January Wrap Up

Courtyard Arch by Sung Kim

The best laid plans tend to go awry.  I think the best plan sometimes is no plan and to just go with the flow and see what happens.  Then again, the benefit of planning is you know what to expect.  So my plan to not buy anymore new books for at least 4 months.  Out the window within a week. However, the thought of not buying books made me think hard before adding to my stacks.  The majority were actually writing books including Julie Cameron's The Right to Write, Elizabeth George's Write Away and Writers and Their Notebooks edited by Diana Raab.   

I moved our big comfy chair into the corner of the living room and made myself a nice little reading and writing nook.  The cats are loving it, especially Melvin, who has been curling up in my lap more than ever.  Not part of the plan, but oh well.  *grin*  Back to the plan which was for January to read books set in or written by Japanese authors for our 52 Books Around the World challenge.  Books set in the 12th century for my Centuries challenge.  Plus since it is wintertime, books set in a winter setting or with winter, frost, ice, cold, or other synonyms in the title. 

I started off the year with An Antarctic Mystery by Jules Verne, which was set in 1839 Antarctic.   Last year, after reading The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe, I discovered Verne had written a sequel.  The captain in the story was obsessed with finding the survivors of Pym's story.  Poe's story was exciting and captivating, while Verne's story was cold and stilted, reading more like a travelogue. 

Moved on to Faith Hunter's latest in her Jane Yellowrock series, Black Arts.  Jane is a kick A** biker chick who is also a skinwalker and working as an enforcer for the vampires.  The story was action packed, non stop from beginning to end. 

After reading 1Q84 last year, decided to take on another tale of Haruki Murakami's, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It was 600 pages and there were too many rabbit trails that didn't lead anywhere and too many unanswered questions. At the end I found myself coming online searching out answers and seeing what other folks were saying and about half felt pretty much the way I did. The other half - well loved it because it was Murakami. I loved 1Q84. Wind Up, while intriguing and interesting, and kept me reading, was a disappointment at the end. 

Soothed my soul with James Rollins' Ice Hunt. Like all Rollins stories, it was a thrill ride from beginning to end.

For my 12th century read, found the first volume in The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki.  While interesting and gives one a good look at the 12th century culture and romance in Japan, the lack of commas drove me completely crazy.

Decided I was ready to read Justin Cronin's The Twelve, but before I did, wanted to refresh my memory of what had taken place in the first book. I started skimming through The Passage and discovered I couldn't remember any of the story, so decided to reread it. It was better the 2nd time, since must have consumed it the first time, reading entirely too fast and missed a few things. Once I started reading it, didn't want to put it down. Cronin's writing is superb, he really knows how to paint a literary picture and pulls you into the character's world, taking you on an emotional ride. Looking forward to reading The Twelve

Finished off the month with Diana Rowland's latest in the Demon series - Fury of the Demon.  Excellent as always and one of those series I'll probably be rereading from the beginning.  Once started reading it, didn't want to put it down. 

It is interesting because in the last couple years, I have been reading at least 10 to 15 books a month. Reading is my escape so I tend to bury my head in books when things are stressful.   I think this is going to be a year of reading a  bit more slowly and deliberately, savoring rather than consuming.  Plus decided not to waste my time finishing books that don't grab me or are poorly written.  There were three I shelved due to poor writing.  

Like I was telling someone the other day,  I find it very difficult to enjoy a story, even a romping good one,  if the writing quality is lower quality or poor. Lower quality being a writer (James Patterson for instance) who writes at the 10th grade level and thinks the reader has absolutely no imagination.  Poor writing gets me every time, whether it be grammar or typos or just plain stupidity.   If the writing is stellar, I can forgive a less than stellar story, but it has to be at least interesting enough to keep me reading.  Does that make sense.   I'm also a very visual person, so if I can't dive into the story and see it, then forget it. Which is why I don't like blood and guts horror - can't handle it.   Some books are like well done paintings - in which you sit there, picking out all the nuances as well as enjoying the whole picture.  Others, an eclectic mess in which you sit there saying I don't get it.

Onward and Upward! Happy Reading!

Life, Creativity, Writing and State of the Blog

 In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.  ~Robert Ingersoll

My mom passed away two months ago as of today, after a very long battle with her health.  She gave it all she had, stayed with us until she and dad celebrated their 60th Anniversary.  Right before Thanksgiving, a brain aneurysm took her away from us.  Our household was quite rudderless for a month or so, as I gave up the reins and just hibernated. A couple weeks ago,  hubby was commenting on not being able to get anything done.  I told him I had just figured it out and explained that I am the rudder, the one who guides the boat, who figures out the path, keeps track of our course.  When mom died, I let got of the rudder and we were floating and just going with the current. Once I explained it to hubby, he got it.  I'm finally ready to guide the boat again.   Along with some peace of mind,  my muse, my creativity, my imagination has finally come back after a long block. 

I pulled out Red Thief, a draft of a story I wrote a few years back and fell back in love with my characters and the story line.   So, now I need to write a synopsis, outline, get to know my characters a bit better, edit and fill in plot holes.  To help me with that I signed up for F2k, an online creative writing course through Writers Village University again and the first task is have one of your characters introduce you which is what I'm working on now.   So much fun.
Ever since I finished my Bachelor's Degree, it has been in the back of my head to pursue a Master in Creative Writing. But didn't want to commit so much time and money until I am completely serious about this writing love of mine and not until writing becomes as necessary as breathing. Reading is as necessary as breathing to me and I get grumpy without a read in hand. I want more than the accountability someone else gives me. I want to be accountable to myself which all goes towards motivation, perseverance and need. I let stress and grief get in the way and bottle up the emotions, which only serves to crater my creativity. I've discovered writing is a very emotional process, so I need to learn to deal with all that comes my way and keep writing.

I've been following a writer who started a site about DIY MFA's and how to go about it.  Now she's taken all the material and then some and put together a new 6 month course (still open for registration) which I signed up for immediately. Already watched the first video and learned so much. Lot of common sense stuff but some not which got me to thinking, which is great.  The first part is all about motivation, focus, scheduling time and training your brain. So worth it.

Then, one of the mom's on Well Trained Mind told me about International Correspondence Writing Month which I decided to jump in with both feet, signed up on their forum and went out an bought some new fountain pens and writing paper.  So if you'd like to get a letter from me, email me your address.

And I'm ready to start blogging again and post more than once a month. The writing bug has returned, which makes me very happy.

2014 Completed Reads

2014 Completed Reads

  1. An Antarctic Mystery - Jules Verne: 1839 Antarctic 184p eb)
  2. Black Arts (JY#7) - Faith Hunter:  (20th C, New Orleans, 336p  eb)
  3. Wind Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami (20th C, Japan 607p)
  4. Ice Hunt - James Rollins (20th C, Arctic, 656p) 
  5. The Tale of Genji (volume 1) - Lady Murasaki (12thC, Japan, 210p eb)
  6. The Passage - Justin Cronin (20thC, US and various, 766p) 
  7. Fury of the Demon - Diana Rowland (20thC, Paranormal, 416p eb)
  8. Dead Man's Deal (#2 Asylum Tales) - Jocelyn Drake (20thC paranormal, 384p eb) 
  9. House of Cards (#2 Negotiator) - C.E. Murphy (20thC paranormal, 447p eb) 
  10. Here Be Dragons (#1 Welsh) - Sharon Kay Penman (13th, England/Wales, 704p) 
  11. Hands of Flame (#3 Negotiator) - C.E. Murphy (20thC, paranormal, 384p, eb)
  12. The Twelve - Justin Cronin (dystopian U.S., 568 p)  
  13. Coyote Dreams (#3 Walker Papers) - C.E. Murphy  (20thC paranormal, 416p, eb)
  14. Walking Dead (#4 Walker Papers - C.E. Murphy (20thC paranormal, 384p, eb)
  15. Concealed in Death (#38 In death) - J.D. Robb (futuristic New York, 402p)
  16. The Road to Rome (#3 Forgotten Legion) - Ben Kane (46BC, Italy, 513p)
  17. Scribe - Elizabeth Hunter (Instanbul-290p)
  18. Tenth Stone (#10 AD Chronicles)- Bodie Thoene (Ancient Israel, 352p)
  19. Amazonia - James Rollins (Brazil, 624p)
  20. A Hidden Fire (#1 Elemental Mysteries) - Elizabeth Hunter  (US/Italy, Paranormal, 274p, eb)
  21. This Same Earth (#2 Elemental Mysteries - Elizabeth Hunter (290p, eb)
  22. The Sorceress (#3 Nicholas Flamel) - Michael Scott (US/France, Fantasy, 514p)
  23. At the River's Edge (Chesepeake Diaries) - Mariah Stewart (US Romance, 434p)
  24. The Force of Wind (#3 Elemental Mysteries) - Elizabeth Hunter (414, eb)
  25. A Fall of Water (#4 Elemental Mysteries) - Elizabeth Hunter (360, eb)
  26. Shifting Dreams (#1 Cambrio Springs Mystery) - Elizabeth Hunter (US Paranormal, 270, eb)
  27. City of Fallen Angels (#4 Mortal Instruments) - Cassandra Clare (US Paranormal 434, eb)
  28. Demon Hunts (#5 Walker Papers) - C.E. Murphy (US Paranormal 366, eb)
  29. Black Heart Loa (#2 Hoodoo) - Adrian Phoenix (US Paranormal 437 eb)
  30. Night Broken (#8 Mercedes Thompson) - Patricia Briggs (US Paranormal 353 eb)
  31. Dark Witch (#2 Cousin O'Dwyer) - Nora Roberts (Paranormal 352)
  32. The Chance (#4 Thunderpoint) - Robyn Carr (347, eb)
  33. Spirit Dances (#6 Walker Papers) - C.E. Murphy (366, eb)
  34. Raven Calls (#7 Walker Papers) - C.E.Murphy (365, eb)
  35. Mountain Echoes (#8 Walker Papers) - C.E. Murphy (348, eb)
  36. Blood Gospel - James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell (Israel, Paranormal 717) 
  37. The Novice's Tale - Margaret Frazer (15thC England, 240, eb)
  38. Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn (medieval Japan, 305, eb)
  39. Falls the Shadow (#2 Welsh Trilogy) - Sharon Kay Penman  (13thC England/Wales, 580)
  40. The Collector - Nora Roberts (496) 
  41. Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco (14thC, Italy, 536)
  42. Written in Red (Novel of the Others) - Anne Bishop (US Paranormal, 496)
  43. Grass for his Pillow (#2 Otori) - Lian Hearn (Medieval Japan 332 eb)
  44. Espresso Shot - Cleo Coyle (Us mystery 380)
  45. Haven (Bishop/special Crimes series)  - Kay Hooper (US psychic mystery 359)
  46. The Apothecary's Daughter - Julia Klassen (19thC Regency Romance 416 eb)
  47. The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart ( Wales, fantasy 529)
  48. The Fallen Angel (Gabriel Allon series) - Daniel Silva (Italy mystery 417 eb)
  49. Monuments Men - Robert Edsel (NF, Europe, 640)
  50. Grania, She King of the Irish Seas - Morgan Llywelyn (16thC Ireland historical 420 eb)
  51. The Genius and the Muse - Elizabeth Hunter (US, Romance 224 eb)
  52. False Memory - Dean Koontz (US, psychological thriller 768)
  53. Her Sky Cowboy - Beth Ciotta (Italy, steampunk eb 352)
  54. Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack - Mark Hodder (dnf - creepy)
  55. Something More Than Night - Ian Tregellis (dnf - annoying noir)
  56. Shiver of Light (Merry Gentry series) - Laurell K. Hamilton (paranormal 384 eb)
  57. I Own the Dawn  (#2 Night Stalkers) - M.L. Buchman  (Middle East Military Romance 418 eb)
  58. Night is Mine (#1 Night Stalkers) - M.L. Buchman (ME, 418 eb) 
  59. Wait Until Dark (#4 Night Stalkers) - M.L. Buchman (ME, 384 eb) 
  60. Take Over at Midnight (#8 Night Stalkers) - M.L. Buchman (ME, 382 eb)
  61. Slave to Sensation (#1 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, paranormal, 352 eb)
  62. Visions of Heat (#2 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 356 eb)
  63. Caressed by Ice (#3 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 388 eb)
  64. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell - Susanna Clark (England, 1024)
  65. Hostage to Pleasure (#5 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 356, eb)
  66. Branded by Fire (#6 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 372, eb)
  67. Blaze of Memory (#7 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US 386, eb)
  68. Bonds of Justice (#8 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 359 eb) 
  69. Play of Passion (#9 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US 356, eb) 
  70. Kiss of Snow (#10 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 433, eb)
  71. Tangle of Need (#11 Psy Changling) - Nalini Singh (US, 432, eb) 
  72. Exit Strategy - Kelly Armstrong  (Canada, US, 512)
  73. Poison Promise (#11 Elemental Assassin) - Jennifer Estep (US 416, eb) 
  74. Bitten - Kelly Armstrong (Canada, 544) 
  75. Rapture (#4 Fallen Angels) - J.R. Ward (US, 513 eb)
  76. Bastion(#5 Collegium Chronicles) - Mercedes Lackey (Paranormal, 353 )
  77. Frankenstein: City of Night (#2) - Dean Koontz UW =480)
  78. Hollow Man - Dan Simmons (US - 352)
  79. Blood Magick (#3 Odwyer series) - Nora Roberts (Ireland, 336) 
  80. Storm Front (#1 Dresden Files) - Jim Butcher (Paranormal 322) 
  81. City of Lost Souls (#5 Mortal Instruments)- Cassandra Clare (Paranormal 560)
  82. When Red is Black (#4 Inspector Chen) - Qui Xiaolong (China 320)
  83. Dead and Alive (#3 Frankenstein)- Dean Koontz
  84. Lost Souls (#4 Frankenstein) - Dean Koontz
  85. The Way Home (#2 One Eyed Jacks) - Cindy Gerard (Afghanistan and US, eb)
  86.  Black Widow (#11 Elemental Assassins) - Jennifer Estep (eb)
  87. Possession (#5 Fallen Angels) -  J.R. Ward  (Paranormal 545 eb)
  88. Dead and Alive (#3 Frankenstein) - Dean Koontz (Paranormal 352)
  89. Lost Souls (#4 Frankenstein) - Dean Koontz (Paranormal 416)
  90. House Immortal (#1 HI) - Devon Monk (Paranormal 350 eb)
  91. Sweet Dreams (#2 Colorado Mountain) - Kristen Ashley (US 678 eb)
  92. The Gamble (#1 Colorado Mountain) - Kristen Ashley (US 679 eb)
  93. Lady Luck (#3 Colorado Mountain) - Kristen Ashley (US 664 eb)
  94. Breath (#4 Colorado Mountain) - Kristen Ashley (US 649 eb)
  95. Kaleidoscope (#6 Colorado Mountain) - Kristen Ashley (US 406 eb)
  96. Rock Chick - Kristen Ashley (US 398 eb)
  97. Rock Chick Rescue - Kristen Ashley (US 400 eb)
  98. Forged in Ash (Seal #2)  - Trish McCall (US 445 eb)
  99. Born Wild (Black Knights) - Julie Ann Walker (US 385 eb)
  100. Hell for Leather (Black Knights) - Julie Ann Walker (US 375 eb)
  101. Full Throttle (Black Knights) - Julie Ann Walker (US 380 eb)

  1. Reread entire J.D. Robb's In Death Series (1-39)
  2. Reread Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series (1-8)