Ten Day Movie Challenge: Le Grand Bleu

I’ve decided to do that movie challenge thing that’s been going around on Facebook, but I’m going to do it here as well.

One movie per day for ten days. Movies that are favorites. No explanations, no reviews, just covers, in no particular order.

Movie poster for Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue), and 1988 film.
Day One: Le Grand Bleu

April 2020: Reading (and #OWLsReadathon2020) Wrap Up

Turns out that “shelter-in-place” has been great for reading through my stash of hardcovers and paperbacks. I made a huge dent in my physical TBR stack this month. But don’t worry. There’s still a tower of books on my dresser. I’ll need a few more months of this to get through them all.

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April was the OWLs Magical Readathon, and I completed ten of the twelve subjects! I’m so excited because this gives me so many career options for NEWTs, later this year!

In the interest of keeping this post relatively short, I’ll just list what I read with a few brief comments on each book.

  • Ancient Runes – Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai – Solid middle book in this series. I loved the new characters and the bond between the sisters.
  • Arithmancy – Sourdough by Robin Sloan – I liked this more than I thought I would, mostly because it’s set in the San Francisco tech community, and I really bonded with the main character. The plot is a little weak, but I was so into the character and setting that I didn’t mind.
  • Astronomy – The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – This one was a cozy story featuring embroidery as art, women in astronomy, and ladies in love.
  • Divination – Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro – This volume offered some more insight into the world and the various tensions. The ending left me thinking there might be more? But I can’t seem to find anything about that on the internet.
  • History of Magic – The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson – Solid characters and world-building, but the plot meandered a bit. If you like modern-day witches, you’ll probably dig this series.
  • Muggle Studies – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – This is such a heartwarming story, and that Dolly Parton quote about figuring out who you are and doing it on purpose has been really resonating with me lately.
  • Potions – Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Volume three continues to entertain, though this one seemed to be a little more “exposition” focused than the first two.
  • Transfiguration – Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston – If you’re looking for heat, you’re probably going to be disappointed. The hero and heroine don’t really get together until about 75% of the way through the book. But, if you love shifters and sister bonds, you probably won’t mind. The characters are great and the plot is fast paced and bonkers (in a good way).
  • Herbology – Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon – I really like this series. It’s written in a very traditional sci-fi / space opera style, which may turn some people off, but the plot and world-building is so good. I love the addition of Stella and Rafe in this book. Ky’s crew is really coming together, and she’s finding her footing as captain.
  • Charms – Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith – There is some really cool science in this book mixed in with a lot of anecdotal tales of swimming with octopus and cuttlefish. Enjoyed the exploration of a different evolution of consciousness.

In addition to all that, I also had the good luck to get my hands on a copy of The Last Emperox, the final book in John Scalzi’s Interdependency Series. This was a very action-packed and emotionally satisfying ending to the series, and that’s all I’m going to say about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

And, just before falling asleep on the final day of the month, I decided to dig into a flash fiction anthology, Nevertheless She Persisted. The stories were written by some of the top names in SFF right now (Charlie Jane Anders, Brooke Bolander, Amal El-Mohtar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton, Alyssa Wong). I picked this up because of the authors and because it’s being offered for free from Tor right now.

I also read a bunch of flash fiction written by my writing group because decided to publish a pandemic themed flash fiction anthology called Fever Dreams. The piece I wrote for that is called “The Howlers.” There are six stories in total. They’re all super short and explore what a hopeful post-COVID-19 world might look like. It’s available for free. You can even download an ebook version, if you don’t like reading in a browser.

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I did not buy or borrow any books this month. But, I think May will probably be a big haul month because I have a lot of ebooks coming off hold at the library, and it’s also my birthday month.

Currently Reading

Once the OWLs Readathon ended, I started The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst so that I can discuss it with my reading buddies L. and S. who are reading the series along with me.

There is going to be another round of Tome Topple in May. I don’t think I’m going to participate this time, though. All of my TBR Tomes are on my Kindle, and I’m really enjoying reading paper books right now. We’ll see. I may just start over with Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds, which I abandoned at about 10% during the last Tome Topple.

How did your April reading go? Did you participate in the OWLs Readathon? Are you going to participate in Tome Topple? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

March 2020: Reading Wrap Up

Well, March was an interesting month. I spent almost the whole month sheltering in place, even though we didn’t get the official order to do so until mid-month. I live near Seattle, which is where the outbreak started in the U.S. So, we started voluntarily social distancing around the 3rd of March. Even though I’ve been home, I didn’t get much reading done. I was way too distracted by the news. But, the second half of the month was better than the first half. It’s too soon to say, but maybe I’m getting the hang of balancing connection with isolation. Maybe.

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I finished three books in March. The first was the audiobook of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen. The audiobook was read by the author, which was cool. I really enjoyed these essays, even though they are a bit dated at this point (pub date was in 2017). Since I don’t watch reality TV, or any TV that’s not available on Netflix, I’m wasn’t really aware of some of these women, even though I’m very aware of the topics and societal norms discussed. There aren’t a lot of answers here, but there is good analysis. So, if that’s something you’re looking for, I would recommend this essay collection.

I also read two very similar YA sci-fi books. Both featured heroines in a space military academy. Both were outsiders with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Both of them love to fly. I connected with the main character in Skyward by Brandon Sanderson a little more than the main character in Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan, but Ignite the Stars had better supporting characters (more fully developed) and had a much better plot and deeper, more developed world-building. That said, I’m a sucker for the space military academy trope. So, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed both of these books.

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This was my month to grab a new batch of ebooks from the library. So I stocked up on all sorts of good ones before flipping my Kindle to airplane mode. Some are backlist books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time (Blood Rose Rebellion, Frost Like Night, Ice Like Fire, Grimspace, Shades of Milk and Honey, Fablehaven, Blanca & Roja, and The Bitter Kingdom). Others are new(ish) books that I’m super excited to read (The Stars We Steal, The Bride Test, The Deepest Blue, War Girls, The Blacksmith Queen, Steel Tide, A Madness of Sunshine, and Starsight).

I did buy one book this month. That was The Shadows Between Us, which came in my Fairy Loot subscription box. I hadn’t heard of it before seeing it in the box, but it sounds like one I will enjoy.

I also downloaded a free flash fiction anthology called Nevertheless She Persisted with stories by a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy authors whose work I enjoy. It’s currently being offered from Tor for free on Amazon, if you want to grab a copy.

Currently Reading

It’s O.W.L.s time! If you missed it, you can check out my O.W.L.s TBR here. The first two books I’m reading for the O.W.L.s are Sourdough by Robin Sloan (for Aritmancy) and The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (for Astronomy). So far, I’m loving Sourdough. Lady’s Guide… is off to a slow start, but I’m reading it before bed (per the “read mostly at night” Astronomy prompt), which may be effecting my attention span a bit.

How did your reading go in March? Were you able to finish the usual number of books? Did you get distracted by everything going on in the world? Or did being stuck at home mean that you read even more than you usually do? No matter how your March went, I hope you and your family are healthy and safe, and I wish you all the best for April. ❤

Reading list for the O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2020)

Yay! It’s time for the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon again! I love this readathon. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, or if you missed Book Roast’s announcement video, you can check that out here. The links to her awesome wizarding career guide and this year’s prompts for the O.W.L.s subjects are in the description box of that video, and can also be found on her website.

Last year I completed O.W.L.s in Charms, History of Magic, and Muggle Studies, then went for a career as a Writer during the N.E.W.T.s because that was my only option based on the O.W.L.s I completed (and also because that’s my actual career in real life).

When I first watched the announcement video, I had all these big plans. I was going to pick my career first and then figure out what O.W.L.s I needed to do for that career. I poured over the career options and decided to be a Wandmaker, or maybe a Metal Charmer. I planned my TBR. I had a whole blog post written, but I delayed posting it because it was still early in March.

Then the pandemic really got going.

You’d think, being stuck at home, I’d be reading lots of books. Nope. It took me over two weeks to finish the book I started reading at the beginning of the month (Ignite the Stars). It’s not the book’s fault. I think any book would have a hard time competing with the 24/7 news cycle of a pandemic. But, after a two weeks at home, I’ve finally managed to train myself to tune out the news so I can write or relax with a book.

I’m assuming our shelter-in-place order will continue for a few more weeks, possibly through the end of April. Since I’m home, I’ve decided to make an extra effort to read through my paperbacks and hardcovers before picking up my Kindle. Also, rather than trying to complete specific prompts, I made a stack of books from my paper TBR and am going to pick up whatever I feel like reading at the time and see how many I can complete before the end of the month.

I’ve listed each of the O.W.L.s subjects reading prompts below, along with a book from my paper TBR that fits the prompt:

  • Ancient Runes (heart on the cover or in the title) <–Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai
  • Arithmancy (read something outside your favorite genre) <– Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  • Astronomy (read majority of the book when it’s dark outside) <– TBD (this one will probably be on Kindle)
  • Care of Magical Creatures (creature with a beak on the cover) <– Woven in Moonlight by by Isabel Ibañez
  • Charms (white cover) <– Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts (book set at sea/coast) <– TBD (I didn’t have a good paperback for this prompt, so I may have to go with something on my Kindle)
  • Divination (use a random number generator to pick your book) <– Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro
  • Herbology (title starts with an M) <– Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon
  • History of Magic (book featuring witches / wizards) <– The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
  • Muggle Studies (contemporary genre) <– Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Potions (book under 150 pages) <– Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • Transfiguration (book that includes shapeshifting) <– Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to track my progress, yet. I don’t want to overpromise and not deliver. I’ll probably post about my book selections on this blog, and probably also on Twitter and Instagram. I may also do a reading vlog. I’m definitely going to wear the Harry Potter socks I got for Christmas all month long. Maybe I’ll do a readathon specific BuJo spread. Oh! And if you didn’t notice in the TBR photo above, I’m planning to use the awesome bookmarks I ordered from Book Roast last year (which look like they are currently sold out). Can you tell I’m excited?

The only problem with all these lofty reading goals for April is that I’m also planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. And I will be continuing to post weekly episodes of my Modern Fae serial novella, Rogue Assassins, for subscribers. But, keeping busy with fun projects seems to be working for me right now.

Are you participating in the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon? If so, did you make a TBR? What are you reading? What career are you going for? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your blog post or video so I can check it out.

Rogue Assassins — a FREE Modern Fae Novella

Stuck at home and looking for something to read? If you already love my Modern Fae series, or if you’ve been curious about it but haven’t quite gotten around to reading any of my books yet, this post is for you.

Growing up, I got an early introduction to serial storytelling via Days of Our Lives. I was way too young to be watching it, but my mom was a huge fan. Sometimes she let us watch along with her (but we had to close our eyes during the “sexy times”). She’d talk to my sister and I about the various plot threads and speculate on what was going to happen in the story. I think somehow this early exposure planted the idea in my head that someday I wanted to try writing a story in a serial format.

Well, friends, that day has come. I’ve been playing with this story idea for a while now, and I’m making it happen. The first episode is dropping TODAY.

I spent a lot of time (probably too much time) trying to decide how best to distribute these episodes. Since this blog is mostly about what I’m reading, I didn’t want to post episodes here. I also didn’t want to spam my mailing list with weekly episodes in case some might prefer to read the whole thing after it’s complete rather than reading a chapter a week. So, I ultimately decided to have a dedicated mailing list for this story. You can sign up for that here: http://bit.ly/RogueAssassins.

What can you expect if you sign up? Here’s what I’ve got planned:

  • One episode per week, for about 20 weeks, total
  • A fantasy adventure with some kissing
  • A heroine who will do whatever it takes to save her sister from the toxic love of a power hungry man
  • An ambitious shapeshifting hero whose future depends on the heroine’s success
  • An explanation about what was going on with that pair of gargoyles who made a brief appearance in Eve of the Fae
  • Answers about what actually happened to the Faerie Queen Godda when she disappeared
  • Much drama! Some characters will die, some will find love, all will be changed forever
  • An interactive approach to story-telling (I welcome your comments and feedback on each episode)

This is going to be as much of an adventure for me as it will be for you. I am so excited to try this! I hope you love the first episode and decide to subscribe and join me on this journey.

Oh, also… if you want to grab a copy of the first book in my series, Eve of the Fae is on sale for only $0.99 this weekend. Buy one for yourself, or for a friend, or just help me get the word out. I’d really appreciate it.

Bookish Friends are Gold (and a TBR for March)

I got to hangout with my “Camp Book Club” friends (L. & S.) this morning over video chat. We talked about the books we’ve been reading, the two series we’ve been working our way through as a group (The Queens of Renthia and The Innkeeper Chronicles), and the books we want to read next. We also talked about current events and politics (“as you do”). It was the best. I love my Camp Book Club friends, and not just because I now have a plan that might extract me from my reading slump, but that part is good, too. 🙂

I’m putting this here so that I don’t forget. Sort of like a “to do list.” After talking it over with L. & S., here’s what I’m planning to read (and hopefully finish) in March:

  • Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds — This one is already in progress, but it’s going to be a slow read.
  • The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst — I’m even more pumped to finish this series after talking about book one with L. & S.
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson — This has been on my list for a while and has been bumped up so I can discuss it with L. & S. next month. I’m past due to read some Brandon Sanderson and feel a bit weird that this is going to be my introduction to his writing, but L. read it, recommends it, and wants to discuss it, so I’m in.
  • Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan — I read the first chapter after posting my reading wrap-up for February, and it was compelling enough that I think I’m going to keep going.
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen — This book has been on my radar for a while now, and I needed a new audiobook to listen to while doing chores and whatnot. So I added this and two others to my holds list at the library. This one came up first, so this is going to be my audiobook selection for March.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite — Another one that I’ve been planning to read for a while, but it keeps getting pushed off the first screen of books on my Kindle, so I forget about it. This one is also getting bumped up so I can read it for next month’s Camp Book Club hangout.

That’s six books for March. Too many? Possibly. I’m not sure I’ll finish all of them, but I’m feeling good about this list.