Single misstep, slide,
like a droplet through a crack
into unknown depths.
Orbiting distant worlds to bring their stories to you.
Single misstep, slide,
like a droplet through a crack
into unknown depths.
Kids away two nights;
restful sleep without white glare;
Book #8 of The Last Kingdom series, The Empty Throne returns to form after what I felt was a bit of a mid-series lull in The Pagan Lord, the previous installment.
This book started with a point-of-view section of Uhtred, the younger, the son of the Uhtred who carries the series to this point. I really enjoyed this glimpse into the mind of the young man who is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps as a warrior and a future lord.
Uhtred, the elder is older now, wounded, but wiser. Some of the bitterness of the previous story has fallen away, and Uhtred is starting to truly recognize his own limitations. In one battle sequence, Uhtred recognizes to himself, and the reader, that in his younger years he would have been one of the fierce young warriors in the fray of the fighting, but he stays back to be a leadership presence for his, knowing that his wound would make him a liability in the thick of the fighting.
This story focused quite a lot on Uhtred’s relationship with his children, Uhtred and Stiorra, and Aethelstan, the (non-)bastard son of Edward. While Uhtred’s regard for Aethelstan as an adopted son has become clear over the last few stories, his mentorship of whom he believes is a future king is on full display here.
This shift in tone is greatly welcome for a character whose brash decision-making was becoming tiresome, for the other characters, and for the reader. Uhtred is still confident, daring, and courageous, but he seems to have truly come into lordship not just as a warrior, but as a leader, and that transformation continues to be fascinating.
I’m also quite intrigued by the introduction of Sigtryggr. His character on The Last Kingdom TV series was a frightening and admirable, and I look forward to seeing how his character, and the Norse threat overall, develop going forward.
I was never out on this series, but I took a break after the last book. Now, I’m fully back in.
Little feet, big thumps
over the bridge back and forth,
hoping to find trolls.
Another wonderful modern fairytale by Neil Gaiman. At this point, I have no excuse whatsoever for not poring through every single story that Gaiman has ever written, because each story feels impactful and poignant.
I listened to the full-cast production of The Graveyard Book on Audible. I’m used to Gaiman narrating his own stories and being a fantastic storyteller. The full-cast production of The Graveyard Book is stellar; each voice actor brings nuance and feeling to their character(s), and the voicing brings real life to the scenes in a way I normally do not expect from audiobooks.
This story follows a boy who was raised in a graveyard after his family were murdered when he was a toddler, and eventually learns how to survive in the world outside. The boy, Bod, short for Nobody Owens, also must ultimately learn about the man who killed his family.
Gaiman writes primarily from the boy’s perspective, and Bod’s narrative voice grows naturally as he ages, a credit to Gaiman’s writing, and the voice actor’s work. Bod develops a close if curious relationship with his guardian, a not-quite-human-being named Silas who has an uncanny ability to fade into the shadows. Silas does not express the usual paternal emotions for his charge, but throughout the book, the emotional bond Bod has with Silas, and the other residents of his graveyard, are unshakable.
Yet again, Gaiman masterfully inserts pieces of folklore into his story to make it feel supernatural and mysterious and familiar all at once.
This is the third Neil Gaiman story I’ve read, and he is quickly bounding to the top of my favorite authors list. I cannot rave about this story enough, so I’ll stop myself before this gets out of hand.
Workshops and dinners,
whirlwind meetings and greetings,
for dispersed colleagues.
Audible recently offered The Wrong One as part of some kind of sale. I’ll always give free books a shot, and I could definitely not say no to a novella by Dervla McTiernan.
I’ve read the first couple installments of McTiernan’s more well-known Cormac Reilly series, following a Dublin-born detective trying to figure out his career in Galway as he solves often strange cases.
McTiernan’s crime stories always have a slow burning build, usually following multiple characters, until the threads twist into an intense third act. It may sound formulaic, but the characters are always well-developed, and the twists are enough to put a reader off-kilter.
So, I went into The Wrong One expecting to be hooked from the start. Admittedly, I was not. The Wrong One uses two voice actors to narrate the respective point-of-view narrators in the story, and I was not a fan of the first narrator. I’ll go into a little more detail below, in a section marked for spoilers.
This first narrator had an odd inflection to his voice that irked me. The second narrator was good, fitting for a teenaged boy who thinks he knows everything.
Despite my issues with one of the narrators (and the character they were playing), the story’s tension ramped up rapidly with a looming realization and twist that only McTiernan can deliver with such fluidity and emotional weight. I ended up enjoying this story quite a lot. Now I just want to go read more Cormac Reilly stories.
Alright, so I didn’t like the first narrator, playing Simon, had an inflection that made him sound emotionally vacant and like a know-it-all from the start, making him virtually unlikable. Then, as the story progressed, it becomes clear that Simon is more than full of himself — even delusional — about his advances towards Clara and her obvious (to everyone but him) complete disinterest in him. Then, his pathetic delusions became overbearing, then possessive, then manipulative, and then, holy shit it was him the whole time! Great twist. I’m telling myself that the strange voice-acting of the character was completely intentional to throw the reader off-balance from the start. Totally worked.
Approaching the line
to a different state. Tap out.
Before it’s too late.
The shortest month of the year is through, and I half-heartedly wish I had a few more days. It’s been a good month overall, I just had a lull in the middle.
But an ending is also a beginning, and I’m pleased that a new month is starting.
No. I’ve gotten about halfway through my draft. This is the primary lull I mentioned above. I just didn’t sit down enough nights to read through my story. Sometimes revisions, just like writing, is about number of sessions as much as productivity per session.
The good news is that halfway through, I like this story. The pacing is a little disorienting at first, which is intentional, and I can feel it slowing down into its middle rhythm. This first revision pass-through is about the overall flow, so feeling through those ebbs and flows is a good sign of how readers might engage with the story.
This revision process is also highlighting likely next steps for me. I think I want to complete this read-through of Uprooted, focused on overall flow and only obvious edits, and then read through again to trace scene placement and length.
Examining the scene placement and length per scene will help me determine whether particular scenes are unbalanced against others, or where natural breaks in the narrative occur. I wrote this story into ten chapters, but do the chapter breaks make sense? Are they too long? Because this is a novella, I’m starting to think that I should have more numerous but shorter chapters to help make the story more digestible.
I just want to validate that idea with a second read-through.
Once I have a good handle on the overall narrative flow and the scene breakdown of Uprooted, I’ll switch gears and follow the same process for New Earth, allowing me to ensure that the two stories make sense together as well as independently.
No, but I read two and started a third. I also made more progress on A Memory of Light. I got stuck on a longer nonfiction book, Dawn of the Code War, which is a bit of an oral history of the FBI’s, and the US’s, initial foray into cyber attacks. Really interesting read, but not the type of thing I can power through in a weekend.
I’m currently reading a short thriller, The Wrong One, by Dervla McTiernan. I’ve read a few of her Cormac Reilly books, so I did not hesitate to pick up this short story on Audible.
Next, I’m looking for some fantasy / historical fiction. Might be going back to Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series… I’m on book eight.
YES at least in the back half of the month. I finally bit the bullet and paid for a workout app program thing. I chose Asana Rebel, since they had a one-year subscription deal and I kept seeing their ads. (Your Instagram marketing campaign worked on me, Asana Rebel! Curse you!)
I started with their intro program and am moving onto full yoga sets. It’s not terribly difficult for me to find 10-15 minutes of exercise time in a day. 20-30 minute sessions will be tougher. I’m thinking I’ll intersperse their yoga sessions with resistance training and… dare I say it? Sprinting.
I’m not into running, although I’ve been told I’m built like a runner. I’m not interested in long-distance running, but sprinting to build leg strength sounds okay. I just need to figure out what that type of workout looks like.
Asana Rebel is nice, because they push notifications to you about a weekly goal — mine is three workouts per week — and quiz you on your mood and what types of exercises may help you in the moment. At the moment, I like the structure it provides. I just need to be disciplined in building on top of it, so that’s what March will be about.
New cubby shelving,
vertical toy arrangement,
clutter now cubic.