February Catch-Up

I know – I’ve been pretty quiet this month. Mostly, I’m busy getting ready for my time as a full time writer. The office is prepped, I’ve outlined stories and projects and books I may work on, in order of importance, and I’ve even tagged some educational reads. I can’t wait to spend the next four months as a full-time writer. I will have no distractions (hopefully), and no concerns (hopefully), other than to get my manuscripts finished.

I’ll be returning to my day job at the beginning of July, and by then I hope to have generated a bunch of amazing material.

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I also had a little blog blitz in January, and an associated giveaway of two copies of The Torc. Those copies are now in the mail, and the winners were notified. The first three letters of their emails were rjs and far, just in case anyone is wondering. I really hope these readers enjoy reading The Torc as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Last weekend, I spent a lot of time re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I haven’t done much (if any) re-reading in the last couple years, so it great to spend some time with a favorite book. Do you regularly re-read your favorite books?

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JEH

What I’m Reading: Fire and Ice (Spirit Animals Book 4) by Shannon Hale

Middle Grade Fiction Book Review: Fire and Ice (Spirit Animals Book 4) by Shannon Hale

There is one things I really love the Spirit Animal books for, and that is for a quick audiobook on a short road trip, or for a week long audiobook during my Monday to Friday commute. Like a typical Spirit Animal book, this one followed the same process of the Green Cloaks searching for talismans, but it also brought in some deeper elements. My favorite part of Fire and Ice in particular was the setting.

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The audiobook was again read by Nicola Barber, who does a great job with the narration.

JEH

February 2018 Reading Stack

Today is the first day of February, and I thought I would try something new: planning out my reading for the upcoming month. I still haven’t finished a couple books I began in January, Do Not Say We Have Nothing and A Torch Against The Night, both of which I hope to finish this weekend. IMG_5251

Then, since I’ve decided that 2018 is my year of “finishing/reading trilogies” I’m finally going to read Library of Souls. I need to read Deep Work by Cal Newport this month as well, as I prepare for my four months of full-time writing (I can’t wait!). Scarlet, the second book of the Lunar Chronicles is on my list for near the end of the month, and then, in the hopes that I still have time, I’m planning to read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal as it has been on my shelf forever.

What are you planning on reading this month?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Young Adult Book Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy is the second book in the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. This book has a fairly high rating on Goodreads, and I have some friends that just love this series. I think the books are okay, but I don’t seem to find them as engaging as some people.

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Prodigy once again follows June and Day as they struggle against the government. I think my main reason for disengagement with this story is the lack of detail. I feel more confused about the world it is set in than knowledgeable. I like the story, I like June’s character (more so than Day’s), but I’m sad to say that I just don’t love it. This book is a bit along the lines of The Hunger Games and An Ember in The Ashes, both of which I love. So maybe Prodigy just has too much competition. Still, it is a good read, especially if you are a die-hard fan of dystopian young adult books.

3.5/5 Stars (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads)

JEH

A Writer’s Plans for 2018

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a great New Year, and maybe found a bit of time for reading, much like I did. I’m glad that 2018 is here. The end of 2017 found me distracted and blue, and I’m ready for a new start. After a busy 2017 releasing Under Jupiter and The Torc, and drafting The Circlet, it is time for a new plan for 2018.

In 2018, I do plan to finish the Artifacts of Avalum Series, with Books 2 and 3 releasing in Sprint and Winter (most likely). But mostly my writing life will be shifting focus because I got a writing grant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This grant will allow me to take four months off from my day job to focus entirely on writing. For the grant, which I’ve received from the Saskatchewan Arts’ Board (thank you Arts’ Board!), I will be working on a very specific project, namely some literary short stories. This is very different writing that what I normally post about here, but I love it just as much. (If you want a sample of this work, you can find a free story here, at Broken Pencil Magazine, but again, it is very different than the genre fiction I write).

I’m very excited to have dedicated time that is all mine to explore some themes I’ve been pondering for a few years. I start my ‘writing job’ March 1st, and I plan on spending the first couple months of 2018 planning how I will structure my days. I imagine they will involve lots of tea, coffee, and pretty notebooks (and a lot of hard work).

In reading, I set my Goodreads goal yesterday for 53 books in 2018. This is less than the 62 I read in 2017, and for that there are two reasons: 1. I hope to be spending a lot of time writing and rewriting, and 2. I hope to read some longer books. I’ve found over the past year that when I have a goal for reading a lot of books, I tend to choose quicker reads. This means that a lot of books I’ve purchased in the past have been sitting on my shelves for years. (CONFESSION: last year I had 67 books I hadn’t read yet on my upstairs shelves, I now have over 100!!!!). It is definitely time to do some catching up, so I WILL NOT be purchasing new books (probably… well…. maybe… okay, maybe I should be reasonable and say I will not purchase more than 5 new books this year – I hope instead to do some book trading at my local used book store).

So, with piles and piles of books waiting to be read, and a day job to get back to (for the moment), I will once again say Happy New Year, and all the best in 2018. Do you have any big plans you would like to share?

JEH

My 2017 Reading Roundup

Today is the last day of the year! That means it’s time to take a look at how I’ve done over the past year, and to look at my plans for next year.

I set my Goodreads goal to 60 books for 2017, and reached that goal last week. I’m currently sitting sitting at 62 books finished, and may finish the gigantic Oathbringer before the end of the night (my New Year’s Eve plans consist of dinner with wonderful friends and their families, and coming home early to read), which would put me at 63 books!

My most favourite read of the year was The Girl Who Drank The Moon. I seriously love this book. One of my all time favourites.

My second favourite read was An Ember in The Ashes. I’m hoping to start A Torch Against The Night, and to finish this series when the final book is released in 2018.

My third favourite read was Lost Stars. This book, set in the Star Wars universe really surprised me. But it’s also stuck with me, and I’m actually kind of hoping Disney turns this one into a movie. And no, I never did get around to posting about this book, and this is the only picture I took of this read.

I am, of course, loving Oathbringer, but as I have 75 pages left, it wouldn’t quite be fair to place it in my list of favourites yet, though I’m sure it would be.

My favourite cover and book picture was of Jane Eyre. I also loved my day trip out to Crooked Bush, and just had to share this picture again.

What were your favorite reads of 2017?

Tomorrow I’ll update on my goals and plans for 2018. Happy New Year everyone!

JEH

What I’m Reading: Leia Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Young Adult book review: Leia Princess of Alderaan, by Claudia Gray.

Not only am I a Star Wars fan, I’m a huge Princess Leia fan. I absolutely adore this book cover, and had to have the book. This book provides a good background to Princess Leia’s character, and was much like I expected.

This book also had a tie-in to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie, so I rushed to see it before going out to see the film. I liked that I possessed a bit more background regarding one of the on screen characters. But it wasn’t that interesting of news. Since I don’t want to ruin the book or movie for anyone, I won’t say anymore than that.

Of all the Star Wars reading I’ve been doing lately, I would definitely put Lost Stars at the top, followed by Leia, which wasn’t quite as full of detail but still a fun read.

Have you read it?

4/5 Stars

JEH