Friday, 23 February 2018

[FEB UPDATE] The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Club & GOALS

Wow, here it is! My first post for 2018. I've done a lot of reading so far this year, largely because while I was overseas I was sick practically the entire time, so on those days when I did a lot of lazing around I took to reading. And reading. And reading. Anyway, for February this is the book I enjoyed the most, keeping in mind that I didn't rate any of my reads 5 stars during January or February.

I've had this book on my Kindle for aaaages but only just read it now. Even though it was a light-hearted kind of simple little story, I really loved it - it had me cracking up on a regular basis, and the romance was pretty steamy even with two virgins as the main characters. ;)

Emma annoyed and (totally) exasperated me sometimes, but I couldn't hold it against her when she pretty quickly realised what an idiot she was after every idiotic thing she did. Guy had a lot of patience considering he's 70k years old and definitely knew better in some instances than the 22-year-old (yep, quite the age difference, and Emma comments on this at one point too!) with far less life experience.

I'd recommend this for anyone who wants a fun, light read that includes some parts that may or may not make one gigglesnort.

Some of my fave quotes:
  • It was like being trapped in a huge spinach salad.
  • This coming from someone who'd seen it all over the course of tens of thousands of years: the rise and fall of dozens of empires, entire civilisations disappearing, some into the ocean--countless genocides and wars, the birth of gangster rap and reality television.
    Yes. Terrible, awful things.

  • “Holy crap, woman! What was that?' Guy stared down at the twitching right half of the body. He was morbidly shocked and incredibly proud.

    She shrugged casually. 'Payback. Hell hath no fury like a Payal scorned. Can we go now?”
  • "You're an awesome god of death and war."

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"Twenty-two-year-old Emma Keane has a secret friend. He’s powerful, mysterious, and devastatingly handsome. In her dreams, anyway.

In real life, he’s an enigma. Maybe just a teensie jealous. Definitely overbearing. He’s also a voice only she can hear.

So who or what is he? He won’t say. But if she wants to be free, to be normal, Emma will have to trek to the jungles once ruled by the Mayans and find the forgotten ruin holding the answers.
However, the ruthless deity she’s about to unknowingly unleash on the modern world, might not be so easily extracted from her life. Bottom line, he’s got enemies, and now, so does she."

Currently (re-)Reading:

Each month, a group of bloggers report on what goals they have been working to achieve in the last month. A while ago now we set longish-term goals (and they were meant to be big goals, so we could feel bold and daring!) and each month we're tracking our progress towards achieving those goals. Check out the Do You Have Goals? blog for a list of participants, and feel free to join our hop if you want to have some extra motivation for achieving your goals. :)

This month's updates on my own creative goals:

  • EDITS/WRITING - I keep getting assaulted by new story ideas! They are more enticing than trying to untangle the messes that are the existing stories. But I have my little critique group to keep encouraging me to do the "hard" stuff as well as nurture my shiny new ideas. Currently I'm trying to figure out how my novel SUNDOWN fits into a template of accepted romance story 'beats', to help me identify what needs working on.
  • NaNoWriMo '18- I know, I know, it's REALLY early to be thinking about this, but with the numerous ideas that have sprung themselves on me in recent months, I will have a big decision to make come November. Still, I'm pretty sure I know which idea I'll be running with ... at least until the next "better" idea leaps at me, anyway.
  • Music - My task at the moment is to have a good listen to the final mixes my bandmate has sent me and send him back any notes. From what I've heard so far, there's one song I'm not sure I'm happy with in terms of the vocals, but I hope I'll get over that and realise it's great as is, so I don't have to do anymore recording. :P I'm hoping to have my notes back to my bandmate by this coming weekend.
And that's about it for now. How are you doing with your goals/projects/etc?

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A 2017 GOALS review

As I mentioned on Friday, I'm not sure if this month's update is going ahead, since I had to schedule this one ahead of time as I'm currently travelling (happy New Year's Eve!). But even if others aren't posting, this is my end-of-year update on my goals for the year.

This is my 2017 Goals page.

Edits / Revisions / etc.
I guess my primary aim this year was to do more work on my revisions, and I did do quite a bit this year. I got back into posting on the AbsoluteWrite forums, and through those forums I found two new critique partners with whom I formed a little off-site group. On that group we're doing a lot of work on novel structure in general, as well as running story ideas by each other and keeping each other inspired.
New writing
I did a little bit of new writing outside of November, but the main bulk of new stuff was created during NaNoWriMo when I wrote most of THE FULL CIRCLE, as well as a small number of words on JARED & JENNA and another new story called HOTEL LOBBY. In December I managed to finish off THE FULL CIRCLE and now I'm starting a not-too-in-depth read-through/edit of it. I have bigger changes I want to implement, but I think I'll give the novel a breather before hacking at it too much. It's good to get distance sometimes! Meanwhile, I'll have to pick another project to revise.
I really have finished all songs for the new WAG album, and my bandmate has approved them! We're looking at a Jan/Feb release, so we'll see how that goes. I'm pretty excited about this album, and now that I'm recovering from my studies, I'm excited about my creative stuff in general! Bring on 2018!
ReadingThis year's reading goals went well, especially after I decided towards the end of this year that I was going to count re-reads in my total reads for each year. I didn't realise that you can count multiple reads on GoodReads, but now that I do, everything with my reading goals each year will change! So far I've read 50 out of the desired 40 reads, including a handful of re-reads.
So... What's the plan for 2018?
  • Release new Woody's A Girl album (titled OBLIVION)
  • Revise at least one other pre-existing novel (maybe SUNDOWN? I have my CP's notes to work off, and she's given me a LOT to work on)
  • Compete in (and win!) NaNoWriMo 2018 (I have so many new ideas to choose from...somebody stop me!)
  • Possibly participate in the A-to-Z challenge in 2018, assuming it's still running
  • Re-read at least 20 books that are on my "to-re-read-and-review" GoodReads bookshelf
  • Read at least 40 books in total as part of my annual GR challenge

And I guess that's a wrap for 2017! 
How did you all go with your goals this year? 
Do you have any plans in place for 2018?

Friday, 29 December 2017

[DEC UPDATE] The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Club

Firstly, I've decided to post my Goals post separately this month. I'm not even sure if that blog hop is still going ahead, but even if it's not, I'm going to talk about my goals and what I've achieved (or not achieved) this year. Secondly, I'm not actually here! I'm currently travelling so I've pre-written and scheduled this post.

Now, onto the book review part of the post! I've decided that this month I'm going to cheat and choose two books. In reality I'd probably like to choose four, but I'll stick to just book #1 of the trilogy I finished, as well as the other book that was its greatest competitor. My choices for December's books read are:

Melina Marchetta - On the Jellicoe Road

I can't believe it took me this long to read this book. Wow! I absolutely loved it. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, I found myself a bit confused about who was who in the flashback scenes. I got used to those scenes, of course, once I knew what they were, but I think it'll be a lot easier when I re-read the book (and oh yes, I will be re-reading it!).

I read Marchetta's Looking For Alibrandi back in high school days, since it was a prescribed text, and I really enjoyed it, but this one went that extra step into 'special' territory for me. Obviously Taylor is a great character, but Jonah is amazing and I love how things unfolded between the two of them. The turf wars were fun to read about, especially as the story progressed. I wonder what Taylor's forebears would have thought about how things ended up!

Pretty early on I suspected the true identify of the Hermit. What a sad story those five friends had - as if it hadn't started out badly enough for them. But their friendship was so strong and amazing to read about, and I felt like Taylor and her friends were forming their own similar posse.

Okay, enough rambling - let's summarise: I loved it, I'm so glad I finally read it, I will definitely re-read it someday, and savour every moment all over again!

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road."

Jenny Han - To All The Boys I've Loved Before

First up: IT'S GONNA BE A MOVIE ERMAGERD! Now, onward!

This book made me go 'nawwwww', so I gave it 5 stars. I guess we'll see how I feel later once the fervour has died down (ETA: now it's "later" and I still feel that way).

There's a bit of a love triangle (well, really, there are sort of two), but I may have made assumptions about what would happen and I may have been proven wrong in the long run.  The supporting characters were fantastic - I think Kitty might be amongst my faves, even though she was a total brat sometimes almost all the time. She was so matter-of-factly bitchy that you kind of had to admire it! She's definitely the most strong-minded of the sisters, and she was constantly cracking me up.

I also love Lara Jean's conversations with Peter, where she brings him down a peg or two without even intending to, e.g. talking about how Gen has him "whipped" as if it's a basic fact, and one that everybody accepts. He's desperate to argue the point, of course.

In some reviews I've noticed a comparison of this book to Little Women, but as I haven't read that one (gasp!) I can't comment on that angle. But I can say I bloody love this book, and the two that follow as well, and cannot wait to see the movie.

P.S. Team Peter!

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once? 
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control."
Currently (re-)Reading:

Friday, 24 November 2017

[NOV UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

It's been another month of quite a few reads, but this month I did not have any 5-star reads to choose from. I had quite a few 4-star reads, and the top two were the one I chose, and the final book in the Jessica Darling series. It was a tough choice, because I am so in love with that series, but I decided that I would choose Cassie Mae's Switched as my book of the month this month. Here's my modified GoodReads review:

Recently I went on a little Cassie Mae book buying binge, and this was one of the books I picked up for my Kindle. I wasn't sure what I would think because I didn't love the premise of a girl trying to break up her bestie's relationship - part of me thought I might detest Kayla all the way through. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed, because there was character growth and, after all, human beings aren't perfect, and I don't want to read about perfect Mary Sues anyway!

Having read many of Cassie Mae's books by now, this is probably amongst my faves. It helped that there were times when I literally burst out laughing and couldn't stop, and there was even gigglesnorting involved. So, humour? Big tick! (and they say laughter is the best medicine, sooooo...this book is healthy to read!) I loved the hero, Wesley, and as mentioned above (and as I saw mentioned in some other reviews too), I wasn't sure if I was going to think much of Kayla, but thankfully across the span of the book she learned and grew as a person. I will say that I think she was a very lucky girl to have such an understanding bestie!

All in all, this was a nice and swoonworthy story with imperfect characters who grew as people. Oh, and there were a couple of total hottie guys to drool over. What more could a (romance-loving) girl want?

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"Ever since high school, Kayla has been crazy for gorgeous football player Talon. But before she could muster the courage to tell him, he became a hot item with her beautiful BFF, Reagan. The only person who knows Kayla’s secret is Wesley, Talon’s best bud—and he’s got it bad for Reagan. Now they’re all in college together, hanging out 24/7. For Kayla, seeing the two lovebirds together is absolutely unbearable. So Kayla and Wesley hatch a plot to drive them apart before Talon has a chance to give Reagan the Christmas gift she’s been waiting for.
Soon enough, the once happy couple is fighting. Reagan suddenly can’t get enough of Wesley’s goofy sense of humor, and Talon seems to be paying more attention to Kayla than a guy who’s “only a friend” ever should. But just when everything seems to be falling into place, Kayla and Wesley accidentally spend a night together and discover a hitch in their plan they never considered: that switching partners may not lead to a perfect ending after all."

Currently Reading: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Each month, a group of bloggers report on what goals they have been working to achieve in the last month. A while ago now we set longish-term goals (and they were meant to be big goals, so we could feel bold and daring!) and each month we're tracking our progress towards achieving those goals. Check out the Do You Have Goals? blog for a list of participants, and feel free to join our hop if you want to have some extra motivation for achieving your goals. :)

This month's updates on my own creative goals:
  • EDITS IN GENERAL - No editing is being done this month, due to NaNo. Of course, they are always lurking there in the back of my mind, and I have not forgotten what awaits me after November is done! I got my last critiques back from my CP for Sundown but I am too scared to look at those yet. I'm saving it for later. ;)
  • NaNoWriMo '17- I was very relieved to get my last assignment done for my studies early in November, but I was doing surprisingly well with NaNo even before that. This is one of those years where the words are flowing easily. For the most part I've been writing THE FULL CIRCLE, but at one point I started jumping around to different scenes I wanted to write, so I am now working on filling various gaps. It's still flowing well and I'm at just over 70k for that novel. I've also written about 2,600 on my other project, HOTEL LOBBY, but that one isn't my main focus.
  • Music - This one is really hanging over my head and putting me under pressure all the time. I want to get it done but never seem to have the motivation on weekends, etc. I need to be in the right frame of mind to do music. That said, I hope to get recordings for two final songs done this weekend...
That's a wrap for November. How are you doing with your goals/projects/etc?