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?

Friday, 27 October 2017

[OCT UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

It's been another month of quite a few reads, and it's another difficult choice between two top books this month. The honourable mention goes to The Mortal Instruments #6, because oh my gosh, I looooooved this. What a perfect ending. But shock of all horrors, this month another book wins the day, and that book is Second Helpings (Jessica Darling, #2). Yep, I know - I'm way late to this party! I'd never heard of these books until one of my critique partners put me onto them this month.

You can always tell when I adore a book because I will read it in a day or less. And in this case it was even more impressive because I was also doing homework during that time span, and watching stuff on Netflix. This is definitely a "lie on the couch and read" kind of book.

So, book #2 in the Jessica Darling series follows on from book #1's big cliffhanger, and the tension continues to build to near-unbearable levels this time around. The book's ending was so very worth the wait ... although of course the very ending leaves things open for the next book in the series (which I've heard mixed reviews about).

So what did I love about this book? Well, Jessica is hilarious - she makes me snort with laughter. The teenaged voice was so well done, but it was extra good because this is an intelligent teenager. I love the supporting cast too, with their various quirks. Each of Jessica's Clueless Crew have their own unique features that made reading all the dialogue between them a real treat. Then, of course, there's Marcus ...

He was great in book #1, but I much preferred him in book #2 where he was just too adorable - and of course, super sexy. Let's sum it up like this: *SWOOOOOOOOOOOOON* Okay, done. :) Sometimes I felt so sorry for him what with all those hoops he had to jump through. But it wasn't only Jessica's fault, since it takes two to tango (or not tango, as the case may be). And one of my very favourite aspects of this was book was "Tuttie Flutie"'s interaction with Gladdie. Gladdie, man, what a legend. The scenes at the nursing home were so wonderful.

To summarise, I'm so glad to have had this book recommended!

This is the GoodReads blurb:
"Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today’s fast-moving and sophisticated teens. Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess’s life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep program and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie. But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some: Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis? Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life? Will Hope ever come back to Pineville? Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years."

Currently Reading: Lola and the Boy Next Door,
Book #2 in the Anna and the French Kiss series

For those who don't know, there is now a blog for this blog hop, rather than us going straight to Misha's blog. Check out the new Do You Have Goals? blog, and join our hop if you want to have some extra motivation for achieving your goals. :)

Now, some updates on my own creative goals:
  • EDITS IN GENERAL - I've been doing edits here and there, including just adding notes to things for editing later. Homework has got a bit in the way of me doing much of anything for the last week or so.
  • Critique Group! & NaNoWriMo '17- We are all gearing up to do NaNo this year, and all have some pretty solid plans in place. We are all pretty excited about our projects, and we're ready to cheer each other on! I just have to get my last bits of homework out of the way before I can really settle into a NaNo rhythm once November kicks off.
  • Music - I have no updates. I still have not finished the last song because I forgot to do certain necessary harmonies for it, and until I do those it isn't finished. I also have to send Billy some other music files that he wants to work on, but I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and focus on getting that stuff done. Hopefully this weekend I'm going to have some spare time!
That's a wrap for October. How are you doing with your goals/projects/etc?