Tuesday Revuesday: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay should come with a warning. Something along the lines of “This book will break your heart. You’ll want to read it anyway”.

I started this book on a Monday morning. It was my day off, and there were a lot of things I should have been doing.

By 6pm, I had finished it.

I have no regrets.

We Are Okay follows Marin, who has just moved to the opposite side of the country to start college, mere weeks after her grandfather – the only family she has ever had – dies. Marin is alone in her dorm over the Christmas break, awaiting the arrival of her best friend, Mabel, whom she hasn’t spoken to since it happened.

There is so much in this book. LaCour takes on grief and first loves. She beautifully details the struggles of growing up and learning who you are; the ache of loss and the heartbreak of learning that you can never really know someone, even after living with them your whole life.

I want to say more, but my words could not accurately describe the feeling that this book gave me. So I will say this: Take a day and read this book. Find a quiet Sunday, when the air is crisp and cold. Make a cup of tea, cocoon yourself in blankets. Sit in the quiet stillness, and read this book. You will be glad you did.

Oh, and don’t forget the tissues.

Rating: 5/5 Hearts, broken but on the mend.


NaNoWriMo: Pantsing with a Plan

It’s October! Which means it’s NaNoPrepMo! Or, if you are anything like me, it’s Nanoprep couple of days.

I am a self proclaimed pantser. Not just in writing, I will happily pants my way through life. *cue opening chords of ‘Dancing Through Life’*

While I enjoy the freedom of being unrestrained by, you know, having any idea of what I am doing, this year will be different. I have a plan. Or, at least, I have a plan to make a plan.

My pantsing tendencies are all well and good during the insanity of November, but once the timer is up on the 30th, I am a bit at a loss of where to go next. Not this year.

This year I have a plan. Yes, I will be pantsing my way through. But after reading this article, I at least have some idea of where my pantsing will lead.

I will be attempting the zero draft or ‘blocking’ draft. It will be nothing more than a witness statement of who did what and when. Not pretty language, but at least there will be a plot.

Hopefully, this will be something between an outline and a first draft. Which satisfies my pantsing need for freedom while giving me some sort of direction.

I was considering not going ahead with Nano this year. I know, how could I even consider such a thing? Well, because I usually do nothing with the end result. I never make it to the editing stage. While november gets me writing, it comes nowhere close to finishing a project. And I would like to finish something properly.
So my plan is to write during November. I might track my progress. I will probably keep an eye on the Nanocommunity. But my goal is not 50k words. And it wont start in November. Hopefully it won’t even end there.

What are your NaNo plans? Any other pantsers intending to plan this year? I think we may need to start a support group.

Revuesday: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

When I started reading Three Dark Crowns, I was 90% it was going to be a duology. That is as much of a commitment to a new book series that I can manage right now. Let’s face it, unless it’s Harry Potter, I am unlikely to make it past the 3rd book. There are just too many other books in the world.

So, though I was not entirely convinced by Three Dark Crowns, I happily picked up One Dark Throne, thinking that I could at least find some closure and that would be that.

I pushed through to the end, only to find that “The queens of Fennbirn will return.”

I guess that makes sense, given the way this one ended. The issue is, I don’t really want to read another book in this series.

I enjoyed the first book, mostly on the assumption that the second would offer a deeper understanding of the characters and their culture. But I just don’t really care about the characters anymore.

At first, I thought I would be cheering for Katherine, she changed so much since she was thrown into the Breccia Domain. The struggle between her own desires and that of the fallen queens could have made a fascinating character. Except that by the time we learn that it’s the ghost of dead queens past that have provided her new found strength, there has only been the barest of hints that the old Katherine is still there. I expect that the struggle will continue into the next few books, but at this point, I don’t think her redemption would be believable when there is so little groundwork laid in this one.

As for Arsinoe and Mirabella, I’m glad they finally joined forces but I think they had it a bit too easy at the end. Or maybe I just didn’t care about their struggles by that point. I skimmed through the last few chapters as painlessly as their ship skimmed through the apparently impenetrable fog.

At the end of all this, I am still frustrated by this book. I am hooked by the premise. I need to know what Katherine’s gift is, if she has any, and why Arsinoe was kept from the poisoners. Yet, as I was reading this book, my TBR pile threatened to topple over with books I’m sure I will actually enjoy, rather than forcing myself to read so that I can ease the itch of those loose threads deep in some crevasse that I can’t reach.

I’m going to give this one 2.5/5 freshly tattooed crown scabs.



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.

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 was 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: 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 🙂