Final results – Bout of Books Readathon

Well the challenge is over, and the time has passed. Many pages were read and I suspect a good time was had by all who participated.

During the week of January 6th-12th I finished 1 book and read 5 others for a grand total of 1,3 49 pages.

In order: I finished Stardust by Neil Gaiman                   Monday 6th

One foot in the grave by Jeaniene Frost                             Monday 6th

The Vampire’s assistant by Darren Shan                            Tuesday  7th

Not your Ordinary wolf Girl by Emily Pohl Weary       Thursday 9th

Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan                                          Sunday 12th

At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost                                          Sunday 12th

 

So I hope everyone who participated in the Bout of Books Readathon 9.0 did an awesome job, and here’s to getting life back on track after spending the week reading my eyes sore. ^__^

 

Bout Of Books READATHON 9.0

For those of you who don’t know, I started a youtube channel a while back to review and discuss books. Being a writer, I think it’s just as important to read a lot, as it is to write a lot, so I’ve been really focusing on pushing myself to read a ton these past couple of months and I hope to extend that well into 2014. So here are my plans for the Bout Of Books READATHON 9.0.

It actually started yesterday Monday the 6th, but I only just found out about it twenty minutes ago. That being said I actually finished reading two books yesterday which was crazy unpredictable planning on my part. For those of you unfamiliar with Readathons, the idea is to read as much as possible in a short period of time. This challenge started Monday January 6th, and will continue till the 12th. It’s not too late to sign up, if your feeling like getting your inner reader on, so please check out the Bout of Books website 

This week I would like to read:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman  Monday 6th

One Foot in the Grave by Jeanine Frost  Monday 6th

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairy Land by Catherynne M. Valente

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl by Emily Pohl Weary    Thursday 8th

The Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan     Tuesday 7th

Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan   Sunday 12th

Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan

So those are my goals for this week. Stay tuned for updates on how it’s going. I hope everyone finds plenty of time for reading this week. Cheers!

 

UPDATED January 12th Noon: I’ve just crossed some books off my list. I’ve still got about 12 hours to go, let’s see if I can read another book or two? ^__^ Happy bout of books readathon!

Accomplishments of 2013

For better or worse, the year is over and whether or not we accomplished our goals, or neglected them 9 out of 12 months, this is the moment when we fess up to what we really did in 2013. At various points this year I tried Milwordy (writing 1 Million words in a year- 3 times, reading 40 books in the year, editing some books.)

Here’s what I actually did.

-wrote-

Wrote 223,000 words

Started a really cool YA Fantasy/SciFi series that blows my own mind.

-edited-

Finished the 2nd rewrite of my first book ever (which probably has three more to go but holy fuck it’s starting to look like a real book now.) >_<

Edited, reorganized/started rewriting my third book ever. (conveniently ignores the second book I ever wrote because wow is it terrible. Haha.)

-read-

Read 38 books.

Finally figured out how to effectively use my Goodreads account. >_<

-personal accomplishments-

Got married to my fiance of 7 years.

Found a job I love that leave me lots of time to write and read to my heart’s content.

In going back through my old Milwordy blog, and personal diaries to calculate my word count for the year I came across this thing I wrote on my very first Milwordy blog post back in February.

I want to look back on the year and say “Damn, I accomplished so much more than I thought I ever could.”

Welp, Dear 11ish months ago self, you did. Congrats. Here’s to 2014 and surprising yourself.

Happy Scribbling.

Top 12 books of 2013

So it’s that time of year again. The time for overly ambitious, hastily made goals that will likely be forgotten some time shortly after Valentines day. Rest assured, I will most certainly be joining in on that mad-holiday tradition, but for the next week or so I’d like to take some time to remember 2013. In keeping with that idea, I’d like to share with you my top 12 of the books I read in 2013.

For some context. I read 38 books in 2013 (also I realize I have a week left but honestly, who gets anything done when there’s families and partying refusing to be ignored?!)
Of the 38 books I read:
22 were Young Adult novels
11 were Adult novels (Fantasy/Scifi/Romance genres)
5 Short story anthologies

Of those 38 books, 6 were books I’d read before. For the sake of fairness I’ve excluded books I reread from my top 12 list, since they were good enough to reread and most of them would wind up on my top 50 books of all time (Which I haven’t actually listed, but now I think I’d like to…).

Without further ado,

1 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Set during World War II, this story is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Truly, masterful story telling aside, this has beautiful word play that kept me engaged till the very last page. Of course when I reached the last page I sobbed with the book clutched to my chest for almost two hours. This was an emotionally devastating tale which follows the life of a young girl’s exploration into the world of books, both reading and writing them, while the war rages on and her family hides a Jewish fist fighter in their basement. It’s also narrated by death. Cause it needed another reason to be fucking amazing.

2 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffennigger

Yet another story which made me weep uncontrollably. Clearly I’ve got an issue with abusive books. As a writer, I’ve never come across anything that is written in such a way, and honestly, I don’t think there is another story in existence that could support such a convoluted/broken method of storytelling and convey the character development that takes place in this book. If you haven’t picked this up, or have only seen the not particularly well done film adaptation, this story follows Henry, a time traveler, from the age of about 4 to 50 AND the life of his would be wife, for the entirety of her life. Aside from being a spectacular length of time to follow two characters around, the scenes of this book are out of order (sort of) because of Henry’s ability to time travel. If some people are born with a destiny, Audrey is certainly one of those people because no one else on earth could have told that story with as much grace and tragedy.

3 Looking for Alaska By John Green

Speaking of Tragedies. *sigh* If you’ve ever read a book (or seen the film adaptation) of any of Nicolas Sparks works (ie. The notebook, A walk to remember, Dear John, etc.) then you truly know romantic heartbreak. Nicolas Sparks makes it his mission to write the worlds most singularly beautiful love stories, filled with anguish, and impossible circumstances, only to have the lovers overcome everything in the second to last chapter of each book. The last chapter is where they die or worse forget each other. Feel free to disagree but I think Nicolas Sparks is a douche bag.
That being said, John Green is absolutely phenomenal. He’s also Nicolas Sparks for nerds. That’s right. John Green writes smart, snarky, insightful romances, filled with 3D characters (not just the lovers) and inevitably heartbreak. I cry every time I pick up one of his books, but his power as a writer is, I think, in his ability to make the reader think. To be curious and strive to be awesome, in spite of and because of circumstance. I can’t say enough good things about John Green as a person or a writer. He’s a personal idol of mine and I made it my mission this year to read all of his works, which is why he’s got three of the books on this list. Needless to say, I loved this book.
So instead of telling you what this book is about because I don’t know that I could write an accurate summary without spoiling my favorite bits, I’ll just give you one of my favorite quotes from this book.

“So I walked back into my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

4 Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”

5 An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

This is actually my least favorite of all John Green’s novels, but it has some of my favorite quotes by him in it, so here, enjoy them. 😀

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

“You don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.”

“Colin did not laugh. Instead he thought, Tampons have strings? Why? Of all the major human mysteries – God, the nature of the universe, etc. – he knew the least about tampons. To Colin, tampons were a little bit like grizzly bears: he was aware of their existence, but he’d never seen one in the wild, and didn’t really care to.”
6 Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman And 7 Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman Are both terribly hard to describe aside from saying that they were unpredictable. Both are collections of short stories, some much longer than other, some like poetry, some fantasy, some sci-fi some horror, but mostly very weird. They are the kind of collections that give you an idea of what other people’s nightmare look like. All in all, I’ve picked these up several times over the months since I’ve read them and while all the stories didn’t do it for me, the ones that did are absolutely unforgettable. Which is impressive when discussing short stories.
8 Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

I’m gonna be really honest with you. I picked this up because A) it was free for my kindle, B) I’d heard the name before and thought it was “classic”. This book wins this year’s What-the-hell-did-I-just-read award. This is a story about a man, who wakes up one morning to discover that he’s been changed into a giant freaking spider during the night. Yep. WTF.

9 Howl’s moving castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, and a few years ago they adapted this story into a break taking animated film that I fell in love with. So when the book came up for 1.99 on Kindle, I snatched it right up. The story is similar enough for the characters to be recognizable to me, and emotionally captivating, but the plot is rather different from the film. It also has a unique tone of story telling that is not quite fairytale like, and not quite high fantasy, but some where in between.

10 Crewel by Gennifer Albin
In a world populated with thousands of YA Fantasy series, this was a fresh idea among a host of repeats. This dystopian fantasy follows a girl’s life as she becomes a spinster, literally a woman who spins the fabric of the universe around us. From weather, to crops, to people, spinsters control life and death of everyone in society and as the main character quickly learns, things aren’t always what they seem to be. I originally got this because it was a daily deal on ibooks, but after reading it I immediately ordered hardcovers of the original and the sequel.

11 Dead Girls Dance by Rachel Caine
This is actually the second book in the Morganville vampires series, and while I read the first book this year too, it was this one which hooked me on this 15 book series. I suspect that quite a few more of those books will wind up on my top 12 for next year. My favorite thing about these books is that the main characters aren’t vampires, and everyone involved is very aware that vampires are pretty wicked, and they’ll eat you before they kiss you.
12 Matched by Ally Condie
So I actually read this entire trilogy (Matched, Crossed, Reached) earlier this fall, and it falls into that awkward place where I really enjoyed it, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA Dystopian, but I’m glad I don’t own it and I don’t think I’ll ever reread it. While the characters are multifaceted, and the story is compelling, there just isn’t any fun in this series. I don’t want to spend more time with the characters, even though they are good people, and while I loved the messages and points made in these books, I’m not convinced I missed anything on the first read. For other fans of the genre, I think this lacked the intensity of the Hunger Games, and the imagination and creativity of The Uglies trilogy. Just my two cents. I did really like that the series has three points of view as it goes forward though. Matched is narrated by Cassia, Crossed by Cassia and Ky, and Reached by Cassia, Ky and Xander.) I was impressed that the author was able to narrate with three people over the course of the series and they were each their own conflicted person.
Naturally I can’t follow the rules, not even my own, so here’s an honorable mention to round this list off at 13. ^_^

250 Things you should know about writing by Chuck Wendig

This is the single most helpful book on writing I’ve ever read. And while I still occasionally flirt with other writing books, this is my mistress. Just so we’re clear.
So I think that just about wraps this shindig up. If you’ve read any of these books, and have any fantastic opinions you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. Also, go ahead and link me to your own top books of 2013 if you got one, and I’ll see you guys later this week for those horribly ambitious goals we talked about. >_<

Happy Scribbling.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series review)

The more serious I get about my dreams of being a full time author, the more time I spend reading children’s novels. Doesn’t seem to make any sense?

But wait. It does.

You see, I write urban fantasy and dystopian sci-fi for ages 10 – 25. While this is intentional, I should also mention that my mother who is nearly 60 has no problem reading anything I’m working on and often passes it off to her friends too. That being said, my focus is on influencing children.

So much of who I am and how I deal with the world was impressed upon me between the ages of 10-18 and from YA fiction. Of course that doesn’t stop the looks I get at the library when I walk away with Percy Jackson or Midnight for Charlie Bone. Looks don’t stop me from doing whatever I intend to do though, so I’m happy to report that this morning I finished the fifth and final book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Despite what you may think of reading books whose main character is about twelve, this series rocked! Still that’s not much of a recommendation, so I’m going to give you my (NUMBER REPLACE) list of reasons why you should give this series a try.

1. Mythological Madness! – I don’t about you, but I’ve always been fascinated by mythology of any kind, and so, naturally I’ve spent a lot of time reading about Greek gods and heros. I even studied Latin for three years, which was basically a lot of translating those same stories. But I know what you’re thinking. So, if I’ve read all about this stuff than why did I care about reading it all over again? Well because the author Rick Riordan knows a hell of a lot more about Greek myths than I do. For as many stories or monsters or gods, as I knew, there were that many that I didn’t. And now I have a huge list of these very things to look up and read the original tales.

2. Masterful use of subplots – This is a particular favorite of mine, in books like the Harry Potter series or in Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise man’s Fear. When an author introduces something or someone seemingly meaningless, books ahead of when it will come into use. It shows a great ability to plan and the forethought to create magnificently complicated things. There are a number of times when this genius (or at the very least, incredibly organized sense of planning,) comes into play in this series and I found myself in total shock and joy or anger as these things were resolved in the final book.

3. Delightful characters – This is not to say that all of the characters are good. No. That would make for a terribly boring story. In fact, most of the characters are very bad at following the rules and screw up marvelously. Even the villains surprise and taunt in new and creative ways which never seemed outlandish or unbelievable. Even the most minor characters had distinct personalities, but more importantly, their dialogue styles were dissimilar from other characters.

4. Prophecies – Yet another thing which, when done well, is spectacular in my book. Since we are dealing with the modern day interpretation of Greek myths, it isn’t surprising that there are prophecies in this series. However, these ones are so beautifully crafted that their lines have stayed with me days and days after I finished the books. Of course when prophecies are issued in novels, it is often too easy to discern what will happen in very little time. I’m happy to report that one of the joyful things about reading this series, is that for every prophecy made, there are a dozen possibilities in which it can be applied and every new scrap of information which you receive, along with the heros, leads you to believe that you know exactly what is going to happen. I certainly did. And you know what? Every single time I was wrong. I’ve never been so thoroughly duped in all my reading days. Which leads me to number 5.

5. Seriously unpredictable – More often than I’d like, in both adult and children’s literature, I find my ability to predict what’s going to happen, along with the how and why, far to accurately. I’m rarely confused, or surprised and while I still enjoy what I’m reading, I haven’t felt so completely unsure in a long time.

6. Life or Death – Tying in with the last, it is generally safe to assume that in most cases, no matter how likely, the main character of a novel won’t die. It’s hard to pull off and it generally pisses off your reader so it’s not a good thing to do. That is even more predictable in children’s work, because far too often, children’s books shy away from death. Not the case in this series, not at all. A great many characters die, some of which I cried for, but more importantly. After about midway through the second book, I was almost positive that the narrative would have to be switched midway through the series to a separate character or the main character would have been narrating from a totally different physical perspective, like as a ghost. Now I won’t confirm one way or another how this series ends, since I was surprised, but with the conclusion of each of the four other books I continued to be baffled that the main character was still alive. I never experienced the feeling of certainty which I felt while reading Harry Potter, that Harry would win and make it to then end. Nope, I didn’t believe in you Percy.

Well I had another couple of things on my list that make this series awesome but I think if I haven’t convinced you to read it yet, well, it may not be your cup of tea. At any rate I loved it. If you’ve read it and have any thoughts positive or negative I’d love to hear them. If you haven’t read it. Go. Read.

Reading Children’s lit as an adult, Yay or Nay?

My mantra is beginning to be, “I didn’t plan to write this but here we are…” I apologize. I’ll be back later today with some flash fiction but for the moment I’d like to briefly comment on this gem, why do grown ups read ‘childrens lit’?. Please follow the link to this lovely individuals blog   for some of their thoughts on the subject.

 

I for one love this question, because it is one that I find myself answering all the time.

While I won’t say that I only read children’s lit, I will say that I head right to it’s section in every library or bookstore I visit. Though I do pick up other books in other genres with more adult themes and topics, I personally am more often than not let down by books made for adults. Part of this is because I prefer fantasy and sci-fi genres and not the realistic non fiction my parent’s and their friends go to, but that isn’t all of it.

Often times, the books made for children or teens have more life in them, at least I cry and laugh and shout when reading those books because of the quirkiness of the characters or their outrageous actions or circumstances, and yet I rarely find myself so moved by adult lit.

I firmly believe that any book which can, even for a moment, distract us from the real horrors of the world and our lives is a good thing. More than that though, I love that more often than not children’s lit expresses those same horrors in disguise. It’s Voldemort, not Hitler after all.

The ability of children’s lit authors to take the horrors of the world and make them understandable and real to children, introducing kids to topics and ideas that they won’t see for years in school, is a wonderful thing. No parent is going to give their 10 year old a documentary of how dictators can ruin countries or oppress and torture their people, yet you can hand your child the Hunger Games and do the same thing.

Yes these worlds are fantasy and yes there are things within that cannot mesh with reality, but the fact that children’s stories are able to focus on the worst and best things about human life and add life lessons and morals too, is something you won’t get from a history book. It’s easy to point fingers and say that one side of any argument is right or wrong, but in fiction we find that often the bad guy had good intentions, or a bad childhood, or was simply misguided, but at least we get the opportunity to decide for ourselves.

Too often the news and textbooks paint the facts in one light or another and it takes time to decipher the truth. But in a children’s book, we are given the opportunity to see the whole story and are shown that even the worst people can do good, and even the hero has his faults.

Maybe it isn’t a grown up decision to pick up Percy Jackson and the Olympians instead of the Iliad, but guess what? I’m an adult and I don’t have to act like one. Thanks for teaching me that one Peter… Pan.

 

As written from behind my desk while sipping cream soda and wearing dinosaur footy pajamas… Adult size!

 

Are you an adult who likes to read children’s lit? What are your favorites? Has anyone ever given you hell for it? Let me know in the comments.