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  1. I think Vita Nostra *is* part of a series, but fortunately it’s complete enough to stand alone. Who knows when or if the rest of the series will be translated. The Scar is actually a stand-alone in a completely different series. It’s almost like fairy tale. And yes, I would definitely give Senlin Ascends another chance! I put it down for a while in the beginning but after Senlin actually gets into the Tower I couldn’t stop reading. The Arm of the Sphinx (2) and The Hod King (3) I also did the beginnings slowly, but mostly so I could process emotions for the characters. Some of the things that have happened in that series really ripped my heart out. I think I will probably get the next Murderbot novellas, too. I’m amazed it took me this long to get around to reading one! I saw that Martha Wells is working on a Murderbot novel now, but I’m not sure when it’s coming out.
  2. Yes, that was me! I loved Vita Nostra. It’s dark and philosophical, so maybe not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to fantasy but it really hooked me. They have one other book translated into English called The Scar, which I also loved, but it’s very different than Vita Nostra. As for myself, life this year has been kind of tough. I haven’t been doing a lot of reading, although I’ve been doing more lately because of severe sciatica trouble which has resulted in a couple of ER visits and a lot of nights unable to sleep. I read the first Murderbot book last week as well as Josiah Bancroft’s The Hod King. That’s book 3 in the Books of Babel series, which I *highly* recommend. Now I’m reading a novella called Rough Passages by KM Herkes. It’s superhero fantasy, I guess - kind of a SF/fantasy mix. A virus gives people superpowers, usually when they reach middle age. They’re discriminated against but that doesn’t stop people from using their abilities. What makes this novella different is the ages of many of the characters. The first character introduced is a 42 year old single mom of 2 toddler boys who also takes care of her aging mother. I’m enjoying it. I’m also about 30% into Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter. Only the ebook is available right now, so I don’t know if it’s the self-published version or if it will change when Orbit brings it out later this year. It’s an African (Xhosa) inspired fantasy. Unique world, unique magic, but the first 30% is mostly one battle/fight scene after another. It’s a little exhausting. ☺️
  3. I love The Snow Queen! I first read it when I was in high school and have read it a couple of times more since then. I don't think I own it, though, which is weird. Jumping in here before I read the whole thread... I didn't finish anything last week, and the only thing I finished the week before was a romance novella by Meredith Duran, Your Wicked Heart. It was lighter than her usual angsty full-length novels. I think romance novellas are hard to pull off, but this one was good, only a few bumps where it felt like the relationship should have gotten more development but there wasn't room. The blurb is completely wrong, though; I'm not sure which story they were writing about, but it wasn't the one I read. Last week I started reading Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko. It is creepy, bizarre, and lush. Really good. An older, more sinister, Russian take on magic school. I also read some of Giambattista Basile's Tale of Tales. It's a collection of fairy tales written in the early 1600's. Lots of strong female protagonists in these tales -- definitely not Disney! ☺️ I'm also reading The Two Towers aloud to my kids, and I really hope to finish it by the end of the year. I just checked my Goodreads Challenge and realized I'll need to read 8 more books by the end of the year to reach my goal. I'm not sure that's going to happen... --Angela
  4. Congratulations on your new granddaughter! ? It's so hard waiting on that surgery! We had a cold go through the house the week before Abby was supposed to have her surgery. I bought surgical masks and we quarantined people upstairs and fortunately Abby didn't get sick. We were also fortunate in that the heart surgeon said Abby's heart defects were "garden variety" -- although a 3.5 hour open heart surgery never sounded "garden variety" to me -- so the surgery was fairly straightforward. Even so, those 9 days in the hospital were tough. (If the parents are allowed to stay in ICU overnight as we were, bring flip-flops for the shower, as you will probably be sharing it with everyone else, and also those Burt's Bees facial wipes were lifesavers. A cup of herbal tea at night and a walk outside every day helped me de-stress.) But I never imagined how much *better* Abby would get so quickly after we got home! Before her surgery, she was so tired she hardly did anything. Her cry was only a squeak and she slept all night. We thought that was just her. But as soon as her heart was patched, she wanted to nurse constantly and she started actually crying. She also started rolling over the day after we brought her home. I thought rolling over would surely hurt that scar, but -- nope. I think she gained 3 lbs in a month. Abby has 7 big brothers and 1 big sister, and now she is right there in the middle of them all the time. The learning curve was pretty steep the first year, but it gets better. ?
  5. Abby is doing well! She's 2.5 now and we are on the "only visit every 2 years" plan at the cardiologist because her heart is perfectly normal. Other than her heart, which has been fixed, she's been very healthy. She's still not walking but the range for walking in kids with DS is very large -- from 13 months to 4 years. So we're still at PT every week. She likes to play Itsy-Bitsy Spider and she loves mirrors. It's hilarious to watch her check her hairbows in the mirror. She's really a girly-girl. Maybe it's because she has so many brothers. ☺️
  6. Hello, everyone! It's been a long time. So long that Tapatalk doesn't work anymore? I feel obsolete... ☺️ Anyway, since I started writing again I've basically been hunkered down homeschooling, taking various kids to therapy (4 days a week), and writing. After I proved to myself that I wasn't going to quit writing again, I decided that maybe I ought to look into indie publishing, considering that my manuscripts don't quite fit what agents are looking for (I write SFF, but my books are long), and... long story short... I'm working on bringing out a book in the spring. There is A LOT of stuff to learn. It's kind of overwhelming, but also exciting. ? For several years it was really hard for me to finish reading a novel and I read mostly non-fiction, but for some reason this year has been the complete reverse. All I've felt like reading is fiction. I've been making it a goal to read more indie SFF (at first this was just because I wanted to see what it was like, and if it was as bad as its reputation. It isn't, so now I'm reading indie works just because they're interesting) and romance, because I hadn't really read romance since the 90's. I've read some real gems in both genres this year. My favorite romance author at this point is Meredith Duran. Duke of Shadows is an amazing book, totally blew away everything I thought I knew about what a "romance" was supposed to be like. I finished her Fool Me Twice this week and I liked it a lot, too, but the covers and blurbs always get me because they in no way make it clear how emotionally intense her books are. Lots of angst, but usually done well. (Adult content.) As far as indie SFF authors go, one of the best I've read is KS Villoso -- a Phillipino-Canadian author who bases her worlds on Phillipino culture and history. Her Wolf of Oren-Yaro series (the second book is The Ikessar Falcon) is excellent. This week I read the 2nd book (well, I guess technically it's 1.5) in another indie series I'm enjoying, The Wildfire Cycle by D.P. Wooliscroft. Kingshold is the first book, which I liked a lot. It was a little rough in the beginning -- and the romantic subplot needed more set-up, IMO -- but the story and characters were great. Basically, it's a fantasy novel about organizing for an election -- which sounds odd, but becomes really interesting as it goes along. Book 1.5 is Tales From Kingshold, which is a collection of short stories that fills out some of the characters and helps set up the next book. There are some rough bits, but I enjoyed the stories; they're fun but they also have heart. He writes with a fair amount of humor but it's not comic fantasy. It's probably better to read the series in order, though, the collection of short stories after Kingshold. Book 2 isn't out yet. Now I have to figure out what to read next. I've been finding a lot of my indie reads through the SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) which... I think this is the fourth one. Mark Lawrence started it a few years ago to bring attention to indie works. So it starts out with 300 titles and the participating blogs narrow it down to 1 winner. The reviews are really helpful in sorting through the enormous amount of indie titles out there. (One of the finalists from past years was Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft, which was picked up by Orbit, and which I loved SO much.) Of course, I think I pre-ordered Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko and that comes out... tomorrow... I think. So if that comes tomorrow, I think that's probably what I'll read. Their book The Scar is one of my favorite books, ever. I'm hoping to participate more going forward. I've missed the discussions! --Angela
  7. I just borrowed a bunch of books by different Russian poets that were free for Prime subscribers. Last year I finally read Pushkin. I had a really hard time finding him in English translation. Pushkin is widely known as the greatest Russian writer, but I think his work must be somewhat untranslatable. I liked it, but greatest? I don't know. Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  8. According to Goodreads I read 61 books last year and met my goal, but some of those were short e-books and cookbooks. I always have those, though, so I usually set my goal number higher to account for them. Then I'm pretty sure that I've made 52. My real goal last year was to read fewer books but more pages and I accomplished that; I ended up with a little over 19000 pages, which was 500-1000 more pages than I read in 2016 even though I read fewer books. I set my 2018 goal at 65, but I have this crazy idea that I 'd like to read 52 novels this year. For years I read mostly nonfiction because i didn't think I had time to get sucked into novels. Partly thanks to participating in this thread I have been getting back into fiction. Last year I read quite a few novels, especially toward the end of the year, and I'm hoping to continue that trend. I'm writing again and that takes a lot of my "free" time, but I hope to post again regularly this year! I actually finished my first book today, but it's a cheat. I'd read 3/4 of it by last night but I decided I wanted to work on a scene in my novel instead of finishing it before midnight. It's the first Sydney Chambers book, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. My husband is watching the PBS series on his iPad while I write at night and I had snagged the book on a kindle deal at some point, so I decided I would start reading along with his viewing. The differences between TV and book can be great, though! I think I like book Sidney better. I enjoy the philosophical musings and how Sidney is portrayed with gentle fun and sympathy as such an introvert. I have the second book and will be working on it, but I have a lot of other books in progress, too, so we'll see. Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  9. I've finished four books since I posted last: 1 fantasy, 2 romance, and 1 poetry. Oddly, I think that 2 of the 4 books will make my favorites list for the year. Age of Assassins, RJ Barker (fantasy) - excellent story of a young assassin's apprentice who is hired along with his master to protect a very unsympathetic prince instead of killing him. Highly recommended. One of my favorite reads this year. Wondrous Moment: The Poetry of Alexander Pushkin - It seems to be really hard to find a decent English translation of Pushkin's poetry. I was really hoping for his fairy tales, but they're not all in here. Passionate, sometimes silly, and sometimes rather dark; I did enjoy the poems. A Lady's Code of Misconduct, Meredith Duran (romance) - This was all kinds of fun for me because Duran took the old amnesia plot trope and absolutely made it work. There is nothing I like better than a good amnesia plot. Lol The book was very well-written and is also one of my favorites this year. Some adult content, but it felt like it served the plot and I could skim for important dialogue. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, Jennifer Ashley (romance) - Ian Mackenzie's "madness" is autism, which makes him an unusual hero. This part was done well, but I thought the adult content got a bit "extra" sometimes. Wish she had spent more time having them relate out of the bedroom. And now a question, because I think y'all are the ones who would know... Is all paranormal/fantasy romance about werewolves, vampires, shape shifters, or other magical creatures? I am not a big magical creatures fan, but it seems like that's all that's out there if it's labeled romance. Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  10. We have all survived Thanksgiving and have almost survived the pre-Thanksgiving cold that got passed around, just in time for the holiday. I'm enjoying having my elder two home for a few days and trying to catch up a little on my NaNo word count. I'm just a little off pace, which I'm happy about. Not so much reading to report, but I did finish one of the best books I've read all year, and one that I am putting on my list of all-time favorites. The Scar by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko is Russian fantasy, meaning it was originally written in Russian and translated into English. I thought the translator did an excellent job; there were only a few instances where I got confused, and I don't know if it was the original or the translation. It really reminded me in many ways of what I have read of War and Peace. The world isn't medieval, although there are no guns; so many details of the setting gave me a sort of Peter the Great or Napoleonic Wars feeling. The hero of the book begins the story as an immense jerk, who suffers some rather hideous consequences because of his actions. But the story is all about redemption, love, and courage. I loved it. Thankfully, it's a standalone, although there are many other novels set in the same world. Unfortunately, none of them have been translated! Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  11. I'm not a huge fan of Lord John Grey, so I'm not sure I'll read any of the others after I finish The Scottish Prisoner. It's more about Jamie anyway. I put it down to pick up a couple of other books, though, which is a bad sign. Although! One of the books I picked up is a fantasy written by her son, Sam Sykes. The City Stained Red. Robin Hobb gave it a good review, which impressed me enough to try it. I just picked up The Scar, by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, though, and that has sucked me right in. Russian fantasy in English translation. The beginning scenes remind me of those first scenes in War and Peace with the vodka-drinking dare on the window ledge. I've watched the very first Outlander episode, but... in the books I kind of skim through most of the steamy scenes looking for important dialogue. That's a lot harder to do on the screen! [emoji5][emoji5][emoji5] Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  12. Yep! I'm doing it as a rebel, too. I write long fantasy anyway, so 50K really isn't even half a book. I think the one I'm working on will end up around 140K and then I'll whittle it down. I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to read Don Maass' s books. They've really made the most difference to my writing, but he includes so many prompts, etc. that it all gets a little overwhelming. And then I wonder how I'm ever going to keep all that in my head as I write. But if you can take them in small doses and distill them down to their most important points (e.g., write characters who actually do things, don't skimp on the emotions) - then they're very helpful and inspiring. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. Writing my report real quick before I read the thread... I've been (happily) spending lots of time writing lately! We've also had kids at home for fall break and we just took a trip to see my mom and dad. I thought that the amount of reading I was doing would go down but somehow I got sucked into Diana Gabaldon's books instead. Since my last post I think I have read: By Diana Gabaldon: A Breath of Snow and Ashes (finished this one) An Echo in the Bone (one of the best in the series, I think. Loved the job she did with William.) Written in My Own Heart's Blood ( not as good as Echo in the Bone but still kept me reading) And I'm currently reading The Scottish Prisoner, one of her Lord John Grey books which is mostly about Jamie. Other books: Spyridon -- self-published SF romance. The romance isn't too heavy, though, and it's quite clean. Bit clunky, though. Too many accent marks in the names and the world building is confusing. But I got hooked trying to see if the two main characters would ever get together. Writing 21st Century Fiction - Don Maass. His books both inspire and terrify me. At the end of the day, I think they are hugely helpful. Another book I can't remember the name of...basically writing inspiration for pantsers. Lots of weird new agey terms like "dreamstorming" but if you can put up with those, very good stuff, especially if you (like me) seem to be congenitally unable to follow an outline. I'll have to look up the name when I'm off my phone. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. Jumping in here... I'm doing NaNo this year as a rebel, working on a redraft of a book I wrote years ago. It's cross-genre fantasy. Kind of John LeCarre meets Guy Kay meets Robin Hobb meets Diana Gabaldon, except not that steamy. [emoji5] A couple of years ago I pulled the old draft out of my closet and ripped it up, changed up the characters, and wrote about 20K on a new draft. Then I had a special needs baby and put it aside until this past July. I've mostly spent this month looping back through part 2 and adding/revising stuff as I finally figured out what the plot needed. I try to do 1K every day and have been getting a bit more than that. But I have 7 kids at home and my youngest has Down Syndrome so it takes me quite a few short sessions to get to that total. And I write after the kids are in bed. I've been happily using Scrivener but I agree that its weak point is looking at the overall flow. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  15. Just thought I'd check the thread before bed, Rose, to make sure you were ok. Not happy that you felt you had to evacuate, but very happy you're heading somewhere safe! Keeping you in my prayers!! Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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