Tag Archives: Brandon Sanderson

Snapshot: July 26, 2015

Time: 8:20 pm

Feeling: Productive, even though I really haven’t done much today. But I FINALLY got around to getting some pictures taken so I can have a decent social media picture, instead of either the one that’s years old, or the one where I’m hiding behind my 12-year-old Dylan or the one where I’m on the edge of the picture with all three of my kids.

It turns out I was using a different picture on different social media sites. Once I uploaded to Facebook, it took me another ten minutes to log in and change my pictures on all my other social media accounts and all my email accounts, too. Phew! But I’m glad I finally got it done.

It was quite the family affair. I got Dylan to take several shots of me, and then today when I met my daughter Hayley for an early dinner, I got her to select the shot she liked best.

This was actually the picture I personally liked, but I guess it doesn’t work well as a social media profile pic, does it?

Me trying to grab the phone

Eating: I went with Hayley to Queen Mother Café here on Queen Street West. They had a smaller menu than normal when we went, but Hayley was very pleased with her Ping Gai (boneless chicken marinated with garlic, coriander and black peppercorns, grilled crispy and served with a spicy lime and coriander dipping sauce, salad and  jasmine steamed rice) and I was quite happy with my arugula and smoked cheddar cheese salad (baby arugula, toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled red onion and  grape tomatoes, in a lime spinach and Dijon dressing, topped with grated smoked cheddar cheese). I also added grilled chicken to it so it would be more substantial.

Reading: Maybe it’s a summer thing, but I seem to be drawn to chunksters right now. There’s Atlas Shrugged, which I want to read for the #AtlasRAL. And there’s my book club read, The Name of the Wind (I know! It’s so exciting—I’m in a science fiction and fantasy book club!).

What’s really gotten my attention lately, though, is Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. What a great book! I’m about a third of the way through, and I’m really liking it.

Listening: I haven’t had a chance to get back to Ernest Cline’s Armada, which makes me quite sad because I’ve really enjoyed the few chapters I’ve listened to. I find I haven’t had as much time for audiobooks because when I’m not doing something I’m trying to keep noodling over bits and pieces of the story I’m working on. I used to do this all the time—I’d go off on a daydream about whatever book I happened to be writing, any time, any place—but it’s something I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing over the past four or five years. Which has been detrimental to my writing but very good for my audiobook stats.

Writing: Yes! I am still writing! Although I’ve now written all the scenes I’ve thought up, so the past few days I’ve been brainstorming instead of actually writing any new scenes. But I’m brainstorming in a “writing journal” file specifically for this book, so I’m counting it even if the word count can’t be added to my actual writing word count. Because really, while actually writing the words of your novel every day is a good goal, there’s some prep work that needs to be done and if I didn’t count it as “writing” I’d feel pretty down on the days when I didn’t “write” even though I was still working on my story. Right?

Working: This is a bit of a heavier week coming up for me. I’ve got three deadlines to finish up, plus it’s my older son’s birthday this Thursday. The tabletop board games I ordered for his birthday did arrive in time, which is good. He wants to have biscuits and sausage gravy for his birthday dinner, so we’re trying to find a restaurant around here that has that on its menu.

Creating: Nothing yet, but I’ve got a nice big stash now of adult colouring books, and I’m just waiting for a bit of time so I can pull out my Prismacolor pencils and start colouring!

Snapshot: July 8, 2015

Feeling: Really really nervous and stressed about next week’s writing class/workshop with Kelley Armstrong. I didn’t realize just how nervous until the university sent me a link to register with the student portal so I can access the class materials—which, I think, consists of all the students’ writing submissions. Including mine. And I realized, OMG, I’m going to get critiqued. By a bunch of people. None of whom I know. Including Kelley Armstrong.

Gulp.

I’m not very good with this stress thing …

Eating: Guess what? I’m back to low-carb! I know I got that brain fog the last time, but it appears I had misread my research and the brain can indeed use ketones as fuel, rather than glucose. So I’m giving low-carb another try. It helps that Ward, the former book-reading demon, has stayed low-carb during my own low-carb ups and downs.

This time around, I’ve been  looking for some good recipes. And I found some! On the weekend, Ward made me these low-carb cream cheese pancakes. So, okay, my food photography isn’t going to stun anyone, but trust me, they tasted much better than they look in the photo. (I have NO clue why the picture looks so blue!) You can click on the link above to see a much much better picture of the pancakes.

These pancakes had a nice sorta pancakey texture and taste. Next time, I’ll leave the cinnamon out (or rather, get Ward to leave it out), as I normally eat pancakes with butter rather than syrup so I prefer just the pancake-like taste. Can you believe it, though? These have NO flour in them!

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Drinking: I haven’t been drinking this, but Ward has. He bought a package of Counting Sheep Coffee a while back and was really wowed by it. He’s been driving all over the place looking for a store that carries it, but has turned up empty-handed. So he emailed the company, and it sounds like they’ve been having trouble getting their product placed in the big stores.

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Right now their site shows only the decaf pods with valerian, but he’d bought a package of their ground decaf and he swore by it. He could have his coffee at night (he says it was a nice and strong decaf) and then fall right asleep.

Reading: So I mentioned in my last post that I’ve finally broken out of my reading slump. It only takes that one book (in my case, Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris) and BOOM! you’re back to reading. At least, I am.

When I finished Elantris I went on to Kelley Armstrong’s Visions. I’d read the first book in the Cainsville series, Omens, and thought I should probably get to Visions. Especially since I’m in her Dark Fantasy class next week. She’ll be doing a reading near the end of the week, and I’m hoping it will be from Deceptions, the third book in the series, which won’t be released until mid-August.

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I also decided to start Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It’s over 1,000 pages long, so it means this month I’ll be reading two 1,000+ page books, since I’ll also be starting Atlas Shrugged for #AtlasRAL. Atlas Shrugged weighs in at 1,200 pages. Luckily I’m reading both of these in ebook format; my wrists are thanking me already!

Listening: I just started John Scalzi’s Redshirts, partly because I want to start reading Scalzi (I have several of his books on hold right now at the library) and partly because it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton and I figured this might be a good listen while I’m waiting for my pre-ordered audio of Ernest Cline’s Armada, which should be arriving soon. Just not soon enough.

Writing: Nothing. I’ve been too nervous and stressed, thinking about next week’s class.

Working: I finished up that big index I talked about last week. I have three small ones for the end of this week, but they’re fun ones so I’m not too worried about them. I had four articles due this week, and got three of them off my desk yesterday, so that leaves just one more. I need to clear the decks so I can attend next week’s class without worrying too much about work, although I do have another large index coming in over the next few days.

Photo of the week:

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I’m rather proud of this. It’s grass, in case you were wondering.

One of my cats, Hobbes, has been having trouble with hairballs. He’s Siamese, so the hairballs aren’t originating with him. But our other cat, Creeper, is a Snowshoe (the same breed as Grumpy Cat), so he’s on the fluffy side, and Hobbes is the one who’s always cleaning him. Hence the hairballs.

And the strange thing about Hobbes getting hairballs: he can’t be like a normal cat and just hock up the darn thing and be done with it. No, not Hobbes. Instead, he has to spend a few days throwing up and THEN he has to develop an allergic reaction which means he starts scratching his ears and then if I don’t stop him (which is nearly impossible despite anti-histamines and the liberal use of hydrogen peroxide) he develops an infection and has to go on antibiotics.

So I decided to grow some grass for him. Isn’t it just splendid? He’s already been grazing on it.

So that’s been my week! What has yours been like?

[TSS] Breaking Out of My Reading Slump

I’m so happy to report I’ve broken out of my reading slump!

I tried a variety of things suggested in the comments to my Reading Slump post, including reading short stories and graphic novels. And no, not even Nimona, which I both loved but still haven’t finished, helped.

So I kind of let it go. Stopped fretting about the fact that I couldn’t find any book that could engage me for longer than half an hour.

And then? Book club!

I’m a newbie member of a sci-fi and fantasy book club, the result of me making a bookish friend IRL. The first meeting I’ll be attending is this coming Wednesday. And the book we’ll be discussing?

Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris.

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This is one of those whopping big fantasy books, a good 600 plus pages. And on Friday I realized my husband, the former book-reading demon, had already started the book (he’s coming to book club with me) and if I didn’t start reading I might be the only one to show up with the book unread.

So I put aside my upcoming work deadlines yesterday, and plunged in.

I keep forgetting how the best fantasy novels are always page turners, even though they’re often large chunky books with tons of world-building thrown in. Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris is good. I mean, really, really good. I knew this by the end of the second chapter.

I devoured the novel. Last night, at 2:30 a.m. I reluctantly put it down—I’ve been waking up earlier and 2:30 a.m. is now rather late for me. But first thing in the morning? Forget e-mail. Forget all the links and news I like to read on my phone. Forget meditation. I reached for my e-reader and picked up where I’d left off the night before.

I finished the book this afternoon with a deep, satisfied sigh. I’ve heard about Sanderson’s fans asking when he’ll be writing the sequel, and now I know why. I’d LOVE another Elantris novel!

And I’ve now officially busted out of my reading slump. It happened in an unexpected way—I honestly thought I’d be dragging myself through Elantris, trying to get through it before Wednesday night rolled around. Hah! Little did I know.

I’m now on a quest to read more of Brandon Sanderson’s work. And more fantasy, too. The past two years, I’ve mostly been reading mysteries, thrillers and urban fantasies, with the bigger, chunkier fantasies languishing in my TBR, even though I love fantasy novels.

It definitely feels good to be out of that reading slump. And I’ll probably finish Nimona soon, too.

And there’s also the #AtlasRAL over at Book Chatter. I’ve been doing terribly with readalongs the past couple of months, but now that my reading slump is over, I have very high hopes when it comes to my reading!

[TSS] Incoming! The Library Edition

This was a great week for me, library-wise – I had a bunch of holds come in, and then while I was doing my usual dash-in, dash-out to pick up my holds, I of course managed to snag a few more interesting titles.

Here are this week’s library treasures. First up, the print books:

NeverwhereNeverwhere, by Neil Gaiman.

It’s about time I read a Gaiman novel. This one looks like a good one to start with.

From the back cover:

Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart – and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed – a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city – a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known …

FingersmithFingersmith, by Sarah Waters.

I know. I don’t like historical fiction! But this one sounds just so intriguing … And thanks to my new bookmarking “system” (which works whenever I remember to use it, which thankfully I did this time around), I can give credit for adding this one to my TBR to Jill at Rhapsody in Books.

From the back cover:

London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves – fingersmiths – under the rough but loving care of Mrs. Sucksby and her “family”. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue’s fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.

Alcatraz versus the Evil LibrariansAlcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson.

Seriously. How could I resist this one?

From the jacket flap:

A hero with an incredible talent … for breaking things.

A life-or-death mission … to rescue a bag of sand.

A fearsome threat from the powerful secret network that rules the world … the evil Librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn’t seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! … by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

The Children's BookThe Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt.

This addition to my TBR is courtesy of Molly at The Cozy Book Nook, and, although I didn’t have my bookmarking system in place at the time, the first seed of wanting this book was planted way back last summer, at Things Mean a Lot.

From the back cover:

Olive Wellwood is a famous writer, interviewed with her children gathered at her knee. For each, she writes a private book, bound in its own colour and placed on a shelf. In their rambling house near Romney Marsh the children play in a storybook world – but their lives, and those of their rich cousins and friends, are already inscribed with mystery. Each family carries its own secrets.

Born at the end of the Victorian era and growing up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, a whole generation was unaware of the darkness ahead; in their innocence, they were betrayed unintentionally by the adults who loved them.

The Dragon HeirThe Dragon Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima.

I read the first book in the series, The Warrior Heir, during my own recent personal mini-readathon weekend. I immediately placed holds on both the sequels in the trilogy. Unfortunately, The Dragon Heir is the final book in the series, so I will probably have to renew this one (if I can!) while I wait for The Wizard Heir to come in from the library.

From the jacket flap:

The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack.  Everyone is doing their part — Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls; Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army; even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town’s perimeter.  But to Jason Haley, it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action.  He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he’s prepared to fight for his friends.  When Jason finds a powerful talisman –a huge opal called the Dragonheart–buried in a cave, his role takes on new importance.  The stone seems to sing to Jason’s very soul — showing him that he is meant for more than anyone guessed.  Trinity’s guardians take the stone away after they realize that it may be a weapon powerful enough to save them all.  Without any significant power of his own, and now without the stone, what can Jason possibly do to help the people he cares about — and to prove his mettle?

Madison Moss can feel the beating heart of the opal, too.  The desire for it surges through her, drawing her to it.  But Maddie has other things besides the Dragonheart on her mind.  She has a secret.  Ever since absorbing the magical blow that was meant to kill Seph, she’s been leaking dark powers.  Although Maddie herself is immune to magic, what would her friends think if they knew what kind of evil lay within her?  Trinity’s enemies are as enthusiastic about her powers as she is frightened.  They think they can use her to get to the Dragonheart — and they’ll use anyone Maddie cares about to make her steal the stone for them.

Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through what was once a sanctuary for the gifted.  With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for — and what will they sacrifice?  Every man is for himself in this thrilling conclusion to the Heir trilogy.

And the audiobooks:

The Nine TailorsThree Lord Peter Wimsey audiobooks came in: the unabridged versions, narrated by Ian Carmichael, of Striding Folly and Unnatural Death, and the BBC radio dramatization of The Nine Tailors.

All three audiobooks are in my TBR now courtesy of Memory, who has been on a Sayers reading streak – her reviews of Strong Poison, Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night reminded me it’s been a long while since I last read a Lord Wimsey book. And I decided, what better way to get reaquainted then in audio?

Monster in the BoxMonster in the Box, by Ruth Rendell. I was also thrilled to have this one come in – it’s the new Inspector Wexford book by Rendell (I also have the print version on hold). I’m really looking forward to this one:

Outside the house where Wexford investigated his first case – a woman found strangled in her bedroom – he noticed a short, muscular man wearing a scarf and walking a dog. He gave Wexford an unnerving stare. Without any solid evidence, Wexford began to suspect that this man – Eric Targo – was the killer. Over the years there are more unsolved, apparently motiveless murders in the town of Kingsmarkham and Wexford continues to quietly suspect that the increasingly prosperous Targo – van driver, property developer, kennel owner and animal lover – is behind them.

Now, half a lifetime later, Wexford spots Targo back in Kingsmarkham after a long absence. Wexford tells his long time partner, Mike Burden, about his suspicions, but Burden dismisses them as fantasy. Meanwhile, Burden’s wife, Jenny, has suspicions of her own. She believes that the Rahmans, a highly respectable immigrant family from Pakistan, may be forcing their daughter, Tamima, into an arranged marriage – or worse.

I think I’ve got a great few weeks of reading (and listening!) ahead of me. What great books came into your hands this week?

Audiobook Appreciation

I’m done with this most recent clump of deadlines! I don’t think I’ve worked at quite a pace like this for a long while – it’s been three to four weeks of fourteen hour days. I am very, very thankful for my audiobooks – I think they kept me sane in the midst of all those deadlines.

Audiobook Treasure Trove

headphones I was lucky enough to come down with a head cold for Christmas and Boxing Day, so I had a grand time those two days: I got to loll around while everyone took care of me, and to top it off, on Christmas Day, I discovered a virtual audiobook treasure chest! I spent most of Christmas Day and Boxing Day lying on the couch, listening to some great audiobooks and snacking on the most delicious foods.

If you live in Ontario, you might be able to take advantage of this audiobook treasure chest yourself. The Ontario Library Service Download Centre is available to all library patrons of participating Ontario libraries, and it is just wonderful. There are loads of audiobooks available for download, much like you would for Audible. The files are deleted at the end of your checkout period, but you can checkout each audiobook for one or two weeks, which is nice.

So far, in the past two weeks, I’ve listened to Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent, Ellen Degeneres’ The Funny Thing Is, The Green Witch and The Grey King from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, and The Bunnicula Collection by James and Deborah Howe.

Other Listens

The Price of Butcher's Meat

Over the past three weeks, I also enjoyed the audio versions of Reginald Hill’s The Price of Butcher’s Meat (I listened to the British version, which is called A Cure for All Diseases) and Exit Lines. I’d already read A Cure for All Diseases earlier last year and loved it (my review is here) – it translated superbly into audio.

I also played several Agatha Christie audios while I was working – I find I can do “rereads” in audio, as well as memoirs and nonfiction, while I’m working; I somehow have the ability to follow along while getting my work done at the same time. Audiobooks don’t work well for work if they’re audios of books I haven’t read yet, though.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder on the Links, Poirot Investigates and The Big Four helped me get through a lot of otherwise tedious work, so I’m very thankful for them!

Curtains for ThreeAnd finally, I listened to Rex Stout’s Curtains for Three, a trilogy of three Nero Wolfe novellas. I must admit, the first few times I listened to audiobook renditions of Nero Wolfe novels, I had a hard time getting used to the narrator, Michael Pritchard, because he didn’t sound quite like I always imagined Archie Goodwin would sound. But Pritchard’s voice has grown on me, and now my idea of Archie Goodwin sounds exactly like him! I like the way that worked out.

Coming Up

Thanks to the Ontario Library Service Download Centre, I have some more goodies waiting for my hearing pleasure this coming week:

About Face

About Face, by Donna Leon. I’ve been wanting to read a Commissario Guido Brunetti book for a while, and since this one was available for checkout, I decided to give it a try. I only just started listening to it last night, and it promises to be a good story.

Silver on the Tree

Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper. This is the final book in The Dark is Rising series. The version I have is narrated by Alex Jennings, and I started listening to a bit of it yesterday as well. I’m looking forward to finishing my reread of the series in audio.

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So Long as You Both Shall Live, by Ed McBain. This is my first 87th Precinct mystery; it’s a little bit challenging keeping track of all the names in audio, and the story line behind this one isn’t quite to my taste, but I will definitely be looking into reading more of the 87th Precinct series.

Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. I’ve had Bryson’s memoir on my shelf for ages; when I saw it was available at the OLS Download Centre, I decided to check it out, as I really enjoy listening to memoirs in audio.

And from my local library:

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. The audio version of The Thirteenth Tale came highly recommended – I seem to recall lots of people recommending it on Google Wave. So I thought I’d take the plunge and give it a first read in audio instead of in print.

I recently bought the following, which are waiting for me to get to them:

The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. This is Book 1 of the Wheel of Time series – I began reading the series ages ago, but stopped at around Book 6 or 7. I recently received a review copy of the final book in the series, The Gathering Storm, which is written by Brandon Sanderson based on Robert Jordan’s extensive notes, so I thought it would be a good thing to reread the series. I’ve had so much luck with rereads in audio, I decided to give the audio version a try.

Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris. I have the first seven books in paperback, but haven’t read the Sookie Stackhouse series at all; a while back, I decided to give the first book a try in audio. I haven’t found myself in the mood for it yet, but I know I will soon – from what everyone’s been telling me, I’ll probably be hooked once I give it a try!

I also have two Audible credits to spend, and I’m thinking I’ll probably splurge on more Rex Stout and Reginald Hill.

So there you have it – audiobooks have managed to keep me on the reading track even while I was submerged up to my neck in deadlines! And yes, I’ve been feeling like a kid in a candy store …

Coming up this week: my giveaway winners! No, I haven’t forgotten about my giveaway. The winners post will be coming soon.

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