Goodreads Review: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so here you go!

27 Hours (The Nightside Saga, #1)27 Hours by Tristina Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first few chapters were “huh, that’s interesting, I wonder where this goes”. Then this book grabbed me and didn’t let me go until I finished it, about 24 hours later (I had to stop for dinner and sleep somewhere in there). I loved the wild ride and adrenaline rush, and even when some of the action scenes felt a little confusing on exactly what where how it almost didn’t matter because it just added to the chaos and panic and urgency of the attacks.

I loved the representation in this book, the queerness and Deafness and races were all lovely to see in there, and I shipped all the ships. I loved the sense of humor the teens had, the jokes they cracked, the relationships with each other they’d built. I loved the world-building, the setting, the history, and the complex political views that didn’t always agree with each other. I loved that this book felt like something written with care and passion.

I’m also really really really looking forward to the next one because OMG I NEED IT NOW PLEASE THANK YOU.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Announcements.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Obviously, I’m not updating on anything like a regular schedule here. I’m not going to apologize for it this time either; I realize I’ve been making the conscious choice to focus my energies elsewhere, and I stand by it. I only have so much time and energy. I need to be picky about what I invest it in.

So, the time has come (the walrus said) to move on yet again! The secret collaborative project I mentioned in my previous post has been unveiled for over a month now, and I’m going to be spending a lot more time and effort over there instead of over here. It’s called The Octopus Society of Evil Authors. There’s a lot of ways to find us, which I’ll also list at the bottom of this post. Please come join in the fun! We focus on various aspects of writing, of course, but we’re very entertaining about it and quite a few things we discuss can be applied to non-writers as well (including an informative and helpful introduction to creating a secure and private internet, which is a very timely subject…).

As for this blog, I’ll be leaving it up and may even post something new now and again, but for the most part I’m considering it on indefinite hiatus. It’s so far on the back burner it’s not even on the stove anymore.

Because honestly, there’s a lot of moving parts to keep track of in my life right now. Quite a few of them are voluntary undertakings, but they feel important and even essential in other ways beyond the strictly literal. This blog just isn’t one of them anymore, at least not without completely overwhelming myself with commitments and having something else — something less deliberate — falling by the wayside instead. I’m on the constant edge of being stressed out, and doing everything I can not to tip over. The only way I can keep all the other things going is if I can give myself a little breathing room every once in awhile; caring about my personal blog is one of the things I’m sacrificing to do that. It might be the wrong choice, but at least it’s my choice. I can change it later if I so decide, and meanwhile it means I’m not losing my grip on something else.

Besides the O.S.E.A. project, I’m still writing fiction, still trying not to spend too much of my money on cool new habits like fountain pens, and still working my seasonal job. There’s a bunch of other things going on too — like trying to maintain friendships; needing to travel more; taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally; needing to find a less stressful living environment and trying to decide if that means a new line of work and what that line of work might be; trying to figure out how to live my life and find a job more in line with my values of greener and more sustainable living, with a gentler and more healing touch on the earth; and on, and on, and on… And, of course, trying to decide what turning 30 in about two months means to me (if anything).

While I could use this blog to try and figure out these things “out loud” so to speak, I’d rather just focus on the time and energy I’d spend writing posts on actually doing something about all this instead. Don’t get me wrong: writing it out in the blog has been beneficial in the past. It’s just not the approach I’m using this time. Time to give something else a try, you know? See if I get different results, and all that.

So thank you, my lovely cyber-friends, for sticking with me this far. Please do join us over at The Octopus Society of Evil Authors, and if something huge happens in my life I’ll serenely try to post about it here. In the meantime, be well, take care of yourselves, and make deliberate choices.

Love,

GeGi.

PS: here’s a list of the O.S.E.A. links –

WordPress: octopussocietyofevilauthorsblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @OctopusSEA

Tumblr: octopussocietyofevilauthors.tumblr

Email: OctopusSocietyofEvilAuthors @ gmail

Aftermath.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today I am even more of a vortex of feels than usual. I’m starting this post not knowing what exactly I want to say, but knowing I need to write, to speak, to share some of the mess inside my head with those willing to listen.

The tipping point, as it so often is these days, was yet another senseless ugly awful horrifying slaughter. 49 people dead in Orlando, more in critical condition, all at the hands of one hateful man. Counterpoint to that, imagines of people lined around the block to donate blood, and people all over the world in candlelit vigil. Political battles raging on social media and the news, full of vitriol and rhetoric. Reasoned responses and acts and words of kindness and love and support and community countering the hate and fear and agendas. I can’t stop crying today, but at the same time I can’t quite lose hope either. Everything hurts right now, but out of some of the pain is goodness. The killing and attacks all over the world fill me agony for the victims. People who come together to rebuild afterward remind me not to give up. There is light in the darkness, and after each time something horrific happens my Mum reminds me to be part of that light. Sometimes that’s all we can do. It doesn’t feel like enough, but to each person who needs to see that light and sees yours, it means the world.

There’s so much more on my mind right now, other things I’ve been dealing with in my personal life, but this isn’t the time for that. Right now, it’s time for mourning, and remembering, and coming together to shine light back into this darkness. It’s time for love is love is love is love. It’s time to fight back, to be brave and supportive and loving and proud in the face of fear and hate and death. It’s time to spread truth and hope and change and love and support and community. It’s time to stand together. It’s time to say NO MORE. It’s past time. This should never have happened. None of these kinds of attacks should ever have happened.

Stay safe. Be the light. Be the hope. Be the love.

Goodreads Crossover Mini-Reviews!

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’ve been having a hell of a month. I’ll tell you about it later, but for now, please enjoy these not-quite-up-to-my-usual-level mini-reviews of what I’ve been reading lately!

Love,

GeGi.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so I really really liked this book. I love Felicia Day anyway, so I was pretty excited to read this. And I was not disappointed…

Basically on every page, I was coming across things that made me go, “omg I relate to this so hard!!!!” in my head. Starting with the style of homeschooling, continuing with the finding your people on the internet, going on strong with the social anxiety and self doubt, and finishing dramatically with the wicked sense of humor and embracing of the weirdness.

View all my reviews

Written in Red (The Others, #1)Written in Red by Anne Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, this isn’t going to be a proper review, because I’ve been too stressed and busy to take the time to do it right away. But I needed to at least say a little bit, because this book and the ones that followed were AMAZING, and I’m now a huge fan. The world-building blew me away with how well thought-out everything was, creating a sense of history and place and people and politics on every level, in a consistent and expanding way as the series went on. The races and interactions were all very fleshed out and believable. There’s SO MUCH in these books, and none of it drags or makes me feel like I just want to gloss over it to get back to the action/interactions. It’s all woven together so the info-dumps come with actual things to care about, building a character or the politics or the history, or usual all three at once. I could read it quickly and easily, and actually had a very hard time stopping, and it had me on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole time because it balanced out the world-building with the character interactions with the action events so well the entire time. I would definitely recommend this series, especially for fans of urban fantasy who want a great story with amazing world-building.

View all my reviews

The Royal WeThe Royal We by Heather Cocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is how to do a modern fairytale love story and make it real…

I picked this to read because I wanted something lighter, semi-fluff, while I was stressed out. I sort of got what I wanted, I guess…??? But actually, this was even better. It’s real and heartfelt and sometimes raw, and it’s funny and outrageous and sweet. I’m not even sure how to describe it. Just read it yourself. It’s worth it.

View all my reviews

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was on the fence a little when I started this, and for a while into it. But I persisted, and it paid off with a really enjoyable story. Certain twists I predicted very early and easily, though, and that always counts against a book in my world. In this case, it wasn’t enough that I didn’t still like the book, and I may even read it again at some point because the world-building concept this series is based on was kind of fun and interesting (and I won’t say more because potential spoilers).

The Jack The Ripper aspect was really interesting, and I think exploring that event in history with this new setting was the biggest thing that kept me hooked. Sorry, Rory: I liked you okay, but you just weren’t enough to carry this on your own for me. The narrative, combined with the predicable plot twists, would have made this entire thing feel a little too “young” to really hold me, otherwise. I’ll be reading the next book, and we’ll see how I like where that one goes…

View all my reviews

Let’s talk about another taboo.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’ve talked before a little bit about my own dealings with depression, but I don’t think I ever really touched on one of the causes that kicks off the endless up-and-down cycles I go through with no end in sight. It comes down to simple biology. Not a genetic presupposition for depression, although it’s possible that’s a factor too. I’m talking about the basic biology be being female-bodied.

Being female-bodied in society has a lot of baggage already attached to it. Things are pretty messed up, to understate the state of things. Everyday in the news there’s new reasons and examples of how much life sucks for the female-bodied and female-passing, and it’s hard to ignore just how little we’re valued as equal people. The issue I’m talking about today is one of the first basic taboo subjects we’re all taught to avoid and ridicule from adolescence: our periods. The time of month we cry and bleed and hurt and rage, and around expected to either hide it or be teased about it.

For at least a quarter of every single month of the majority of my life, I can expect my own body to put me through a personal hell of physiological and psychological warfare. Every female-bodied person experiences this time of the month a little differently. For me, starting a little over a week from when the blood comes, I start feeling overwhelmed and helpless and stressed out. I get depressed, I can’t focus mentally, I cry at the slightest frustration or emotional response to anything, I just want to stay curled up in bed so I don’t have to face anyone while I feel raw and vulnerable and flayed open by my own mind. It’s impossible to my usual optimistic and cheerful self. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde; I become dark and cynical and sometimes suicidal, feeling hopeless and distracted and unable to cope with any kind of interactions.

This is every month, for one week out of every four. No matter what I do or try.

Recovering from this kind of mental flogging is bad enough, difficult and painful and slow. Usually I have about one good week a month, because I’m beat down by my own body and worn out trying to recover for that long every single month. On top of this, I also get beat up and worn down by the things which are usually called ‘cramps’, which in my opinion doesn’t even come close to describing the endless twisting aching stabbing pain which, lucky me, isn’t effected by any pain relief, over-the-counter or prescription. This is the kind of pain that makes me feel like I’m going to throw up all day because it runs so deep in my body, that makes life unbearable while it lasts, that leaves me faint and ill and pale and hunched over if I have to stand up or walk anywhere. This is the kind of pain I’m expected to work through without showing it, because it’s the pain of being female-bodied and comes every month and “everyone has to deal with it” so I shouldn’t expect special treatment. This is the kind of pain that usually lasts about 24-48 hours, and leaves me weak and shaky for a day or two more after it leaves. Every. Single. Month.

This is considered within the realms of “normal”. Oh sure, having some kind of weird immunity to painkillers isn’t typical, but that’s just a bit of random trivia to other people, a point on which to show a little extra sympathy while still telling me to tough it out and keep working, don’t slow down, we all go through this so why are you so weak as to ask for a day off?

There’s a lot of messed up expectations in society. Despite people not admitting it, the fact of that matter is that having a menstrual cycle is a lot like having a mental illness with physical symptoms, complete with a lot of the same stigmas, belittling jokes, and daily struggles. The difference is, there’s a lot of fight happening right now to increase awareness and understanding about a lot of mental illnesses, and effective or not, there’s at least some forms of support networks for a lot of them, too. Not so much so for the things I’ve been facing and fighting on my own, and I bet that a lot of other female-bodied people are, too. It’s a conversation that just isn’t happening, and I don’t think a lot of people are even aware it’s something that should be addressed, because it’s so deeply ingrained that periods are normal (yes, they are), and that there’s nothing to do about it except put up with it (wrong wrong wrong).

In a perfect world, female-bodied people who suffered through their cycles like I do would be given the support and help they need to take care of themselves during this time. They wouldn’t be forced to try and hide the impossible battles they faced. Instead, they would be encouraged to do whatever helped them survive it, up to and including simply not going to work when necessary, or being given options of different tasks they could actually perform during the times they were unable to fully cope with their normal duties. I don’t think of this as “special treatment”; I think of it as basic human compassion. If people with physical differences and people with mental differences are worth fighting for to get equal treatment, then so is over half the world population who happens to have both a quarter of their lives because of their biology.

Society has conditioned us all to accept that we don’t deserve consideration for the acts of our biology simply because it’s something we all experience to various degrees, and that giving in to it is weakness and we must hide it to be considered ‘equal’ to male-bodied people.

That’s utter nonsense.

Hopefully by now you can see how utterly nonsensical it is, and how very far from any kind of real equality it is. I don’t have answers on how to fight this battle, or advice on creating awareness and change, or channels for building support. All I have is this blog and my words and my outrage. All I have is the hope this is message will resonate and spread, and that somehow, eventually, the world might become a place where I don’t feel like life isn’t worth living because of having been born into this body that I mostly try to love.

Keep fighting. Maybe someday a real equality for everyone will be achieved. Until then, we can keep whispering the dream of it into the darkness, a prayer and a wish to attract the sun and a new day into this endless night terror.

Love,

GeGi.

Goodreads Review: Struck By Lightning.

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips JournalStruck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First off, let me explain the rating. It’s not that this a terrible book. It’s not a great book either, but it’ll probably really click with some people. I watched the movie two years ago (review on my blog here) and it worked for me. I got it. I liked it. I talked about it.

When I came across the book, I figured since I liked the movie, it seemed likely that I’d like the book. For me, personally, this book is just “okay”. I’m not going to read it again, I’m not even going to keep my copy. I did finish it, and I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really feel like I even got enough out of it to like it, hence the two-star rating. It’s probably because everything I would have gotten out of it, I’d already gotten from the movie. I didn’t feel like the book added anything to what I’d already seen.
Basically, if you love this book and have never seen the movie, then yay, there’s a great adaptation out there! But if you’ve seen the movie, this is one of those rare cases where you might not actually need to the read the book.

I typically don’t recap plots in my reviews just because I figure those are easy to find elsewhere. I am, however, going to expand a little on a couple of my status updates with this book, because they pretty much cover the other biggest issues I had reading this.

The Setting: this “small town” of over 9.5 thousand is actually MUCH bigger than the small town I grew up in, which was under 2.5k. So when the narrator goes off on tangents about how small and pitiful and dead-end his town is, I’m like, nope! I mean, the town has a freaking COMMUNITY COLLEGE. I’m pretty sure the closest community college to me was about a two hour drive, three towns over. But then he’s trying to say that getting a movie theater is a huge shinny new deal, whereas my tiny town had a movie theater that was converted from an actual stage theater and so old it was in a historic building. I know each town is going to be different and that comparative population size on average means his was technically a small town, too, but those kinds of things really stick out to me (obviously).

The Snark: Normally, I’m a huge fan of snark. My favorite website ever is called Snark Squad. My own family frequently can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic or sincere unless I drop some obvious hints. But the snark in this book often ended up coming across as overbearing or just plain nasty. And granted, the narrator is a teenager, and therefore might not be the most self-aware creature in the world, but on paper felt like a little much, and sometimes even made me uncomfortable because of just how unrelentingly mean it was. Oddly, there were a lot of line I remembered from the movie in here, but somehow in dialogue it just seemed to work better. Maybe it’s just that spoken words don’t linger like they do in print, or maybe I’ve just changed more than I thought in the last two years since I watched the movie and gotten more sensitive to what people say about each other. Maybe both. Either way, I think the moment I appreciated the most was when Carson started wondering if he was actually the villain in this story. I was a little disappointed that this sudden introspection didn’t actually seem to stick around or lead to any new growth, however.

All in all, I’d say if you haven’t watched the movie, by all means, read this and then watch the movie so you can tell me how it comes across in that order. I’d be very curious to know. And if you’ve already watched it, but are still curious about the book, don’t let my options stop you. Read it, and then let me know if you agree with me or if I’m being too harsh on it, or if I didn’t take it to task enough! Everyone’s take on media is going to be different, and that’s what makes discussions of it interesting.

View all my reviews

Goodreads Review: Carry On.

Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read Fangirl, one of the things I really connected to in that book was the fanfiction aspect (since I read AT LEAST as much fanfic as I do published fic). I really liked the made-up-yet-Harry-Potter-like “Original Fic” that Cath was writing fic for, because it got to play with all the familiar things I love about HP fanfic while not getting bogged down by actual HP canon. So when I found out that Carry On was actually a thing out there that I could read, I was obviously pretty excited. I was also pretty curious, because I wasn’t sure exactly how a Simon Snow novel would play out independently.

Like the author says, though, this isn’t the canon Snow of Fangirl, or Cath’s fanfic Snow. This is Rainbow Rowell’s Snow. And it’s pretty fantastic. First off, as noted multiple times in my status updates, I really loved the magical system in this book. It’s consistent and logical, brilliant and fresh, and utterly ridiculous and fun. It certainly makes the battles entertaining as hell to read. I didn’t mention in my updates, but I equally loved the replacement swears and exclamations that were mixed in with the more recognizable and everyday types. I definitely have a thing for that in media, because it makes language more believable to have swearing and slang (especially when it’s teenagers/adults), and it makes it more unique and world-building to have at least some of it be original. Or maybe my Buffy influence is showing a little there…

Either way, I think when it’s done well it adds to the dialogue and makes a more natural flow to conversation. And here it really felt like it worked; I could hear the characters’ voices in my head when I was reading, because their words and thoughts felt like real speech and real people. That doesn’t always happen — in fact it doesn’t happen for me very often at all — so it made it extra special for me.

Speaking of the characters, there are quite a few amazingly awesome characters in this book. Baz is sassy and snarky as hell, and I utterly love him to bits and want more. Penelope kicks ass, obviously, and I even really liked Agatha after a while. Simon was not actually as annoying as I thought he’d be, given that Harry Potter tends to drive me up the wall. Even a lot of the adults were pretty cool and interesting. I really appreciated all the diversity, of course, but I can’t help but be a little annoyed at the UTTER LACK of, at any point in Simon wondering if he’s gay now, that there was ZERO mention of the word “bisexual” in his or anyone else’s mind. In fact, I’m pretty sure that for all the times gay and queer get talked about (not just for Simon, and not just him and Baz, either), bisexual NEVER gets mentioned once, for any of them. Which is a real shame, because otherwise I have no complaints or criticisms.

As a side note, the final confrontation between Simon and the Humdrum actually played out thematically a lot like the climax of a novella I wrote as a teen. I should go look at it again, brush up the writing a little, etc. It’s a good theme for a final showdown, and it’s nice to see it get used. But first, I need to go read Fangirl again…and then maybe Carry On again…which might make me need to read Fangirl again…

If you don’t hear from me again, I’m stuck in an endless reread loop. Send help. (Or chocolate and scones and tea.) (Either way is good.)

View all my reviews