Smoothies and Book Club – A Summer Update

{Photo of one of my first smoothies on a bookshelf with some of the books I’ve bought recently}

Well I started this post before summer vacation started and look – it’s almost the middle of July!

In Glister news, I’ve been waiting on getting my laptop fixed, the one with all my heavy-duty programs on. I wasn’t able to use my USBs and for various reasons don’t have internet on it, so transferring work to upload on this computer was impossible. It’s apparently working okay now, so first up will be the new edition of Bronze in paperback and then I’ll be looking into releasing it as e-book again. I have mixed feelings about this as book theft is such a problem, but with Copper coming out as soon as I can manage it, I really want that e-book out there. I’ll also be doing Goodreads giveaways and might post chapters of both books at Wattpad and Smashwords. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m staying close to home for most of the summer, doing curriculum planning for graduate credit as well as doing my best to finish the second Glister Journals novel, Copper. So I’m very busy. I admit that I’ve been stuck for a while on the last chapters, not because I don’t know what happens at the end, but I’m not sure in what order those things happen, which affects what ties them together, which has made it difficult to focus on just writing. Earlier this year, there was a lot happening at work that adversely affected me and possible changes to my job on the horizon, both of which had me very stressed out for the last six months or so. Nothing of my doing, but I was deeply affected none the less. So that also made writing difficult to focus on. I’m not making excuses, just saying the way it is. I am making good progress now though, and all chapters are going out for final critiques.

I have no road trips planned this summer, which I’m a little sad about, but my poor little car has seen better days. I think I’m going to play it safe until I can buy a newer one. I plan on doing that next spring, if my car lasts that long without needing major repair. Poor thing’s over ten years old and has over 200,000 miles – almost all mine! It’s been a little trooper to be sure.

The one trip I made this summer was to see my son and his family in Iowa. I had mixed feelings about the trip, but I couldn’t wait to see my son – I hadn’t seen him in two years! I hugged him tightly twice a day to make up for lost time and try to stock up a bit for the future. And I hadn’t seen my little grandson since last summer. I’m not sure whether he actually remembered me, but he seemed happy enough to have me around. But I’m not a fan of flying and Iowa and I have a little history together. They’re not the best memories. The trip was nice though – just relaxing most of the time. They live in a very nice small north Iowa town where there’s not much to do, but the time seemed to fly anyway.

I was interested in exploring SE Minnesota and loved the area around Rochester and especially Chatfield, but didn’t have an opportunity to really investigate. Chatfield seems like exactly the kind of small town I’d like to eventually live near. Is anyone from around those areas? I’d love to hear your thoughts or experience concerning them. I’m thinking about retirement within the next ten years and certainly can’t afford to retire here in the Bay Area. So I’m looking for alternatives. Somewhere I can buy a decent home in a quiet neighborhood with a low mortgage, maybe even a small farm – for horses, of course. It’ll be the first (and probably last) home I’ve ever owned, so I’m rather looking forward to it!

{a picture of Chatfield, Minnesota, an old fashioned-looking small town. Not my photo.}

The other things I’m working on (in the sense of actually employing them in daily life) are life hacks. It seems like most things should be easier now at my age, but I still struggle with a lot of things, many because I’m autistic, but also just because I’m me! My two favorite discoveries so far this summer are making my own smoothies, which I’ll mention again in a future post, and joining a book club, which I’ve never done before. I have a slow processing speed for some things, including reading, and know I can’t keep up with most other people, but thought I’d give it a go for the summer weeks.

Is anyone else in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Club? I’ve been following her book posts for a few years. This is her first club (I think), and I’ve really been enjoying it. She chose five books for the summer weeks that I’d never heard of and probably never would have read otherwise. Since I have a very eclectic taste in books, it’s been a real treat. Each book’s reading time is culminated with a webinar and live feed, but conversation is ongoing on a Facebook group. The first webinar was really interesting. So far we’ve read One In A Million Boy and The Nest, both of which I enjoyed for different reasons. We’re reading Everyone Brave Is Forgiven right now, which I’m not sold on yet. It’s hanging in the balance. I may ditch it and sneak in a book of my own choice until we’re on to the next one.

One In A Million Boy – From the acclaimed author of When We Were the Kennedys and Any Bitter Thing, the incandescent story of a 104-year-old woman and the sweet, strange young boy assigned to help her around the house—a friendship with unexpected reverberations for the boy’s unmoored family.

I LOVE this book. It’s difficult to describe and not like anything I’ve read before, but it’s beautifully written with many quote-worthy passages and very memorable characters. I admit I got behind in reading this one and still need to finish it, but it’s definitely one to enjoy the journey, not race to the end, so I know I’ll be able to pick it back up and finish at my leisure.

The Nest – A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

This one really surprised me. From the description (which I didn’t read before starting) and the conversation of others in the club, I didn’t think I would like this at all. Indeed, the characters are not very likable, but they are certainly very human and it’s a fascinating study. It was an extremely easy read and I finished way before the deadline. Woot!

I’ll have a giveaway for these books later. What are your favorite reads so far this summer?



Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze
New website coming!
The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller or purchase now at Amazon.com
Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2016 to B B Shepherd.

Share
Continue Reading

Review: Cinder

It’s been a while since I read these books, but as I hope to read Cress (the third book in the series) when the paperback comes out, and Fairest (the fourth book) is out in about three months, I figured I should get to it! Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is set in a futuristic/alternative reality earth. Although the books are re-imaginings and intertwinings of very familiar fairy tales and characters (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty–at least the evil queen!) the settings and story lines are firmly in science fiction territory and YA accessible. Which is all kinds of awesome. I love Marissa’s writing (with one exception – see Scarlet), her characterizations, and stories.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I wasn’t initially drawn to this book. Much as I adore science fiction movies and shows, I’m not crazy about robots/androids/cyborgs/etc., so the cover actually put me off. I didn’t want to start a book I already had doubts about (as far as liking the main character). Silly me.

First of all, I need to talk about Marissa’s world. That’s what drew me in and changed my mind as soon as I began reading. Due to my uncertainty, I got it from the library first. I was immediately thrown into a busy futuristic marketplace with a fusion of high and low technology and predominantly Asian atmosphere a la Whedon’s Firefly (not as dark and brooding as Blade Runner). By the time I was halfway through the book I was sold on Marissa’s writing and the series and had to have my own copy.

Linh Cinder is a part human, part robotic teen girl who works in the marketplace of New Beijing. She is famous for her expertise in mechanics and does a good trade there, helping to augment her family’s meager income. That family is, of course, a step mother and two step sisters. They and all the residents of New Beijing are struggling to function and make a living through a deadly plague of unknown origin with no known cure.

As the story opens, she is tending the stall in the marketplace and brooding about her foot. She has outgrown it. The accident that left her in need of robotic parts happened when she was a small girl and she hasn’t been able to find – or afford – replacement parts to keep up with her physical growth.

Enter Prince Kai. He has come to the marketplace, undercover, seeking her renowned expertise to repair a family droid. His reasons for secrecy, beyond not wanting to get mobbed by his adoring subjects, remains obscure for a while but makes sense later on. Her reason for hiding her foot – and her cyborg physiology – is the crush she has on him, just like every other female subject including her adorable android sidekick.

Hanging over all is the threat of invasion by the mysterious Lunar queen and her forces if diplomacy fails. And diplomacy insists on marriage.

Although I found some of the plot and back story (not necessarily related to the original fairy tale) a little predictable, I enjoyed the read immensely and look forward to the rest of the series.

Currently writing: TGJ Book 2 Chapter 27.
Listening: All of the musics.
Reading (finishing): Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Watching: Downton Abbey



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

Share
Continue Reading

Review: The Raven Boys

Time to get caught up with some reviews!

image_5

This is a little old now as I read The Raven Boys last summer, but as we’re only in the middle of the series (the third of four books comes out this year) I guess it’s not too late.

The Raven Boys is the first title in the Raven cycle by Maggie Stiefvater and is definitely one of my favorite books of the past few years. I like books that are both well-written and don’t explain too much at the beginning, just dropping information here and there to let you piece things together, and such a book is The Raven Boys.

In fact, the beginning is very vague: Blue Sargent and someone we understand to be her aunt are sitting in a graveyard in the middle of the night, waiting. Waiting for what, exactly, isn’t clear, but we’re told that every St. Mark’s Eve, Blue and her clairvoyant mother wait in the graveyard for the soon-to-be-dead spirits to walk by and whisper their names. Blue can’t see or hear them but functions as an amplifier. In fact she often acts as amplifier for her mother, aunt, and the other women living in her home. It’s this paranormal vagueness, the relationship of the female characters living at 300 Fox Way, and the way the paranormal is no big deal, just a part of everyday life–exciting at times and a headache at others, but rarely causing anxiety or stress–that reminded me of one of my all time favorite books, A Wrinkle In Time. It also reminded me of the movie Practical Magic (which I also love) in the way the characters interact. Win-win.

Apart from being extremely well-written – Maggie turns some wonderful phrases – it is otherwise unlike anything else I’ve ever read. And that’s always a good thing too.

Blue is initially extremely annoyed then befriended by four boys, ‘Raven Boys’ from the local prep school, and is roped into their adventures trying to find the final resting place of an ancient Welsh king. The reasons for this search are also very vague, but it seems like a worthy quest, at least from the boys’ point of view, and they are all invested in it. Magic is involved, of course, and the boys soon discover that Blue, with her amplifying power, is very handy to have along. Romance is obviously in the future with a foreboding black cloud already hanging over it in the form of Blue’s curse–that she will be the cause of her true love’s death. There’s a triangular shaped thing already in place too, but that’s to be expected I suppose and didn’t detract one bit from the pleasure I got from the story.

I absolutely loved this book. The characterizations were clear and not too clichéd, I loved the boys (especially Noah) and loved the quirky women of Blue’s household too. There were a few parts that were too vague, not well described enough, which made it hard to imagine, but the characters, plot, and strength of writing more than made up for it. I will definitely be reading this book again and am in for the whole series.

Highly recommended! With reservations about the sequel.

This song’s a little old now too, but the first time I heard it, it made me think of this book. (No the video has nothing to do with the story.)



Currently writing: TGJ Book 2 Chapter 26 (Yes, still, but almost done). Revisions through chapter 15.

Listening: Foster the People (review coming)

Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Watching: Gilmore Girls Season 7



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

Share
Continue Reading

Review: Mockingjay

Mockingjay

Death. Destruction. Mayhem. Just another day in Panem.

This is the first time in I can’t remember how long I felt that I HAD to read the end of a book, just to make sure somebody was okay. And not just “okay” but that the book ended satisfactorily. Now, cheating and reading the end of a book is close to sacrilege to me, like sneaking peeks at presents days before Christmas (no, I never have). I had become so invested in one particular character, however, that if they didn’t make it, and if there wasn’t closure, I was going to throw the book away. Seriously.

I found Mockingjay much harder to read than the first two books. I believed The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I had a much harder time suspending disbelief for Mockingjay, but I’m not sure why. It felt a little too slow at the beginning, but once Katniss and the others began their forays out into the other districts, it didn’t stop. One of the things I found most difficult to read were the continuous deaths.

There was plenty of death in the first two books, of course, but that was mostly individuals during the games. This is brutal war and torture. There is a LOT of violence in this book. It’s not that it’s too graphic–I didn’t find it any more graphic than the others–but it just seemed over the top to me, and at one point Ms. Collins was killing off so many characters that I had a suspicion that EVERYBODY was going to die. It seemed to be heading in that direction. Which is why I had to cheat.


If you loved the first two books (which I did), of course you must read this one. If you struggled through them because of the violence, this one’s worse. Was it worth reading? Absolutely, and I’ll read the trilogy again. But not for a while. And yes, I’m looking forward to the movie immensely!

I had been holding off writing this review hoping for a real movie trailer, but there is none yet. (I’ll come back and add it later.) In the meantime, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons always reminds me of The Hunger Games in general (the lyrics, not the video) so I will leave you with that for now.



And now there’s at least a teaser!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

Share
Continue Reading

Review: The Hunger Games

Hunger Games

Yes, I’m extremely late to the party, I know, but I’m going to weigh in on this series anyway. I’ll just go ahead and credit this book with fueling my new interest in young adult literature and I don’t mean that in a genre sense. I’ve tried reading some of the traditionally published ‘genre,’ and have been severely underwhelmed to the point that I can’t bear to waste time finishing them. Nothing had really impressed me since Harry Potter. But this book–indeed, as I’m finished with the final book I can say the whole series–is so well written, well paced, and with such strong characters, I want to read anything Suzanne Collins has written no matter the genre or target age group. It is also the first book I’ve read in first-person present tense that I thoroughly enjoyed. I generally don’t care for it as it’s seldom well-done, but as I said, the writing is so strong, it could be in any voice and I’d love it. I also need to say that I have since found other authors/books in this category well worth reading, but I’ll review them later.

I doubt if many people are ignorant of the premise for the story, but if you’re here seeking out a review at this point, perhaps you are: In a brutal future United States where the privileged few live extravagantly and wastefully in the “Capitol,” the average citizen lives in one of twelve districts. Each district has it’s specialty–mining, cattle, agriculture, etc.–but most barely scratch out an existence while the best of everything is sent to the Capitol. Why don’t they rebel? Well, once upon a time there were thirteen districts. 13 rebelled and 13 no longer exists–at least as far as anyone knows. To commemorate the occasion and remind the districts of what can happen again, each district gives up one boy and one girl each year to the Hunger Games, a brutal arena free-for-all where only one winner can survive. Katniss Everdeen, something of a tough loner who would do anything for her sister, becomes the girl for District 12.

The Hunger Games is certainly brutal and violent but not over the top. Some parts were unpleasant but never so graphic as to make me want to skip parts (I have my limits for blood and guts). The violence is a part of the story and propels it forward. Yes, there is certainly a love story, but it never becomes too sentimental or steamy. It’s a very clean read in that perspective which I liked. The motives for everything, including the love interest, is what I found the most appealing.

And I’m glad that I read the book first, but the movie is truly excellent. Considering I had read it recently, I wasn’t aware of anything important missing and felt myself right back in the story. That’s pretty amazing. It sets just the right tone at the beginning, the rural and impoverished District 12 looking like something out of 1940s Appalachia. In contrast, the Capitol is all high tech, high fashion, and wanton wastefulness. Presiding over all, though not conspicuous is the president of Panem, Snow, well played by Donald Sutherland. I don’t like Donald Sutherland, never have, but kudos to the casting directors. He’s perfect. Actually that’s one of the best things about the movie–its cast. They nailed it. Even Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is perfect. No, really! If they ever make a movie/movies out of my series, I want them to cast it. (I can dream!)

Verdict: Go see the movie, but read the book first!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

Share
Continue Reading