Friday, July 31, 2015

ARC Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

First off, thank you to Henry Holt and the lovely people with ABA White Box for providing me with this review copy. 
Disclaimer: All images are property of their respective copyright holders. Book image and synopsis taken from Goodreads

When I went to Book Expo this year (my first time), I noticed the hullabaloo around Six of Crows. There were outrageously long lines about an hour before Bardugo was even signing. Needless to say, I stayed on the less populated side of the Expo! I hadn't read anything by Bardugo, so I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about, anyway.

A couple months later, a Six of Crows ARC shows up at the store, and naturally I'm intrigued. When I flipped it over and read the synopsis, I realized that it was a fantasy heist novel. SOLD.
Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. 
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first. 

A lot of things I liked about this book are spoilery, so I will try to avoid any important plot elements while telling you why you should read it.

That summary basically tells you that there are six outcasts on an impossible heist in a fantasy world. What it doesn't tell you is that Six of Crows is a fast-paced, well written fantasy novel with six very different POV characters. Though it's in third person, you are allowed a peek into each of the scurrilous (some more than others) characters' tricky brains.

Reasons to Read Six of Crows:

1. Two Words: Heist Novel. Six of Crows delivered everything I was hoping for in this regard. Impossible job? Check. Impenetrable fortress. Check. Disguises? Check. Characters who don't trust each other. Yes. Sharp rocks at the bottom? Most likely. Bardugo handles the actual job masterfully, deftly balancing the characters' twisty interactions, private agendas, and helps you follow the actual plan without giving away too much. And of course, plot twists.

2. Morally ambiguous, truly unreliable characters. I love unreliable narrators and characters who keep me guessing at their true motives. Even if I'm not rooting for them (like Moriarty), I love clever characters to death. Especially with Kaz Brekker, Bardugo manages to make us sympathise, pity, and root for a character who isn't always sympathetic. He's a hardened criminal (albeit damaged), and he never apologises for any of it. In fact, he finds ways of turning his weaknesses into strength.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love character development and redemptive character arcs, but YA fiction is populated by "bad boys (and sometimes girls)" who pout, crack some off color jokes or smoke, lounge around brooding, and moan about how bad they are, and then they turn on "knight in shining armor" mode (usually for the love interest). Real life isn't like that. In the case of Six of Crows, Ketterdam (with very 16-18th century Amsterdam influences!) is a cesspit of wealth, poverty, and corruption. Kaz and crew fit into this world, and have been authentically shaped by it. I loved the constant clash of ideals, beliefs, and motives that this very diverse group went through. On the other hand, this meant that I didn't connect with all the characters as much as I might have, and sometimes their interactions were a tiny bit fatiguing.

Inej (the Wraith) and Kaz were the true standouts. Their arcs were the most developed, and I connected to their characters. I would have been happy to read a book about either one of them, exclusively, though the rest of the crew added a lot of conflict and humor.

3. The world. At the risk of being the most redundant reviewer ever, I'm going to praise yet another fully developed world. What can I say? Races, cultures, histories, beliefs, and customs are as varied in the world of Six of Crows as they are in reality. The Grishas fascinated me (which means I'll have to actually read that series!), and I loved how the interaction between Grisha Nina and Grisha-hunter Matthais revealed so much about their worldviews, culture, and the difference that made.

4. THE WRITING. Beautiful, beautiful prose. As a writer, I was in reading heaven. Bardugo manages to be both descriptive and elegant when depicting a world that isn't very pretty. And yet, it never comes across as glamorous. It's raw, yet polished.

5. There's something for everyone. It's epic fantasy, there are thieves and outcasts, a bit of humor, romance and swashbuckling, there's a story, there will be sequels. If you like Firefly, Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay, and Mistborn, then Six of Crows should definitely be on your to-read list.

Overall: 4 out of 5 Stars. This is a thrill ride of a heist novel, but it is considerably darker than many of its young adult contemporaries. The characters are well done (especially Kaz and Inej!), nuanced, and diverse, and the world is beautifully drawn. I don't feel an intense need for an immediate sequel, but I will definitely read it when it comes out (and I'll check out the Grisha trilogy as well).

Do you plan on reading Six of Crows? Do you like heist stories? Why do you think we all like clever thieves so much, but really hate being stolen from in real life? Do you prefer roguish characters, or characters with better motives? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Book-Loving People in Books

Image Credit: The Broke and the Bookish

Though I am very absent-minded, and often scatterbrained, I do know it's no longer Tuesday.

However, I typed up this post yesterday and was unable to post it due to internet problems.* And I now decree today as honorary Tuesday.

This week's Top 10 Tuesday, the fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top 10 Favorite Readers/Bookish People etc, in Books. If you'd like to participate and don't know where to start, click here.

Honestly, I found I liked so many bookish characters that my brain was frying when I tried to list them all. So I set myself a challenge: Try to use characters that you have not used in a previous TTT's, and you have to really love them. That helped a lot.

So without further ado: My Top 10 Favorite Bookish People (Readers, Writers, Researchers, etc) from Books (say that three times fast)

1. Henry Tilney** from Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen)

While Catherine Norland is the novel-devouring heroine of this delightful book, and Elizabeth Bennet (and several other Austen heroines) are quite fond of reading, it is Henry who is my favorite Austen bookworm. Out of all her heroes, he always struck me as the most developed and interesting (probably because he reads such a wide variety of literature). And he's witty and a little quirky too, so what's not to like? 
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 
― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey
Yes, that famous quote is from Henry, in Chapter 14 ;)

2. Lirael from Lirael (Garth Nix)

Lirael is a magic-less outcast among the Clayr (powerful seers in the Abhorsen world), but her work in the mystical and dangerous Clayr library finally puts her inquiring mind to work. Along with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), Lirael is one of my favorite fictional librarians. And the Clayr library is awesome (in a scary sort of way).
[Lirael] “I think I would like to work in the Library.” “The Library,” repeated Sanar, looking troubled. “That can be dangerous to a girl of fourteen. Or a woman of forty, for that matter.” “Only in parts,” said Ryelle. “The Old Levels.” “You can’t work in the Library without going into the Old Levels,” said Mirelle somberly. “At least some of the time. I wouldn’t be keen on going to some parts of the Library, myself.” ― Garth NixLirael

3. Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Despite the fact that I always wanted to be an elf, Bilbo is the character I am *actually* like. He just wants to be left alone with his books. And then he goes on adventures, and writes books about them. And he lives in a cozy hobbit hole, and has lots of money. On second thought, I think I’d be happy being Bilbo. Regardless, he has the aforementioned bookishness (that word defines Bilbo), and he has a way with words and verses. Honestly, so many Tolkien characters are bookish or scholars or lovers of words. But what else would you expect from a philologist?
“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.” ― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

4. Liesel from The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

I have a feeling that the titular book thief will end up on a lot of lists today. Her love for words and books leads her to theft (though only of books), and gives her so much more scope and understanding. And if you are a reader and word lover, you probably adore this book. It is gorgeous.
“Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out, like the rain. (p. 85)” ― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

5. Holling Hoodhood from The Wednesday Wars (Gary Schmidt)

This is one of my all-time favorite middle grade books, and Holling is probably the most unique Shakespeare fan in a novel. Though the Bard is a tough sell for a kid who is into baseball and not much else, Holling is eventually won over by the stories and the characters.
“I love the sound of a brand-new bottle of coke when you pry the lid off and it starts to fizz. Whenever I hear that sound, I think of roses, and of sitting together with someone you care about and of Romeo and Juliet waking up somewhere and saying to each other, weren't we jerks? And then having all that be over. That's what I think of when I hear the sound of a brand-new bottle of Coke being opened” ― Gary D. SchmidtThe Wednesday Wars

6. Butler (Domovoi Butler) from the Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer)

The giant, bald Eurasian bodyguard of genius twelve-year old (and criminal mastermind) Artemis Fowl, Butler is all toughness and expertise. Despite this, he develops a passion for reading while waiting for Artemis in The Lost Colony. His favorites include Gone With the Wind and The Art of War. And he's hilarious, by the way.
"We lost the crickets," she said. "Even you can't make that sound tough."
..."I am Butler," he said with a straight-face. "Everything I say sounds tough. Now, get out of the lake, fairy." — Eoin Colfer (The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, #8))

7. Vesper Holly from the Vesper Holly Series (Lloyd Alexander)

Continuing with the blast from the past (most of these are books I read a long time ago!), I give you Vesper Holly, adventurer, scholar, and Imagine a female (and much more sensible) teenage Indiana Jones, crossed with an brilliant linguist and scholar, and you have Vesper Holly. Though Vesper is more of the active type, she reads a lot, and loves words and languages.
“Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesitate to risk life and limb- mine as well as her own. No doubt she has other qualities as yet undiscovered. I hope not.” ― Lloyd AlexanderThe Illyrian Adventure

8. Margaret Lea from The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)

She works in a bookstore, and is an amateur biographer who loves to read. I think that Margaret's devotion to books is something we all understand. (And if you haven't read this haunting book, you should)
“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” ― Diane SetterfieldThe Thirteenth Tale

9. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from The Dante Club (Matthew Pearl)

Yes, I do realize that Longfellow was a real person. However, Matthew Pearl casts him as a bookish sleuth in his excellent historical murder mystery, The Dante Club.
“ 'Till America has learned to love literature not as an amusement, not as a mere doggerel to memorize in a college room, but for its humanizing and ennobling energy, my dear reverend president, she will not have succeeded in that high sense which alone makes a nation out of a people. That which raises it from a dead name to a living power.' ” ― Matthew PearlThe Dante Club

10. Princess Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Patricia C. Wrede)

This was one of the first fantasy series that I discovered on my own (post Tolkien and Lewis!), and it is both fun and hilarious. I always identified with the bookish Cimorene (a reluctant princess who gets the best job ever: cook and librarian for a dragon!) and envied her adventures.
[to Cimorene] “You're always in the kitchen," Alianora said when she poked her head through the door a moment later. "Or the library. Don't you ever do anything but cook and read?” ― Patricia C. WredeDealing with Dragons

I have too many honorable mentions for this post, so I'm not bothering with it :) After all, most readers like to read about readers!

So, there you have it. Did I include any of your favorites (or have any glaring omissions)? Who is your favorite bookish character, and why?

*Including no internet, no money for internet, no where to use internet that is close and open really late, and computer crashes. #smalltownproblems
**If there was a list of most interesting would-be clergy who actually act like real people, he would be #1 on that list too. (I would be interested to see if anyone could come up with more than one, honestly)

Friday, July 24, 2015

6 Reasons Why You Need to Read Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

Copyright Disney
If you have read anything I posted in the last month, there is a good chance that I referenced  Sunbolt. If you haven't heard of it, Sunbolt is a fantasy novella by indie author Intisar Khanani (who also wrote Thorn, which I loved).

There was one complication: I loved Sunbolt so much that I couldn't write anything coherent about it . . .

So I let the dust settle a bit, and here's my take on Sunbolt:

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

A review copy of Sunbolt was graciously provided by in return for a fair and honest review.

Summary from
"The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life."
And that's just what happens in the first few pages. What follows is a dip into a fascinating, effortlessly diverse world with colorful characters, an intriguing magical hierarchy, and an intricate history. And in less than 200 pages.
Han and I salute you

Here are 6 reasons you should read Sunbolt:

1. Hitomi. She is everything I love best in a hero. She's brave, smart, and quick on her feet, but she's not perfect. She is survivor, afraid to stand out or call attention to herself, and yet she holds deep convictions that go against the grain of popular opinion. And she's an outsider with untrained (read: illegal) magical powers. Sunbolt is her story, but the supporting characters are interesting too, especially Val, which leads me to #2.

2. Breathers.* And fangs, and mages, and . . . you get the idea. All of the usual suspects, from vampires to wizards, are part of Sunbolt's fantasy landscape. But they're interesting! Like the many races and cultures of human characters, they have longstanding feuds, histories, and racial tension/prejudices. I want to know more (especially about the Breathers)!

3. The relationships. Like with Thorn, none of the characters fall into predictable YA relationship patterns. There's no romance, for instance, and even the friendships are full of tension. I will resist writing more about my favorite developments because, spoilers!

4. The Shadow League. First off, they're a rebel/resistance outfit called The Shadow League, led by the enigmatic young man known only as Ghost. It's like the Scarlet Pimpernel took up with the barricade boys from Les Mis (despite how totally counter intuitive that sounds) and all started fighting for freedom from the shadows. Hitomi and her friend Kenta (a Tanuki!**) are part of the league, though they're not very high up on the ladder, and I loved how they all interacted.

5. The plot/story/world. These are as intertwined as a celtic love knot. Though Sunbolt is basically an origin story, introducing us to Hitomi, her hidden powers, and her world, is also includes a lot of plot elements/threads that I'm hoping to see explored in later installments. There is a lot here for such a small book, and none of it was too much.

6. The writing. I'll say it again, Intisar Khanani can write. Her prose is elegant, effortless, and never artificial. Her pacing is great, and she has a knack for narrative. In short, the only complain I have about Sunbolt is that it ended. It needs to be the size of The Lord of the Rings. (Not that the story felt incomplete or anything, her writing is too good for that!)

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars. A brilliant fantasy adventure with a strong heroine and an interesting world. 

Footnotes: *You'll have to read the book to find out about Breathers.
**Tanuki: Japanese Raccoon Dog, and a legendary shapeshifter in Japanese mythology

FURTHER READING: If you liked Sunbolt try:
Sabriel by Garth Nix

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander
The Blue Sword (or most of her other books) by Robin McKinley

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fantasy Novella Review: Mourning Cloak by Rabia Gale

I have been reading a lot of books for a review program through work, but on the sides, I've also found time to squeeze in a few other books (still working on Six of Crows), but it's basically one chapter at a time.

So, the beautiful novella enters the room.

Quick reads with an interesting plot thread, fully developed characters, and intricate worldbuilding: is it possible?

I read Intisar Khanani's Sunbolt a month ago, and I loved it so much that I encouraged (read:coerced) everyone around me to read it*. Alas, the sequel is not out yet . . . so in the meantime, I obtained a free copy of Mourning Cloak, by Rabia Gale. (Which I discovered thanks to following Khanani on Goodreads). Both of them are fabulous fantasy reads by independent authors, and you should definitely check them out.

This novella is currently free ( (July 2015 only)–use code SSW50 at checkout!) on Smashwords

The Mourning Cloakby Rabia Gale

Based on the cover, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect . . . erm, darkish steampunk? A fairytale fusion?

I was partially correct: Mourning Cloak is a seamless fusion of fantasy and sci-fi, with a rich world and complicated, flawed characters.

Mourning Cloak is the story of "former chosen-one," Kato Vorsok. He tends a bar, keeps a low profile, and he wants nothing to do with the god who deserted him, or the past that betrayed him.
But then a wounded mourning cloak-a winged demon creature who can turn to mist or pass through walls-shows up on his doorstep, and she knows his name. Normally, Kato would have killed this creature without a thought, but she knows too much, and he follows her out into the night.

5 Highlights:

1. Kato. Flawed, angry, bitter, his character jumps off the page. He is an interesting premise in himself: a hero "chosen one" who failed** to deliver a victory, who survived and left his faith and friends. Of course, like any good story, Mourning Cloak isn't quite that simple. Kato has a fully realized character arc, and I was rooting for him all the way.

2. The world/setting, Highwind, is revealed in fascinating glimpses: a hospital, "cyborg" style metal implants, prayer magic, deserts and golems. Seriously, there is a lot of stuff that effortlessly slips into the author's narrative. I want to know more.
3. The prose. Where have all of these lovely wordsmiths been hiding? Rabia Gale has an elegant, poetic way of writing sentences and stringing phrases together, which made Mourning Cloak so fun to read.

4. The plot. This sort of ties into #1. Without giving away too much, I can say that the plot twist was established early on, but it still delivered, and that every detail turns out to be important. Cryptic, much?

5. The supernatural element. A lot of steampunk novels deal with the friction between "science and machines" and either religion, tradition, or faith. Rabia Gale didn't go for that easy pass. Instead, it's ALL present in her world. There are priests with prayer magic, mechanical implants, monsters (both supernatural and man-made), and they all exist in a world that employs wards, charms, and medicines. The conflicts are not so clean cut and obvious.

Honestly, my only complaint with this novella was was the switching first person POV. I don't mind switching first person POV***, but when it switched from Kato's perspective to the mourning cloak for the first time, I was confused. It startled me out of the story. I feel like some sort of divider, or marker, was necessary to show when the POV jumped. Granted, their inner voices are quite different, so I caught on fast, but still . . .


In short, this is an action-packed fantasy novella with a rich world and interesting characters. The writing is strong, and I will definitely buy the sequel.

4.5 stars out of 5

BONUS: The entire novella was inspired by the name of this glorious butterfly:
Taken from the Author's Pinterest page


*Sunbolt review to come, I just need to sort out my feelings so it isn't a thread of reaction gifs. 
**Naturally, his failure turns out to be pivotal.
***I'll give any interesting POV choices a pass if the author does it well. I love grammar, and order, but I also like it when someone rocks the boat ;)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books That Have Come Into My Possession

Again, it's Tuesday. It seems like every time I look up, it's Tuesday.*

Anyhow, my summer has been so full that these Top 10's are most of the blogging I can manage right now! I love how fun and simple they are. And the creators of the meme (over at The Broke and the Bookish) always have such creative themes to help me out. If you'd like to know more about TTT or how to participate, click here. (Fabulous images are from Gifs belong to original copyright holders. A.K.A. not me)

So this week's theme is The Last 10 Books I Have Acquired:

1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I recently took a very quick trip down south, and was finally able to visit Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN. Parnassus is owned by Ann Patchett, so every book of hers is signed, which is very cool. I didn't catch a glimpse of the NYT bestselling author, but I did scoop up a copy of Bel Canto, which I have been meaning to read for ages.

2. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

I loved this book so much that I bought a signed copy at Parnassus. And then I found out that Matthew Quick had been there two days earlier, signing them. I almost wish they hadn't told me! Even worse, Emily St. John Mandel was going to be there signing Station Eleven in a few days . . . sigh, it must be great to be Ann Patchett.

3. Mourning Cloak by Rabia Gale

This is actually a novella, but it still counts! I literally just bought this off of Smashwords because indie author Intisar Khanani** gave it 4.5 stars on Goodreads. And it was free. I have no idea what it's about, but I am going to read it.

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Uhm, yes, I do realize that I am really late to the party on this one. It's been on my TBR list since before it was actually published, but I just never got around to it. I figured I would love it (loving it so far). And it's actually an audiobook, narrated by JIM DALE (who also narrated HP audiobooks, and more importantly, one of the best shows ever, Pushing Daisies).

5. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

And now I want pie . . . in lieu of that, I'll go back to the book pile. This is a Sleeping Beauty retelling that caught my eye last year. I never got around to requesting it through inter-library loan until now. If you can judge a book based on the font, then I'm in for a good read. We shall see.

6. Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa (ARC)

I just received a review copy of this for an early review program I am doing, and I don't know how I feel about it. The synopsis doesn't sound very me, but who knows? It's gotten really good feedback, and it's the debut novel of an Australian author.

7. The Seventh Tower (Seventh Tower #4--#6 Omnibus) by Garth Nix

Despite my deep and abiding love for anything Garth Nix, I have only read the first Seventh Tower. I liked it, and then promptly read other things. So why, you may ask, did I end up with a pristine hardcover copy of books 4-6? Because it was one dollar at a yard sale, naturally. So now I will have to read the rest of the series and catch up to this point. Someday.

8. Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

I confess that I have never given much thought to Lois Lane. And other than Batman and Green Arrow, I'm not much of a DC person. (Marvel Girl here) But none of that mattered when I first read about this book. It sounds great, other reviewers I trust have said it is great, and I am really excited to give Lois Lane a second look.

9.City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (ARC)

This book was very hyped at BookExpo, but advance reviews are divided. I have no idea how I'll feel about it, but it sounds interesting. Either way, I feel like all of it's 944 pages are staring at me, daring me to find the time to read them.

10. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (ARC)

I bypassed all the craziness involving this book at BookExpo, and then found one in the store's White Box*** so, lucky me. (I think). I haven't read Leigh Bardugo's Grisha series, but it's on my TBR pile. Still, when I realized that this book was about a heist in a fantasy setting, I had to have it. That basically has me all over it. Soooo, I will really love it, or fall off the cliff of disappointment. I'll have to read it before I know which one.

So, what are you reading? Have you just acquired any interesting books? Tell me in the comments (I can add them to my TBR pile, which is more like a bucket list).

*Tuesday is great, don't get me wrong. Sometimes I just expect to hear Asia playing, that's all.
**If you haven't witnessed my love for Sunbolt and Thorn, then this must be your first time here ;)
***If you don't know, the White Box is like Christmas, but filled with ARCs, and it comes once a month from the wonderful people at the ABA and their publisher partners. They need an award, and chocolate.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Brief Update (I Survived Camp Hogwarts)

Despite rumors to the contrary,* I am still around. Or half around.

Explanation: The store where I work does a book themed camp every year (usually Harry Potter), and yours truly gets to do all of the planning, and then the camp stuff too.

So in the past two weeks I've:

Made the freakiest papier-mache pinata head, ever.
Played Muggle Quidditch with 10 wild children for several hours each day. In the sun.
An accurate representation.
Taught "Hogwarts" style classes, real science and history, and sundry other things to aforementioned 10 children.
Drawn a to-scale head and shoulders of a troll so we could stick our wands up its nose (figuratively, since it was 2D)

Stayed up way too late and gotten up way too early so I can prep for all this stuff.
Had my head nearly explode from how loud nine boys and one girl between the ages of 6 and 12 can be in a closed space.

That's just a little taste of the craziness . . .

But you know what, it was fabulous, and they all seemed to have a wonderful time.

However, I've had absolutely zero time to blog, write, read, or do anything not related to wizard schooling and gloriously gross crafts (slime, anyone?).

Sitting on my to-do list are a lovely Liebster Award Challenge** from Sara Letourneau, 10+ half-finished ARCs, 5+ finished ARCs I'd like to review, a pile of extraneous work, a messy house, and my writing. So instead of doing any of those wonderful things, I decided to write a blog post about doing none of them.

I'm so productive.

So after I post this post, my productive self is going to make a cup of tea, eat something, catch up on some reading, and then watch some Naruto. Because Naruto might, someday, help me get something done.*** Who knows?

What have you been up to this week? Do you have those weeks (months!) where it feels like you can't get anything done? How do you feel about summer camps? If you were stuck on a desert island with 10 children, no power, and 5 random ingredients, how would you fare?

*The Internet wasn't asking where I was, but everyone at work (customers), thought I had the week off. For real.
** I am so close to being done with my Liebster post (and I came up with some really cool questions [in my humble opinion]). I am still trying to decide which book cover is my all time favorite.
***Watching Naruto will help me finish Naruto, right?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beautiful People for Writers: July 2015 Edition

See all of the Beautiful People July Posts here

Hooray! This is my third "Beautiful People for Writers" post (hosted by the fabulous ladies of Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In. If you want to know what the meme entails, click here. It's basically questions that participants answer for their book characters, in the hope that it will help them develop said characters (and it's fun). 

This month's theme was a little fluid, and Cait put it better than me here:

WELCOME WELCOME! Time for our July edition of Beautiful People! We have a sort of lazy summery set of questions for you this month (apologise to those, like me, who are shivering in the cold). Also, if you write fantasy and need to tweak any of the questions (like what’s their favourite “food” instead of “ice cream”) GO AHEAD. We still love the rebels.

For consistency's sake, I am continued with "The Last Coffee Shop," the novel from my previous two entries: You can read a little more about it here and here

My primary characters are Mads (Madeleine) Capot, coffee obsessed owner of the shop, and Luc Garou (not his real last name), the bounty hunter (not exactly a bounty hunter) who takes her hostage and drags her into his pursuit of the notorious intergalactic thief, Jupiter Jive (not his(?) real name).

This week, I think I'll let Jupiter Jive answer the questions, in interview format. Though he isn't *exactly* in the book, his crimes and notoriety are the catalysts for the novel's action, and his ties to the primary characters are much deeper than anyone realizes. (Gifs are from

So, without further ado 

May I present the fabulously clever dancing thief, Jupiter Jive!*

Image Credit

Interviewer: Call me R.

R. Turns to Camera, pulls up list of questions.
Jupiter Jive (JJ) sits in a dark room, wearing a vibrant purple face mask with dark eyeholes. Shadowy hair drifts around the forehead of the mask. Nothing else is visible, nothing that would differentiate this room from any other dark room.

R. Clears throat and taps mic: "Jupiter Jive, I presume"

JJ inclines head, waves a gloved hand.

R. "For interview purposes, should I refer to you as a "he," as is claimed by your supposed crew members (all of whom are currently trying to kill you)?"

Jive nods once, "As you wish." His voice is low, husky, pleasant, and definitively masculine (or he possesses a great voice sim),

R, turns pages. "Okay, then here we go:"

R. "First question. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?"

The mask has zero expression, of course, but Jive makes a funny sound, as if he is surprised.
"Uhm, ice cream? No idea, I've never heard of it."

R, ruffles pages again, "Do you have a favorite dessert then, or a favorite flavor?"

JJ. "I prefer spice to sugar, truth be told. But I do have a weakness for blueberry muffins. And not sim blueberries, real ones. I think there's only one place left to find them."

R. Nods. "Springs Village, I've heard of it. Next question." Reads:"You are getting ready for a night out. Where are you going? What are you wearing? Who will you be with?"

JJ. Snickers, crosses fingers in front of chin."Wouldn't you love to know?"
R. Rolls her eyes. "Really?"

JJ. "If I'm going out, I always dress for the occasion. If I'll be climbing rooftops, sleek lines, no loose fabric. I always have to be ready to run, and it has to be comfortable."
R. looks up, "For the dancing."

JJ. "Yes, the dancing. If I'm going to a formal party, uninvited, I have to wear the latest fashion. This varies from planet to planet, so I have to do research. You have to remember that I only frequent places with cameras, so whatever I wear has to look good from every angle. And as for who I'm with? Different every night. Crew members, associates, you can't hang around with anyone for long, if you want to stay in business. Backstabbing and messiness, not cool."
R. scratches head, "But you're on the run, aren't you?"

JJ. "So they say."

R. shrugs. This is going nowhere, time for question #3. "Uhm, what kind of footwear, if any, do you prefer? What do you consider comfortable, and what's agony?"

JJ. leans forward. "Is this for a fashion mag?"
R. Shakes head. "No, not really."

JJ. Lifts foot up to the screen. "Look all you want." 
He is wearing knee-high boots of soft scarlet leather (or leather-like) material. His feet are big, an eleven or twelve. The boots look well worn, but the seams are tight, nicely made.

R. *winces* "Aren't those a little, loud, for cat-burglary?"

JJ. shrugs, and like all his movements, it is somehow graceful. "I wear what I want. As for comfort? I'm adaptable. I've crammed my feet into every sort of shoe in the galaxy. As long as I can dance, who cares?"

R. "Hmm. Okaaaaay. So, do you have any birthmarks or scars? If so, where are they, and how did you get them?"

JJ. gasps, then places a hand to his forehead. "So forward. Are you asking to see them?"
R. Flushes uncomfortably and scowls at the mask. "You're ridiculous. Answer the question."

JJ. laughs. "That's the point, love. If you want people to count you out, never let them take you seriously."
R. Continues scowling.

JJ. sighs, then casually unties the mask, letting it fall to his lap with a soft thud. His dark hair drifts across his face, though he continues to stare at his lap.
R. *clears throat* "Dramatic much?"

JJ. Looks up, his eyes are brilliant, startling green. He grins, flashing white teeth that are all a little pointed. A couple are crooked. His smile is blinding, and even under three-day scruff and with heavy circles under his eyes, it is obvious that Jive is extraordinarily attractive.
R. Blinks. Can think of nothing clever to say, so is silent.

JJ. "You probably read about it on that wanted poster. I've got scars everywhere." He smirks. "Hard living. When everyone you know would rather kill you than say hello, things can get rough." He shakes his head. "Let's just say, there have been times when I was noticed." His eyes narrow, and for a moment, he looks feral. "But the people I gave scars, well, they didn't recover."

R. Blinks again. Shifts, uncomfortable. "Next question.What kind of music do you listen to? Does it change depending on your mood?"

JJ. "Ahhh, music. It's the only other pleasure I take in this life. I like anything with attitude, that you can dance to. Whether it's stringed instruments, or heavy electronics, it doesn't matter. But hey," he winks, "I can dance to anything."
[R. the writer notes this, beside her Jupiter Jive Spotify Playlist, link here.**]

R. "Do you have any musical talent, or play any instrument?"

JJ. "Other than my spectacular sense of rhythm, not really. I can sing a little, strum a few notes, enough to get by. But I'd rather be out on the dance floor."

R. "What kind of book could we catch you reading?" Thinks, "Does this type read, really?"

JJ. "Darling, you can't 'catch' me doing anything, that's the point. I'll read a few pages of anything, but I like history best. You can learn a lot from failure, and history is full of that. And," he smiles a bit, looks almost sheepish, "I always wondered what everything was like, before it was all destroyed. Springs Village seems a little idyllic, to be honest."

R. "How do you spend your time off?"

JJ. "Dancing the night away. Obviously. But I don't really have much time, off. Too many people out to get me, and too many shiny things to borrow."
R. Disapproving frown. "You're pathetic."

JJ. "I prefer charming."

R. "Moving on. It's the last day of the week, middle of the day. What are you doing?"

JJ. "Depends. Probably planning a heist. I don't really have a routine. Predictability gets you caught. If it's been a good week, I'll be contacting fences and dealers, though I keep most of what I take." He grins, "Or I put it back. Depends on my mood."

R. Continues trying to look disapproving. "Is there anything you want to be free of?"

JJ. Leans back in his chair, staring until his eyes become unfocused. "Oooh, tough question. Before, recent events, I would have said, well," his gaze clears and he cocks a brow, "Do you believe in curses?"
R. Silent, refuses to be drawn in.
JJ. "I would have said my curse, which is very nasty, very real, and the nature of which I prefer to keep to myself. But lately, there's a couple of people I might rather be rid of. Besides," his eyes narrow, and for the first time, he looks truly shifty, "There are definite upsides to my curse."

R. Rolls eyes. "Okay, well that was pointlessly mysterious and Pirates of the Caribbean-ish nonsense. Thank you for your cooperation. Is there anything else you'd like to add, Mr. Jive?"

JJ. Faces the camera, smiles a little. He salutes and puts his mask back on. "Uhm, wise words? Not my strong suit. But a tip, don't believe anything I say."


R. Leans back, vaguely disgruntled. "Well, so now my whole Beautiful People post is meaningless. Thanks a lot. Next time I'll interview Mads instead!"

So you made it to the end. Here's Adam West dancing as Batman as a reward.

As always, thanks for reading :) Do you have a favorite dancing character? Do you like to dance? Sound off in the comments.

And if you did a BP, leave a link in the comments so I can check it out!

*Often imitated, never duplicated.
**I have playlists for all my books and characters. The Jupiter Jive Playlist is my current writing soundtrack (I don't even like all the songs, but they work, so it helps me write. Strange.).