Friday, August 31, 2012

Recap for August 2012

Slight dip in blog hits this month, but that's okay. I'm still doing well for a writing/reviewing blog that's been around about a year.

I picked up an Audible Gold account this month, because I'm running out of audio books the library system has that I want to listen to. Also, there are audio books I want to own, and the account makes them more affordable.

Book Reviews
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (YA humor/adventure; 4/5 stars; audio)—Wahoo Cray and his crazy father go into the Everglades with a "reality" wildlife show host. Hijinks ensue. Hiaasen seems to hit his stride with the YA elements in this one.

Persuasion by Jane Austen (Classic romantic lit; 5/5 stars; audio)—Anne Elliot verges on the edge of spinsterhood because she took her well-meaning friend's advice and rejected the only man she ever loved. He comes back into her life. Jane Austen's final published novel, at least in her lifetime, and it's a delightful read, especially for Jane Austen fans. I read this and several other Austen novels as part of a reading event.

No Need to Ask by Margo Candela (short romance; 4/5 stars; ebook)—Read this in May, but didn't get around to reviewing it until just now, after it was re-released with a pretty new cover. Jillian Winters is a set designer for a hit show, but feels stuck in a rut. Then she meets Ethan Marshall, who hires her to decorate his loft, and who she falls for, hard. From what I've read of Candela, her stuff is good if you don't like explicit sex scenes.

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy with fae; 5/5 stars; October Daye #3; audio)—A reread to hold me over until the next book comes out in September. Toby Daye tracks down the Firstborn who kidnaps children from their beds to use in his Hunt. Decidedly dark, with several visible influences throughout.

Home Improvement: Undead Edition edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner (urban fantasy anthology; 3/5 stars)—Picked this up because I like some of the authors. Liked their stories, for the most part, but found an awful lot of them lacking in quality. Overall unimpressed.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (classic romantic fiction; 4/5 stars; audio)—The Dashwood sisters have moved down in the world, but they make the most of their new cottage home, and its handsome (and rich) locals. My opinion of the book's quality may have been colored by a narrator I didn't like.

Death Masks by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy detective wizard; Dresden Files #5; 2/5 stars; audio)—I only listen for James Marsters' voice, and even that's wearing thin. In this installment, Harry evangelizes to a holy warrior, fights a duel, watches other people slice up demons, and recovers a stolen Shroud of Turin. If I detected any hint of character growth or changing his mind about the sexism, I might warm to these. I'm not going to gross myself out, in the meantime.

The Hollow City by Dan Wells (psychological mind screw/science fiction; 5/5 stars)—Michael Shipman has schizophrenia, but all he sees may not be hallucination. Excellently crafted in a way that makes it clear what's real and what isn't, even when what's real is implausible.

No Dress Required by Cari Quinn (romance; 4/5 stars; ebook)—Noelle and Jake are alone together on New Year's Eve, and ready to see if their not-platonic feelings should be consummated. A fun, light read, it cleansed my reading palate after the last two.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (classic romantic fiction; 5/5 stars; audio)—Fanny Price goes to live with her rich cousins, where she's looked down on and treated like a servant, until the charismatic Henry Crawford falls in love with her. Her protection against his charm is that she's already in love with someone else. A lot of elements in this appear in modern rom-coms.

Lady Susan by Jane Austen (epistolary novel published posthumously; 4/5 stars; audio)—Lady Susan Vernon is selfish, vain, and manipulative, and the only relief at the end is that she doesn't ruin everyone's lives. An excellent study in perspective in Austen.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (urban fantasy with werewolves; Mercedes Thompson #1; 3/5 stars)—Mercy Thompson helps out a werewolf who's new to the whole shifting thing, and winds up hip-deep in it. The writing isn't excellent, but I can see glimmers of potential, so I'll keep reading.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Victorian horror; 4/5 stars; audio)—An incredibly quick read, and worth it to get at the original story. Lots of differences between this and the version that's survived in pop culture.
Most Popular Posts in August
The first two most popular are the hyphen post and my 11/22/63 readalong post, neither of which were posted in August. Moving right along . . .

The Importance of Good Grammar explains why the rules are important to learn, which was recently substantiated in an article in the Harvard Business Review. Even if you're not a writer, you need to learn how to grammar.

A Pantster on Top Ten Tuesday lists the ten posts that give you the fullest picture of who I am. Considering I shy away from making this a personal blog, it was an easy list to compile. The hard part was picking which ones to weed out.

Good Stuff: Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye Series is borne of an impatience to read the next October Daye book, and it discusses why I love the series as much as I do, and why I think you should give it a try.

Throwing Out the Rules gives you permission to ignore everything I've written about the craft of writing on this blog, and just write. Helpful for those who feel overwhelmed by all the things they're trying to remember, and who just want to write a freakin' story, okay?
Bending Tropes discusses one of my narrative kinks, and how to accomplish it. I give some examples of tropes, and ways I've seen them subverted that I liked.

Setting Your Story talks about the pitfalls with using a real place, and with making up your own. Both have their pros and cons, and I can't tell you which you want to use. I can give you information about how to choose, though.

Speaking of choices, Editing vs. Rewriting explains why you don't want to toss out your whole story just because you have to make a few changes, and I tell you how I approach rewrites, when I do them.

Honorable Mention
I also wanted to point out that I did a guest post for Roof Beam Reader's Austen in August event, about using Jane Austen's dialogue to teach you how to write it more effectively. I've already mentioned it once before, but it bears repeating. I do like how it came out, and I get a warm fuzzy every time I look at all the nice comments.

Everyone, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, whether you're at Dragon*Con, Worldcon, PAX, or hanging out on your couch catching up on some reading. I'll see you in September.


  1. " need to learn how to grammar" So, grammar I did. I looked it up in the OED, and found that it has indeed been used as a verb, but not much.

    1. I was referring to the slang usage, but I'm pleased to learn it's still correct.