A good comic should end on a beat that makes you want to find out what happens next, but with individual issues it incites that feeling and then laughs at you for weeks. The collected book definitely feeds into a sense of immediacy, helping it feel like everything's happening on a realistic timescale.

Sometimes I swear I'd be better off  by just waiting for trades.... but then how would I know what to get *in* trades? :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Books for March

Didn't get to as much as I'd hoped to last month, due in large part to an agonizingly slow read, one which I didn't even manage to finish up in March and will be on next month's list. Still, this was a moth with a lot of new and a lot of GOOD. I was very pleased :)

As always, there may be spoilers behind the cut.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One step forward, two steps back

I am now working on editing my sgi-fi story, and things are proving... difficult. Now with actually editing, with cutting and changing and moveing and cutting some more. All that's going just fine.

But the problem is, I'm starting to lose a sense of things with regards to the edits. It's like, at this point I feel that every edit I make is as likely to make things worse, more awkward, harder to read, as it is to improve the flow and characterization. 

I'm not sure what the next step should me. Logically I know I ought to put a bit of it in Show Your Work at AW and just see if  the people there can rip it apart and give me an idea what direction to go in so maybe I can finally settle with chapter one and move on to chapter two.

I never thought that the editing would go this much slower than the writing!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Across the down

I'm rereading Watership Down for book club this week. I really wish I understood why this book appeals to me so much.

I guess part of it, like many of my favorite books, is that I remember it as a first - the first time I understood that I was reading an unreliable and limited narrative. There are many things in the world Hazel does not understand. There are many other things he initially mistakes or misreads. He makes mistakes and then comes later to the understanding of the truth.

I love that aspect of storytelling and wish more writers used it solidly and clearly. There's been a tendency in many of the books I've read recently for the POV character to either almost always be right or, when they are wrong, for the narrative to make it obvious and clear what the real truth is.

Of course, I can't accomplish that myself in my writing so I don't suppose I have any place to complain about other people. But I guess it's true what they say, those who can't do, criticize? :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the  books I read before I started blogging that I count in my top 10.

I'm not really sure where to take this one. I've been blogging as far as a personal blog since about 1997, gbut only started writing in earnest about books and reading in maybe 2011. So I'm going with that second number, since the first would make forming the list VERY difficult.

1. The Waste Lands, Stephen King - My favorite book of all time, at this point in my life. I reread it regularly - just reread it last month as a matter of fact! I love the characters, love the setting, love the tension of many of the scenes, the only thing I hate about it is the memory of having to wait for 4.

2. Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynn Jones - not for Howl, but for Sophie and, to a lesser extend, Michael and Calcifer. I read the book because of the movie, and loved the book so much more than the movie. I loved the wonderfully practical and yet deprecating way Sophie looked at the world, and I loved the language. Wynn painted pictures with words.

3. Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavrial Kay - A love triangle? Usually a massive turnoff for me, but the way it was woven around a tale of love and loss and trying to find something to cling to in a world that feels like it's falling apart around your ears was incredible to me.

4. Candide, Voltaire - Satire is not always my thing, but the flow of this narrative just irresistably drew me along.

5. Watership Down, Richard Adams - A tale about a bunnyquest. Somehow, this always seemed more vibrant and harrowing and exciting to me than any number of lost princes on save-the-world quests. Everything seemed scary and their triumphs seemed all the more worthwhile for that fear.

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling - I know a lot ofm people hated this book, but for me, it was the one that most fleshed out  one of my favorite characters, Neville, and therefore positioned itself firmly at the top of the series for me.
7.The Last Unicorn, Peter Beagle -the atmosphere of whistfulness and a memory of things lost and out of reach permeated this story. Even as a kid, it left me with a bittersweet, melancholy feeling and a tendency to consider the meaning of immortality and of life. And you know? Even now, I can read this book and be left with that same feeling.

8. Eyes of the Dragon, Stephen King - Another fantasy from King, but this one a standalone. I love his fantasy far more than his horror, and I think the only thing that kept this book so low on the list was that I wanted MORE from it.

9. The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Pope - I don't often like romances, but at its heart this isn't really a romance, but a story about a young woman coming into her own, finding ehr own strength, and accepting romance as a part of it.

10.  Mattimeo, Brian Jaques - Yeah, yeah, Redwall, but before I found Discworld, the Redwall books were my brainless candy, the ones I read when I needed something unchallenging and comfortable but wtill with a little bit of excitement and fun (and food porn, yummmm),

Monday, April 8, 2013


Let me just say this up front - I love Princeless. I think it's cute and clever. I love the art. I love the characters. I'm very excited to see where the story goes from where it left off at the end of the cirst collection.

I also like  Demon Knights, the current ongoing from DC. I love that it still clearly feels like a superhero comic, but set in a fantasy setting (that sort of vaguely Europe-ish setting with a lot of hedging about the real world at the time).

Overall, I really love the things that comics can offer to fantasy stories. I'm always surprised that there aren't more. And yes, I know there are many, many more than the two I named. Heck, last week's Wizard of Oz post was about one such, as are the GoT and Fables books. But as compared to the number of superhero books, or even horror books it feels like, there just aren't as many.

It feels like they'd be a natural fit. The ability to paint the strange and wondrous is a hallmark of fantasy, and comics allow a person to do it in a much more literal way. But I guess, we've sort of given fantasy a bit more of an "adult" pass over the decades, where comic books still struggle to be seen as anything but a child's medium. 

Alas. At least the numbers seems to be on an uptick. Perhaps I'll find many more such that I can embrace in the cominc years.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Briefest post ever

First draft - done! 81k words!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Retcons for the win?

Nothing specific here, but I've been hearing reports that Booster Gold will start appearing in issues of a bunch of series in DC comics, leading up to a new solo series.

Now, this excites me. I love Booster Gold. He was on yesterday's crush list, but that's sort of... obligated? That's not the right word, but its sort of close. But I will try any series with Booster in it. I may stop getting it after a while. But the idea of something focusing on him, even the stunted, watered down version of him, is pretty exciting to me.

BUT... there are additional rumors associated with this. People are saying that Booster may start remembering the old universe.

Now, I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I dislike massive swaths of the reboot. Part is just that I thought the whole idea was dumb, but I tried. I started out with subscriptions to ten of the new series and gave them all at least three issues to hook me. the only ones that I actually liked enough to stick with were Demon Knights and Batwing, and there wasn't much in either that couldn't be done under the old system.

So on the one hand, I'd love to go to the old, more complex characters and get back some of the now-departed characters. but on the other hand, the fact that so far DC had stuck to their guns about the reboot was really the only shred of credibility they had left with me. So I may buy more DC if they eventually revert to the old universe... but I don't think I'll ever be able to take DC seriously as a company again.

Though maybe the joke's on me for taking them seriously in the first place...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also A Fictional Character

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the  characters I would crush on if I were also A fictional character.

1. Eddie, The Dark Tower - I love this series, and Eddie was a large part of it. He's not perfect, not terribly gentlemanly some of the time, and can be a right idiot at times. But he's funny - so funny! - and once he can care, he does so genuinely and deeply.

2. Talia, Jim Hines' Princess books - I love this woman. She was focused and immensely capable, and while she didn't always know how to express it, she cared fiercely for her friends and would do anything for them without smothering them with that knowledge.

3. Michael, Howl's Moving Castle (BOOK please!) - First off, I'd have to assume myself back in teenage-ness like I was when I first read this because otherwise... ew. I suppose this one is more of a product of the story in which he appears, but there was something charming about the way he was trying to figure out his own life and keep Howl's on track as well.

4. Booster Gold, DC comics - Yeah, yeah, a man in spandex.A man in spandex who's known, essentially, for being a humbug and, in private, often highly insecure. But when the chips are down he gets the job done regardless of what everyone else thinks, which I think is great.

5. Aoki, X/1999 - Definitely a distant crush in this case, as he has a family already and cares about them very much. He's kindhearted, brave and honest, with a willingness to put himself on the line for others but a manner of doing it that doesn't feel quite as aggravating to me as those types sometimes can, especially in manga.

6. Christopher, The Perilous Gard - Another one of those strong-willed sorts, but the one who also comes across as a verbal sparrer, one who enjoys fencing wiht phrases. It's that largely, his wit, that puts him on this list.

7. Robin, One Piece - This lady's aloof and studious and more than a little pessemistic - at least about the possibilities. But I think that's part of what makes her so fun. :)

8. Genevive, The Parasol Protectorate - Smart and curious and loyal and totally willing to step outside the box of approriate behavior tom see her ends met? I find that very attractive, thank you. :)

9. Jez, Tales of the Ketty Jay - I almost feel like I could cut and paste Robin's entry here, except that Jez has a different skillset and is less self-assured.

10.  Kohaku, Grand Guignol Orchestra - In a sort of tongue-in-cheek way. With a CLAMP boy on the list I needed one of Kaori Yuki's as well for fairness.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Three cheers for the jerk

I sometimes surprise people by saying my "favorite character" in some story or another is someone widely agreed to be a jerk. But I've often found jerks to be some of the most interesting characters, the ones that give you the most to think about. And the characters I like the most are the ones with depth and layers, the ones you can think about after the story is done and worry out how and why they acted that way.

As always, spoilers behind the cut.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Pull List: March 28

This week's list is Young Avengers 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and Gambit 10. As always, there may be spoilers beyond the cut.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

So close

And somehow the closer I get to "The end" the less I can bring myself to write in a day. It's sort of pathetic and a whole lot frustrating.

In other news, I wonder what the merger of Goodreads and Amazon will bring. I do not suspect it will be anything good. :-/

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

I've been reading Secrets of Jin-Shei lately. I have been longing for books with strong femakle friendships lately and oh goodness, are such things ALL OVER this book.

As always, possible spoilers behind the cut.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recommend The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the books that would get my biggest endorsement, the ones I would most recommend to other people.

1. The Lions of Al Rassan - a beautiful story with political machinations and military might wrapped around a love triangle that feels like a real love triangle. Filled with characters who feel fully realized and sympathetic most of the time, it really just is a strong, wonderful book.

2. Eyes of the Dragon - I love King's Dark Tower books, but because King is an acquired taste for some I don't feel okay recommending them indiscriminately. However, Eyes of the Dragon has much the same feel as The Dark Tower books without the length, the serial nature and some of the continuity issues. 

3. Rosemary and Rue - I had this one recommended to me a couple years ago and dearly loved it. While the series following private detective/knight October Daye (Toby to her friends and most enemies) won't be for everyone, I cannot stress enough how lovely a story I find her adventures, and if the first book grabs you in any way, it only gets better from there.

4. The Perilous Gard - A children's book, bet one that has retained its place on my shelves since I first read it. I've often said it was the first and one of the only romance books I've ever loved, and that remains true. but it's also a tale of friendship and adventure, of finding yourself and not judging yourself against others. A fairy story. I love it and think most others would too.

5. The Hobbit - Another kids book! I don't care, people write some great stories for kids! I love the Lord of the Rings and all its beautiful language, but I love this book so much more for its simple adventure and the conversational tone Bilbo uses to relate everything to us.

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Beautiful and frank and real. I read this book and found myself re-examining my own life and considering more carefully my own choices. I found it to be a truly powerful piece of writing in all the best ways.

7. Old Man's War - A brilliant and emotional piece of sci-fi writing. The thing that got me back into reading sci-fi actually, after Dune's ponderousness nearly drove me out once and for all.

8. The Stepsister Scheme - You knew there had to be some Jim Hines on here. I prefer his Jig the Goblin series, but I feel like the stories of princesses kicking ass and taking names was more universally enjoyable and therefore I tend to recommend it ahead of Jig.

9. Retribution Falls - Sky pirates and adventure! A tarnished but essentially good crew of people with histories they're trying to run away from? This touches a lot of things I adore, but I know some people don't share my love for Indiana Jones-style adventure tales.

10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - I love the Harry Potter series quite a lot. Not the technically best book on this list by a long shot, but the world and characters made up for it, for me. Reading book 1 gives you a good idea if this series is for you and it's not overly long or difficult.

Monday, March 25, 2013

We're off to see the wizard

I keep being told I need to read the Scottie Young Oz comics. I'm seriously thinking about it. I love his art. It's cute and detailed and whimsical all at the same time.

I've never been a big Oz fan, not like some of my friends were. I had "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" as a child and re-read that like someone was going to take it away from me and I had to commit the whole thing to memory. But lately, with the surge in Oz products, I've found myself getting more interested. I've already talked about how much I love the Wild West Oz book. 

I'm not sure what is keeping me from just borrowing them actually. I don't have that much in my to-read comics pile - a couple trades of things I've already read in individual comics and something called "An Inspector Calls" which I'm a little dubious about and keep putting off.

Maybe that'll be this week's comics project. Borrow and read book 1, just to see. Decide from there. At the very least it should be pretty!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pull List: March 20

A bit late on some of these! We have today Secret Avengers 2, Demon Knights 18, Avengers Arena 6, Earth's mightiest Heroes 12 and Alpha 2. As always, there may be spoilers beyond the cut.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I stopped listening three endings ago

Ever have a book, movie, or game that just Would. Not. End? I guess the final Lord of the Rings movie is probably the best example of this, as it has at least four things and as many as eight which could reasonably have been "The End." But it crops up all the time. I know it can be subjective, but sometimes this bothers me and sometimes it doesn't (And while the LotR one didn't bother me, the one in the final case of the second Phoenix Wright game did, while I know some people who feel the exact opposite).

For this reason, I'm feeling a little nervous about the idea of adding a false ending to one of the stories I'm working on. It's not that I think it's the wrong choice - it's what makes the most sense to me. 

I guess you can't really worry about what people will like or dislike, you just have to write your story and worry about it on the next go-round. But at the same time, I find myself thinking, if this were not my baby, if I were not the writer, would this piss me off?

I hate that the answer sort of feels like yes. A sign that I should change my mind? Second draft will tell.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is this real life?

I don't read a lot of nonfiction. I've found a few that interest me and a few that sort of make me wonder what reality the writer is living in. But its been quite some time since something grabbed me the way King Peggy did.

As always, possible spoilers beyond the cut.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the books I grabbed off the shelf when I saw them - and still have not gotten around to reading.

1. Bob Moore: Desperate times - I have had this book on my Nook for AGES. I bought it as soon as I finished No Hero, which I loved. But somehow, there's just never been a good time to get around to it.

2. Scarlet - Another one that's frustrating me with my inability to just GET to it. I suspect I'll really enjoy it when I try.

3. Barbara - I love Tezuka's work, to varying degrees, and I've had this one sitting around for about six months. It's right by my bed, but somehow other things always seem to move up in the queue.

4. Invasion - In contrast, I've never read any Mercedes Lackey, but I got this one in a Humble Bundle a while ago and was really looking forward to reading it. Sadly, I've just not gotten to it yet.

5. One Thousand Years of Solitude - I'm certain I will enjoy this classic once I get around to reading it. But just the word classic is sometimes enough to make me put something down and reach for a comic book instead.

6. The Wizard of Oz comics - Scottie Young's art makes these books VERY cute, and while I didn't buy them - my sister did  - I've been meaning to borrow and read them for a while and keep failing to remember.

7. Princess Knight - Another Tezuka book, held off this time because my order of Vol. 2 came in but Vol. 1 got cancelled. Usually that's not a big problem for me, but I've found comics can be harder than novels to get into later.

8. Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence - I picked this one up at a comic con TWO YEARS ago! I think it might be a winner of longest holdout award.

9. Pirate Cinema - Another book from the same Humble Bundle as Invasion, but much lower since while it's been waiting longer, I wasn't as gung-ho about it in the first place.

10. Ghosts of Manhattan - I actually tried to read this one once. I think I was just not in the right mindset to enjoy it though, and failed after about 20 pages. Still staring at me from the shelf.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Take four

I get unreasonably excited when a webcomic I follow comes out with another volume of print comics.

You would think, with it all available online, that I wouldn't need to bother, but the truth is, I think a lot of times the print version is just plain more fun to read. It's easier to keep my place if I read it over multiple days, I can take it anywhere (and yeah, yeah, I know mobile and all that, but you're talking to someone whose mobile devices are all video game consoles except for a 6-year-old cell)  and there's just something *nice* about the heft of a print book in my hands.

So, Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 4 just completed on the web, which means the process will begin soon to get that book out. I love this series quite a lot, think it has some of the most interesting and best characterization on the web (which is what  keeps me reading things like OotS or Gunnerkrigg when others like PvP or Penny Arcade just never caught me). It's really well written. If you like stories, if you like good and interesting characters, then you won't go amiss by checking it out.

Also but unrelated, I also pledged to a kickstarter. Am looking forward to getting this comic, even though I think the writer is probably overselling how unique and challenging this is (as many independent comics creators do, in my experience). We'll see once it gets here.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Well, THAT was uncalled for

I wrote last week that I have trouble with action scenes. But over the past week or so, the scene I was referring to mostly evolved - I deleted and rewrote it about three times, and by the final draft, it had morphed from a fight into a pretty much complete curbstomp of the main character.

You ever do this? Write something that at the same time seems more and more *right* to the story and at the same time is more and more difficult, for whatever reason, for you to write?

In this case, it was that I've never really watched a wholly one-sided, brutal fight, and that I do like my main character, so it was hard to write like this. But it's definitely happened before - most recently, a character's motivations kept getting more and more creepy and obsessive, to the point where while I liked how it worked in the story, I felt slimy just writing anything about the gent.

Anyone else? Stories?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

There are other worlds than these

I finished rereading The Waste Lands yesterday.

I don't know if I can properly describe the place this book has in my life - as a reader, and as a writer. As a reader, technically speaking, it's probably the book I have reread the most.  It's a book where I think the illustrations (I have a big old color-picture copy) really add something, isntad of just being a nice bonus. I think its a story that's fed my appetite throughout my life with the travelogue story, and with mashing westerns into jsut about anything you can think of.

I KNOW it's where my tendency to read books out of order came from. This was my first ever not only Dark Tower book, but Stephen King book as well. I was a little lost a the beginning - no matter how well an author tries to present the actions of previous books, there's always a lot of detail and nuance missing that makes for confusion -  but I quickly figured out how to compartmentalize things that were too confusing and to figure the rest out enough to enable me to go forward.

This is also, as a writer, a book that I look to when I want to study characterization. I've long been a fan of how King writes people - the diversity and the way he's more than happy to paint the bad along with the good in equal measures. Mental arguments? detailed alien-world description? this is the place I go to see how it's done. :)

I keep hoping I'll find another book that moves me as much and means so much to me, but I guess it's true what they say, your first is special...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books At The TOP Of My Spring 2013 TBR list!

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the books I'm most looking forward to reading this spring!

1. Scarlet - the sequal to the fantastic sci-fi story Cinder, I've had this book for a while but other things keep cropping up. Still I NEED to get this read. the first one was a sci fi story that reminded me why I love sci fi so much.

2. The Iron Jackal - The Tales of the Ketty Jay has seriously wormed its way into my top five favorite series ever, and it may be vying for spot no. 1.  The opportunity to get back to this world is seriously exciting.

3. King Peggy - A nonfiction book? In MY reading list? Truth is I've been looking forward to reading this one for ages and ages, and my hold at the library finally came through so now it's sitting near my bed, waiting for me to finally peek into it. 

4. Bob Moore: Desperate Times - I've had this one on my Nook since the middle of last year, but other things keep getting in the way of my reading it. I loved "No Hero" and I have no reason to think I won't adore this one as well.

5. Watership Down - Have I read it before? I definitely have. But that doesn't mean I'm not tickled about reading it again! (And with book club!)

6. Legend of Oz: Wicked West vol. 2 - The first volume of this was beautiful, a comic book that I even share with my non-comic-reading friends,a nd I'm terribly excited to see where we go next.

7. Shades of Gray - Another book club selection, but one I've been recommended by Good Reads' recommendation matrix for ages now, so I'm very excited to read it!

8. The Janus Affair - The first Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences was a deeply flawed book technically that I loved emotionally. So while I haven't picked it up yet, there's a piece in the back of my mind that keeps asking, "When are we gonna read THAT?"

9. Fairy Tail 25 - Feels a bit like cheating, since I'm excited for EVERY volume of this manga. :)

10. Bob Moore: Hostile Territory - See no. 4, with the caveat that this one is much lower because if Desperate Times turns out not so good, I may revise my interest in reading it.

Monday, March 11, 2013


I am unreasonably excited to get more of the Legend of Oz: Weird West series from Big Dog Ink.

There's a lot of Oz floating around right now thanks to I believe the copyright expiring. There's the new movie (Entertaining and pretty, but I didn't think it was fantastic), the Marvel series of comics (my sister has the whole lot as released so far and I really need to borrow them, according to her) and a few other things, but this was definitely the one that caught my interest the most.

To be fair, it combines two things I love in a beautiful package. As a kid, I got an intense love of SF/F from my parents and a love of westerns from my grandmother, next to whom I think I must have watched every John Wayne movie ever made. There's a beautiful comfort in westerns for me. So you can see why Deep Space 9 is my favorite Star Trek (come on, a frontier western in SPACE? I was SO there) and why this book appeals to me as well.

The second volume is coming out in a few months, but I'm not sure I can recommend the first one enough. The art is beautiful, the story is pretty faithful to the idea and feel of the Oz books (at least as I remember them from my childhood), but the liberties taken to adapt the story as a western were also very clever (The Tin Man is a sheriff with his tin star? cha-ching!)

Bonus, there's also a Scarecrow mini coming out, and if there's one character in this take on Oz that I liked better than the others, it's the Scarecrow (who is usually my least favorite - I was always more of a Tin Man fan :) ) Seriously, if you have a chance, check them out. They're pretty AND fun.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Blood, and death, and heartbreak

I'm not, in general, a big fan of tortured characters or melodrama, and the sort of angst that tips over into what's known as wangst. there's just something about that sort of over-the-top character treatment that pings my secondhand embarrassment for them and makes me wince.

Well... sort of. In novels, I cannot stand it. Nothing makes me want to throw a book against a wall faster. And in comics, it comes across as forced drama in a blind push for sales, so while I find it slightly more forgivable, I still don't condone it.

But in manga... let's just say I'm a lot more forgiving. As always there may be spoilers below the cut.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

And then he raised his sword and... something something

I'm having so much trouble with action scenes right now.

This is a bit of a problem, as both of my works in progress are at an action scene. The sci-fi story is moving into what should be the climax of the entire story. Mercenaries vs mercenaries, with one side protecting a kid and the other side protecting an entire people. The other one is a bit earlier in the proceednigs, and involves three people trying to fight their way out of a castle with aid of some very limited magic.

Action scenes have always been a bit of an achillies heel to me. No matter what I do, they never stop sounding to me like little more than a laundry list of actions. Person A does this. Person B does that. Blood flows. Someone trying to run away, yadda yadda yadda. I've been trying to read some of my favorite action scenes from books, and even those in fanfic of some authors who particularly write action well (two of which I am biased toward, as I consider them friends :) )  And when you're on the outside and reading it, it all seems so easy. One action flows into another, cause and effect running smoothly like a silk ribbon among the combatants.

But I just can't seem to get the hang of it. I'm told I'm not the only one who has this issue, but it feels like an exceedingly odd place to get hung up. There's so much happening, how can it be THIS hard?

Ah well. Nothing for it but to go forward. If nothing else, that's what edits and rewrites are for!

Progress: Blessed (32,435); Sci-fi (63,526)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reading in February

As the shortest month, February always feels a bit cramped for reading.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the series I'd like to start but have not found the time yet. Since I actually do get around to most of what I want to read, I've limited this week's list to five.

1. The Malazan Book of the Fallen - The sheer lenght has kept me away from it at the moment, but I've had it recced by several people.
2. The Long Price Quartet - I'm told it's very different from the sort of fantasy I usually read, which might make for a nice break. I love fantasy, but sometimes, if you read too amny similar authors you get bogged down.
3. The King Killer Chronicle - Rothfuss has been on my radar for a long time, but I've still yet to get anything of his, which sometimes feels like a personal failing on my part.
4. The Farseer - This is a series I actually *have* the first two books of and I STILL haven't gotten around to actually reading them. It makes me feel very very lazy.
5. New Crobuzon -  Mieville, like Rothfuss, has long been in the camp of "I need to read this but I just haven't gotten around to it."

Honorable mention: Magic Bites, the Bartimeus trilogy and The Broken Empire

Monday, March 4, 2013

Does it make me a bad person if...

... my reasons for picking up a book, especially a *comic* book, are not always based on whether or not I think the story inside will be quality?

Right now in my somewhat substantial to-read pile is "Hawkeye: Blindspot." this is a book which I picked up exclusively because of the promise of the appearance of Clint's also-raised-in-the-circus-evil-brother. For some reason, the bare circumstances around  this character appeal to the baser parts of my sense of humor, so I'm sort of looking forward to reading it for that.

However, I have a terrible feeling that the book itself may be kind of... well, not good. I suppose part of it comes fom this being a comic book, and those being of varying quality, with the best ones being largely whispered among fans. You can find them pretty easily. So something like this... I'm just not sure.

Nonetheless, I shall be reading it soon. I'll report on how well my instincts served me afterward.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I've been slowly reading through "Toriko" lately. It's a series about a world full of animals which are massively dangerous, people who REALLY want to eat them as a delicacy, and the gourmey hunters who bring them down.

I picked it up because it was recommended on several sites for people who liked One Piece and as anyone who knows me can attest to, I LOVE One Piece. It has its missteps, but I'm utterly invested in the characters and stories. And I'm having a hard time seeing the reflection of that in Toriko.

Maybe it's because I've been with the characters in One Piece for so long that I can no longer remember what it was like in those early days, when I was first stepping into a world full of pirates who get superpowers by eating magical fruit, like some sort of Garden of Eden roulette. But it feels like Toriko is actively bludgeoning me with how weird it is, whereas the weirdness of One Piece was sort of woven into a more relatable narrative.

Or maybe I'm just getting tired of the tropes and actions of this style of manga. I've been a long-time reader of such things, but maybe there's only really room for one One Piece style thing in my life right now.

Now, I want to be clear - I don't dislike Toriko. I enjoy each volume of it I read, and I think the author does a good job with characterization. I'm just not driven to get the next volume the way I am with manga I really like. I've been picking it up at a rate of one volume per trip to the library, which means one every week or two. Its not a bad pace I don't think. :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Pull List: Feb. 28

This week I got the first volume of Alpha from Marvel (Well, I got it last week but I didn't get around to reading it until this week because we weren't sure if it was mine or my sister's at first), Gambit 9, Young Avengers 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy .1.

 As always, there may be spoilers beyond the cut so proceed at your own risk.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's a little like eating my vegetables

I have a hard time, sometimes, reading books I know I should read.

Currently, I have "One Thousand Year of Solitude" and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" sitting in my to-read pile, alongside things like a collection of horror short stories, a Doctor Who tie-in book and a Hawkeye trade. There's definitely, among those books, an imbalance of likely quality.

And yet, when I go to pick up one of those good books, the ones I know I should read, sometimes I find myself swapping over to the comics, or the manga, or the fluffy sci fi rather than reading what I fel like I should be reading.

I know part of this ties into my reasons for reading Fantasy and Sci fi almost exclusively. There's little escapism likely to be found in those books. But at the same time, reading is largely an entertaining pursuit, but its also a way to inform oneself of important matters. I *want* to read these books. I just never seem to be in a proper mood to seriously and deeply contemplate them. It took me positively ages to get to "The Air Between Us" or any Gaines.

Still, I have moved Angelou's book up, so I should be starting it soon. Maybe it the weather holds, it can be the first book that I read while I'm taking my afternoon walks.

Interestingly enough, I got that book at the library book sale a little bit ago. I'm somewhat amused that whoever gave it to the library neglected to take a number of things out of it, including a 15-year-old train ticket, a piece of paper with a memo on it and a bookmark with info on a bookstore in Philadelphia. It was a weird glimpse into the previous owner.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the authors that I'd put on my auto-buy list. I may be cheating a little, as I'm splitting out series in some cases,w here I'd be an insta-buy for some books but not always for others.

1. Jim Hines: At this point, I'm a first-week purchaser for any novel he releases. I'm not sure I'd hop in for short stories or collections, but I've yet to be disappointed by one of his full-length books.

2. Chris Wooding (Tales of the Ketty Jay): Probably my favorite current series out there. Steampunky adventure. <3 font="">

3. Seanan McGuire (Toby Daye): I adore Toby's stories and since being introduced to them have purchased each new book as it's come out. Very much looking forward to this year's entry!

4. George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones): While the last couple were not as good, in my opinion , as earlier volumes, I'm still heavily invested in this series and always looking for the next bit.  

5. Brandon Sanderson: While I haven't picked up his Wheel of Time books since I'm behind on that series, I try to make a point of picking up everything else he's put out.

6. Guy Gavriel Kay: He's another whose earlier books I liked much better than his later work, but I still like his later work enough to never regret getting it.

7. Seanen McGuire (Incryptid): She may be the only author who has two series I absolutely adore and another that I couldn't care less to continue reading in. Speaking of this series, March 5!!!

8. CLAMP: They are very hit or miss, but I try to give at least the first volume of every new series a chance.

9. Kaori Yuki: A very specific brand of hilariously awesome that I embrace quite happily. :)

10. J. K. Rowling: While I haven't yet read Casual Vacancy, I had to get it when it first came out and I suspect I will continue doing so.

Monday, February 25, 2013


I read the collected trade of "The Adventures of Superhero Girl" Saturday night. I enjoyed it quite a lot - nothing groundbreaking, but it was cute and funny and I liked all the characters. Plus, there's just something really fun about the particular niche of the genre that it occupies.

I don't know why, but the more fun, innocent looks at superhero stories are often among my favorite. G-man, Monster Society of Evil, Mini Marvels. I think it has to do with what I see as the basis for superhero stories - that they're stories about hope, about overcoming struggles, and it doesn't always have to matter how BIG those struggles are. The important parts are the hope, the perseverance and the attempt to remain good throughout it all. 

Superhero Girl played a little with the whole "super-siblings" thing, which I also tend to like. In this case, I found her older brother, Kevin, to be a really fun character. He comes across as a bit full of himself, but it's hard to tell what's ego and what's just persona. 

But I think my favorite character was our hero herself. I loved her dedication to her little town, her serious efforts at even the smallest acts of superheroing and her refusal to be the kind of superhero other people want her to be. She's in it for her own reasons and stays true to that. <3 font="">

This isn't to say I don't like more serious superhero stories as well. I certainly do. But a lot of the time they get to ratcheting up the angst over and over and over and OVER. It gets tiresome and drives me off, which is why I keep books like this around. they're... refreshing. :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cliffhangers of a different stripe

As a reader of comic books and manga, I'm no stranger to the end-of-issue or even end-of-trade cliffhanger. But as many times as I see them, there's one sort that I like better than all the rest, is the joyful cliffhanger - and if there's one series I'm reading that does that better than most, it's probably Fairy Tail.

As always, spoilers may be beyond the cut so proceed at your own risk!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I hit the 2/3 mark in one of my stories today - the end of act two. It's funny how round the word count came out - 60,250. I expect the third part to be a little shorter than the others, but that should put the thing comfortably between 82k and 88k, which is I think an admirable first draft, especially since I think there's some stuff that'll be added back in when I get around to rewrites.

It all turned out working a little better than expected, to be honest. The story was a NaNo, one of the few I didn't delete totally after November because I had most of it posted in an LJ. I think I started with about 46k when I picked it up in January. If everything stays as it is, I think I may actually get it done in another couple months. It might go faster if I stopped working on the other book at the same time, but I'm finding myself unwilling to do that.

I guess I'll just ride the urge while I have it!

Progress: Blessed (27,723); Sci-fi (60,250)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Aren't you a little young for unending despair?

Have you ever noticed how many stories of a dystopian future seem to center on kids?

I guess I get the urge. Kids are a symbol of innocence and purity, so showing how a dystopia affects them can be a powerful way to show just how screwed up things have gotten. But it's starting to get on my nerves a little - not in the sense of me not liking the stories, but me getting to the part where our protags are kids or perhaps teens and thinking to myself "again?"

It's a little bothersome, because one of my favorite books, "The Long Walk" is pretty much entirely made up of kids' place in a dystopia.  I'm also a pretty big fan of "Battle Royale" and for book club right now we're reading "The Darkest Minds." I'm enjoying it, but I can't stop thinking about how specifically so many of them focus on kids.

This is part of why I have yet to read the Hunger Games books. I know a great many people who have read them and enjoyed them deeply and have told me that I NEED to read them, or at least the first one. And I suspect they're right. they sound like good books and I would probably enjoy reading them. But this trope is just a little too... centered, maybe, right now. 

Maybe I'll give it a little time and put a no-kid-centered-dystopias rule on my book selections for a while and then see how I feel about it. :)

This week was the library book sale. I was both grateful and sad that I didn't find more to purchase while I was ther, because while I don't need more physical books trying to find space on my shelves, I like books and I like supporting the library. But now I am the proud owner of "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" and four of the first five volumes of "Pluto" because I am a total mark for anything with Tezuka's name on it other than Kimba and Astro Boy (and who knows, maybe eventually those too!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite fantasy characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the top 10 favorite characters in X genre. I've picked Fantasy, but for some interesting reading I highly recommend heading over to their blog - they collect links from more than a hundred other bloggers with their own lists,a nd the things that draw people to particular characters can be fascinating.

1. Neville from the Harry Potter series - I liked him from the first book, and by the time the series was over he was one BAMF. He had bad things happen to him in his life, but he always carried a sort of innate desire to see good in people and not to rock the boat unless it was important. His interaction with his parents in Book 5 just broke my heart, but I loved how well that scene encapsulated him - the compassion and unconditional love for his parents, his willingness to take his grandmother's barbs without comment, and then the steel underneath when he realizes Harry and co. have seen it - that absolute certainty Harry has that he won't brook anyone laughing at what they went through.

2. Jehane, from The Lions of Al Rassan - This is not my favorite of Kay's books, but she is definitely my favorite of his characters. I love her no nonsense attitude. I love her devotion to her patients. I love that I could relate to almost every step of her story, that at no point was there a decision she made that I could look at and go "why?" I loved the way she tried not to love, and the way she eventually surrendered to the feeling without surrendering her own autonomy or subverting it and becoming just a love interest. she was fantastic.

3. Sam Vimes of the Night Watch Discworld books - His frustration with life and society and the world in general makes for a fantastic bit of snark, but his position also allows him to see the entirety of society as a web, and this knowledge seems to be some of what breaks him early on. I love the way he can cut through all that bullshit when the moment counts though. He can think of the rich and the poor in the same exact way, and while it may pain him to do it, he almost always drags himself back from the precipice of going too far when any number of others might have gone over. And it's always a struggle for him, which I think makes me like him all the more. :)

4. Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle - She's all business and has no time for frivolous things like love or, occasionally, politeness. She sees herself as having a particular role in her world, and there was something both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the way she insisted she was stuck in that role while at the same time defying it. The relationship with Howl is probably one of my favorite character relationships in all of fiction. 

5. Eddie from the Dark Tower books - Even when he was a junkie focused on his brother almost to the exclusion of all else, there was something steely and sarcastic and fascinating about Eddie to me. He went at even the most hopeless situations with an almost manic sense of humor, and he didn't always do the right thing, but that just made him feel more real to me. King's good at that in general, but I really found Eddie to be a grounding force in the series.

6. Molly from The Last Unicorn - From the moment she gives her speech to the unicorn when they first meet, I knew this would be a character who would stick with me. The magician may know more of the world as a thing, but Molly knows about people and emotions, and she's a source of staid wisdom and a sharp tongue, each depending on the need of the situation. Her clear love for Amalthea shone through a lot of the murkiness and heaviness in the plot around her.

7. Quentin from the Toby Daye books - There's something I and I think a lot of other people find compelling about a character with a fairy-tale view of honor having to come to grips with the realities of life in a world which is decidedly not a fairy tale. Quentin's idealism doesn't get ripped out from under him as it if some so many characters like him - but the slower pace of his adjustment to reality I think makes for a much better story. In a series filled with incredibly interesting characters, he just barely edged Toby as my favorite.

8. Breeze from the Mistborn trilogy - He was never really a main character, but I loved the gray morality of Breeze - the way he insisted on the finer things in life, the way he pretended he didn't really care and was doing everything for the money, but the way he always showed that he really DID care, when the chips were down. The way he'd put his life on the line despite not really having any useful offensive abilities. I thought he was one of the most interesting in a varied and compelling cast.

9. Sansa from the Game of Thrones series - I know a lot of people hated her for being so weak-willed, but I always thought she was a very strong person - just also a very young one. She displays an adaptability and a fortitude that a lot of other characters might not have managed even had they lived past their stopping point. Sansa endures and she learns. And in the world of GoT, those can be some of the most powerful abilities a person can have. But most of all, I just really felt bad for her - a child who was allowed, for a time, to retain her childhood and who was ripped out of it at a much older age and reacted accordingly.

10. Toby Daye from the series of the same name - I said earlier that Quentin just barely edged her for my favorite character, but I still like her enough to make an overall top ten right now. :)  I love her determination and her ability to make do with less magical gifts than the people around her often have. I love the way she's so devoted to children especially - it makes sense  in the world of Faerie, but it seems with her it's even more pronounced. I love how she can both embrace her feelings and completely misread them. I always look forward to the next book she's in with great gusto!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Looking back in time

The trend of getting all their old comics (or at least large portions of the more currently marketable) into current trades is one of the few things I think both Marvel and DC are doing well.

For a lot of fans, they may already have all the old stuff they want, but for someone like me, who didn't pick up her first comic until she was nearly in her 20s and didn't start collecting with any regularity until much closer to 30, a lot of stuff I might have liked quite a lot passed me by.

Some of the stuff, I've gone back and bought individual issues of over the years. I am the proud owner of the full run of Booster Gold's first solo series, the less proud owner of a full run of one of Guy Gardener's solo series (including Warrior), and the utterly hysterically amused owner of "Extreme Justice." (Seriously, if you get a chance, read it! It's a hilarious product of its time, and if you can get over some... intense art, let's call it, there's a few small actually good bits in the midst of all the DRAAAAAMMMMAAAAAAAA)

And the money that I spent on those, I would happily have paid to DC for collected trades of those. (Well, maybe NOT Extreme Justice). And to be fair, they DID put out the Booster Gold stuff in trade, and I did indeed buy it. But if I thought I would be able to get rid of my individual issues because of that, I was sorely mistaken. The trade they put out was in black and white, and while I'm sure some readers have no problem with the black and white, I found it much harder to get invested. Especially when color was a pretty key part of one arc O.o

That said, I picked up the second trade of classic Gambit this week, and reread the first one before reading this one. I love Gambit and a character, and I think the route they chose with compiling these was pretty good. The stories aren't necessarily from Gambit's series, they're just involving him - they come from all over. I like them in the same way I liked the idea at least of putting all the different Civil War comics into trades in chronological order. Didn't buy those, myself - already had the series-specific trades I wanted. :)

I hope this trend continues though. It seems like every time I read a new character with a bit of history in comics, it leads me to wanted to check out some of their older stuff. Easier is better for that!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Pull List: Feb. 14

This week's offerings were Demon Knights No. 17, Avengers Arena No. 4, Marvel Universe The Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes No. 11 and Hawkeye No. 7 from a few weeks ago.

As usual, there may be spoilers beyond the cut.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Genderswapping and female main characters

I'm working on two stories right now. One has an ensemble cast, but the other one really only has one main character, a man, who's surrounded by aliens and has exciting doctor adventures in deep space.

The cast list of the ensemble story is pretty well balanced, with both male and female characters taking center stage at times. But with the other, there's only one spotlight and it's unavoidably on a male character all the time.

Now, there's nothing wrong with him being a guy. I want to get that out of the way right now. He's perfectly fine as a male character. I like him as he is, and I enjoy writing him. 

But there's a part of me - the part that looks around and laments that there aren't more awesome ladies in main character roles, especially in more adventure-style stories - that's been asking recently if I need to leave him as a man, or if I could change him to a woman without changing too much of the story or making her less fun to write.

And honestly, I think the answer I've come up with is no. Changing this character to a woman wouldn't actually affect the story all that much. He doesn't use physical strength very much so the one possible physical difference doesn't really come into play. There would be some different personal concerns, but they're easy enough to work in. And since none of the aliens has much of a concept of human gender, they would be unlikely to treat him any different if he became a she. 

And yet, I'm hesitant to change it. I'm sure part of it is just long familiarity with the character as a man - he was a roleplaying character long before I first tried to put him into prose in 2011 - but as I continue debating the merits of making him a her, I have to wonder if part of it's just an unconscious feeling that a man is "right" for the sort of loose sci-fi adventure story he's in. :-/

Progress: Blessed (24,400); Sci-fi story (56,716).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I read fantasy

I love fantasy. A glance at my reading list on Goodreads tells anyone as much. I would submit that the lion's share of everything I read is a variation of fantasy, be it books, manga or comics. (Followed closely by sci-fi). And I love it that way.

Part of it is that I love worldbuilding. I love the idea that things where this story is taking place are different from here, and seeing how those changes affect the ways in which people interact. I love seeing the creative things people come up with. you'd never get something like allomancy in a our-world novel, and the dynamics of that system are amazing.

At the same time, I also like that while fantasy is a genre, it's more rightly a setting. It's a place into which any story, any characters, any themes and any plots can be fitted.

I've been reminded lately that a lot of people see fantasy as a fluff genre. It's not a wrong perception, really, since most writers in the genre kind of treat it that way as well. And there's a lot to be said for fluff. People want escapism, and there's a certain beauty in the way that fantasy and sci fi can allow us to look at real-world issues in a ... let's say less threatening way.

And for me at least, there's a beauty in being able to divorce the terrible things people do from reality. I work in newspapers. I don't need to pick up a novel to read about people in our world being horrible to one another or being kind to one another. I do that all week long. If I'm going to read a book, I need it it separated, at least a little, from that reality. Is that somewhat cowardly? Perhaps. But its a preference that hasn't changed in more than two decades of picking my own books :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite romances

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on the Broke and Bookish blog. This week's list is a look at the top 10 favorite romances. Though in my case, it's a top five because romance is just not my thing, and the romances in books I've read and enjoyed even where the romance isn't front and center tend to slip out of my mind rather quickly.

1. The Perilous Gard - I think this may be the first book in which I ever registered the romance and it didn't bug me. It just felt so natural and beautiful, so ingrained a part of the story without supplanting it or being the point of the book.  Christopher's words to Kate have always stuck with me - "If you were any other woman, I could tell you I loved you easily enough, but not you - because you've always seemed to me like a part of myself, and it would be like saying I loved my own eyes or my own mind. But have you ever thought of what it would be ]to live without your mind or your eyes, Kate? to be mad? Or blind? I can't talk about it. That's the way I feel." <3 font="">

2. Ashes of Honor - After five books of them messing around and avoiding coming out and saying it, Toby and Tybalt finally step forward in their relationship, and the care they show one another, the fierce protectiveness and trust, really struck me.

3. The Lions of Al Rassan - Notable for being the only love triangle I've read that I truly and deeply bought into, I get so tired of love triangles which are really a couple and then a third wheel with some claim on the proceedings. In this? I could understand why she loved both men. I could see her finding happiness with either, and finding heartbreak with either. The way that decision got made broke my heart.

4. Mistborn - I enjoyed the turnaround in Vin and Eland's relationship, the way they played off one another and the very real insecurities each of them dealt with. Another one that felt very organic and real to me.

5. Library Wars - Guilty pleasure time! This is not a very good manga and I won't claim otherwise. The romance is contrived as anything, and I'll admit that too. But something about the two characters just draws me in and makes me cheer for them even as I'm laughing at the ridiculousness of the story.