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.