Thursday, 28 February 2013

Books Read in February

Well, February was a surprising month. I read over twenty books, which kind of amazes me. I blame the fact that I'm on holidays. When school starts up (on Monday, eeep!) I probably won't have any time to read. I remember that last year, majority of my reading time was done on the train to and from uni, which is about an hour's ride each way.

I was surprised, though because I've been hard at work editing the manuscript for FG to send to some CPs (as I stated in a previous post). Most days were spent with several hours sitting in front of my laptop, with the rest of the day either watching tv shows (I managed to score the first 2 seasons of The Walking Dead, and the first seasons of Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, and Charmed from my local library), or reading. I think I'm going to miss these holidays.

1. Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt; 5 stars
2. The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1) - Chris Colfer; 2½ stars
3. The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker; 4½ stars
4. A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine, #1) - Jaclyn Moriarty; 5 stars
5. The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose, #1) - Jennifer Donnelly; 3½ stars
6. The Grimm Legacy (The Grimm Legacy, #1) - Polly Shulman; 3 stars
7. When We Were Executioners (Dogsland, #2) - J.M. McDermott; 3 stars
8. Dark Inside (Dark Inside, #1) - Jeyn Roberts; 3 stars
9. The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2) - Richelle Mead; 4½ stars
10. Amber House (Amber House, #1) - Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed; 4 stars
11. Gone, Gone, Gone - Hannah Moskowitz; 2 stars
12. Dragon Slippers (Dragon Slippers, #1) - Jessica Day George; 4 stars
13. Everybody Sees the Ants - A.S. King; 4 stars
14. The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things, #3) - Anna Godbersen; 3½ stars
15. In Honor - Jessi Kirbi; 2½ stars
16. Starling (Starling, #1) - Lesley Livington; 3½ stars
17. Lord of Misrule (The Morganville Vampires, #5) - Rachel Caine; 3 stars
18. Carpe Corpus (The Morganville Vampires, #6) - Rachel Caine; 3½ stars
19. Mistwood (Mistwood, #1) - Leah Cypess; 4½ stars
20. Life Everlasting - Bernd Heinrich; 3 stars
21. All This Could End - Steph Bowe; 3½ stars

This month:
Pages: 6,832
Avg. pages: 325 pages per book

Books read: 36
Pages: 12,160
Avg. pages:  337 per book

The most important thing to note about this list is that this month, there are no faves. Sure, I gave some books quite high ratings (5 stars for both Tell the Wolves I'm Home and A Corner of White), but none of them really grabbed me, you know? Maybe this month just wasn't a lucky month, or maybe (I'm sure a lot of non-readers would argue this, like my mother), they've just become meaningless words, because I read too fast.

Nah, definitely not the latter, thank you very much.

I'll just have to read even more books to find a favourite.

I might be posting even less when the semester starts (what, like less than I already have been? HA HA HA), but monthly reading recaps will definitely be happening, because I'm obsessive about recording books. And it'll be one of those things to let you know I'm still alive and haven't been slobbered to death by the giant puppy.
This giant puppy:
I should totally end all blog posts with pictures of Layla, right? Right.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Auto-buy Authors

I don't usually participate in memes. Mostly because I find them somewhat annoying, and because I can never commit myself to actually posting regularly. Because I fail like that.

But today is different. I really like the question posed for today's Top Ten Tuesday (which is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish).
What authors are on your auto-buy list?

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

1. Catherynne M. Valente is one of my all time favourite authors. Her way with words break me. I've even been trying to get my hands on the hard to find, out of print stuff that she's published with small presses, and it really hurts my wallet, but makes my heart sing with joy.

2. David Mitchell. I tried his book, Cloud Atlas on a whim because I had heard about the gross white-washing that had been done in the movie, and I wanted to see if it was in any way justified (because it deals with a whole bunch of complicated reincarnations) (hint: it wasn't). After Cloud, I was hooked. I tried to get my hands on the rest of his work, and devoured them. As with Catherynne M. Valente, he has a way with words, though in a very different abstract sort of way. His metaphors evoke a surreal image, and I honestly can't handle how perfect it all is.

3. Juliet Marillier. Once again, I was hooked by beautiful words. Not only that, but her world-building, and the careful way she builds her characters leaves me breathless. Daughter of the Forest is a novel that left me depressed, disgusted, heartbroken, and elated.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
4. Eowyn Ivey. Even though she's only written one book, I know that she is an author I would love to read more from. She has a talent at making the reader feel completely immersed within the world of the book. When I was reading Snow Child, which is set in Alaska, I could feel the cold, hear the crunch of footsteps on ice, and the wail of a howling wind.

5. Alison Croggon. When I was a teen, I absolutely devoured her Pellinor series. I can still remember traces of her novels, and the feelings they made me feel. But when I picked up her newest novel, Black Spring, I fell in love with her work all over again.

6. Laini Taylor. As with every other author listed so far, Laini is mentioned because of her writing. Can you tell I'm a sucker for poetic prose?

7. Franny Billingsley. Again, pretty writing. Her stories are like fairy tales, they evoke a sense of wonder and beauty and magic. Love love love. I just wish that she wrote faster so that I could have more books to devour and cry over.

8. Cherie Priest. The first person on this list who isn't here because of pretty writing. Not that she writes bad or anything. I'm more interested in her imagination. I absolutely loved Boneshaker. The world, the characters, the atmosphere.

9. Neil Gaiman. Of course this man would be on this list. Of-freaking-course. This man is a crazed genius. American Gods is one of my all-time fave novels because of the original vision of mythology being pitted against modernism. And then there's the Sandman graphic novels. And his books for children. And his short stories. And his scripts for Doctor Who... There's just so much that this man has done, and it's all been practically perfect.

10. Alison Goodman. After falling in love with Eon and its sequel Eona, I knew that I had to have every single book that Goodman will ever write. She writes rich, vivid, well-researched worlds, that tackle social issues like femininity, transsexuality, spirituality etc, without feeling like you're being lectured. I love that sort of stuff.

So yeah, top ten authors that are on my auto-buy list.
Here, have a picture of Layla as a parting gift.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

On Poetry, or, Jess Fears Taking a Leap of Faith.

In the last month or so, I've found myself increasingly unable to think of any story ideas, and unable to write a single decent line in any of my novels. Instead, I've found my mind wandering towards poetry.

I find this odd, considering I've never really written much poetry before. In fact, I sort of think that I don't really get poetry. I mean, it has something to do with rhythm and words and... stuff, I guess? I don't know.

And the more poetry I've written, the more I've been thinking of trying to incorporate my newfound poetic style into a novel, like some of my favourite writers: Catherynne M. Valente, Markus Zusak, my friend Nafiza ;). But do people really want to read a whole novel of poetic beauty, where words flow like water? I mean, I do. Those are my favourite kinds of novels. I'm worried about the marketability of such work.

Another concern is that I may overdo the poetic prose, and it'll turn out like Taherah Mafi's Shatter Me. Now, I know a lot of people just absolutely love that book, but seriously, most of those metaphors don't even make sense. At times, you can see potential shining through, but it's mostly bogged down by prose that needs to be cut, reworded, and basically edited within an inch of its life.

So yeah, that's my conundrum. I want to write a novel with lush prose, but I'm scared to do it. (also, I don't really have much of an idea, which I suppose is my biggest problem, haha.)

It's a big step, a giant leap, and it's going to take a lot of self-prodding to do so. But something in my soul is yearning to come out, and one day, I'm going to have to comply.
One of my poems. Click to enlarge.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Books Read in January

It's hard to believe that January is almost over. Where did all the days go?

I've spent the majority of the month reading, editing, and worrying about adult responsibilities. Very tiring. Even though I'm on holidays, I feel like I've never been busier. 

So, here are the first books of the year. 

1. Heart of Steel (The Iron Seas, #2) - Meljean Brooke
2. Mr Fox - Helen Oyeyemi
3. Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2) - Moira Young
4. Fire Spell - Laura Amy Schlitz
5. Please Ignore Vera Dietz - A.S. King
6. The Brides of Rollrock Island - Margo Lanagan *
7. The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
8. Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3) - Patrick Ness
9. Between the Lines - Jodie Picoult & Samantha van Leer
10. My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece - Annabel Pitcher
11. Falling to Ash (Moth, #1) - Karen Mahoney
12. Shadows (Ashes, #2) - Isla J. Bick
13. Feast of Fools (The Morganville Vampires, #4) - Rachel Caine
14. The Farm (The Farm, #1) - Emily McKay
15. Jane Eyre Laid Bare - Charlotte Brontë & Eve Sinclair
Lazing out in the sun with the puppy

And because I'm in love with random statistics and such:

Pages: 5,328
Avg. pages: 355pgs per book

5 stars - 3
4 stars - 2
3 stars - 5
2 stars - 4
1 star -1

Of the above books, only one made it to my all-time favourites list: Margo Lanagan's Brides of Rollrock Island (published as Sea Hearts here in Aus). This was my first novel of hers that I'd read, and holy crap, I regret not picking up her stuff sooner. When I find the time, I plan on picking up Tender Morsels. 

Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz was another book that I really loved--unfortunately it didn't make it onto the fave list, through no fault of its own, it just didn't click in that way. 
Pretty pictures make this book readable.
Another unforgettable book--for all the wrong reasons--was Jane Eyre Laid Bare. Curiosity forced me to pick it up. I love Jane Eyre. It's one of my favourite novels ever. But this... this was a monstrosity. It provided for some lol-sy entertainment, though, so I guess it served its purpose.

Other things that happened in January:
- meeting Neil Gaiman (for the second time in my life)
- getting my first tattoo
but both those two deserve their own posts, so keep an eye out in the next few days. ;)

I hope the first month of 2013 passed without any complications for everyone. And I hope February will be just as awesome as January. <3