Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: River of Teeth

River of Teeth River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if America imported hippos, put them in the Mississippi River to eat the water lillies, and then farmed them for meat?
This is an actual historical thing that almost happened, and Sarah Gailey's debut novella takes that idea, tweaks the timeline and technology a bit, and gives the world the gift that is River of Teeth.

I don't even know where to begin on how much I love this book.

The human characters. Could they BE any more diverse and amazing? (Oh no, I've become Chandler from Friends.) From fat and fabulous French lady to older nonbinary black person to knife-wielding pregnant Latina badass... Not once did I forget who a character was, and that's saying something.
The hippos. Different breeds and such personality! Ruby has gold plated tusks, because of course she does.
The caper. Sorry, not a caper - an operation. Explosions and riverboat casinos and hippos who eat people! What more could you want?

Speaking of.
This book does something that gives it a sense of excitement and danger. It kills off characters. The movie Serenity did this really effectively, too, and I'll avoid spoilers for both but this is the general idea:
"These characters all seem very important to the plot. Oh. Wow. So that person died. I liked them. WAIT. Now we're killing off THEM? Well now I'm convinced anyone can die and WAIT THAT'S MY FAVORITE CHARACTER DO NOT PUT THEM IN ANY SORT OF DANGER!!!!!"

So yes. An amazingly fun western with hippos that everyone needs in their life.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Review: Legend

Legend Legend by Marie Lu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I enjoyed this book. Like, "Yes, I know I should eat and we have nine episodes of Twelve Monkeys I really want to watch, but I have 60 pages left and I need to finish this" levels of enjoyment.
Exciting and conspiracies and secrets! A political dystopia that feels a little too possible and realistic!
(I read it too fast and can't remember when all the twists happen, so that's all I'm comfortable saying without risking spoiling any of the exciting bits.)

I don't know how I feel about June. She feels kind of cold at times, the distant genius, analytical, Temperance Brennan type. I mean, at one point she gets cut and her first thought is that it must be a serrated knife to cut her skin that way.
But at the same time, I totally love her because that's exactly what I would do. And while I want to fault her for being so loyal to the Republic for so long, I can't because I know how hard it is to stop trusting the thing you've believed in for your entire life.
(And this has been another installment of "Jen can't even write a simple book review without bringing up her issues with her father or comparing herself to a genius." *eyeroll*)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Time Salvager

Time Salvager Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Hello, people reading this on my blog. I think I finally figured out how to sync my Goodreads account with my blog so I don't have to copy and paste everything.)

More like 2.5 stars, but I'll round up.
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. Time travel, cool technological doodads that give you basically superpowers, conspiracies, SPACE...
In the future, time travelers go back in time to collect things that they can use as energy. I think. I don't know if it's not fully explained or if I just didn't get it. Anyway. James is tired of watching people die, and he saves a scientist from the disaster he's salvaging, bringing her to a future where her beloved Earth has become a toxic wasteland. This is extremely against the rules and the company he works for will execute the both of them if they're caught. Except suddenly, they want the scientist alive.
Which is all very well and good and exciting, except I just couldn't get into it.
James is a jerk who just wants to drink and be miserable, which is completely understandable given his life but is also a bummer to read. (Very technical literary term, "bummer".) Elise is at least an adorable bright spot.
I found that I didn't care about the bad guys' storyline at all, but as a writer I get how that was a good way to convey the information that the other characters didn't know.
The story was never boring enough to make me want to stop reading. It was just a slow read that sounded much better on the jacket, and I'm excited to be able to read something else.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Made Things and Notes

This hat started out as an attempt at following an actual pattern, but the biggest ladies size was too small so I had to wing it. It's still pretty tight because I have a very large head.


And a tiny cross stitch of my kitty, Sulley. I think it's about 2 square inches, so small that you can't even see that I even did pupils in the eyes.

And now my editing notes.


You stole that line from Fringe and you know it.

[if this was set in modern day, I would make an Inside Out reference here]


I want this scene to go on forever and I want it to be a sitcom starring Kristen Bell and Mayim Bialik.

(You know you're not hip to current young people media when you try to think of actors to play your teenage characters and all you can think of are Kristen Bell and Mayim Bialik.)

You forgot that cameras are a thing again, didn't you?

Let's use flavors of soda as code to decide whether we're going to take down the government!

Gay Supreme Court justice! Are there any straight people in this book?

Not that I'm complaining. At all. I just forgot.

At some point you should have a plan. This is all so confusing.

You don't know fashion - you're still dressed like Star Trek Hillary Clinton.

Where are we supposed to think Carey is and why don't phones exist?

Who do you think you are, using the word "influx"?

"Bricks can't exactly be categorized as igneous, metamorphic, or... you know, the third one. Sedimentary." This coming from a geologist.

Newsflash: bricks are not rocks!

Wait, why do they suddenly just find a sword in a wine cellar?

Since when is Phyllis Walker, Texas Ranger?

You did not just use the term "ebil political views."

Now is not the time to admire a tunnel.

No, the kitten in kitten heels does not refer to a fancy shade of blue. If you know enough to identify them as kitten heels, you should know that.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

More Blue Incarnations Notes

I swear I don't actually hate this book. xD

There's a good story in here about love and destiny and trusting yourself... It's just hidden under so much awfulness that resulted from me having no idea what story I was trying to tell.

And it's just so much fun to mock myself.



"Justice Morgan, formerly known as [where do justices come from?]" I literally don't even know what you were trying to say or why it confused you so.

HEY LOOK! Romance and a metaphor and neither are incredibly stupid!

Most people do not grin with their hands.

Note to self: Find a better name for "thingy."

Also note to self: Saying "note to self" in your personal notes is redundant.

I might know why I used all the Walking Dead names! It might have been a "look at the flowers" reference! (In my book, looking at a specific flower led to someone's death and basically the entire plot.)

Is there Winnie the Pooh in the future?

Summary of this scene: "Why are you bleeding so much?" "There was a cute girl so I tried to be a ninja."

""Careful, broken glass is sharp!" I yell to Phyllis because I'm helpful like that." Oh my god this girl is a dork.

Are there sardines in the future?

Siren song of an ambulance. I see what you did there.

Is there tennis in the fut--NO. THERE IS ONLY FLARPBALL.

"I don't know how to stop someone from blackmailing someone." That's unfortunate because neither do I and it's the whole point of the plot.

Youngify Sophie.

In which flarpball is actually an important plot point.

Zippy could be Mitchell.

SERIOUSLY. You have a perfectly good Mitchell and you're wasting page time on this Mike-from-Breaking-Bad named Bob?

Sasha update: One of the Sashas is now named Tara. I have no clue which one.


Yes, folks. This is the second Chapter 11 because I was too lazy to scroll up and check. I do not expect this to go well from here on.

I love that the characters have no plan because clearly neither did you.

Oh, I remember this. It's very stupid.

Wait, it's worse than I thought. It's Colonial Williamsburg but with more Furbys. WHY!?

I don't think composure is a type of shirt.

Yeeeah. Explain this way earlier. Like in that dinosaur sex ed class she didn't go to. (I really love this note for some reason.)

Bad guys are coming to kill you. But YES. Now is the perfect time to complain that you were taller in a past life.

Stealthy locales? STEALTHY. LOCALES. The term you're looking for is "hiding places."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ISWG and Notes

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.


Each month, they also have an optional question to answer. This month it's:

What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?


Oh boy. Where do I begin?

Whether or not whales are kosher. How to evade a police chase. Would dinosaurs taste like chicken?

But I like when I actually learn something because of wacky research and it turns out to be useful. Yesterday I had this conversation with my mom:

Mom: I wonder how often [our friends] need to change the batteries on the dog's invisible fence collar.

Me: Every six months to a year.

Mom: Oh, you looked it up for them?

Me: ...no. But I did have a story where they had to keep dinosaurs out of the town, and I thought they could attach invisible fence things to them when they're young, but then I learned how often the batteries should be changed and that isn't practical once the tyrannosauruses are adults.



So I started revising FreakShow the other day. Guess what song was on the radio yesterday? American Pie, the song I apparently only hear when I'm working on that book.


Aaaand editing notes!

How many names can I seriously steal from The Walking Dead before people catch on? Because these characters really feel like they should be named Rick and Tyrese, and the girl should be Sophia.

Yes, let's speak in code in case the MIND READING ROOM has hidden microphones.

I don't know what this is but it is most assuredly not grammar.

Who took care of the bodies? GASP. Was it Carey's husband, whose name I have just decided is Mitchell?!


Oh, hey, humor! Do that more often.

"She slapped on a [future bandaid]." This is worse than when every other adjective was "space."

You live in a totalitarian dystopia, Diane. Stop being surprised when things are awful.

I distinctly remember giving her the last name Clavel as a nod to Miss Clavel from Madeleine. I do not remember why.

No. They can't know what their names would be in the future. That is not how past lives work.

No. Stop with the backwards Q. That isn't a thing.

I would have thought vinyl chairs would have been outlawed in the future.

What is this eyelash flower you speak of?

[what do smells smell like?] That is an actual thing I thought would be helpful to have in my manuscript.

[crime!] I love that you felt the need to put an exclamation point.

[what was her name? Sasha? I'mma go with Sasha, and see if anyone catches on that I'm stealing names from TWD] A: She didn't have a name so you didn't actually forget it, B: There are absolutely no zombies or apocalypses so I don't know why you chose to steal names from The Walking Dead, and C: There are two people in this scene and at some point you call them both Sasha.