WiP MARATHON #3: SEPTEMBER 2016

It’s that time of the month again: recap time on the WiP. Here’s WiP Marathon, September edition. (My, this year’s going by quickly. 0.0)


Last report word count + chapter count/scene count:

According to my last WiP Marathon post, the word count was 98, 131 words, and an uncertain number of chapters. (I’m gonna guess 30, more or less.)

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 

Current word count is 98, 040 words, and I’m still not sure about the current chapter count, because I’ve been writing and deleting stuff. My answer remains the same as last time: anywhere from 26-30 chapters.

WiP Issues This Month:

My main issues continue to be plot and character motivation, and it’s getting a little overwhelming to think about fixing those things. They seem to be so large and scary that they’re not fixable. :/

What I learned this month in writing: 

Reading helps give inspiration. And so does music. *cough*Radiohead*cough*

What distracted me this month while writing: 

SCHOOLWORK. All I want to do is read and write, and I barely even have time to BREATHE anymore, you guys. GAH.

Goal for next month: 

I’m going to keep this goal simple for once: get my chapters in order so I can start reworking the novel again. Can’t fix a mess if you make another one while trying to fix it, right?

THE IRON KING (The Iron Fey, #1): Review

6644117The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1)  by Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen on February 1, 2010
Genres: young adult fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, romance
Pages: 363
Format: Paperback
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★¾ 


I have a weakness for fae books, you guys. The Fae are such mysterious, terrifying creatures, and, when written well, make for fascinating novels.

In theory, at least. Perhaps one of the reasons I have a predilection for fae novels (Faeriewalker, ACOTAR) is because I haven’t read any superb ones. (The search continues! And I’m going to read ACOMAF soon, and I’ve heard it’s amazing, so…we’ll see. This statement might change soon.)

I was hoping this book would be that for me. I enjoyed Kagawa’s Blood of Eden trilogy, even though I was disappointed by the last book, and I was excited to give her another chance. I’d heard good things about this, and was hoping it would be better than the weird, awkwardly quirky mess that was the Faeriewalker series.

Well, this definitely wasn’t awkward. But it wasn’t fantastic, either.

First off, I never really felt like I could connect with Meghan. Like Allison, she’s a tough, strong girl who doesn’t take nonsense from anybody. But, unlike Allison, she never really came alive for me. She likes a boy on the football team–okay. She’s severely bullied at school–got it. She has a stepbrother she adores, a mother she has a rocky relationship with, and a stranger of a stepdad–understood. Oh, yeah, and her actual father is a High Fae. Cool, I guess. I never really cared.

This book had a great premise: the idea that a new type of fae is emerging based on the way human civilization is changing, one made of something most fae are resistant to–iron. But this novelty gets lost in the ordinariness of it all, the familiarity. We’ve seen this all before. Outcast girl who’s not human? Best friend/guardian who also isn’t human? Kidnapped sibling taken to nonhuman world where our main character must save him/her? Check, check, and check.

Did I mention Meghan also falls for a fae prince from the enemy court, and that they barely know each other before they kiss? There’s no chemistry between them, and Ash (the prince) seems more like somebody’s sketch of an emo fairy princess (like Zuko from Avatar, only with longer hair and no scar, and without the amazing backstory and character development).

Another thing: the world-building. There was so much potential for the Nevernever. But, instead of absorbing that richness, we have little encounters with various creatures there, which only gives little pieces, not much of a bigger picture. It’s like thirsting for water and trying to drink it, but the water ends up being bubbles instead that pop as soon as they touch your nose: disorienting and a little confusing. We get some time in the Faerie courts, but not enough, IMO, to learn enough about them to make this interpretation of them memorable. Which is a shame, because the potential is there.

Overall, there’s some snarky banter and there are a few fun scenes (almost any scene with Puck, really; I liked him a lot.). But other than that, I kind of felt this book was a waste of my time, like eating an overcooked pound cake sorely lacking in sweetener: plain, bland, and not dense enough for me. I won’t be continuing the series, and I probably won’t read any more of Kagawa’s future books; just like the pound cake, they aren’t satisfying enough for me.

 

Mood and Music Monday: 9/26/16

Hello, everybody! Welcome to this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? Today, I’m listening to songs from Mree’s album Winterwell. If you haven’t already heard of her and you like whimsical, folk-inspired singer-songwriter music, please check her out; she’s fantastic. “To See The Light” is the one I’ve been listening to the most. It reminds me of a butterfly: delicate and light, but also fluttering with life and beauty. 

What are you reading? I’m still reading And I Darken, but I’m a little over 100 pages till the end now. I’ve started The Crucible by Arthur Miller for school, and I started also an ARC copy I received (in a contest of) Replica by Lauren Oliver. I like the writing, but there’s not a lot happening in the plot right now, which is making things a little boring. Here’s to hoping both AID and Replica pick up soon.

What are you drinking? Plenty of kombucha.

Any goals for this week?  Balancing reading and writing, for sure. I’m stuck in the middle of a scene I really want to continue, but I just can’t seem to squeeze it in between homework assignments; blogging is pretty much the most I can manage right now. Here’s to hoping that’ll change soon.

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

 

EXTRAORDINARY MEANS: Review

23149128Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Published by Katherine Tegen Books  on May 26, 2015
Genres: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary romance, coming-of-age
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★¾ 


I’d been excited about this one every since I saw the book trailer for it (which, as far as book trailers go, is well-done, IMO). This book promises an introspective look at life and love when both are juxtaposed against sickness and death. It also promised a cute and special romance.

And I was enjoying this book, because it delivered on these promises, and even built on them. Schneider offers us Sadie and Lane as dual narrators for this story, and I think she was successful in balancing them both. Each is a rounded, developed character with a unique perspective; I didn’t mix the two up while reading. Also, the writing is really pretty.

But then the twist at end happened.

Yeah, it was realistic (and I commend Schneider for not avoiding the inevitable and playing it safe, I really do) and there wasn’t much of a way to avoid it, but it didn’t feel…right. To the characters, to the story, or to the overall message this book was trying to tell. I was still in denial of what had happened even after I finished the book.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

You’ve been warned.

Why does Sadie die? To show that life is fleeting, so enjoy it and your loved ones while you can? To show that sometimes people don’t beat the odds?

How is that inspiring? How is it meaningful? Her death sends the message that you can try to fight death and persevere, but don’t worry, it’ll get you in the end anyway. And while that might be “real life” and realistic in the context of this story, Sadie’s death kind of demotes her character, in my opinion, from a main character who is independent and determined and stubborn and sensitive (all without sacrificing her femininity) to a plot device that allows Lane to gain a new perspective on life/death/love/what have you. Basically, a manic pixie dream girl, only less perfect.

Which is sad, because I really enjoyed the rest of this book; I was planning to give it at least four stars before that ending.

If you’d like a pretty, sad (pretty sad, really, eheheh) story about a love that blooms even as life withers, I would recommend this book for the characters and the writing. Just watch out for the ending (and maybe have some tissues on hand).

WiP Wednesday: 9/21/16

Hello, and welcome to this week’s #WiPWednesday post! #WiPWednesday is a weekly meme started by Brigid Gorry-Hines from Wordfare. Every Wednesday, I’m supposed to post an update about my WiP (Work in Progress), including word count and where I’m at in writing/revising it. Hopefully, doing this meme will keep me motivated to continue working on my WiP.

So let’s get started! I’ll try to fill out these categories as best as I can.

WIP:  The L.S. M.S.

Writing or Revising? 

Still rewriting scenes, and I’m a little past the point I’ve been at for weeks.

Current Word Count: 97, 704

Though my word count went down, I actually wrote a little bit…which also meant I delete a little bit. Oh, well. Give and take, I guess.

How It’s Going:

I haven’t been able to write very much at all lately because of homework, but I do have an idea where that one scene I was stuck on is leading, so that’s good. Now all I have to do is write it. :/

Goal for Next Week:  

Finish that same scene, and then start on the next one. But, to paraphrase the age-old saying: “We make plans, and APUSH homework laughs.” So, yeah. We’ll see.

Mood and Music Monday: 9/19/16

Hello, everybody! Welcome to this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? This week, I’m listening to James Newton Howard. I’ve started writing again and working on the WiP, and, because I listened to his score for The Village (and some stuff from Lady in the Water, like  these  five  beautiful  pieces) while writing the first draft, I’m listening to it again as I add/delete scenes. It brings back so many good writing-related memories.   

(Also, fun fact: Did you know he also composed the scores for Treasure Planet, Signs, I am Legend, The Sixth Sense, Peter Pan [the 2003 version], The Hunger Games movies, Snow White and the Huntsman, and The Dark Night, amongst others? He also composed the score for the movie Dinosaur, which was pretty much my childhood, so it’s safe to say that I love the guy.)

What are you reading? I finished Recreated by Colleen Houck, and I’m currently working my way through And I Darken by Kiersten White. So far, I’m enjoying it; it’s very dark and brutal, but very intriguing, too. I just wish it were shorter. :/

What are you drinking? Kombucha and water again.

Any goals for this week?  Reviews, reading, and writing—my favorite trio. I’ll try to do a little of each at least twice this week.

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO (Chaos Walking, #1): Review

6514178The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1) by Patrick Ness
Published by Harlequin Teen on July 14, 2009
Genres: young adult, science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, romance
Pages: 479
Format: Paperback
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★★½


I’ve been meaning to jump on the Chaos Walking bandwagon for the longest time; all my friends who have read this series have enjoyed it immensely. But I hadn’t made starting the series a priority; there always seemed to be other books needing to be read at the time.

Until I stumbled upon this book at the library. (FYI, my library is notorious [at least in my mind] for having every book in a series on the shelf except the first one, which is frustrating.) I took advantage of this lovely opportunity, and checked this book out.

I grew to really enjoy it, but it look at least the first 100 pages for me to warm up to the writing style —which is written in a “dialect,” of sorts—and Todd as a narrator. (Think Moira Young’s Blood Red Road, only with a slightly-younger male lead.) In addition to that, the first 100 pages or so don’t have a lot of action in them; it’s more build-up for the book.

Yet, once I got through the first fifth or fourth of the book, I pretty much devoured the rest. When it comes to torturing characters, Ness is relentless; Todd and Viola are always, always, always in danger, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. And those “rest” moments are far and few in-between.

Todd frustrated me as a character; he seemed so needlessly stubborn, immature and simple-minded sometimes. And, while I understand that he’s still growing and changing—and while I applaud Ness for writing a main character who is clearly far from perfect—that doesn’t mean Todd didn’t get on my nerves sometimes.

Also, Viola’s initial period of silence around Todd lasted too long to read naturally, in my opinion. I think it would have come across as less of a way for the author to manufacture tension between the two of them. Overall, though, I really enjoyed the dynamics of their friendship, which was both entertaining and realistic. (Also, Manchee, you guys. Manchee is adorable.)

Beside these few complaints, though, I really enjoyed the book. It poses some great questions about hope and doing the right thing when the right thing is hard, as well what growing up and being a “real man” really means. There are some very powerful passages in this book that hit me pretty hard, not going to lie, but I’ll let you discover those on your own.

So, if you like writing in dialect and you’re willing to sit through about 100 pages of set-up for a very thrilling read (this comes in second with Illuminae as the most thrilling book I’ve ever read), give this a go. In addition to some fiery characters and a plot that’ll leave you breathless, this book also offers a very unique, pastoral world unlike what I’ve seen in YA sci-fi before.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is feral and wild in its beauty. It’s a darkly smart, well-written thrill-ride if you can appreciate its grit and its feistiness. (And if you can tolerate what will probably go down as one of the worst cliffhangers in the history of YA fiction. But I mean that in the absolute best way, I promise.) This book might leave you winded, but you’ll enjoy the ride; I promise.