James M's review of IDW Sonic Scrapnik Island Issue 3 & 4


Greetings fans. Sorry I took so long, but I'm finally doing a review of the final two issues of the Scrapnik Island, which is very intense. So, what's the plot?

Simple. Mecha Sonic, whom Sonic tried to bond with while on the island of Scrapniks, went rogue after a battle with Mecha Knuckles and captured the blue hedgehog we know and love. His plan was to take over Sonic's body and use him to leave the island. Tails and the good Scrapniks caught on to what was happening and launched a rescue mission, which went south a little as Mecha Sonic took out the Scrapnik forces and sent Tails into a trash compactor. 

After that, he then initiated his plan to hijack Sonic's body with some scrapped Eggman mind tech, which then went wrong as the Scrapniks attacked (which also led to a Super Mario Bros Z/Dragon Ball reference as Mecha Sonic threatened to crush them). Sonic and Mecha battled, which led to them winding up in the Death Egg's trash incinerator. But unlike a certain two-part Sonic anime where Metal Sonic died, Sonic saved Mecha Sonic with help from Tails and the Scrapniks. As everyone breathed, we got an interesting moment where Mecha Sonic was happy. However, his attempt to take over Sonic's body led to their minds being linked and, as Mecha Sonic was feeling happiness, Sonic teared up.

That's right, SEGA finally let Sonic shed tears (for the first time in ages too, unless the movies count). And according to the story's writer, Daniel Barnes, SEGA gave his team all the freedom with the story and Daniel was able to fulfill his vision for Scrapnik Island. Back to the story, Sonic and Mecha Sonic part on good terms with Sonic and Tails flying off in the Tornado with Mecha staying behind on the island to look after the rest of the Scrapniks. 

For a Sonic miniseries revolving around sci-fi horror, this was great and seeing SEGA allow things such as the usage of Mecha Sonic, a Classic Sonic character, and Sonic shedding tears (even though they weren't his own) makes a fan happy, especially in a time where the Sonic brand is experiencing success after success following the release of the first Sonic movie. 

Sonic truly is back and SEGA is slightly easing up on their many restrictions, even though Sonic will always be their property and they'll have some guidelines in some shape or form. However, I'm getting off-topic. Daniel Barnes' writing was really nice and this isn't the first time a Sonic comic has tackled the idea of an island populated by scrapped Badniks, Archie Sonic did it first with the Island of Misfit Badniks and the usage of Mecha Sonic further solidifies the recent merging of Classic and Modern back into one with the Classic games being canon proper again. The art was real good too, helping to sell the eerie atmosphere and there were a lot of fun moments throughout the arc.

Also, fun fact, the story takes place between the Overpowered Arc and the Urban Warfare arc in the overall IDW Sonic timeline. Quite somethin, eh? I once again salute the IDW crew for their great efforts in delivering a quality Sonic the Hedgehog story worth reading and making fans happy. See you later, everyone, CVGW out!

BW8: Storytellers


It's book week 8 in our 52 Books quest and this week is all about Storytellers and all those lovely books they have created for our pleasure: narratives, myths, memoirs, drama, poetry as well as the world of fiction. From the classics to the contemporary writers of today there is a wide variety to choose from.

Growing up, my brother was the one who told the most magnificent stories, whether he was retelling a Monty Python skit, relating an event that happened, or telling us about a book he’d read. We would hang on his words, groaning or laughing as he told a tale, astonished by the details, even if he’d only read or heard something once. I was never great at oral storytelling, maybe because it was difficult to get an word in edgewise with my large talkative family.  Today, the role has been taken over by my husband and son, both who have Eidetic memories,  remembering everything that’s ever happened in their lives. Which can be great, unless it’s something stupid you wish they’d forget. LOL!    I prefer writing, taking my time to remember, exploring thoughts and phrases, seeing the words on the page.

I finished the non fiction historical arctic exploration thriller Against the Ice by Ejnar Mikkelsen. grit and determination it took for the two men to battle against the elements through hunger and strife as they persevered in their quest to recover the notes of prior explorers is amazing. Not something I would have ever chosen to do. (Book 18)

Finished Vicki Myron’s memoir about Dewey: The Library Cat which is so much more than just about the cat, but the town of Spencer and the people who live there. (Book 19)

And The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by new to me author, Shauna Robinson. Maggie has always been a non conformist, trying to find the fun in her jobs, planning special events and parties. She's between jobs again and offers to help her best friend who is about to have a baby by running her bookshop for her. Little does she know, the Bell River Literary Society has strict rules which means she has go underground and behind their backs to help the book store stay afloat. . She also enters into a budding romance with a guy who follows the rules, which makes it even more difficult. She enlists the aid of the local businesses and how they managed to keep it a secret so long is beyond me. (Book 20)

I’m currently in the midst of  James Rollin’s Fantasy novel The Cradle of Ice in which the characters have crash landed in a place where it’s virtually impossible to escape from. What will happen next?

Devon Monk’s book of 22 fantasy/sci fi short stories A Cup of Normal which are far from normal and very entertaining.

Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation and the man seriously doesn’t think he is a good writer, but shares his stories, his process, and so much more.

BW7: Amari, Writers, and Eve


It's book week 7 in our 52 Books Quest and this week is all about Pablo Neruda. As I was meandering about the internet I came across Meanderings and Muses (Don’t you love that name) Odes to Common things. And wouldn’t you just know it, I fell down a rabbit hole.  Found The Examined Life’s article on Pablo Neruda’s Sublime Poetic Wonder at Meaning and Utility in Everyday Things.   Then stumbled upon Interludes where his poetry inspired  The Music of Poetry – Pablo Neruda: Odes to Common Things.   Yes, he even penned An Ode to a Book, but I liked his Common Things better.

I finished Amari and the Night Brothers which was a wonderful middle grade story in which I kept forgetting Amari was only 12 years old. She was mature for her age, continually bullied and not believed because of the type of magic she had. But she was bound and determined to find her brother who’d disappeared under mysterious circumstances.  (Book 15)

Also finished Writers and their Notebooks which has been sitting in my shelves for quite a while and would dip in from time to time. Finally read it from cover to cover, highlighting and annotating. Will be copying highlighted portions in my notebook at some point. So many writers, so many different ways to use a journal. I have discovered that one journal, a catchall for all my thoughts, ramblings, and stories works for me. Many thanks to Diana Raab and the many others for sharing their thoughts. Will be working on all the questions at the end of the book.  (Book 16)

Finished J.D. Robb’s Encore In Death, # 56 in the In death series. Don’t know why this series is comfort food for my soul but it is. Have read most of the series several times. Guess I enjoy diving into the lives of all the characters as well as the mystery of murder. Eve’s mind is fascinating. Her love for Roark is ever growing and it was interesting seeing how this particular murder made her appreciate their relationship even more. (Book 17) 

Diving into James Rollins The Cradle of Ice, the 2nd book in his Moon Fall series.

“To stop the coming apocalypse, a fellowship was formed.
A soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl bonded by fate and looming disaster.
Each step along this path has changed the party, forging deep alliances and greater
enmities. All the while, hostile forces have hunted them, fearing what they might
unleash. Armies wage war around them.

For each step has come with a cost—in blood, in loss, in heartbreak.

Now, they must split, traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. Time is running out and only the truth will save us all."

BW6: Sleuths and trouble is afoot.


It's book week six in our 52 Books Quest and this week's subject is Sleuths, continuing with our Agatha Christie theme. 

I'm currently reading three books right now. 

My sleuth is a twelve year who wants to help her brother in the children’s fantasy Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston which is quite good

“Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.”

as well as the non fiction arctic historical fiction adventure Against the Ice by Ejnar Mikkelsen

“Ejnar Mikkelsen was devoted to Arctic exploration. In 1910 he decided to search for the diaries of the ill-fated Mylius-Erichsen expedition, which had set out to prove that Robert Peary’s outline of the East Greenland coast was a myth, erroneous and presumably self-serving. Iver Iversen was a mechanic who joined Mikkelsen in Iceland when the expedition’s boat needed repair.

Several months later, Mikkelsen and Iversen embarked on an incredible journey during which they would suffer every imaginable Arctic travail: implacable cold, scurvy, starvation, frostbite, snow blindness, plunges into icy seawater, impossible sledding conditions, Vitamin A poisoning, debilitated dogs, apocalyptic storms, gaping crevasses, and assorted mortifications of the flesh. Mikkelsen’s diary was even eaten by a bear.

Three years of this, coupled with seemingly no hope of rescue, would drive most crazy, yet the two retained both their sanity as well as their humor.

Indeed, what may have saved them was their refusal to become as desolate as their surroundings…”

Plus a dusty book: A collection of essays in Writers and Their Notebooks edited by Diana Raab in which I’ve been highlighting and annotating because there are so many meaningful snippets.

“This collection of essays by established professional writers explores how their notebooks serve as their studios and workshops—places to collect, to play, and to make new discoveries with language, passions, and curiosities. For these diverse writers, the journal also serves as an ideal forum to develop their writing voice, whether crafting fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.”

Some include sample journal entries that have since developed into published pieces. Through their individual approaches to keeping a notebook, the contributors offer valuable advice, personal recollections, and a hearty endorsement of the value of using notebooks to document, develop, and nurture a writer’s creative spark."

January Reading Wrap Up!


January has been an interesting reading month with an interesting assortment of books from magical realism to steampunk, to romance, to urban fantasy, to historical fiction, plus two non fiction writing books for a total of 4519 pages  which on average is 150 pages a day.  

1Q84 was a chunky read at 935 pages and took me most of the month to finish.  Write for Life was the shortest but was meant to be read in six weeks. However, I just kept reading because I was ready to implement her suggestions rather than wait.  I managed to clear 5 dusty physical books and 1 dusty ebook from my shelves and discovered six new to me authors.  

 After Dark - Haruki Murakami, (Magical Realism, Japan, 256)

“Time moves in it special way in the middle of the night.”

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty -  Akwaeke Emezi,(Romance, e)

“For a moment, there was the scream of tires and the mad chime of broken glass, the soft petals of white lilies, and a clod of dirt breaking apart in Feyi’s hand, but she brushed it all aside like smoke. “Single,” she’d said in return, stepping right into his personal space. He smelled of rain and bergamot.”

Clockwork Angels - Kevin Anderson and Neil Peart (Steampunk, dusty, e)

"In another few weeks, he was going to have to put his dreams away on a high shelf. It didn't seem fair. All his life he had followed the rules. He had done what was expected of him rather than what he wanted; every day mapped out, every event scheduled; every part of his existence moving along like a tiny gear in an infinite chain  of other tiny gears, each one turning smoothly, but never going anywhere."


Black Orchid Blues - Persia Walker (Mystery, 20’s Harlem, dusty, 270)

“If he’s the kind of man I think he is, the kind who sees you for what you are, who you are, and still wants you, then never let him go. Sam”

Kitty and the Midnight Hour - Carrie Vaughn (Urban fantasy, reread, e)

“To be a DJ was to be God. To be a DJ at an alternative public radio station ? That was being God with a mission. It was thinking you were the first person to discover The Clash and you had to spread the word.”

Who Need Enemies - Keri Arthur (Urban Fantasy, Australia, e)

“Maggie waved a gnarled finger in my direction. “Mention one word,” she said, voice sharp but grey eyes twinkling with merriment, “and I’ll curse your sex life for the next year.” I snorted. “Curse away. It can’t get any worse.” She shook her head. “How can a siren have such a pathetic love life?” “Because I’m a siren who can’t actually sing, remember?”

Kitty Goes to Washington - Carrie Vaughn (Urban Fantasy, reread, e)

“That we have purpose for being who we are, and what we are, though we may not always know it.”

The Blue - Nancy Bilyeau (Historical Fiction, England, dusty, e)

"Amiability has never been counted more important in a woman's character than it is today." 

Write for Life - Julia Cameron (NF, Writing, 208)

"A well executed outline resembles a train track with each entry a tie."

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami (Magical Realism, reread, 996)

"1Q84 - That's what I'll call this new world... Q is for Question mark. A world that bears a question. Like it or not, I'm here now, in the year 1Q84.  The 1984 that I knew no longer exists.  It's 1Q84 now. "

A Swim in the Pond in the Rain - George Saunders (NF, Masterclass, dusty 432)

“The Russians, when I found them a few years later, worked on me in the same way. They seemed to regard fiction not as something decorative but as a vital moral-ethical tool. They changed you when you read them, made the world seem to be telling a different, more interesting story, a story in which you might play a meaningful part, and in which you had responsibilities.”

The Winter Lodge - Susan Wigg (Romance, e)

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face.”

Absolution by Murder (#1 Sister Fidelma - Peter Tremayne (Historical Fiction, 664 AD, dusty, e)

"Whenever there is a conflict of opinion, then human tensions rise and give way to fear. I do not think we need to worry. There will be much posturing during the verbal conflict. But once we have reached a resolution, then all will be forgotten and forgiven." 

BW5: Mini Reviews: Saunders, Wigg, and Tremayne!


It's book week 5 in our 52 books quest and the author of the month is Agatha Christie. I've been bouncing around the list, instead of reading chronologically, and currently have Why didn't they ask Evans?, Mystery of the Blue Train, and Sad Cypress in my reading stacks. 

Read Agatha Christie 2023 Motive and Methods February's readalong challenge is Partners in Crime, from one of her Tommy and Tuppence short story collections.   Which I don't have in my stacks and will have to wait until my buying ban is over. :(

The Royal Reading Room recently covered Agatha Christie during their Christmas Interlude which including a video discussion between Vaseem Khan, Dreda Say Mitchell, Robert Thorogood, and James Prichard on the Legacy and Life of Agatha Christie which was quite interesting. 

I finally completed George Saunders A Swim in the Pond in the Rain which has been sitting on my shelves for quite a while. I finally applied myself and got into it.  Saunders analyzes 4 Russian Authors and their short stories:  Antov Chekhov’s In the Cart, The Darling, and Gooseberries; Ivan Turgenov’s The Singer; Leo Tolstoy’s Master and Man and Alyosha the Pot, and Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose.  All the stories were good and The Nose made me laugh, Tolstoy made me cry, and the rest of the stories made me think.  I annotated the heck out of In the Cart and disagreed with Saunder’s view of The Nose. I didn't think it was a walking nose, but someone who had his nose, but I could be wrong and Saunders may be right. I'll have to go back and reread it again.   What I enjoyed most of all was Saunders and his analysis which is something I always had a hard time doing in literature class.  The symbols and analogies, the how’s and why’s. And his tips on writing were invaluable.  And as with all writing books, like Stephen King as well as Ray Bradbury, once I read how they write, I wanted to read their books.  Will be adding George Saunders to my reading list.  (Book 11) 

Cleared my palate with an angsty romance:   Susan Wigg’s The Winter Lodge, #2 in Lakeshore Chronicles series. She's grieving the loss of her grandmother when her house catches on fire which prompts the reappearance of Chief Rourke McKnight whom she'd been avoiding after a certain night together 4 years prior when they through her husband and his best friend was killed overseas. (Book 12)

I also finished Peter Tremayne’s first book in his historical fiction Sister Fidelma series – Absolution by Murder - set in 7th century Ireland and was quite good.  Also the sister was a member of St Brigid at Kildare which is grand since today is St. Brigid’s day.  It was quite interesting to read the history about the Synod and the differences between the Roman and the Celtic churches. I liked Sister Fidelma and will probably read more of the series. (book 13)

I'm in the midst of several books again. I heard it described by someone,  I can't remember who at the moment, who described it as an omnivorous reader, devouring more than one book at a time. I think I like that description better. 

I'm currently reading 2034 by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis, an alternative geopolitical thriller about the next world war in 2034 between America and China in the South China Sea.  It is really good and scary.  China has developed cyber warfare and are  refusing to back down from their possession of the South China Sea They have technology that wipes out all electronics and communication so the U.S. battleships keep getting destroyed.  Which means the U.S. needs to go back to analog tech which some of the commanders are  totally against because they love their technology.  But the president is also threatening to go Nuclear which has caused a pause in the action. (Book 14)

I'm dipping into an anthology of fantasy short stories by Devon Monk with A Cup of Normal.

Non fiction wise,  I’m not done with Haruki Murakami yet so reading Novelist as a Vocation as well as Writers and their Notebooks edited by Diana Rabb. I'm enjoying Writers, better than Novelist at the moment.   Plus the historical set in 1910 - Against the Ice - by Ejnar  Mikkelsen which is an arctic survival story.  



Book Ten: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

It's been exactly 10 years since I first read Haruki Murakami's 1Q84.  I remember loving it then. Now, I don't remember much at all. I didn't love it, but enjoyed the bizarre magical realism.  The story is about two characters who never get together until practically the end of the story.   Both characters, Tengo and Aomame are flawed, far from perfect, and find themselves in odd situations. 

 Aomame, stuck in a taxi on a gridlocked expressway,  climbs down the emergency escape ladder on the side of the expressway in order to get to an appointment in time.  Thus begins her journey into the surreal. 

"1Q84 - That's what I'll call this new world... Q is for Question mark. A world that bears a question. Like it or not, I'm here now, in the year 1Q84.  The 1984 that I knew no longer exists.  It's 1Q84 now. The air has changed. The scene has changed. I have to adapt to this world with a question mark as soon as I can. Like an animal released into a new forest, in order to protect myself and survive, I have to learn the rules of this place and adapt myself to them."

Tengo is pulled into a scheme to rewrite a story written by a 17 year old girl about a girl, the death of a goat, and the 'little people,' and his life is forever altered.  

Murakami has a tendency to have the characters repeat themselves over and over and over again, but with each reiteration, you're pulled in just a little bit deeper in to the weird life of the characters which is full of symbolism with cats, and crows, and owls, and death. It's full of  mystery and romance, with much to do about a cult, as well as a literary conundrum, in which Leoš Janáček Sinfonietta plays a big roll in the fusion of the alternate world.  It's bizarre, but a good bizarre to say the least, but well worth reading once or twice in your lifetime. 



Book Nine: Write for Life by Julia Cameron


Julia Cameron's Write for Life is an inspirational and useful book full of  warm and cozy essays, filled with tidbits on nature and her dog Lily, as she provides the gentle keys to writing.  I didn't take 6 weeks to read as I wanted to find out all she had to offer, sooner than later. 

She begins with the beneficial reminder that morning pages are essential in letting your words flow on the page, artist dates are needed to fill the well as it empties, and walking helpful to your  health and imagination.  

"Morning pages train us to take risks. They dare us to move outside our comfort zone... They are a tough love friend. They challenge us to change our size, to become larger, more daring... They urge us to be more honest, to take action where action is needed... "

You aren't being negative, "You're ventilating the negative feelings, not increasing them."  And in the pages, "we face our demons, and when we do, we find we have room for new and positive endeavors."

I found the morning pages to be beneficial over the years in working out problems, both with my family, and with my characters. I stopped doing them again but committed to taking them up once again. True story. This past week I set my alarm to go off 15 minutes early so I would have time to write before work, and found myself getting to work 10 minutes late. Good think I'm the boss.  LOL!  

After your morning pages, she recommends setting an easy daily quota of two to three pages, and 'laying tracks', slowly and steadily from a to b to c.  And schedule your writing by your mood rather than the time of day and grabbing time, rather than waiting for the big chunk of time that you're never going to find.  

I went through my current WIP and figured out if I revise two to three pages five days a week, the revision will be done at the end of August. 

I highlighted quite a bit and took copious notes, talking to myself on the page, setting her advice in my head.  She also provide useful advice for how to outline and revise your story once the first draft is finished, which brings clarity. 

"A well executed outline resembles a train track with each entry a tie."

Which I really need to do, rather than relying on the outline in my head. I need to see the visual reminder to make it concrete and make better progress. 

Although The Artist way is wonderful,  Write for Life is a shorter version, told through wonderful essays which reiterates some of the ideas including synchronicity, crazy makers, toxic friends,  patience, and asking for guidance.  Well worth reading. 

Nonfiction, Writing Life, 181

James M's review of IDW Sonic issue 56


Hi, folks. Sorry about the delay, but so much was happening. 

Now, I am back with my thoughts on issue 56 of IDW Sonic, the finale of the Imposter saga as written by Evan Stanley. The main story follows Sonic, Tails, Eggman and Metal Sonic battling Surge and Kit in Doctor Starline's lab after tracking them there, Surge is using Eggman's Dynamo Cage and the power of the Wisps to give herself a fighting chance against Sonic while Kit does his best to help her, but despite the rogues' efforts, Sonic and Tails defeat them, Starline's lab collapses and the good guys part ways with Eggman to return the Wisps to Whisper.

I know, I gave a brief summary, but this issue was one blast of a finale and was a real fun read like the others. It was fantastic, very fantastic and I love Evan's writing, even the art is expressive with the action scenes. Issue 56 may not be my favorite issue, but the Sonic comic has been really amazing from the start, regardless if it's not as super awesome as Archie Sonic was during it's decades-long run. Hopefully, IDW can continue to be engaging and epic in every way it can with good writers and perfect storytelling.

Honestly, IDW Sonic issue 56 gets a 9.5, it was so good and the IDW crew cares so much about Sonic and his friends and the lore just as SEGA does. Good luck, guys, and take care.

-James. M

Book Eight: The Blue - Nancy Bilyeau


I finished the historical fiction novel The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau, a new to me author.

First sentence:  Amiability has never been counted more important in a woman's character than it is today." 

"In eighteenth-century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue…

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?"

I really wanted to love this story, but didn't. She was way to amiable. I felt like the main character was a victim of circumstance, never growing, naïve, going along while every one else around her – the men – solved the problems. It is the 18th century after all.  The latter half of the story was a disappointment with Thomas being the one that did all the heavy lifting, so they could have their happily ever after.

Dusty, new to me, historical fiction, ebook. 

BW4: Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, and Writing, Oh My!


Happy Chinese New Year! It's book week four in our 52 books quest and this week is all about the Year of the Rabbit. 

“Rabbits are known to be incredibly witty, outgoing, well-spoken, creative, empathetic, thoughtful and meditative; the water element of 2023 means this year will bring even more introspection, peace and hope… It’s a season to hone into your imagination, intuition and instincts. With artistic inspiration as a focal point, the rabbit encourages you to fill your heart and soul with hobbies and crafts. Poetry, painting, making music—any activity that instills inner harmony will reign supreme.”  Stylecaster – Cam Zhang

Good thing I’m in a creative mood this year.

I love following rabbit trails and have been following a lot lately on Instagram with posts about books and bullet journaling and writing and books, books, and more books, and a little bit of self help thrown in, along with a smattering of celebrities. Which brings me to the point of this post – we’re going to dive down a rabbit hole this week and read something with or about or symbolizes rabbits this week.  No, it doesn’t have to be an actual rabbit.

While reading Julia Cameron’s Write for Life this week,  I was reminded of the story, The Tortoise and the Hare with Cameron reminder that writers should take it slow and easy and not race ahead. “Slow and steady wins the race.”

I’m still working my way through Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (80%) done. As well as The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau (45%).  On my second reread of Julia Cameron’s Write for Life and writing down all the stuff I underlined.

More Kitty Norville with Kitty goes to Washington in which she goes to Washington to testify before a senate house hearing and gets herself into a mess with the nasty senator and more vampires. (book #7)

The suburban has been loaded with multiple bags of books: fiction, nonfiction, and a bunch of homeschool books to take the friends of the library.  Have been going down memory lane culling through all the homeschool memorabilia – what to keep, what to get rid of.  We may be able to fit the car in the garage by the end of the month.  Woot Woot!

BW3: Perfectionism and Procrastination and books! Oh my!


Happy Sunday! It's book week three in our 52 books quest and this week's mission is to read something with Blue on the cover or in the Title. 

This past week I finished Black Orchid Blues which was icky, and needed a brain bleach after finishing it so I reread Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn.  I can see I'll probably end up rereading the whole Kitty Norville series this year, now that I've finished the first. 

I rarely give up on books once I start them, but unfortunately had to give up on Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun.  The first chapter was cringe worthy, then it got more confusing from there. There is a character who is referenced as xe or xir or iktan interchangeably, within the same sentence, within the same paragraph, within the dialog,  which not only confused the heck out of me, but was annoying as well. I couldn't follow the discussion because it kept throwing me out of the story. The rest of characters are equally unfathomable. Unfortunately I wasn't enjoying the story, so decided it was time to give up. I enjoyed Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, this one not so much.

So I turned to Keri Arthur’s stand alone book Who Needs Enemies which was good. I like her writing. The poor character was battling trolls through out the story. She had remarkable recuperative powers. LOL! (Book #6)

Got through vol 1 of 1Q84 and now onto vol 2. It’s not at all like I remembered it.  I think I mixed it up with Wind Up Bird Chronicles. 

Time for something different. I pulled up dusty ebook The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau which is a historical fiction novel about a character finding out the secrets of making porcelain and the color blue.  Enjoying it so far. 

I'm also reading Julia Cameron's Write for Life which has prompted me to think about perfectionism versus procrastination. Is perfectionism the same as procrastination? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Do I procrastinate with my writing because of perfectionist tendencies?  Am I really a perfectionist or do I just have a tendency to procrastinate.  I do like to have huge chunks of time to write, rather than grab small chunks, so as she suggests, I need to grab those moments and write. 

Do I overthink the story to the detriment of the story, to the detriment of my imagination. Probably. I've been avoiding my story, avoiding revising and finishing it. Why, I don't know. Writer's block or procrastination?  I know the minute I open the document, I'll change the same darn sentences for the millionth time until I warm up and wonder why I'm not making progress.

Cameron would say, as she says multiple time in Write for Life as well as The Artist's Way and all her other books, to take it to the page. Do your morning pages and figure it out.  Which I will, when I find the time. LOL!  Just kidding. I've done morning pages off and on over the years and they've helped me work out all kinds of problems.  

It's interesting because last night I watched a zoom conversation between Jayne Anne Krentz and J.T. Ellison and although they are seasoned writers, they go through the same self doubt with the beginning of every story.  So I guess it never goes away, you just power through it. Time to through my inner critic, my doubting Thomas in a box and lock him up, and back to the morning pages I go...

Life wise, we continue to clear out the garage and I've been going through all the years of  homeschool curriculum and household records as well as all our stored books. . Deciding what to keep and what to let go.  All of it is bringing back lots of memories, and working through the good, plus the bad which isn't always cathartic.  More of a reason to do morning pages, so I can work it out of my system.  On the good side, have been 'finding' a lot of books that I want to reread and even rearranged our shelves in the house to accommodate a few. Shh, don't tell hubby. 

Book Five: Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn


Kitty and the Midnight Hour is the first book in the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn. I Needed a brain bleach after my last read and Vaughn's filled the bill.

"Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station - and a werewolf in the closet. Her new late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged is a raging success, but it's Kitty who can use some help. With one sexy werewolf-hunter and a few homicidal undead on her tail, Kitty may have bitten off more than she can chew!"

I remember I first read the series back in 2013 and enjoyed the heck out of it.  It's totally unintentional but it seems I've been going back to books I read in 2013 for some reason.  Like 1Q84, I hardly remembered a thing so it is like reading again for the first time.  Stands the test of time. I was glad to see Kitty grow out of being a submissive wolf throughout the story and stand up for herself.

I'm sure I'll be revisiting the rest of the series over the next few weeks, in between my other newish reads. 

Book four: Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker


I finished Black Orchid Blues by a new to me author, Persia Walker last night.  I think I picked it up years ago at one of the book mystery conventions so it's been on my shelves for quite a while.  

I almost quit on this book twice, but each time it sucked me in a little bit more. As my son says, it was “cringe worthy”, moments of ick that I found offensive, but when you think about it, were minor compared to what the characters were going through. There were quite a few twists and turns, dumb decisions, and unexpected moments. Nor was there exactly a happy ending. More like a ‘maybe I’ll try a little bit more.’ Another book tuber made a comment the other day – Did I feel things? Yes, I felt things and found myself distancing myself emotionally from the characters and the action. It was unsettling and I really didn’t want to invest in the story, but I did. Am I glad I read the story? I don’t know.  I think I’m still processing. But when all is said and done, it was dark and disturbing.  

Has a lot of trigger issues: mental illness, child abuse, hermaphroditism, sadistic murders, kidnapping.  

Category: new to me author, dusty, mystery, 

BW2: Dipping my toes in to multiple books

I'm letting my mood dictate what I read this year and have been dipping my toes into multiple books, this week working through Mount TBR.   Yesterday I had an epiphany while making breakfast.   I'd just finished Ivan Turgenov's The Singers in A Swim in the Pond in the Rain: in which four Russians give a Master Class in Reading, Writing and life by George Saunders.  In The Singers, the author goes into long digressions about the town, the people, etc.  right in the middle of the story.  Saunders points out that if you try to cut out any of the story, it fails as a whole. The digressions, the descriptions are important in bringing the characters to life. In making the reader care about the character and the events.  

So... I'm in the midst of reading 1Q84 (my Eastern book) by Haruki Murakami and he too goes into long digressions, flashbacks in which he goes into detail about the characters past, before coming back to the present.  Marakami's writing is so very similar to Turgenov which made me appreciate Saunders take on The Singers and found it valuable.  Synchronicity. Which I had been complaining the other day was distinctly lacking in my life.  Ha!

Since it's been 10 years since I last read 1Q84, I hardly remembered any of the story, except for the climb off the expressway.  And I'd forgotten the story took place in 1984 which is why Aomame decided to call her new world 1Q84.

"Q is for 'question mark." A world that bears a question... The 1984 that I knew no longer exists. It's 1Q84 now.  The air has changed, the scene has changed...."

I'm currently on page 220 out of  925 pages and at the moment I don't care for the decisions either Tengo or Aomame have made. And their mannerisms are such that I can't decide whether it is cultural differences or shades of autism I am seeing, which may explain some things.  

Books finished this week were: 

Three A books:   After Dark (physical) by Haruki Murakami, Kevin Anderson and Neil Peart's Clockwork Angels (dusty/ebook), and Akwaeke Emezi's (ebook) You made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty. 

Sipping from multiple non fiction books including One Year Chronological Bible, Thomas Merton's Run to the Mountain besides dipping back into A Swim in the Pond in the Rain.  

On the nightstand are my B books for this week to read in between 1Q84:  Dusty ebook  - Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun as well as a extremely dusty physical book - Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker which I think I'm finally in the mood to read. We'll see. 

Plus James and I are listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline during our car trips. He's another author who over describes things. 

How do I manage to read so much?  I decided to cut back on aimless scrolling through the interweb which has made a huge difference. Nor do we watch much television except for on the weekends so have always read in the evenings.

We've been culling through all our books as we clean out the garage and in anticipation of getting more bookshelves and I finding so many books I want to reread.  It's been an interesting diversion. 

Book Three: Clockwork Angels by Kevin Anderson and Neil Peart


"So young man, what do you lack?"  is the question that started Owen on his hero's quest.  Little did he know the Anarchist and the Watchmaker had both set their sites on him and would try to influence every decision he made from there on out. But little did they realize Owen had a mind of his own and dreams that would take him on a odyssey of exploration until he found his place. 

"What do I lack? What an annoying, ridiculous question! He bit back his answer, keeping the words to himself. He muttered in a low voice for his ears alone, since no one would understand anyway. “I lack freedom. All these people lack freedom. If a man has a perfect life but cannot make his own choices, then what good is that life?” Oh, they had their clothes and their comforts, their families, their pocketwatches and cheap gold, their smiles and their diamonds. But above all that, he would choose free will. They didn’t even know what it was."

Clockwork Angels is an intriguing steampunk story created by the collaboration between Kevin Anderson and Neil Peart. The story was influenced by the album and lyrics of the Rush's Clockwork Angels as well as Voltaire's Candide and other stories. 

"The Watchmaker and the Anarchist had demanded that he choose between them, but Owen Hardy from Barrel Arbor—a mere assistant manager of an apple orchard, who had traveled so much, endured so much, seen so much since his modest beginnings—chose not to decide. That was the choice he made. That was his free will."

Dusty, ebook, steampunk, 

Book Two: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

You made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Nigerian author Akwaeke Emezi is more than just a romance.  The story was recommended by Shana at SBTB.

There were so many layers to this story. It's about loss and grief, sexual attraction, choices, and love, sorrow and learning to live again. After the loss of her husband, Feyi is trying to figure out if she can ever love again. She plunges into the dating waters full steam ahead, trying to figure out who and what she wants. She's a woman exploring the sexual waters and falling in love with someone she didn't expect. The beginning of the story fooled me when it went full boil with a sexual escapade, but I gave it a chance. It simmered down and the more I learned more about Feyi, the deeper I became invested in her story. It was crude, it was raw. It was full of angst, full of sorrow. Full of choices, and full of love. 

“It was like a fork in the road has closed, shut off by an avalanche of grief, choked with rocks and a broken heart. It wasn't supposed to open, and honestly, it still hadn't, but somehow, an entirely new path had formed, green and creeping.”

The story sticks with you long after you finish it, making you think. One of the themes was about choice. The choice Alim makes, wants to make for himself, when in the past, all his choices were for his children. He's choosing himself this time. Which got me to thinking about some decisions we make aren't about the other person but about us. Food for thought.

“I feel like the world wanted to remind me that it loves me, and so it gave me him. It gave me a chance, that possibility he’s always talking about, and I seized it with both hands because I know, and Alim knows, how f'ing rare it is for that door to open, even by a crack, and what it’s like when it closes.”

I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. 

Contains LQBTQ supporting cast characters. and crude language.

Categories:  Different culture, romance, new to me author, 

Book One: After Dark by Haruki Murakami


After Dark by Haruki Murakami is an intriguing story that takes place in one night between the hours of midnight and dawn. 

First sentence: Eyes mark the shape of the city. 

All the staples of Murakami's stories are including: the cat, the crow, the cafe, the tea, the characters awake all night, existential conversations, characters running away, the unknown, the fear of discovery. The nameless narrator - the 'we' takes the reader on a journey, through the dark hours of the night, using a wide angled camera shot which narrows down to each character and their viewpoint. A diverse cast of good and bad. One night. Unresolved stories. Or are they? Conversations through the night, afraid to sleep while another sleeps and is taken through to mystical portal. How much is a dream? How much is real? 

"Nineteen-year-old Mari is waiting out the night in an anonymous Denny’s when she meets a young man who insists he knows her older sister, thus setting her on an odyssey through the sleeping city. In the space of a single night, the lives of a diverse cast of Tokyo residents—models, prostitutes, mobsters, and musicians—collide in a world suspended between fantasy and reality. Utterly enchanting and infused with surrealism, After Dark is a thrilling account of the magical hours separating midnight from dawn."

Near the end of the story I was contemplating - do any of the characters learning something, change, and grow? It's open ended, subtle. The story tickles your imagination and take you through the gamut of emotions.

Favorite author, bookish bookology, A to Z, Magical Realism

BW1: Happy New Year: More Reading and Writing goals


Happy New Year!  It's my 15th year hosting Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks and I'm looking forward to a whole new year of exploring different genres. I'll have a little bit more freedom because I won't be doing 52 books on Well Trained Mind any more. Decided it was time to hang up my hosting shoes and let someone else take the reins.  

I want to read more nonfiction this year and also read more faith based books. Read Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain years ago and since then have dipped into his various books.  Decided to work my way through his Journals and have had the first one Run to the Mountain in my virtual stacks forever.  And I had also added the 2nd journal Entering the Silence to my physical stacks last year.  So started Run to the Mountain this morning.  Lots of yellow and orange highlights in kindle. LOL!   So it looks like I’ll be immersing myself in Thomas Merton this year.

I went hog wild with Henry Nouwen and added a few of his to my stacks. Started You are My Beloved daily devotional this morning.  Plus I’ll be working through his Draw Ever Closer (30 Days with a Great Spiritual Teacher) next month most likely.

I'm trying to wean myself off of using my cell phone so much so instead my bathroom book will be  Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It. 

Lot of sip reads, so I'm off to a good start with the non fiction. 

Haruki Murakami is our author of the month on 52 Books so I'll be reading several of his books including Novelist as a Vocation, Men Without Women, After Dark, and a reread of 1Q84.

I'm reading through the alphabet again from A to Z and back again so my A books are Murakami’s After Dark and Kevin Anderson’s Clockwork Angels.

Writing wise, I didn't finish Red Thief.  I discovered making multiple passes through scenes filling in character, setting, senses, etc. works but it takes more time. Also I didn't listen to the characters and  sometime during the year I wrote myself into a hole and had to dig my way out. With the start of the new year, I really need to redo my timeline, go through the story, and write down what needs to be done. I like the story. So does my husband. At least the few snippets he's seen so I need to finish the damn book. 

Think I'll also go back to journaling again as I stopped mid year. I need to go through all the writing books I have, decide on 52 writing prompts for the year because they really do stimulate my imagination.  Also freewriting helps me come up with poems, short stories, and story ideas so it is beneficial.