Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Books I've Read: Liberty

I kind of liked this one despite it being completely unrealistic and actually quite silly in many ways.  Paige is an awesome, kick-ass heroine who has skills and an attitude any girl can admire.  I mean, any girl who can take down a gang of Russian thugs singlehandedly is cool in my book!

Paige is a college freshman.  Her parents are journalists who have vanished in the Middle East after following a suspicious lead.  Paige will do just about anything to get them back, or just to discover if they are alive or dead.

So when she's recruited for a top-secret government agency with the promise her parents are alive and that they will do what they can to get her back if she comes to work with them, what choice does Paige have?

Before long, Paige is whisked off to Russia, masquerading as an exchange student while she tries to find America's most wanted man, a cyber-criminal who exposed some of America's most unconstitutional secrets.  And he's kind of cute too...

As I mentioned before, pretty much everything in this book defies belief.  But id does so with such good humour and snark, I enjoyed it anyway.  Paige is a fantastic character with her martial arts skill, knowledge of multiple languages and sarcastic wit.  She's smart too, but still makes stupid mistakes, just like most teenagers do.  Unfortunately her mistakes have far bigger consequences than most.

This is a fast-paced, breezy read and just plain old good fun.  I reccommend it, but be prepared to supend your disbelief a lot further than you usually do.

But don't just believe me.  Here's the blurb:

What is a hero? Paige Nolan knows.

Sean Raynes, the young man who exposed America’s unconstitutional spying techniques, is a hero, even if half the dum-dums in the country think he’s a traitor. And her journalist parents, who were captured by terrorists while telling stories of the endangered and oppressed—they were heroes, too. Or are—no one has ever told Paige if they’re still alive, or dead.

Not heroes? Anyone in the government who abandoned her parents, letting them rot somewhere halfway across the world.

And certainly not Paige herself, who, despite her fluency in five languages and mastery of several obscure martial arts (thanks, Mom!), could do nothing to save them.

Couldn’t, that is, until she’s approached by Madden Carter, an undercover operative who gives her a mission: fly to Russia, find Raynes, and discover what other government secrets he’s stockpiled. In exchange, he’ll reopen the case on her missing parents.

She’s given a code name and a cover as a foreign exchange student.

Who is a hero? Not Paige Nolan, but maybe, just maybe, Liberty is.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Weekly Goals 16-10-17

I'm sorry I missed my Celebrate post on Friday.  I completely forgot to set one up before I went on holiday and I didn't have my computer with me.

We had a very pleasant 3 days in Taranaki.  The weather was (mostly) kind and we enjoyed walking on the mountain and in Pukakura Park and especially the Len Lye Center.

But back to reality today.  The kids go back to school after two weeks' vacation and I have to go back to work.  Luckily this weekend is a long weekend...

My goal this week is to get a few things in place for STUMPED's release and figure out a few more things about my NaNo project so I can get writing on November 1.  I know a lot about my MC, but some of the other characters aren't quite so clear to me yet, so I need to work on that.

What are your goals this week?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Books I've Loved: Little and Lion

I loved Brandy Colbert's debut, Pointe, so I've been anticipating Little and Lion since I first heard about it.

And while it wasn't as stunning as Pointe, it's definitely well worth reading.

Suzette has been at boarding school for a year and now she's home for the summer.  She was sent away because her mother and step-father were struggling to deal with her step-brother, Lionel's bipolar diagnosis.  Lionel is stable now, on meds, and Suzette, who he calls Little,  is eager for them to get back to the close relationship they had always enjoyed.

She's also keen to reconnect with her old friends, especially Emil who she has long had a crush on.

But nothing is ever simple.  While at school, Suzette had an intense relationship with her roommate, Iris, and is now questioning her sexuality.  She is still attracted to Emil, but there's also Rafaela, a girl she meets at one of her bestie's party and is instantly drawn to.

Lion is also drawn to Rafaela, and Little won't do anything to hurt her brother.  Especially when he admits he's off his meds and begs her not to tell their parents.

This book deals with a lot of different issues, but handles them all well.  There's mental illness, bi-sexuality, bi-racial families and more.  But it never felt heavy handed.  Little is an engaging protagonist and even if I believe that keeping Lion's secret was a good idea, I understand her reasons for doing it.  Oh, boy did I understand!

So I recommend this one.  

But don't just listen to me, here's the blurb:

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Weekly Goals 8-10-17

I finished my revision last night, so that is now off my plate for now.  I'm sure there will be other things that need doing to it when I look at it again, but for now, I'm ready to let it sit.

So for the rest of the month, I'm all about getting ready for STUMPED's release in November, and preparing for NaNo.

And going on holiday at the end of the week.  We're going away for 4 days and I'm ridiculously excited about it despite not really having enough money to go away, and far too much work to do to be away.  But somehow that is always the problem, so we never go away, and I hit the end of the year feeling 100% wrecked.

So we're going anyway.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 6-10-17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?

It's Friday!

After having been away for work all of last weekend, I've essentially been working 12 days straight and I'm more than ready for a weekend.  And even better, I'm going away on holiday toward the end of next week.  It's only four days, but it's very much needed.

I have almost finished my edits.  I have less than 100 pages to go and I've managed to trim several thousand words and tighten things up considerably.  I hope to finish over the weekend so I can then focus on setting up some publicity stuff around STUMPED.

And think a little bit about my NaNo project.

I have an idea about characters and a basic theme, not actual plot yet.  But that's okay.  That's pretty much how I start every book.  The characters show me the story as we go.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Books I've Read: The Careful Undressing of Love

Magic realism is difficult to do well. And even when it is done well, I often struggle with it.  And while this book is as gorgeously written as all Corey Ann Haydu's stories, it didn't quite work for me. And I'm still struggling to figure out why I felt so unsatisfied.

The setting is Brooklyn in some slightly dystopian future that doesn't feel very dystopian or very far into the future.  A Bombing killed masses of people in Times Square seven years ago and the city has not forgotten, partially because no one ever stepped forward to take the blame, so there is constant fear another one will happen at any time.

The residents of Devonairre Street feel the after-effects of the Bombing in that several of the women lost husbands, their children fathers.  But even before that event, the women of Devonairre Street have been cursed.

Or at least, that's what the street's matriarch has them believe.  Angelika rules Devonairre Street with her superstitions and counter-curses.  Everyone loves her and follows her rules, even those who don't really believe.

But then a boyfriend dies, and suddenly the curse starts to feel more real.  Perhaps the girls of Devonairre Street really are cursed and any man they fall in love with will die.  Perhaps it's better not to get close to people.

I really wanted to love this book.  The cover is gorgeous and Cory Ann Haydu has long been a favorite author of mine.  But this didn't satisfy me.  The narrator, Lorna, wasn't that interesting as a character.  She vacillated between belief and non-belief, never really comitting to either.  She toyed with boys and with the street's traditions the same way, playing with them as long as she wanted then discarding them for something else.

And the ending really didn't do it for me.  I just didn't believe the characters would behave that way.  I wanted to know more about Angelika and her history, how she became the ruler of the street and why everyone on it followed her kooky rules.  I wanted to see what happened to people who moved away from the street, because inevitably, people move.

Maybe magic realism isn't my genre and I just didn't quite understand this book.  But I think I did.  And it just didn't fulfil the potential it has for greatness.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Everyone who really knows Brooklyn knows Devonairre Street girls are different. They’re the ones you shouldn’t fall in love with. The ones with the curse. The ones who can get you killed.

Lorna Ryder is a Devonairre Street girl, and for years, paying lip service to the curse has been the small price of living in a neighborhood full of memories of her father, one of the thousands killed five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. Then her best friend’s boyfriend is killed, and suddenly a city paralyzed by dread of another terrorist attack is obsessed with Devonairre Street and the price of falling in love.

Set in an America where recent history has followed a different path.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Weekly Goals 2-10-17

Can you believe it's October already?  I just wrote the date up there and went woah!  Hang on a second...  But it's true.  It is October already.

So, goals this week.

I'd like to finish the edits on SHOOK I was working on before I got the contract for STUMPED and had to address those edit notes.  I want to get those finished before the end of the month because I really want to do NaNo.  I'm probably insane to want that given I have a book releasing in November too, but it has been so long since I dove into a new project, and I really want to write something new.

I figure those edits will take me another couple of weeks, then I can spend the rest of November setting things up for STUMPED's release and thinking about the NaNo book.  Then come November, I can focus on writing in the knowledge that all my promo stuff is already lined up.

The kids are on vacation the next two weeks, and we're going away at the end of next week, so I will have to try and get these edits completed before we go.

What are your goals this week?