Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Books I've Read: Lily and the Octopus

I'm not a dog-lover, so let's get this out of the way at the start.  I'm a cat person, although we don't have a cat at the moment.  But I really enjoyed this book for its blending of reality and magical realism.

Ted's relationship with Lily is vividly evoked.  He talks to her and believes she talks back to him.  They had regular routines, games nights, outings and special meals they share.  Lily is Ted's world.

So when Lily gets sick, Ted's life starts to spiral out of control.  He's unable and unwilling to face Lily's illness, something that manifests in Ted's mind as a living octopus taking over Lily's head.  His life is suddenly consumed by fighting this dangerous sea creature, to the point everything else is forgotten and abandoned.

As the battle gets more difficult, the lines between reality and fantasy become increasingly blurred and the adventures Ted, Lily and the octopus undertake become more and more surreal.

Anyone who has watched someone - or something - they love suffer will empathize with Ted.  He's not always the most likable character, but his devotion to Lily and his willingness to do absolutely anything for her is touching.

While things got a little too far into the magical and away from the realism for a few chapters toward the middle of the book, I really enjoyed this one for its unconventional way of exploring emotions we have all, or will, journey through at some time in our lives.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb (what there is of it…):

This is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.

For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekly Goals 20-2-17

I had an amazingly productive week last week, so hope to emulate that again this week.  I had aimed to revise through Chapter 16 that week, but I made it to Chapter Twenty.  So this week I hope to get to the end of the book.

For this round, anyway.

I'm trying a new approach to revision with this book, and am focusing only on plot and making sure things make sense this time through.  Then I'll do another pass for language and voice, and another for little niggly things like overused words and punctuation.

Then I think I'll be done!

Maybe, anyway…

What are your goals for this week?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 17-2-17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?

It's Friday!  

It has been a really long week and I have been stupidly busy at work.  I don't think I've left the office before 6 all week.  So looking forward to the weekend, even though that is looking pretty busy too.

I've made fantastic progress on revising my book and am just over halfway.  After making some serious changes to the beginning, there hasn't been a huge amount of rewriting or slashing and burning necessary since.  I've even liked a couple of chapters a lot!  There's still a long way to go of course, and who knows if that second half is going to be as problem-free as the first?

I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow which I'm stupidly excited about.  I think I might make a drastic change and do something entirely different.  It feels like something I need right now.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Books I've Read: As I Descended

I have been excited about reading this book since I first heard about it.  I mean, a modern retelling of Macbeth with lesbians?  How much more up my alley could it get?  So I started reading this as soon as I found it in the library.

And I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.

Don't get me wrong.  I didn't hate it.  I actually enjoyed most of it.  But I found it really difficult to identify or care about any of the characters.  There's the couple at the center - Maria and Lily who are the Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of the piece. They're roommates at an exclusive boarding school.  Roommates and lovers, although they keep the lovers part a secret.  Lily is crippled after a car accident as a child and finds getting around difficult.  Maria is smart, but not top of her class, only second to top and she has been brought up by a Spanish nanny who taught her all about the spirit world.

About to graduate, Maria has her eyes and heart fixed on winning the Kingsley Prize which will allow her to go to Stanford with Lily.  Unfortunately, there is competition for the prize in the form of school queen bee, Delilah.

After consulting a Ouija board, Lily and Maria come up with a fiendish plan to get Delilah out of the running for the prize, but like most plans, this one doesn't go the way they hoped it would and soon the girls are knee deep in intrigue, secrets and blood.

And someone seems to have let loose the old school's ghosts as well.

I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it had stayed firmly in the real world.  The girls and their machinations, bitchiness and complete focus on getting their way would have been enough.  The ghosts and vague spiritual stuff didn't really add anything to the story.  In fact, it kind of muddied things a little in that you were never entirely sure if the girls were acting on their own, or as a result of ghostly possession.  And I think it would have been scarier without the ghosts.  The kind of blind ambition these girls demonstrate is terrifying enough on its own.

I didn't really like any of the characters in this book or feel any compassion toward any of them.  So it was difficult to care when they started dying and losing their minds/seeing malevolent spirits.  If you're not interested in ghosts or supernatural phenomenon, you might want to think twice about picking this one up.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb: 

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekly Goals 13-2-17

It's been a while since I did one of these posts because I've been taking a much-needed break from writing.

But I'm back into it now, so need to keep on track.

I'm in the process of revising an older book I never managed to get quite right.  I love the characters and the way their relationship changes over the course of the book, so I'm determined to get it right this time.  I'm five chapters in now, and hope to get through another five or six this week.

I'm being brutal with this revision.  I started the book in a new place and have thrown out the old first chapter entirely even though I love it.  It just didn't work anymore.  And I think there will be many other occasions where I'll throw things out wholesale too.

It feels good!

What are your goals this week?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 10-2-17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?

I started writing again after a good, long break.  I decided not to dive right back into my NaNo book and am re-working an older story to see if I can finally get it to work.  I'm not sure if it is yet, but I'll keep working on it.

I was approached last weekend about possibly ghostwriting a book based on someone's life.  I can't say too much about it now, but I'm excited about the opportunity and am looking forward to meeting with the woman whose story I may get to work with.

I have a quiet weekend planned apart from having to do some serious cleaning.  Blerg….

What are you celebrating this week?