March reading round-up

  • # of books read: 14
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • ebooks read: 3
  • books from the Throne of Glass series: 2
  • graphic novels: 3
  • total page count: 3,998
  • year total page count: 12,251

Well, I still haven’t beat that crazy reading streak I had in January.  It does seem that I’m reading roughly 4,000 pages a month, though, and I can attest that several of the books this month were really long (including one that will end up being in next month’s round-up).

Only 3 audiobooks this month.  The first was the YA novel Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace, which I enjoyed despite its unevenness.  The other two audiobooks were both similar in genre and tone: Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me.  Both dealt with mothers and the hidden lives of their teenagers.  Both were also interesting character studies as not much by way of action happened, but kept me hooked until the end.

Darkly amusing #bookstagram #thedinner #hermankoch #justfinished

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The Dinner was recommended to me by a friend, and it was both short and disturbing.  I enjoy disturbing.  This was the kind of real-world disturbing, a scenario showing how thin the masks of polite society are, and how easily people descend into violent depths.

One of my favorite reads this month was Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs.  This series continues to keep me hooked on the complicated political world of supernatural creatures.  Of course, Mercy Thompson is one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever read, and this installment revolves around that reputation.  I finished off another series just today, the Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle.  The final book, Dust to Dust, wrapped everything up nicely.  If you enjoy those ghost hunter shows, this series is for you.

I started watching “The Man in the High Castle” last month, and binge-watched both seasons.  The book doesn’t develop the characters quite so much as the show does, and is more about the randomness of possibility and choice rather than the concept of parallel universes, but it was a thought-provoking read. (I’ll have to include Girls on Fire in next month’s round-up, since I’m still only halfway through).

On the graphic novel front, I only read 3 and they were from the same series: Harrow County.  I had read volume 1 last spring and only now discovered that a.) there were 4 volumes out already and b.) my library consortium had them all!  These are kind of horror, but also strangely wholesome?  The main character Emmy is a witch, but she wants to use her powers to help people.  She also has a familiar in the shape of a boy’s skin that speaks to her, and an evil twin, and there are lots of “haints” around who are more than ready to do evil stuff.  (See what I mean about wholesome/horror?)

Two more books in the Throne of Glass series read this month: The Assassin’s Blade, a prequel which contains 5 novellas, and Heir of Fire, book 3.  It seems like each book in this series gets longer and longer… and Heir of Fire in particular felt long, more like a setup for a grand finale.  However, it’s still really good!  Only 2 books left to go…

Finally, I got around to reading Caraval, which I received via Owl Crate.  I was pretty psyched about this month’s theme, which was circus.  I was half-expecting to receive the book Freeks, which would have better fit the theme, but Caraval had its own charm.  It’s a fun read if you don’t take it too seriously.  It’s also a beautiful book, and receiving it through the mail with lots of luxurious little goodies fit the theme of the book.  I can’t wait for next month’s box!

I may decide to include a Wattpad reading round-up at some point in the future – but probably not next month, since I’ll be busy participating in Camp Nanowrimo and hopefully cranking out the third and final Wolf Point prequel!

What have you read this month that you enjoyed?

New YA Horror Roundup just in time for Halloween

Note: I received advanced copies of all titles from Netgalley except Sanctum.  All of these titles have been released except Creed, which comes out November 8, 2014.

I was quite pleased to discover so many YA horror titles coming out over the summer and fall!  YA horror is my favorite genre, but in recent years it’s been dominated by paranormal romance which is totally NOT THE SAME THING.  (Not that I don’t enjoy it, but I like a good horror story minus any romance elements whatsover).

If you’re looking for a book that reads like your favorite horror movie, take your pick!  Welcome to the Dark House follows seven strangers sent to live in a house owned by their favorite horror movie director.  There’s a nightmare carnival and everyone has a dark past…  Amity by Micol Ostow is eerily similar to the “Amityville Horror” movies, while Creed by Trisha Leaver is more like “Children of the Corn.”  If you’re more into movies like “The Ring,” try The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco.  Did you enjoy “Urban Legend”?  Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan will make you think twice about chanting Bloody Mary into the mirror.

All of the above books were a lot of fun to read.  My favorite would have to be The Girl from the Well.  “The Ring” is the one movie I can’t watch before I go to bed!  I learned about the origins of this Japanese ghost, and I loved how Okiku was kind of a ghost-Dexter.  The narration of a story by a ghost was very cool.

If historical horror is your thing, there’s Of Monsters and Men by Jessica Verday.  This was like a Poe / Jekyll & Hyde / Dr. Moreau mash-up, all those gothic horror novels pulled together in a cool way.

Finally, Sanctum is the second book in the Asylum series.  The photographs add that certain creep factor (even though you know they’re not real photos, like in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).  Also, it’s like horror writers know me or something, because this also had a creepy carnival/circus (I don’t have to tell you how excited I am for American Horror Story: Freak Show!).

All of these books were fast, enjoyable reads for the Halloween season!

Camp Nano & other progress

After a bit of a rough couple of weeks, I am finally back on track to complete 20,000 words by the end of the month.  I had figured 20K would be so easy, not even half of a regular Nanowrimo, but surprisingly it hasn’t been the free ride I was expecting.  A bit part of this was my decision to write a historical fiction… I finally found some in-depth sources regarding the Beast of Gevaudan, which has been both helpful and difficult (to match my story up with the true events).  I will get there!

I’m hoping to be able to get ahead on this and start editing Dreamwalkers soon… and then possibly do the Camp Nanowrimo in June to finish the first draft of Scavengers!

Last week I was able to do 4 straddle ups on the silks!!  So another thing crossed off my list!  I feel like the hardest goal will be my Goodreads list.  I’m at 158 to-read now.  How did that happen?

goals progress:

  • to finish and publish Dreamwalkers
  • to finalize the print edition of Hitchhikers and offer a giveaway or two
  • (if goal #1 happens) to finish and publish Scavengers
  • and to possibly finish some of my other works-in-progress, including Blood Countess and another new WIP that I haven’t even added to the site yet!
  • be able to do a handstand away from the wall and hold for 10 seconds (I am close to being able to hold it next to the wall, the next step is to move away!)
  • be able to do more than 3 straddle ups in a row (in aerial silks)
  • practice yoga more often
  • read down my Goodreads to-read list (currently I have 148 books “to-read” which is kind of ridiculous)
  • sew more of my own clothes

goals & progress

A quarterly update on my progress:

  • to finish and publish Dreamwalkers
  • to finalize the print edition of Hitchhikers and offer a giveaway or two
  • (if goal #1 happens) to finish and publish Scavengers
  • and to possibly finish some of my other works-in-progress, including Blood Countess and another new WIP that I haven’t even added to the site yet!
  • be able to do a handstand away from the wall and hold for 10 seconds (I am close to being able to hold it next to the wall, the next step is to move away!)
  • be able to do more than 3 straddle ups in a row (in aerial silks)
  • practice yoga more often
  • read down my Goodreads to-read list (currently I have 148 books “to-read” which is kind of ridiculous)
  • sew more of my own clothes

I got the print edition of Hitchhikers all squared away and did a Goodreads giveaway that ended March 11th.  Goal met!  I will likely be offering another giveaway for Hitchhikers once I’ve completed Dreamwalkers and get the ebook edition up.

I have actually been practicing yoga more often, usually only once a week (although I do incorporate a lot of yoga stretches into my stretching routine).

So far, I’ve got a peasant blouse nearly completed (will post pics at some point) and I have the materials to make a knockoff of Lululemon’s vinyasa scarf (apparently now discontinued).  Also I’m very nearly finished with a sweater I’ve been working on since early autumn, just in time for the weather to turn warm.  Not really sewing, but DIY clothing related.

Progress on my other goals…

  • Dreamwalkers is up over 52,000 words! It probably will not be finished by my self-imposed deadline of April 1 (ha ha!) but the end is near.
  • Have done some inspiration work on my WIP that is still doesn’t have its own spot on my WIP list – check out this Pinterest board I made!
  • Still can only do 2 straddle ups in a row, but I’ve been able to do some with straight arms which is extremely difficult, so I am getting there!
  • Started the year with 148 books on my to-read list, now at 155, but I have actually read several books that were on there!

finally – the halloween costume post!

Inspiration: steampunk circus inspired by The Night Circus.  I based my look off of this Simplicity pattern:

Rather than buying the yards and yards of fabric that would be needed make the overcoat, and then having to actually SEW an overcoat, I decided to use what I had on hand:

original coat

This was my winter coat from several years ago, and I decided to cut it up since it was too big, didn’t really have any shaping to it, and was sort of pill-y and covered in lint, etc., and having three or four other winter coats in my closet… You can see the cutting lines I drew.

photo (2)

Cut off the collar and shaped the bottom hem line… Then I needed the ruffle!  I had just the thing: a butt-ugly sheer shirt (part of a dance costume for Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” but I won’t say anything more about that!) I was more than happy to cut up.

photo (1) photo (4)

I had to make some major alterations to the jacket that had me wondering if altering was easier than sewing an entire new jacket, mostly because it all involved hand sewing, which I hate!  I added three panels into the “skirt” of the jacket to make it flare out, and also a false lacing up the back.  I also had to make the jacket double-breasted inside of single, which meant learning how to sew buttonholes.  That was much easier than I thought it would be.  ALL OF MY FUTURE PROJECTS WILL NOW HAVE BUTTONS!

I also had some red and white striped fabric for the corset, and some velvet I had used to make a jacket years earlier (which is how I knew I did not want to make another jacket…).  Made some little lace gloves out of some scraps I had, found a little top hat at Savers that I added some tulle and a fabric rose to, and voila!

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I opted for leggings and boots rather than making a full skirt, just for ease of wearing and because I kinda ran out of time toward the end of October.  I’m not sure how many people “got” what I was for Halloween, but I did receive lots of compliments on my costume.  And on Janina’s Snow White costume:

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what i’ve been up to

Since the end of Camp Nanowrimo – or, let’s face it, midway through Camp Nanowrimo – I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing.  I did get a good 28,000+ words written on Scavengers, but I got sidetracked when I realized that my map for Scavengers was way off from my map for Hitchhikers.  This led to me discovering an awesome new way to create a fictional map on top of a real map.  Google Maps actually allows you to insert “pins” and write little notes about various points on the map.  So instead of finishing Scavengers, I ended up combing through Hitchhikers and Scavengers and mapping them out.

Two other big things have been eating up my time (three if you count Candy Crush Saga…): my handbalancing class and my Halloween costume.

My friend Lisa has been taking handbalancing at Esh Aerial Arts for about 6-8 months now and since I’ve always wanted to be able to hold a handstand for more than 2 seconds, and since I’ve set flying trapeze aside for the time being, I signed up for a 7-week session.  Turns out a solid handstand is going to be a long journey for me.  Lisa is getting to the point where she can almost hit it, but I can barely kick up sometimes.  I’ve also started developing some shoulder discomfort, so I think I’ll be alternating sessions of handbalancing with a second silks class.

My Halloween costume this year is inspired by The Night Circus – so steampunk, black & white, circus-y, with a pop of red.  I love this Simplicity pattern on the right, but I have tried to make a jacket for myself and it’s a huge pain in the ass.  So I dug in my closet and found a long black wool coat that I’m going to rip apart and refashion to look like this.  Plus it will actually be warm should we get another Halloween blizzard.  I have patterns for corsets and skirts so those shouldn’t be a problem, and I found a tutorial to make the mini top hat.

So, this is what I’ve been doing instead of writing.  Now that the fall weather is creeping back in, I’m looking forward to actually getting more writing done.

in other news…

In self-publishing news…

My very first novel, Bethany Caleb, is now available!  So is The Art Kids!  It’s ridiculously easy to publish a book on Kindle.  Too easy.  Have I made a mistake?  Are there typos?  Probably…  It’s a scary thing to send your creations out there.  While in the privacy of my own home I love them and feel so confident, then I hit the “publish” button and I get worried.

Both books will be free on June 1st… I’m working on the actual print editions via Createspace which is a bit longer of a process, but I will run another free promotion once I have print copies in hand!

In writing news…

I started a new story about the aftermath of a nuclear war, and as I was describing the plot to my brother he informed me that it sounded exactly like the video game Fallout

Also, I finally got over the hump in Dreamwalkers where Daniel’s story ends and intersects back with Kayla’s story… now maybe I can make some headway with it.

In reading news…

photoI was about halfway through Joe Hill’s new book, NOS4A2, when I saw that he was going to be here in Nashua for a book signing!  I was psyched to get to meet him, since the last time he toured around my area, I was on vacation in Jamaica (don’t worry, I sent my parents down to the Toadstool Bookshop with my copy of Heart-Shaped Box and a gift certificate to buy Horns and had them get both signed!).  He was fun to listen to and I read about a quarter more of the book while waiting in line… NOS4A2 is really good and I highly recommend it!  I think every book I’m in the middle of right now is approximately 800 pages long (the Anita Shreve book just FEELS 800 pages long) so I feel a little like I’ve been in a reading slump of late, but I haven’t really.  I’m just in the middle of four 800-page novels…

In circus news…

I caught my new trick in flying trapeze last week – it’s called a full twisting straight jump.  It’s pretty hard, and I’ve been working on it for, oh, a few months now.  Finally I was ready to try catching it, and got it on my second attempt!  No video yet, but I’ll be throwing this trick in the show on June 8th, so perhaps then…

In aerial silks, I’ve been working on putting together a routine to Bjork’s “Hyperballad.”  You can see a video or two on my Youtube page.  Last class I was also able to do several meathooks in a controlled way… If you don’t know what a meathook is, Google it – the pictures are mostly on trapeze because it’s not commonly done on silks.  But it is definitely a power move and I feel pretty badass that I can do it!