7.17.2018

Books: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I'm so sad now because I know anything I try to read next will pale in comparison to this series. It's been a long time since I've felt so impacted by a book, much less a series of them. And while I still think the first book is the best in the series, it's easy to speculate that might simply be because the shock of being introduced to such wonderful characters becomes something one takes for granted the more one reads about said characters.

Still, this is my second favorite book in the series. [SPOILERS] This is because of Adam and Ronan. I adore them as a couple.

At the same time, the introduction of ever more characters who then seem to do very little was . . . I dunno. Not well planned. Between the previous book and this one, there are so many characters that had to have their stories tied up, so many that were hanging around except for one or two key scenes, that the whole thing felt cluttered. And the plot just breezed by. I still don't fully understand what Cabeswater did to revive Gansey. I mean, I think I do, but we don't see how this effects Gansey's life or changes him (and it must have, right?). We don't even find out what explanation he manages to give his family for missing the big fundraiser.

And I know these are things that the author probably felt would constitute over-explaining, but . . . I dunno. It's possible my lack of satisfaction comes from not having more. It's possible—likely, even—that I'm just being greedy.

My copy of the book included the short story "Opal," and I wasn't sure at first that I wanted to read it. Greediness won out, and I did enjoy the window on Ronan and Adam. Like Opal, I'm a voyeur, I guess. But again, that story gave the sense of there being more (the strange woman going through Ronan's computer and notebook?). Some unresolved plot lines hang in the air here.

Overall, however, I just adore this book and this series, and I'm incredibly sad now that I've read them all. On the other hand, I'm now reading them aloud to my kids, and it has been fun reliving the stories and characters and seeing my kids (and husband, who listens in) fall in love with them too.

7.15.2018

Books: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

This one felt a little jumbled, tbh. Like there were a lot of good ideas but the author didn't have time to fully flesh things out. So the book went from plot point to plot point very quickly and didn't delve into characters as much as past books. Or was selective about which characters it examined, almost like playing favorites.

I read this one in three days, so you know it was good. But I still walked away a tad unsatisfied. I wanted more. I'm hoping the last book will give me that something more.

At the same time, this book gave me more in ways I didn't like, namely in a character that is introduced that is irritating and seemingly has no purpose. (I won't spoil things by naming who this is, but those who've read the book are welcome to guess in the comments.)

This all sounds very critical, but I think it's the old problem of having written an amazing first book in a series and then trying to sustain that level of awesomeness. It's difficult, if not nigh impossible, to do. So BLLB is a really good book, better than many others out there. But compared to its own predecessors, it feels a bit rushed and isn't (imho) quite as stellar. Still loved it, just not as much.

7.14.2018

Movies: The Endless

I honestly can't decide what I think of this movie.

Mostly I liked it?

Partly I'm not 100% sure what was going on.

Well, no, I think I know what was going on . . .

This is an indie sci-fi/horror film that claims to be "Lovecraftian," which I guess it is. I don't really enjoy Lovecraft, so I wasn't sure I wanted to see this movie. But the trailer intrigued me, and reviews said it was really good, so I decided to give it a go.

Two brothers named Justin and Aaron (because the writers/directors are Justin and Aaron and they also play the main characters, so why learn a whole new name, I guess) grew up in a weird kind of cult. Some ten years before, however, Justin took Aaron away from said cult. When they receive a video message in the mail from the cult, Aaron begs Justin to just go back for a quick visit. He doesn't remember much, you see, and he wants to go . . . I dunno. See if he can remember more? See what's going on with this group?

Justin insists the group is sort of like Heaven's Gate—namely, preparing for mass suicide. But he finally relents and agrees to drive out to "The Camp."

Incidentally, the cult brews and sells beer as their way of financing its members' livelihoods.

Uh . . . So then Aaron starts to feel welcomed and at home in this cult while Justin continues to feel on edge. And there are three moons, and it turns out that people can't leave certain "loops," which are circular areas of physical land (which makes me wonder how they sell their beer if they can't leave The Camp, or how Justin and Aaron managed to leave the cult in the first place). So after a series of strange events and weird characters, the movie becomes about Justin and Aaron needing to get out of there before the third moon is full and they're stuck there forever.

Oh, and there's a big, unseen monster that kills everyone at the end of each loop. Or something.

The Endless is well paced so as not to drag at any point. It's just weird enough to be engaging, and there are some truly tense moments. Also, I appreciate that they didn't make it very gory. At the same time, however, I'm not sure I actually enjoyed it. But I don't know why I have that feeling. I can't put my finger on what causes that slight disconnect.

Still, overall I would recommend it. Because I think most people would enjoy it (if they like this kind of thing), and I suspect whatever impediment stands between me and The Endless is personal and not something from which others would suffer.

7.13.2018

I get asked fairly regularly, "What have you written?" At which point my mind usually goes blank. It would be easier, I suspect, if I wrote in one genre. Then I could say, "I write [insert genre here]," and be done with it. However, I write a lot of different kinds of books. So every now and then it helps me to make a visual.

Click to enlarge

As of now, these are the books I've written. I also have stories featured in other anthologies and magazines, but if I can barely keep track of my own works, I don't know how I could hope to keep track of anything additional. You can find all these (and some of the others not pictured here) on Amazon. And you can see my full bibliography (which includes plays and screenplays) on my site.

7.11.2018

I started out really enjoying Sherlock. But every successive series/season got worse and worse. This is a Moffat thing. As pointed out here, he's good at short, contained things and terrible at anything that requires long-term plotting and planning.




To be fair, I don't think people watch Sherlock for the mysteries. People like the characters. Still, it would be so much better if the characters had better stories to act out in.

7.09.2018

Books: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the second in the Raven Cycle series. I liked it, but not as much as I did The Raven Boys. I'm not sure why, though I could make educated guesses. For one, I do really enjoy the character of Ronan, but I think he's the type who is more interesting in smaller doses. After a while, he gets a little monotonous. I mean, he's still cool, but he doesn't have a lot of character development. At least not in this book.

Adam has a somewhat interesting arc here, but I wanted a little more. It still felt like skimming the surface with him while we delved a bit with Ronan.

Kavinsky is an asshole with exactly one joke that he tells over and over. We get it; Ronan is [probably] gay. ::shrug:: Being beat over the head with it is not very entertaining.

And we all saw where the Gansey/Blue thing was headed. So no surprises there.

Then the whole hit man subplot . . . Sigh.

Also, this book had places that I could see needed more editing. The first one did too, but this one more so. Which makes me feel like these books were rushed into production.

All that aside, these books—the ones I've read, anyway—are still some of the best I've read in a while. It took me longer to get into TDT, but once I was about 40% in, I couldn't put it down. (For reference, I was hooked on TRB from the start.) Every series has stronger and weaker books, and so long as you don't lose your readers by being hugely inconsistent, you're good. And these books are pretty consistent. That is to say, even "weak" ones are strong relative to a lot of the market. So I'll certainly continue with the series, and I'd definitely recommend them.

Television: Elementary, "Nobody Lives Forever"

Except, you know, Highlander. THE Highlander, I guess. But there were two of those: Connor and Duncan. MacLeod. And then a bunch of other—you know what? Never mind.

(My college nickname was Methos, btw.)

This episode sees the return of Alfredo, Sherlock's former sponsor. He wants Sherlock to help him rob a guy who owes him money for work he did on cars. Alfredo needs this money to help his ne'er-do-well brother. Sherlock doesn't like this brother and therefore refuses. Until he's repeatedly confronted by people telling him that this is really about how he feels about Mycroft, and that Sherlock preaches forgiveness but doesn't exhibit it, etc. Let's just say there's a certain amount of emotional pummeling that occurs to make Sherlock reconsider. He tries to write Alfredo a check (and lies, saying he robbed the guy himself), but Alfredo is still grumpy, so Sherlock gives the money to Alfredo's brother directly. And then sends someone to find Mycroft.

If you recall, Mycroft went underground in South America or something after being pursued by mobsters(?) . . . I don't remember, and it probably doesn't much matter. Sherlock is mostly irritated because that particular mobster network has been made null and void, yet Mycroft never came home. In a fit of "fine then, I don't care about you either," Sherlock refused for a long time to reach out. Until now. Only to discover Mycroft is dead. (Guess Rhys Ifans was busy.)

None of the above is the core of the episode, btw. It's the B plot. The A plot is something about a dead biologist that had been working on what amounts to a cure for death. Once again, the capitalist did it. Basically, there is a $5 million prize awarded to anyone who can make progress toward immortality, and this biologist was getting close. But the son of the guy awarding the money doesn't want anyone to have the money cuz, hey, that's his inheritance. So . . . yeah. That's pretty much the whole thing. You can see why I gave more space to the B plot.

Still, they didn't seem to give much time to Mycroft's passing. It comes out of the blue at the very end of the episode. With Dracula Daddy Holmes returning in the next episode, maybe they will deal more with it then and there. I haven't watched that one yet, so don't tell me!

Television: Elementary, "Sand Trap"

Uh . . . IIRC, this is the one about the woman who worked on plans for a boat that would clean the ocean or something? Her body is found in a cement block at a construction site. Turns out she actually discovered that sand trawling in the river was destabilizing a major bridge, so some people from the city (I think? I don't even remember) killed her to keep her from blabbing. Cuz they'd rather make money and have lots of people die than, you know, not have lots of people die?

What's the end game there, I have to wonder. If the bridge falls, surely these guys will eventually be discovered anyway? And lose all their money and go to prison? I don't really know, it's just a thought.

When watching Elementary you can usually put your money on the capitalists as the culprits, though.

Meanwhile, Joan hosts a pregnant college student who is planning to put her baby up for adoption. Joan frets that her unusual circumstances will make her an unappealing option for potential parent. But the pregnant lady instead finds Joan inspiring and decides to keep her baby. Joan still loses, but in a flattering way?

Maybe they should start by just, I dunno, babysitting or something. That could make for a really fun episode, actually. I'd like to see a little more humor injected into things.

Television: Elementary, "Sober Companions"

I've been watching, I just haven't had time to write anything up. That's what happens when you're on a deadline for a novel release.

Now, of course, with many weeks between viewing and writing, everything has become very foggy. I guess the point to this episode is/was to create a "true" Moriarty. Which is what they spent the first few episodes of the season building up to. And it works, to a point. Michael is suitably creepy, though I still think it would have been better for viewers not to know before Sherlock did that Michael was a murderer. The writers tried to amend the problem a bit by not drawing out Sherlock's lack of observation—after a brief interview with Michael, Sherlock is suddenly certain Michael is a serial killer. Uh, no s***, Sherlock? Took you long enough.

The episode felt like a capping stone: Sherlock's PCS is more or less gone, and we've discovered that Michael is a baddie. Joan's interest in adoption is something that swims in and out of episodes . . . It's like, when they can't think of a B plot, they shove that in, or Bell's love life, or Gregson's daughter. The show can't decide how much to delve. (Hint: not that much; we don't care enough about these characters for that. Maybe work on getting us to care more? The answer there is not to suddenly give them girlfriends and children, btw. It's to build more rapport between them and the MCs.)

By the end of the episode, Michael is at large in the world, though he promises to be back. I'm sure he will be.

7.03.2018

IWSG Reminder

I know some of you stumble over here after clicking on a comment I may have left on an IWSG post. But I don't post my IWSG here. It's over on PepperWords. So please do hop over there for a look, and thanks for stopping by!

Q: What's the difference between the two sites?

A: This one is for reviews and the other is my author site.

Q: Why not have it all on one site?

A: I'd love to, but I don't have the time and energy to merge them. One day I may bring two blogs into one, but today is not that day.