Revuesday: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Let’s start off with this: I have no idea how I feel about this book.

I have read it twice now. From the very beginning, I was hooked and by the end I was itching to know what would happen next. That said, I have some questions.

Let’s start at the beginning: Three daughters a born to the queen of a mysterious island. Triplets, one of whom will become the island’s next queen, but only after she kills off both of her sisters.

Each of the young queens are blessed with a gift from the Goddess. Katherine, a poisoner with no tolerance for poisons; Arsinoe, a naturalist who can’t bloom a flower to save her life; and Mirabella, who could probably drown the island with her elemental stormage if she wasn’t so sentimental about everything.

I was intrigued from the moment I read the synopsis. It’s dark, and slightly disturbing, like a YA Game of Thrones, where all the main characters are as badass as Arya Stark. And the politics of the place are just as batshit.

It’s hardly surprising that the ascension is so brutal, given that the former queen is never seen again after dispatching her triplets. Is she shipped off the island? Does she retire to a nice country home? Or is she murdered by the temple? Who knows. She is not important. She has given birth to her triplets and apparently is not fit to rule thenceforth. There are three new queens raise and prepare for the next battle to the death in 16 years time.

In the meantime, with the old queen most likely thrown down the gaping void of the Breccia Domain, who is in charge? The Black Council. Made up of representatives of the foster family, and the gifts, of the old queen. No wonder there have been only poisoner queens for the last century. They kind of have a head start, what with all those poisoners on the council. Surely, at some point they’ll figure out that they don’t need a queen, given that they’re running the place for the 16 years between one queen’s forced abdication and the next murdering her sisters and taking up the thrown.

But that is not the point of this book. The real issue here, is the question of which queen will step up and take the throne. Mirabella seems the likely choice, and has the support of the Temple. Her gifts are the strongest of the three, though there is the slight issue that she is not too keen on the idea of murdering her sisters. Arsinoe’s low magic shenanigans will definitely get someone killed, but no one is under any illusions that she will get anywhere near the throne. And frankly, she doesn’t really want it.

As for sweet little Katherine…well. She’ll probably over dose on practice poisons before she even see’s either of her sisters again.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is I did rather enjoy this book, as long as I just accepted what was happening and didn’t try to question anything. But I think my opinion might change depending on what happens in the next book.

For now, I will give it 4 out of 5 maggots in a bear suit.

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Revuesday: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

There are a lot of mixed reviews of E. Lockhart’s books, particularly We Were Liars. Some people love the twist, others saw it coming a mile off. I’ll admit, I am one of those who didn’t figure out the twist, and I thoroughly enjoyed We Were Liars. Maybe I wasn’t paying too close attention, and perhaps that is why I enjoyed it more than those who saw it coming.

I don’t like to read too many reviews, even after finishing finishing a book, for fear of tainting my own reading experience. Part of the reason is that I’m not convinced that some reviewers just want to feel superior by letting the internet know that they saw the twist coming. Being able to predict where a story is going is not always a negative. When done well, the author can plant the idea in your mind, and then get you to question it several times before the big reveal.

In Genuine Fraud, it’s easy to predict what the big reveal is going to be from the beginning. The story starts at the end, or just before, when the deed is already done. The goal of this story is not to figure out whodunnit, that becomes apparent early on. The questions that need answering are what, when, where, and most importantly, Why?

Though the novel is presented in reverse order, starting at chapter 18 and making it’s way back to chapter 1, Lockhart manages to keep the tension and the mystery throughout. It’s a puzzle that becomes clearer with each piece that is taken away.

With a main character as guarded and adaptive as Jule, the reader only really knows what she wants them to know, the stories she tells about her self, based on who she is at that particular moment. More of her ‘origin story’, and the truth about who Jule is when she is not pretending to be other people, is revealed as the story makes its way back to the start. Only then do you realise that what seemed to be a throwaway line was actually foreshadowing something to be revealed about her past.

This book needs to be read in one sitting. It’s a short read, and a page turner, so it’s not an impossible feat. Having read it over the course of a few days, I found that I sometimes lost track of who Jule was supposed to be and what she had/had not done when I picked the book up again.

I really enjoyed Genuine Fraud. It was well paced and intriguing, and left me trying to analise the ‘Why?’ of it all.

Rating: 4.5/5 of the most unusual rings that you sell.

New Job, Who Dis?

This is weird. I have never had a job that I have actually enjoyed before. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Until a few weeks ago, I was working in a job that made me sad, stressed, and panicky. I had to remind myself on a daily basis that rage-quitting a full time job wasn’t an option when I had no back up.

Then, just before I was about to commit myself to more stress and panic, I was offered a job. Or, as I like to think of it, a life raft out of that place. To be honest, I didn’t care what the job was, I would have taken anything at that point. It just so happens that I was offered a job that I don’t hate, and…maybe actually enjoy?

Now I get to work in a library, surrounded by books instead of angry people. I get to use my brain and creativity in my work, rather than being told to just accept what I’m told and do as instructed. I literally spent my first two weeks making flowers out of card and tissue paper, and I wasΒ paid for it.

So that’s a thing. The job is only part time, and I get soooooo many breaks during my shifts, so I shall be reading/writing more…That’s the plan anyway.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

‘Tis the season to make goals for the coming year. That’s right, it’s the ninth of January. I am deciding on my new years resolutions now, instead of a week ago, because I have finally settled back into the routine that will continue for the rest of the year. It has nothing to do with the fact that I was jet-lagged and just lazy in the last week. Nope, not at all.

In no particular order, here are some things I want to achieve this year:

  • Write more: Duh.
  • Outline 3 drafts: I have 3 stories I have started and not finished. Each of them have sort of evolved from the others, but have since become separate stories. And I’m not sure which one to write first. So I’m going to outline them all and see which one I can’t stop writing and go with that.
  • Finish a first draft by August: A friend of mine is writing a novel, which she plans to have to a publishable standard by August. So I thought I would join in and give myself a deadline.
  • Book reviews?: I am considering writing book reviews on this blog. I’ve been trying to analyse whatever I am reading to see what works/doesn’t in other people’s writing, so why not write a review? If I do it, it will probably be once a month, or something like that. I also have to contend with studying part time, and working full time, and a mildly exhausting work pattern. So we’ll see how that goes.

Resolutions that didn’t make the cut this year:

  • Be more sociable: Ahaha…yeah, no. This one is usually top of the list each year. This year I don’t care about being sociable. What I might try to do is to spend more time with people that I like, rather that spending a lot of time with lots of people, just because I feel like I should.
  • Exercise/eat healthy:Β I currently have about 5kg of chocolate sitting next to me on my desk, while it is cold and rainy outside. I have no regrets.

OK, now that I have made these resolutions public, I am going to go back to bed for the rest of the day and hope that they get done by themselves.

Let me know what your new year writing goals are! How are they going?

  • Dodie πŸ™‚

ο»ΏWeekly Wrap Up From The World of Spor- NaNoWriMo: Week 1

NaNoWriMo is upon us. I was going to do a daily post, and then realised that was a ridiculous idea. Especially seeing as I was behind from day one. So I’ve been logging some stats from each day. So, here is Week One:

Day 2

Words written today: 1742
Total word count: 2900
Cups of tea: 2
Tea spilled on keyboard: 1/3 cup :/
Strange Author Behaviour: Discovering that one of my main characters is athletic, and then going for a run for the first time in months.
Nap: Almost

So the plan to get ahead was a no go. At least I’m not quite as far behind as yesterday.

Day 3

Daily Words: 690
Total Word Count: 3590
Tea: 2
Lightbulbs blown out: 1
Questioning my decision to attempt this: For an hour or so.
Work: Successfully did the work of 3 people at once.

Today was not only a full day at work, but I was also Boss Lady – so a whole bunch more walking and doing of things than a normal day. Not that it was terrible, I got to walk around and talk to my work mates all day too.

What I did not get to do was get any sneaky writing done. In an office where all computers face outward, everyone can see you write. :/

Day 4

Daily Words: 1041
Total Word Count: 4631
Tea: Not nearly enough
What happened at work today: Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

Not sure what today was all about, but it was some sort of nonsense. Any time that I could have gotten some sneaky writing done someone would walk in and tell me plans had changed and I had to move/teach someone how to do something. I really should get in the habit of writing in the mornings before work.

Day 5

Daily Words: 869
Total Word Count: 5500
Tea: I would love one, thank you.
Things exploding in the sky: So many.
Red-eyed robots that wouldn’t turn off: One, looking right at me.

It’s bonfire night, the skies are afire with explosions and sparkles. I keep getting distracted by the reflection of the fireworks off the neighbours car.

In writing news: Before November, I did very little planning. What I did have was a basic premise and a few characters in mind. Since Tuesday, only 2 of those characters have appeared in the story. Until today.

It was strange, like meeting someone I had never met before, but had always known I would meet. When my character’s arrived at a new location, I realised “Oh, this is where you are, mysterious MC the third! (Not his real name). This is why I like pantsing, or discovery writing. I get to enjoy all the surprises of the story as if I were reading it instead of writing.

Day 6

*crickets*

 

The First of NaNoWrimo

Happy NaNoWriMo!!!

I’m not sure I have ever been quite as excited to get up on a Tuesdays morning and get working as I was yesterday. I woke up well before 6am. I would like to say that this was due to my eagerness to get started, but let’s face it, the clocks went back over the weekend, so I’m still on Summer Time.

Either way, I decided that there was no time like the present and got stuck in. I ended up writing about 800 words before I had to start getting ready for work. Not a bad start to the day. Then I had to go to work…

Work was… interesting. It was one of those days when everything is a little bit off.Β Things were breaking, people were acting strange. Come to think, it might have been the after effects of Halloween lingering on. That is not to say it was a terrible day, but it was exhausting. I managed to force out 300 words before giving in to the all consuming coziness of my blankets.

What I have learned from Day 1 is that maybe my Pantsing tendencies are going to bite me in the bum. I am terrible at naming characters, and because I had not planned past about 3 characters before I started, I now have to think of names on the fly. This has resulted in me mashing the names of two different people I know in to one, for which the end result is almost always the name of characters from a book I’ve just read, or of particularly hated politicians. I really need to work on that.

So after day 1 my word count is at 1157. Not a terrible start, but I have to make sure I don’t make a habit of letting work exhaustion get the better of me. I might have to do all my writing early in the morning and let the exhaustion hit me at work.

On to Day 2! I’m using this as a warm up for my typing fingers (it’s getting chilly!), and I have the whole day off. My goal for today is to make up for yesterday’s shortfall and maybe even get a bit ahead.

Happy novelling to all those participating! Let me know how your first days went, and if you have any advice for naming characters! πŸ™‚

Rebel Pants: How to Plan a Novel

 

How do you plan for NaNoWriMo? Don’t.

In the lead up to NaNoWriMo, there are a whole bunch of blog posts and youtube videos floating around with advice on how to prepare for November. From outlining to character development, everyone has their own method.

My method to planning for November is to do as little outlining as possible. I find that planning out the story before it’s written takes the fun out of writing it in the first place. When I actually get around to writing, I struggle to get the story to fit the structure I have laid out for it. And then I get bored, because I know what’s going to happen.

That’s not to say I don’t prepare at all. Last year, when I won NaNo for the first time, I came up with at least two characters and a vague premise in the last week of October. I guess this is what one in the know might refer to as a ‘Plantser’ – somewhere between planning and flying by the seat of my pants-ing.

This year, I already have three characters plus a borrowed and modified premise from last years story. I mean, technically, this will be the second draft of the incoherent mess that was last year’s win, so I’m being a bit of a Rebel. A Rebel Plantser…

Anyway, the point of this is to say that, while I’m not outlining, I am preparing my story in a vague sort of way. Along with my three characters and vague premise, I also have a setting. I’ve decided to set it, at least in part, in my home city of Perth, WA.Β I have even started a Pinterest board forΒ the story, because I left Perth a few years ago and I wanted pictures close to hand.

The only problem is that Pinterest’s version of Perth is very different from my experience of it. Yes, there are nice beaches and the view of the city from the south side of the river is…ok, I guess. But all of these pictures are selling a grand image of Perth, looking in from the outside. They don’t show the close up detail I’m used to; the wide suburban streets, the way the city would empty of people as soon as the shops closed at 6pm.

Part of the reason I chose Perth as my setting was because I never really found a representation of it in books that I could connect to, outside of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. This might be dueΒ with the sorts of books I choose to read, or maybe it is just as uninspiring a place as I thought it was when I lived their.

Either way, I am going to attempt to turn Perth into the magical fantasy land I always imagined the rest of the world to be.