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Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
Nancy Kress
The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice
Todd Henry

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey It's no spoiler to say this is a zombie book, because you find out in the very first chapter. The hints that give away the children's nature are creepy, and that first chapter was fun to read because it's so uniquely told--from the zombie child's POV, when even she doesn't know what she is.

One thing I really like about this book is the pacing. I rarely got a moment's rest, a moment to feel comfortable with the "new normal" of the situation. This holds true for most of it, until the middle, when it devolves into typical zombie fare for a time. That's really one of my few complaints: the characters spend a large portion of the middle chapters doing the usual fight-or-flee from zombies, holing up at night, scavenging for food, dealing with the creepy horror factor, and so on.

I understand why the author (who I was surprised to find out is a dude...) had to switch viewpoints throughout the middle of the book, but I was kind of hoping that more scenes would take place from Melanie's POV. At times they were quite few and far between. There were also a few times where I wasn't sure for several paragraphs whose POV we were in.

As always, when a work is so close to perfect, it makes the few faults it has stand out, but by no means should you take my criticisms above as a reason not to read the book. The middle of the story gave birth to something far more fascinating as the characters and I pieced together the puzzle of the fungus and its true nature.

And the ending... While it is a bit abrupt, I loved it and the implications of it. I'm glad it doesn't devolve into sappy romance and that there truly is no happily ever after. I'm also glad that both Parks and Helen get a chance to redeem themselves before the end. Like Mad Max: Fury Road, the location/goal that the characters thought they were trying to reach (Beacon, in this case), isn't where they end up.

There was just one thing that I was hoping to find out, and that is whether the children age like normal people or if they will become a race of immortals. Unfortunately this was never made clear to me. But the tragic ending is befitting of the tragedy of the opening, and it works so, so well.

Nice Dragons Finish Last

Nice Dragons Finish Last - Rachel Aaron I loved this book and drove my husband crazy talking about it nonstop for the past couple of days. I absolutely could not put it down.

The worldbuilding is awesome. Set in the near future, cars drive themselves but still have manual overrides. There's augmented reality, but still personal mobile phones. Oh, and a meteor brought magic back to the world, creating a magic apocalypse of sorts, at least in Detroit, where this is set.

The characters are also fantastic. Most SFF these days follows the badasses, the tough guys, the kickass heroines, the anti heroes. But Julius is an uncompromising nice guy, without being a passive character. We're led to believe he used to be a pushover, a loser doing nothing useful in his life, at least according to his relatives. But as the story progresses, he does have a heroic character arc, and I loved every minute of it.

Marci, the human mage, is also an interesting character in her own right. And while she's not the hero of the story, she is fun to watch and someone you can't help but cheer for.

It was also very light on the romance, and I'm told the sequel is much the same. I love that the big reveal of his secret identity doesn't lead to the melodramatic crap you see in so many romantic comedies or superhero stories. It was much more natural and what you would expect from these two characters.

A fun adventure from start to finish, with a quick pace, interesting characters, and a world that feels all too real in spite of the magic.

The Sentinel Mage

The Sentinel Mage - Emily Gee This book feels a lot like it's built on the quest model. Reluctant hero must go touch three stones to save his kingdom. At times, this is very tedious, with all the travel. Interestingly, most of the story is not told through the reluctant hero's POV, but from the most junior sentinel mage, which I found refreshing. (Which makes this an escort quest!)

However, she's also the most powerful of the mages. The fact that she's a virgin who starts falling for the hero (when he has been nothing but an asshole to all the mages the entire book) is irksome to me in the extreme... Being sympathetic to someone who's lost everything is one thing, but falling for them for no reason is quite another. However, by the end, they do share a dream-bond, which does help with the explanation of why they begin to grow fonder of each other.

Overall, a good fantasy read, though perhaps not very memorable. Love the cover!

The Speed of Dark

The Speed of Dark - Elizabeth Moon This is a fantastic book where the primary POV character is an autistic man. It's set in the near future, where most autism (and other diseases, etc.) have been cured at birth or in infancy. The main character, Lou, is part of the last generation of autistics, born too late to be cured in infancy, but he did receive a lot of help in his childhood that makes him into a high-functioning autistic who has his own apartment, car, and job.

I loved the fencing, the conflict with Don, and the impending experimental treatment all the austistics at his job must choose whether to get. It has a [b:Flowers for Algernon|18378|Flowers for Algernon|Daniel Keyes|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349012124s/18378.jpg|3337594] feel to it.

However, I felt like I kept waiting and waiting for him to decide whether to choose the treatment or not. 80% of the way through the book, and he still hadn't chosen, and only one person had even started the treatment. This is the only thing keeping me from giving it 5 stars, honestly.

And the ending was a bit too abrupt for me. I was hoping a decent portion of the book would be him learning to live after the treatment, but instead, we only got a taste of how he was like two people riding in one head. I did like that idea, but I wanted to see a little more of it at least. I'm glad he got to go in to space, though, but again, it ended too abruptly.

Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self - Brandon Sanderson Though it's the same world and characters, I liked this way better than Alloy of Law.

This is also the first time that I really noticed the cosmere coming together within the text of the story itself (other than random mentions of Hoid in other books). It'll be interesting to see what the author does with this overarching idea of linking all his worlds together.

Hurricane Creek: A Short Story

Hurricane Creek: A Short Story - D.W. Bunkley Good horror story. To say anything more would be to spoil it.


Seveneves - Neal Stephenson An interesting read. I expected to be very excited about what happens after humans return to Earth, but by the time I got to that part of the story, it had lost all its steam for me. I guess I just really wanted to know if and how humans survived and began to procreate again, and once I knew that, the rest felt like a rather lengthy denouement to me.

I was mildly intrigued when they discovered that humans had survived the Hard Rain and had reemerged, but the intrigue didn't keep my attention long enough through all the politics of getting the Seven together and whatnot. Plus, all my heroes were dead by then, so I was a little bored. I liked seeing the new world, all the cool technology, and the evolution of how the new generations regarded the Eves, but it wasn't enough to keep me in the story for some reason.

The Shadow Of What Was Lost

The Shadow Of What Was Lost - James Islington This book is standard fantasy fare. Someone had recommended it to me as apocalyptic, but I'm 45% of the way through and still don't see that. This book is long at 600 some odd pages, and it shows. At several points there is meaningless travel reminiscent of everything you hate about video game quests. Yet the book kept piquing my interest every time I started to put it down. Still, after six weeks and being only halfway through, I think I've spent enough time reading a book that relies so heavily on prophesy, a trope I'm tired of. I did love the "friend turns out to be something unexpected" ideas, though.


Seed - Rob Ziegler Really love the worldbuilding in this novel. I tried so hard to like it, but I've put it down and struggled to pick it back up too many times. I guess because there are too many sets of characters, which I know is hypocritical of me, because my own novel has a ton of viewpoint characters. I guess I haven't really been able to pinpoint what exactly left me disinterested in this novel. Love the apocalyptic world, though!

Flaming Dove

Flaming Dove - Daniel Arenson If you like stories based on Christian mythology (angels vs. demons style), this is the book for you. Unfortunately for me, I was hoping to see more of the post-apocalyptic aspect, but the human world was very much the backdrop for epic battles between angels and demons and never came into the forefront as far as I saw. The plot also seemed slow to progress, as the main viewpoint character was lacking in drive for most of the book.


Partials - Dan Wells A fantastic post-apocalyptic world with characters that truly felt like real people. The people that were adults during the apocalypse had an entirely different worldview than the children who survived. No family was left untouched. Every parent lost a child, and no child's biological parent survived, that's how few survivors there were.

I loved that this felt YA without having annoying romance. Yes, Kira has a boyfriend and has to contemplate being forced to get pregnant due to the Hope Act. But he's his own individual, and doesn't just follow her around like a puppy, thankfully.

I absolutely love stories of unrealized allies, and this one has plenty to go around. And the mirroring of Samm's capture and helplessness under her (supposed) control with her later capture by his people was awesome.

I tore through this book. Loved it and highly recommend to other fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.

As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies - Robin Lythgoe Proof that indie authors can create compelling stories with cool endings and no typos! This is a rather unique fantasy, with a heist story embedded in it. While it's told from first person, I enjoyed the narrator's voice enough to keep reading.

One thing that bothered me about the book is that the two main characters are male, the villain is male, and the only female character who's not tertiary is a mute who cries constantly. I thought maybe part of that was just the perception of the somewhat selfish and narcissistic narrator, but no. The other female characters are minor and mostly act as motivation for the main characters. But I appreciated there wasn't any sappy romance in the book, at least.

Wolf Who Rules

Wolf Who Rules - Wen Spencer I love Wen Spencer's work. This is one of very, very few examples I can think of where a couple kicks ass (together and separately) and both viewpoints manage to keep the reader's interest. Tinker and Wolf both fight to protect people in their own ways, and the characterization of even more minor characters is simply stellar. I also love the magic and technology aspect of these books. If you love a mixture of science fiction and fantasy, this book is definitely for you. But read Tinker first.

I should note that I actually have the omnibus that contains both [b:Tinker|47241|Tinker (Elfhome, #1)|Wen Spencer|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1326314596s/47241.jpg|1105908] and [b:Wolf Who Rules|544237|Wolf Who Rules (Elfhome, #2)|Wen Spencer|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389956942s/544237.jpg|1105907], but I just now got around to reading this half.


Hounded - Kevin Hearne I think this would be a good book for people who love urban fantasy, but want something a little different than the usual paranormal detective fare.

Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books

Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books - David Gaughran This book is awesome. It is a little behind the times in regard to preorders and which paid ads offer links to retailers besides Amazon, but other than that, everything seems pretty sound. I can't wait to apply some of what I've learned.

How To Market A Book

How To Market A Book - J.F. Penn Decent advice, but I felt like a lot of space was wasted on tactics for non-fiction authors. [b:Write. Publish. Repeat.|19173266|Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success)|Sean Platt|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386152927s/19173266.jpg|27214781] gives a better breakdown of strategies and tactics for fiction writers. Of the three books in the Indie Author Power Pack, I found this one lagging behind the other two due to various typos (e.g. Anne Rice's name was misspelled, and at various points, MySpace was referred to as mySpace, though later it was MySpace).

Still, I did glean a fair amount from this book. Definitely not a wasted read. I would recommend [b:Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should|12085614|Let's Get Digital How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should (Let's Get Digital, #1)|David Gaughran|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1311786288s/12085614.jpg|17053693] and [b:Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books|17370411|Let's Get Visible How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books (Let's Get Digital, #2)|David Gaughran|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1360712149s/17370411.jpg|24155870] much more highly over this book for marketing for indie fiction authors.