And I’m Back!

I didn’t have much to talk about yesterday, hence no post. 

I’m really struggling with writing this month, and I’m not sure why.  I love NaNo and everything, but I can’t seem to put forth some energy to write.  If I do write, it’s because I don’t want to get further behind.  I’m thinking about really downgrading my goals, and focus on one novel, or do both, but do 25k for each.  I think that’ll be my plan if I can’t muster up enough energy to do 2 50k novels. 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I am at 6,671 for the mistaken identity one, and 10,151 for the mermaid novel.  My total wordcount is 16,822, so combined, I’m doing okay (and even ahead of schedule) but still not where I’d like to be. 

It’s okay, though, since I’m sure I’ll get it all sorted out, and I’ll be writing away in no time.

Whistling In The Dark

Book: Whistling In The Dark: A Novel by Lesley Kagen

Pages: 320 (Paperback)

A Review: Whistling In The Dark is about Troo and Sally O’Malley, and their summer in Milwaukee in 1959.  Their mother is in the hospital, and are left in the care of their older sister Nell and their stepfather Hall.  The 2 girls, 9 year-old Troo and 10 year-old Sally, are left to their own devices as their sister cares more about her boyfriend and their stepfather turns to drinking.  While all of this is going on a murderer/child molester is on the loose.

It was just okay for me.  I found that Troo and Sally were very unbelievable as kids who are 9 and 10 respectively.  For most of the book, I completely forgot how old they really were.  They acted far older than the ages mentioned in the book- I kept thinking Sally was in her teens as opposed to being 10.  As for the other characters…well, the entire book for that matter…I found it all too unbelievable.  On one street, in 1959, you have a molester/murderer, a gay priest, teenage pregnancy, and 2 neglected children?  It is possible, but I don’t know…it’s like Kagen just threw all these random people onto one street.  The kids just didn’t seem like kids.  They seemed more like adults in kids bodies.  It was hard to believe that all of the secrets and events happened on one street in the span of 3 months or so.

And how did no one notice 2 girls who were running wild on the streets?  The way Sally narrated it, Troo and herself were rarely at home, even at night.  They seemed to stay with neighbors more often than not.  And 2 girls, who are 9 and 10 visited their mother once or twice in the 3 months or so their mom was in the hospital.  At the end of it, I wondered what the whole point of the novel was.  It moved too slow, and had too many characters and issues crammed into one book.

Another issue I had was all of the characters she introduced.  I’ll be honest, the murderer on the loose isn’t who I thought it was, and I didn’t see it coming.  So in that sense, it really was a mystery.  But it was hard to keep up with the characters, who weren’t really developed, except on a very superficial level.  I couldn’t relate to the other characters, and the number of times their race/ethnicity came up was annoying.

And the ending!  Everything wrapped up a little too nicely for my tastes.  It started to pick up a little at the end, but at that point, it was too late.  I just didn’t care what happened to the characters in the end.

Rating: The only reason why I am giving this book a 2 out of 5 is because a few of the characters could have been interesting had there been less of them.  And some of the issues that popped up could have been interesting and had more of an impact if there hadn’t been so many of them.

Guenevere, Queen Of The Summer Country

Book: Guenevere, Queen Of The Summer Country by Rosalind Miles

Pages: 544 (Paperback)

Review: Guenevere, Queen Of The Summer Country is about Queen Guenevere.  She’s the last of a long line of queens who ruled the Summer Country, but when her mother dies, the only way to claim her mother’s throne is to marry King Arthur.

The only book about Arthurian legend was The Mists Of Avalon, which is one of my favorite books of all-time.  I was expecting something very similar to The Mists Of Avalon, so I suppose I was disappointed when this book didn’t live up to what I thought it would be.

I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I thought I would- in fact, I didn’t like it all.  While I like the fact that the book focused on Guenevere, I found her to be such an unsympathetic character.  It was clear that we were supposed to like her, and that she was this amazing, perfect woman, when, in fact, I thought her to be moody, naive, petty, and at times, desperate.

The characters were so different from what I expected.  Merlin was this crazy, sex-obsessed man, and I couldn’t figure out if he was a Druid or a Christian.  Arthur was weak, somewhat easy to manipulate, and had trouble making a decision without Merlin.  The way she painted some of the characters…they’re so very different from the actual legends.

The characters fell flat, and were pretty stereotypical/one-dimensional, and the storyline was fairly typical.  That being said, there wasn’t anything to really hold my interest.  Seriously, the most memorable parts of the book were the sex scenes, which made the book a little more smutty than I expected.  It’s classified as historical fiction, but nothing really felt historical- it seemed more like a really boring romance than anything remotely historical.  The pacing was awfully slow and I was really bored reading it.

Rating: 1 out of 5.  I just didn’t like it, and I’m not at all interested in reading the other 2 books in the trilogy.

Becoming Jane Austen

Book: Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence

Pages: 294 (Paperback)

My Review: Becoming Jane Austen is a biography of Jane Austen and the people, events, and places that influenced her life and her novels.

We started off with a detailed family history, and it was really hard to keep track of everyone because the same few names appeared rather frequently. 

As much as I love Jane Austen, I couldn’t get into the book.  While Jane’s family had a big influence on her writing, I felt like they were more prominent than Jane herself.  The book itself was really dry, and I had a lot of trouble getting through it.  Sadly, I don’t remember much of anything from the book, mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to care.

There was a lot more speculation than I thought.  We don’t know a lot about Jane Austen, so I’m okay with some speculation.  The problem is that he presents it as facts, and tells us how Jane felt, when really…how can we know what she was feeling?  And the cover was misleading- on the front cover, it says (and I quote), “the true love story that inspired the classic novels.”  The back cover mentions that Tom Lefroy, a young lawyer that Jane met, “affected her life and caught her imagination.”  It’s misleading in the fact that he’s only mentioned a few times.  And the whole “we don’t really know for sure, but her sister Cassandra would have known” thing…well, why bother making it seem like her meeting Tom Lefroy is a big deal, when it really wasn’t?

I might be somewhat accepting of the fact that Tom Lefroy may have inspired Pride and Prejudice, but I just couldn’t believe that 20 years later, she was still pining for him and that meeting him had an influence on both Persuasion and Emma.  For all the influence he supposedly had on her life, it would have been nice to learn more about him and what happened to him. 

Another thing that I didn’t like was the ending.  For a book that started back in the 1600’s, it would have been nice to see what happened with her posthumously published novels.  The book literally ends with Jane’s death, and a few more pages about how her death impacted her family. 

Rating: I have to give a 1 out of 5.  I couldn’t like it, and while I’m curious about Jane Austen and her life, this book did nothing to satisfy that curiosity.

Brightly Woven

Book: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Woven

Pages: 354 (Hardcover)

The Review: Brightly Woven is about Sydelle Mirabil, who travels with Wayland North, an unranked wizard.  He has information that could prevent the coming war, and Sydelle is his “assistant.”

I couldn’t get into the book.  We don’t really get a lot of information about the world the characters live in, and the characters aren’t developed very well.  I thought Sydelle was a little wishy-washy, and seemed a little too perfect.  As for Wayland, he was too cryptic, and seemed really sketchy. 

The main plot was to get to the capitol to give the information about the war, but that tended to be dropped for side quests.  There were a lot of things that popped up that were really random.  The book was also inconsistent in terms of plotting and characterization, and things didn’t make a lot of sense. 

I think the best way to describe the book is disjointed.  It was as if Bracken couldn’t think of any interesting details to add in about the people and the world she created, and she jumps around a lot.  It felt empty, like I was missing something.  It felt like it was pieced together and had a lot of telling but not a lot of showing. 

Rating: 1 out of 5.  There was nothing memorable about this book, and Bracken’s world-building needs a lot of work.  It felt like I was reading the first draft.

Vampire Academy

Book: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Pages: 332/Paperback

My Thoughts: It was really lackluster.  I loved the storyline itself, but didn’t like a lot of the characters, especially the 2 main characters, Rose and Lissa.

Lissa is a Morai princess, and is a mortal vampire with a very strong bond to the earth’s magic.  She needs to be protected from the Strigoi, who are your stereotypical vampire.  This is where Rose steps in.  She has both human and vampire blood, which makes her a Dhampir.

The Morai seemed more like glorified witches than actual vampires, because heaven forbid they become like the all-evil Strigoi.  I felt like Mead didn’t think through the Morai/Strigoi/Dhampir very well at all.  For a book set in a vampire school, you forget about the students being vampires (or the Dhampir, who protect the Morai).  I like the idea of different kinds of vampires, and one group being more powerful.  I also like the idea of the Strigoi hunting the Morai.  However, the execution of it fell flat for me- almost like Mead didn’t think it all the way through. 

As for the actual characters, Rose isn’t likeable at all, and seems to be more interested in getting drunk and making out with random guys.  Plus, she has a tendency to get into fights, and seems to be very petty.  I wasn’t impressed with the other characters either.

The writing was horrible!  The transitions were horrible, and Mead kept alluding to some event that led Lissa and Rose leaving school, which we didn’t find out about until the last third of the book.  The book was more telling then showing.  An accurate description would be that it’s like a teen telling you a story, which, in a way, is true. 

Then there’s the fact that it was really boring…there really wasn’t enough action to keep me interested, and sadly, the last 30 to 40 pages were the most interesting of the whole book.  It’s too bad that it took nearly 300 pages to get so interesting…only for it to end.

Rating: 2 out of 5.  It seriously sounds like a teen wrote it, and it definitely could have used a lot of work before being published.

Camp Is Ending Soon!

Alright, Camp NaNo is coming to a close.  Well, for July anyway. 

I’ve been really bored with my NCIS fanfic since week 2/week 3.  I fell further and further behind, not wanting to work on it at all.  I’ve since abandoned my NCIS fanfic in favor of writing short stories for the rest of the month.  I did a couple flash fiction pieces, and I’ve done 4 Harry Potter fanfics.  They’re fairly short, but they’re not as involved as something longer. 

The only problem I’ll have is coming up with 4 more ideas, so I’ll have to give that some thought.  I’ve been sticking to 1667 per day, so I’ll need 3 more ideas if I stick to that as my goal.  Maybe a few more, just in case the three end up being a little shorter.  I’m on pace to finish early, which will be a relief. 

I’m at 45,049: 38,341 for my NCIS fanfic and 6,708 for the other stuff I’ve written.  Now I’m back on track after being behind for most of the month!

Today, I’m going to come up with some ideas for some short stories, and I’ll go from there.  And I also need to figure out what I’m writing next month, because I definitely want to do Camp NaNo again.  I have an idea, but I’m not sure what direction to take it, so I’ll need to figure that out in the next few days.

April Shadows

Book: April Shadows by V.C. Andrews

Pages and Format: 406/Hardcover

My Thoughts: This was a hard book to get into.  Having read The Flowers In The Attic series and My Sweet Audrina, I really wanted to give some of her other books a try. 

We have April, who’s the main character in this series.  The first 2 or 3 chapters were really boring- it was all about April talking about how her dad changed from this really good dad into this awful, horrible person.  Surprise, surprise, he had a brain tumor or something, and died from it.  Then her mom kills herself, so April is left in the care of her older sister Brenda.  April, however, ends up living with her uncle Palaver.  He, very predictably, dies, and we’re left wondering what will happen with April.  Her sister drops out of college to play professional basketball, so April is supposed to go stay with one of her cousins until Brenda gets back from her trip.

It was pretty disappointing, which I think in part is because this is written by a ghost-writer, and didn’t really have the same charm that Flowers In The Attic did.  There was a certain amount of suspense, and I kept waiting for something to evil to happen…and it never did.  It definitely felt like something was lurking in the shadows, and unfortunately, that something didn’t materialize in this book.

My Rating: It gets a 2 out of 5.  It was just okay, and I’m not sure I want to give this particular series anymore of my time.

The Ominous Omnibus

Book: The Ominous Omnibus (A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-3) by Lemony Snicket

Pages/Format: 592/Hardcover

What I Thought: I’ve been meaning to read A Series Of Unfortunate Events for ages, so when I was browsing through the children’s section at the library, I had to pick this up!

I didn’t like it as much as I thought, and if I stopped after reading the first book, I would have been fine.  For those not familiar with the series, it’s about the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire orphans.  In the first book (The Bad Beginning), we learn that their parents died, so the 3 children go to live with Count Olaf.  He’s after their fortune, which they can’t touch until the oldest is an adult.  He tries to marry Violet, but his attempt fails, so they go off to live with a different relative in The Reptile Room.  Once again, Count Olaf tries to get a hold of their fortunate by murdering their Uncle Monty.  And naturally, this attempt fails, so in The Wide Window, they get sent to live with their Aunt Josephine, who dies in the lake. 

I got through the 1st one really fast but somewhere in the second one, it really started to get boring.  I get the whole point of the series is that all of these really bad things happen to the kids, but I started to get really annoyed with it.  The adults in the series with the exception of one or two, were either evil or completely useless.  The whole Sunny said X, which probably means Y bit got really tired, and while the definition of different words in the books are really great for the kids, I found it somewhat distracting. 

There is a certain quirkiness to the adults, though, and there is something sort of steampunk about Violet inventing things, and looking at the different gears and stuff.

I think I would have liked it a lot better if I didn’t read the 3 books back-to-back.  If I do decide to continue on with the series (it’s not going to be anytime soon), then I’ll definitely take some time in between each one. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.  I felt like I got a pretty good handle on the series just from reading the first book, and the following two were just a repetition of The Bad Beginning, with a few character changes, and a different disguise for Count Olaf.

Let’s Talk About…Camp!

It’s been a while since I’ve talk about camp, so I thought today would be a good time for that.  I’m about 8oo words behind, and I’m starting to get a little bored with my novel.  I ended up doing a couple flash fictions, and that seemed to help a little.  Plus, throwing in a couple members of the team disappearing seemed to kick-start it…at least for the moment, but I feel like that’s going to be wrapped up soon. 

My other writing is going okay, but very slowly at the moment.  It’s been a relief to work on something else this week.  I haven’t worked on any of my plot bunnies, and while I keep telling myself that I’m going to work on them, I don’t.  I’ll have to get around to that soon, since time is going by really fast, and November will be here before we know it!

I’ve been reading, although not as much as I have been.  Hopefully, I’ll have a few book reviews in the next few days.  For some reason, I’m just not that into the books I’ve checked out. 

I think that wraps up camp and everything, so I’ll leave you with my wordcount: 35,8633!