When?

When does not-writing become a thing of “because I don’t feel like it” instead of “because I have a thousand other things that have to be done”?

When does my brain stop making excuses and get itself together and get my body in front of the keyboard?

When is “tired” no longer a valid excuse for not getting things done (things besides writing)?

When will I learn that I can’t do everything I’d like to, not and give each thing the attention and focus it deserves?

When will real-life have-to’s stop interfering with my writing time? (Looking at you, last-minute work meeting on my day off.)

When will I finally beat my tendency for procrastination? (Which eventually becomes active self-sabotage.)

When will people finally understand that “I can’t, I have writing to do” does not mean “Sure, I’m not doing anything anyway”?

When will my brain finally give me an outline for The Fall, so the actual writing part feels less like wandering around with a blindfold on?

When will I finally overcome this stupid mental block/laziness and sit in my chair and actually WRITE?

When?

The Dragon Round, by Stephen S. Powers

The Dragon Round
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Simon and Schuster.)

Stephen S. Powers lives in New Jersey and writes poetry and short fiction, in between playing video games and chess. The Dragon Round is his first novel.

Jeryon has been a sea captain for years. He counts on the rules to keep him—and his crew—safe and successful. But not all of his crew agrees. After a dragon attack, the crew takes matters into their own hands, and offer Jeryon and the apothecary who supports him the “captain’s chance”:  a small boat with no sails, no food or water, and only the clothes on their backs.

The island Jeryon and the apothecary land on isn’t as deserted as they thought, between the killer crabs and the dragon egg they find. Jeryon decides to raise the dragon in his quest for justice, but as he grows closer to the dragon, he realizes that the outside world has changed, and if he wants revenge, he’ll have to take it for himself.

The Dragon Round is set in a world far different from our own; a world of violence and mayhem (Okay, so maybe not that different from ours.). Revenge is the driving force of the novel, although Jeryon prefers to think of it as “justice.” But “justice” is rarely as bloody and cruel as seen in this novel. The world is very vivid, and the characters are well-realized, even if I found them mostly unlikeable. (Not going to lie, the dragon was the most likeable character for me.) I’ve seen this novel compared to the Temeraire books, which are currently sitting on my To-Be-Read pile. If so, I may have to give them a miss. Not because this was a bad book, but because I prefer my books with a bit less gratuitous violence and bloodthirsty revenge.

(Galley provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.)

And I Darken, by Kiersten White

and I darken
I do not own this image. Image belongs to Delacorte Press.

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy and Mind Games. Her newest novel, And I Darken, is the first in a new trilogy that asks “What if Vlad the Impaler had been female?”

Lada Dragwlya is a princess, but she’s far more interested in strength and survival than in finding a husband. When her father barters her and her gentle younger brother Radu away for safety, Lada learns that being ruthless is the key to true power. Trapped in the Ottoman Empire, far from her beloved Wallachia, Lada learns to hide her emotions so she and Radu will not become mere pawns in the hands of the sultan, and vows to fight her enemies to her dying breath.

Then they meet Mehmed, lonely son of the sultan, destined to rule the Empire, but friendless and at the mercy of those with real power. Radu feels that he’s made a true friend, and Lada wonders if Mehmed is someone she can finally show her emotions to. But Mehmed is the heir to the Ottoman Empire—which Lada has sworn to fight against, and the place that Radu now considers home. Will love and loyalty prove stronger than vows and vengeance?

And I Darken is a dark, brutal book about a fierce girl who must grow into her strength amidst war and intrigue. Lada is not an easy character to like, but her indomitable will and passion carry her through as she finds her true self. There is plenty of action in this story, but it is the characters themselves that the reader will truly find riveting.

(Galley provided by Delacorte Press.)

Chronicle of a Last Summer, by Yasmine El Rashidi

chronicles
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Crown Publishing.)

Yasmine El Rashidi has written for New York Review of Books and other outlets about the Egyptian revolution and culture. Chronicle of a Last Summer is her first novel.

In 1984 Cairo, a six-year-old girl watches the world around her change. Her father goes away. Her mother retreats into herself. Memories take on a life of their own as her city begins to change. The book next turns to the summer of 1998, when the girl is a college student, studying film. She begins to question the world around her, and the upheaval that Egypt experiences. No one speaks of her father. She has no idea where he is, or why he left. Her cousin urges her to become involved in the political struggles, but she continues to observe as the tumult grows. Finally, the novel comes to 2014, when the girl is now a writer and filmmaker. Her father has returned, and she finds out much more about what took him away—and where he’s been. This revelation shapes her impressions of Egypt in the aftermath of the overthrow of President Mubarak.

Chronicle of a Last Summer is a quiet, introspective novel set amidst the turmoil of Egypt—a turmoil that most westerners are probably oblivious to. Thought it is a thoughtful story, instead of an action-packed one, it immerses the reader in the culture and history of Cairo with a vividness that brings the city to vibrant life.

(Galley provided by Crown Publishing via NetGalley.)

Fire Danger, by Claire Davon

Fire-Danger-Samhain-Cover-200x300
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Samhain Publishing.)

 

Claire Davon began writing as a teenager, then life got in the way for a while. She has since shoved life out of the way and started writing urban fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest novel, Fire Danger, is the first book in the Elements Challenge series.

Rachel Quinn doesn’t remember much of her early years, only vague memories of her parents and faint images of fire. Since her parents died years ago, Rachel has never been able to ask anyone about these visions of fire, and she withdraws into herself, afraid of her memories and the blackouts she has.

Then she finds herself cornered by a pack of werewolves—werewolves!—and rescued by a man with wings, and something comes to life inside of Rachel. She isn’t human, which she never knew was an option, but she doesn’t know what she is—or who—until the gorgeous Phoenix helps her find out. Phoenix is in the midst of his Challenge, the battle with his Demonos counterpart, but Rachel and her mystery add a deeper meaning to this Challenge than Phoenix has ever seen. Phoenix and Rachel must find out the truth about what she is, and stop the Demonos’ plot to destroy the human race.

Fire Danger begins with Rachel’s attack by werewolves and Phoenix’s rescue, and the pace never slows through the course of the novel. The many layers in this novel twist together with danger as the relationship between Phoenix and Rachel grows deeper.  An entertaining read set in an intriguing version of our own.

What I Read in June

Not quite as many books as May, but still a good number.

Powers, by John B. Olson

The Harbringer:  The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America’s Future, by Johnathan Cahn

The Fireman, by Joe Hill (Yes, he is Stephen King’s son, but Joe Hill has some serious writer’s chops in his own right. I could not put this book down!)

deadgirl
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Curiosity Quills Press.)

Deadgirl:  Ghostlight, by B.C. Johnson (Read to review.)

Deadgirl, by B.C. Johnson (And, because I enjoyed the second one so much, I bought the first book–yes, I read them out-of-order. Excellent series, with a very dsitinct voice. I highly recommend.)

ash island
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to J.H. Lucas.)

Escape to Ash Island, by J.H. Lucas (Read to review.)

vinegar girl
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Crown Publishing.)

Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler (read to review.)

running like a girl

Running Like a Girl, by Alexandria Heminsley (Very enjoyable read.)

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (From my TBR pile.)

confessions of a fat marathoner

Confessions of a Fat Marathoner, by Kristina Burkey (Made me laugh, as well as inspired me.)

Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy (UGH. I know this was written a long time ago, but this book made me ANGRY. The guy raped her, and blamed it on her? What?! This is my classic read for the month.)

Frequency:  Tune In. Hear God. by Robert Morris (He’s my pastor, and I love to hear him speak. He just finished this sermon series, and his conversational tone in this book makes it so much easier to comprehend.)

You’ll Get Through This, by Max Lucado (Read as my spiritual book for the month.)

Fire Danger, by Claire Davon (Review forthcoming.)

 

To Scrivener or Not to Scrivener?

I’ve kind of been struggling to get words on the page lately. (Ironic, since it’s summer, and time off from classes was supposed to mean time to write…) I switched WIPs, from Siren Song (which is currently outlined) to The Fall (which..is not. Not even remotely outlined. Sigh…)

I’m just having some trouble getting myself motivated.

But I saw this post over on Ana Spoke’s blog, and it piqued my interest (Is that even the right word? Google did not help me at all here.)

Has anyone used Scrivener?  Any tips/suggestions/thoughts?

Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler

vinegar girl
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Crown Publishing.)

Anne Tyler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such books as The Beginner’s Goodbye and Breathing Lessons. Her newest novel, Vinegar Girl, is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

Kate Battista is stuck. She runs the house for her father—eccentric at best, “mad scientist” at worst—and attempts to care for her pretty—and to Kate’s way of thinking, useless—younger sister, Bunny. The kids at the daycare where she works love her, but their parents are less than impressed with her forthright opinions and inability to sugarcoat her thoughts. In short, she is smart, capable, and independent, with absolutely no prospects.

Kate’s father is on the verge of a breakthrough in his research that could help millions, but he’s about to lose his brilliant research assistant, Pyotr, who is about to be deported. Then Dr. Battista comes up with a plan:  have Kate marry Pyotr so he can stay in the country. Kate is furious at her father, and at Pyotr, but the two men begin a relentless campaign to bring her around to their way of thinking.

Vinegar Girl enters the life of tart Kate, the bulwark of her stagnant family, the always-dependable daughter who sacrifices her own happiness to the sake of her family. But will Kate continue her self-sacrifice, or will she finally stand up for herself and what she wants?

(Galley provided by Crown Publishing via NetGalley.)

Escape to Ash Island, by J.H. Lucas

ash island
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to J.H. Lucas.)

 

J.H. Lucas has worked in film and in graphic design. He has been a finalist or semi-finalist for several awards. Escape to Ash Island is the first book in the Generation Havoc series.

One hundred years from now, America is has changed. From the Saharizona desert wilderness, to the cowyotes and buffalopes that populate it, things are not what they used to be. The poison sands of the desert are spoken of in the Prophecy Song, which is now forbidden.

In a slave labor factory in the middle of Saharizona, Cash, a young inventor with no memory of life before the farm, wonders about what’s beyond the fence. And he hears about a mythical island in Calitopia, so he and his friends escape the factory and head across the desert. But they don’t know the Red Enforcer, a cyborg, is on their trail determined to stop them—and the Prophecy—forever.

Escape to Ash Island is set in a vividly imagined word that is far different from the America of today. In essence, it is about friendship and the survival of hope, but these themes are set amidst adventure. Escape to Ash Island feels more like middle grade fiction than young adult, but it is an entertaining read.

(Galley provided by J.H. Lucas via NetGalley.)

What I Read (in May)

Yeah, it’s been a while since I posted anything but a book review. I’ll work on that this week. Promise. Right now, here’s what I read in May. (Quite a few books as a reward for living through the semester.)

  • The Cresswell Plot, by Eliza Wass (for review.)
  • Fried Chicken and Gravy, by Sherri Schoenborn Murray. (This was actually a really cute, sweet book. I enjoyed it.)
  • The Scarlett Pimpernel, by Emmuska Orczy. (No idea why I’d never read this, but it was great.)
  • Close Enough to Hear God Breathe, by Greg Paul.
  • Smoke, by Dan Vyletea (for review.)
  • A Trail of Fire, by Diana Gabaldon. (Love these books.)
  • The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Fantastic author. Fantastic series. Sad it’s over.)
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • My Best Friend’s Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix (for review).
  • Someone Else’s Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Mug Shot, by Caroline Fardig (for review).
  • Anything You Want, by Geoff Harbach (for review).
  • Echoes of Silence, by Elana Johnson (for review on Amazon).
  • A Drop in the Ocean, by Jenni Ogden (for review, plus author interview).
  • The Never-Open Desert Diner, by James Anderson (for review).
  • Jackson’s Trust, by Violet Duke (for review).
  • Gods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson (Re-read and remembered how fantastic this book is.)