Thoughts On THE ODDLING PRINCE

Hello, hello!  It’s the last Wednesday in May, which means it’s time for another book review.  This time, I decided to get into a fantasy novel to mix things up a bit.  Cozies and thrillers are great, but sometimes you just need a break.  So, I requested a copy of The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer from NetGalley.  It came out earlier this month from Tachyon Publications.  As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  With that out of the way, let’s get on with it!

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It has such a pretty cover!

The Oddling Prince opens with Aric’s father, the king of Calidon, on his deathbed.  A ring of unknown origins is sucking the life from him, and no one can figure out how to remove it short of cutting off the appendage, which no one dares to do.  At least not until a stranger arrives on a horse that disappears when he dismounts.  The stranger saves the king without mutilating him and reveals a secret that only Aric immediately accepts as true.  This leads to adventure and arguments and secrets and a level of brotherly love that verges on the incestuous at times.

I fully admit that this book caused my inner yaoi fangirl to come out.  If you don’t know what yaoi is, the best way I’ve heard it described is that it’s beautiful boys kissing beautiful boys.  Granted, it tends to go much farther than that, but I won’t go there because the book doesn’t.  So, if you’re reading it and get some strange vibes that make you want to put it down, don’t worry.  It’s really just creepy levels of brotherly love.  For the yaoi fanpeople, you will be slightly disappointed.  But hey!  At least Aric and Albaric came together in the end.  *winkwinknudgenudge*  Just in a completely different, but equally satisfying way.

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But seriously, I found this story quite enjoyable.  The characters were relatable despite being royalty.  The plot was fun and had a lot of twists.  My only complaint with this one is that the pacing is awkward.  It feels like everything happens over the course of a few days, maybe weeks, but there are lines that suggest months have passed by.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be able make a timeline for it even after finishing it, because I’m still not entirely sure whether days or weeks or months passed.  That issue screws with a couple of other things, such as the relationship arc between Aric and Marissa.  There wasn’t a sense of love at first sight, so when it seemed like they randomly fell in love after a couple of days, it felt like an afterthought.  But if months passed, it makes a bit more sense.

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There were definitely no heart eyes when they first met!

As far as the writing goes, be prepared for older language and a rhythm reminiscent of fairy tales.  It’s a little jarring at first, but it’s interesting.  I learned things like a believable difference between calling a king “Sire,” “Liege,” and other things.  Whether the information is entirely correct, I don’t know.  I haven’t researched it yet.  But it made sense in the story.  And the author made the information feel like a natural part of the story instead of an infodump.  It was really interesting

Ultimately, The Oddling Prince was a fun read.  It seems like it’s going to be a standalone, but on the off chance there are more, I’ll pick them up.  I also plan on looking for other books by Springer.

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Overall, I’d give it four out of five stars.  It’s a quick and amusing read.  If you’re into fantasy or fairy tales or just looking for something light to read between things, I’d definitely suggest giving it a shot.

The Charmed Reboot Is Apparently A Thing

Howdy, howdy!  A few days ago, a friend of mine posted a link to the CW’s new Charmed trailer (view it here).  I admit that I vaguely remember talks of rebooting this show, but I never thought they actually would, so I didn’t keep up with the news on it.  When I found out they were going through with it, I was wary and a little excited.  In my experience, reboots tend to suck and when you’re dealing with content that was already pretty corny at times, it’s even more difficult to do it justice.  The trailer did nothing to ease my fears.

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Maggie (Sarah Jeffrey), Macy (Madeleine Mantock), and Mel (Melonie Diaz) are the new sisters.

Based on the trailer, the premise is basically the same as the original.  Three sisters find out they’re witches after their mother dies , and they have to fight evil!  Okay, it’s Mom instead of Grams who dies and the long lost sister (Macy) shows up in the first episode instead of after killing off one of the others to bring her in, so I suppose it’s not entirely the same.  Also, their Giles (wait, wrong show)… I mean their Leo (I’m just guessing that’s who the dude who ties them up is supposed to be) appears and explains that they’re witches, which is kind of new.  Then, there’s a glimpse of a baddie who looks like an emo whose eyeliner is running.  That’s not new at all.  And I’m entirely okay with all of this.

That being said, after I looked into some of the advertising for the reboot, I became less enthusiastic.  The CW’s description reads:

This fierce, funny, feminist reboot of the original series centers on three sisters in a college town who discover they are witches.  Between vanquishing supernatural demons, tearing down the patriarchy, and maintaining familial bonds, a witch’s work is never done.

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I made this exact face when I read that!

I’m sorry, but if you have to use “feminist” and “tearing down the patriarchy” in your description, you’re trying too hard.  I get that advertising is all about pandering to your target audience, but the original Charmed taught us all about sisterhood and the power of female bonds and that women were as powerful (if not moreso) as men and all that jazz.  And they did it through the characters and the story, not by telling us that’s what we were supposed to get from it.  The phrasing just feels like a cheap trick to draw in viewers and, honestly, it’s going to work.  But it’s also going to drive other people away.  Blending this stuff into the show with context and emotion and sarcasm then letting your fanbase decide it’s a “fierce, funny, feminist reboot” is great.  Flat out saying it in the advertisements is presumptuous and kind of annoying.

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See?  Sarcasm works wonders.

In all honesty, I’ll probably give the show a shot, but I don’t have high hopes for it.  What are your thoughts?  Looking forward to it or dreading it?  Feel free to share your opinions here or on my social media pages!

Push Through The Pain… Or Don’t

Hello, hello!  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having some issues with pain brought about by adjusting my seat cushion.  Needless to say, it’s been interfering with my writing.  For three days, it was so bad that I didn’t do anything productive.  Since then, I’ve been able to focus on doing most of the stuff I needed to do.  But I wanted to take today to talk about pain and when to suck it up vs. when to take a break because of it.

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I try.  Sometimes, I fail.

When you’re cripple, pain is pretty much a guarantee.  Every doctor I visit inevitably asks if I’m in any pain, and my go-to response is “no more than usual.”  It’s a given that my neck/left shoulder always hurt, along with my back and hips.  It’s more a matter of how bad I’m hurting.  Low-level (about a three) aches that randomly spike to about a seven on a scale of one to ten are my norm.  Those are the pains I’m used to, and yes, you eventually get used to hurting.  They’re the pains that I can ignore and go about my day with.

But what about the days those random spikes linger?  What about the days when the pain is so different (not necessarily bad, just unusual) that it distracts me from the things I need to focus on?  Honestly, most of the time, I pop some Aspirin and goof around until it kicks in, then get back to work.  As long as everything eventually returns to normal, I don’t worry about it too much.  Granted, sometimes I waste a lot of time trying to figure out why I’m feeling the way I do, but that could just be another form of procrastination for me.

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Occasionally, there are days when the pain is higher than normal and doesn’t go away even with Aspirin.  If I can figure out why I’m in pain, I try to figure out how to stop it, which can be a trial and error bit that lasts a couple of days (like with my seat).  I know I’ll never be able to focus on those days.  When I have pain like that, I usually move around a lot and have to sit in positions that make working at the computer impossible.  Not to mention, pain makes it really hard to focus.  My mind gets all jittery.  Those are the days that I say screw writing and everything else I need to do.  And that’s okay.  We all deserve a little time off when we’re in pain.

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Stare blankly at the wall until the pain goes away.

So, if you’re not already aware of what kind of pain is normal for you, try to learn.  It makes the decision to push through or take a break much easier.  What do you do when you’re hurting?  Do you pop a couple of pills and wait for them to kick in?  Do you do yoga or tai chi or some other exercise in the hopes of working the pain out?  Perhaps you meditate.  Whatever your method of dealing with aches and unusual pains, feel free to share your tips and tricks here or on my social media pages!

The Bottle Above My Door

Hello, hello!  I have nothing writerly to talk about this week, so I thought I would share the (boring) story behind one of my weirder decorations.  Hanging above my door, alongside my collection of drumsticks and guitar picks, is a crumpled up plastic water bottle.  Whenever I’m hurting and need to lay back in the chair to shift my weight (or I get stuck on something while writing and just need a break), I usually end up staring at that bottle for a few minutes.  It has this weird ability to make me smile, despite being a piece of junk to everyone else.  I guess it’s because I get to think about that December night back 2011 when I got it.

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Yes, I’m one of those weird people who keep things like this 

That year was a year for concerts.  Miyavi came around in November (pretty sure one of the drumsticks is from that one), which was a no-brainer for me.  I was definitely going to that show.  Then, I found out that Dir en grey was coming through that December.  I admit that I struggled a bit with the decision to go to that show.  I knew Dad wasn’t a fan (screamy Japanese metal just isn’t his thing, though I knew he wouldn’t say no if I asked to go) and it was a little expensive, but I had never seen them live before.  And you never really know if Japanese bands are going to come back through Texas, so it’s best to catch them when you can.  Ultimately, I decided to go.

Dad, the Minion (yes, I call my friend a minion, except I think he still had the title of Puppet back then), and I piled in the van and headed down to Trees in Deep Ellum.  It’s one of my favorite venues down there, though we haven’t been in a while.  The owners were super nice.  I heard they’ve reopened two other venues since the last time I went to a concert out there, which is neat.  But I digress.

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The Minion!  And yes, I wore a Mudvayne hat to a Dir en grey concert.

The concert was awesome.  Sat by the stage, right in front of Toshiya, the bassist.  At one point, Dad leaned over and said that he had just realized that that guy (Toshiya) was wearing a skirt.  Given other bands I listen to, it wasn’t a surprise as much as an observation, but it was still funny.  Then, when the concert was over and the band members were leaving the stage, Kyo (the singer) stopped and gave me his crumpled up water bottle.  Still high on the live music buzz, it was the most awesome thing EVER!  A little later, when asked what I planned on doing with his garbage, I vaguely remember a plan to harvest his DNA and clone him.  That never came to fruition, but I did use it as a wall decoration.

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Kyo!

And that’s how one man’s literal trash became my treasure.  What’s something weird that you keep around?  Do you have anything other people would look at and automatically think it’s trash?  Share your story here or on my social media pages!

May Is Here!

Howdy, howdy!  Apparently, May decided to arrive when I wasn’t looking.  I don’t really have anything worth talking about this week (feel free to send me suggestions for topics), so I’ve decided to make my goals for the month public again.  Motivation has been really hard to find lately.  I have no idea why.  But, hopefully this will help!

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Because Snoopy and Woodstock!

Here are my May goals, in no particular order:

1. Submit stuff 8 times (2 every Monday).  This is the one goal that I haven’t failed at yet this year.  I’ve gotten a bunch of rejections.  One of my stories has been shortlisted, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for that one.  And I have a bunch still floating in the slush pile limbo.  Hopefully, I can keep up the submissions this month!

2. Write 1 flash piece OR short story.  I’m super behind on this one.  So far this year, I’ve only written one short story and revised a couple of flash pieces.  I was hoping to have at least three new pieces to shop around by this point, but I don’t.  Soon, though.  I hope.

3. Read 2 books.  I’m currently reading an ARC of The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer to review this month.  The book club I’m in will be reading The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw, so I’ll probably also read that.  If I have time, I also want to read the third book in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy, but I don’t know if I will or not.

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It looks pretty interesting!

4. Make time for people.  My recluse skills have been on point lately.  I avoid chatting on Facebook.  I only text one person regularly.  Can’t remember the last time I talked to someone on the phone.  And I really shouldn’t be that way.  I should randomly message people and try to make new friends.  The problem is, I’m comfortable not bothering people.  That’s a hard habit to break.  I’m trying, though.  I sent a few messages out yesterday.  I’ll try to send out a few each week.  We’ll see how it goes.

5. Finish revising short story.  I’m still working on fleshing out and revising the short story I wrote a couple of months ago.  It’s a bit more sci-fi than I’m comfortable writing, but I’m enjoying it.  I actually took a character from a novel I haven’t finished and threw her in a new world as a younger version of herself.  I think this world might be the key to all the problems that made me quit that novel.  But that’ll have to wait until I finish everything else I want to do this year.  For now, the short story comes first.

6. Submit story to critique group.  It’s been a while since I’ve submitted anything to my critique group, so hopefully some of them will be up to checking the story out when I finish revising it.

7. Begin revisions on LR.  I decided to go back to the second novel attempt and work on revising it first.  I miss my dragons and shifters and everyone else in that book.  It’ll be nice to get back to them.

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A pretty sea dragon by Carlos Herrera.

Those are my goals for the month!  What about you?  Feel free to share your goals here or on my social media pages!