End of the Year Book Reading Round-up

I spend all day reading, which is awesome. Unfortunately, it also means I don’t read a lot outside of work, so this list is going to be Riptide titles that I read over this past year that stuck out to me (and I’ll give reasons why). I can’t list ALL the ones I love, but here’s a sampling (12, so one for each month…sorta):

Midlife Crisis by Audra North – This book made me have so many emotions. It was really tough at times, but seeing Cam’s life unfold was really breathtaking and uplifting.

Sons of Devils / Angels of Istanbul by Alex Beecroft – This is a heavy pair of books but if you’re committed, you’ll find yourself taken on a fantastic adventure. It’s vampires as the truly horrific monsters they were originally meant to be–which makes the potential for a horrible ending all the more likely…

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer – I’m not a huge fan of sports romance, or rather I’d never really read any that grabbed me. This was the first that made me go “Oh” and I was hooked all the way through. It’s a sweet struggle as the boys come to terms with themselves and each other.

Citywide by Santino Hassell – I loved the menage story, and not because of all the hot sex. But Chris’s thinking about relationships and being the third and preferring triads is just amazing and it really pinged something in my head.

Infamous by Jenny Holiday – There’s something about this friends-to-lovers tale that just carried me along. It was just a lovely read that gave me everything I wanted out of it.

Rogue Magic by Kit Brisby – In many ways this is your standard magic-in-the-real-world story, but the character growth and the story that comes to life really pulled me along through the story so I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles – This is a playful historical, which was a delight to read. It’s covering some serious, dramatic topics, but it doesn’t bog the reader down.

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn – A May/December, learning-to-be-an-adult story, this one surprised me with how much I liked it. The characters come alive on the page and that’s what makes this one so great.

In His Majesty’s Service by Jenny Urban and Elizabeth Silver – sci-fi romance with some action and political intrigue, it never takes the politics so seriously that it makes the story drag. A good balance of all the elements, this one had me reading as fast as I could to find out what happened.

Finding Home by Garrett Leigh – I mean, I love most of Garrett’s books, but this one is special with the heart-wrenching tale it tells, but also the hope and inspiration it gives.

Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn – I think this was the second sports book I read that made me interested–not in the sport, but in the story. I loathed who I was meant to loathe and loved who I was meant to love. The support and love in this book was heart-warming, and the sex was steamy.

I hope you check these titles out and find them as enjoyable as I did!

Happy New Year!

Once More Unto the Edits

Please remind me to never do my edits on paper again.

BaW and I have had a long, long relationship. I wrote it *muffled noise* years ago, submitted it, was rejected (but given feedback). And then proceeded to get distracted. Go figure.

Then I started working on it, in spurts and fits. I gave it to beta readers for feedback, added pieces to the end. Read a book about plotting. Considered reworking it completely. Re-read it. Removed and reorganized pieces, but left it mostly as it was. Printed it out and did edits by hand.

I just finished entering in those changes. And I don’t think I can read this story again with anything near clear vision.

So I need a beta reader again. Anyone interested can drop me a line (alexdwhitehall at gmail). It’s possibly the softest, most mellow apocalypse you will ever read.

In other news, I’ve been hitting my word goals (somehow), and my reading goals (go me!), and am looking forward to spring.

In February I read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It’s done in illustrated/comic form and while it was good, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I found the beginning to be too disjointed and often vague. I had trouble following some plots–or else being completely lost as to why this information was being shared. I struggled through that part, and it could be that as a child, we were shown things like a child would share things, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t connect with the main character and, in fact, I was generally kind of annoyed with her a fair amount of time.

In contrast, as she aged, I found her more likable. While she was a trouble maker and cause stress for her family, everything felt realistic and more alive. Her struggle felt more real and as a person she blossomed into a real being rather than…whatever it was that was on the page before. I liked the change and while I was still annoyed with her at moments, it was in the way that I’m generally annoyed with people doing stupid things. But the circumstances and her life seemed more real.

I don’t regret reading this (it was a gift from a friend), but I doubt I’ll return to it again.

And since I read that super quickly, I read volume 2 of Crimson Spell.

And for March, I’m reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. This is a collection of essays, but also also an interesting thing he hasn’t done before where he writes at essay from a kooky perspective. It’s been a while since I’ve read his other stuff, but I think this is my favorite of his books so far (not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy the other stuff). This one just resonates with me more, for some reason.

The essays that are biographical are also entertaining, though they feel more hit or miss to me. But as with any time you’re trying something new, that’s the risk. I haven’t quite finished it yet (four or five stories to go, I believe), but I’d recommend picking this one up.

And that about catches me up, book and editing wise. Writing…well, I was going to continue working on one of my old pieces, and actually wrote 900 words. And then…something happened. The file was…damaged. All the writing I did (and edits earlier in the piece) were gone. I plan that I was saving directly to the flash drive on my Mac using Office Libre. I’m not sure which one is to blame, so they each get one third.

So I lost motivation for that piece and instead decided to start writing one of those post-it note stories that I’ve had hanging around. So now I’m working on trans cowboy story, which I have sort of plotted out and as long as I can get over the next hump, I think will be pretty awesome.

Spring is coming soon!!!

Updates, now with pictures!

January, like every other month, flies by. I’ve been keeping busy with the writing (hit my word count goal!), making submissions, making freebies, and then looking at my spreadsheet and crying quietly 😛

My 5,000 words for January mostly went into finishing the BDSM short and writing a new ending for BAW (just finished that this morning). The short needs to sit, because I feel like it’s, well, too short. I’m sure when I return to it with fresh eyes I’ll find five a few thousand more words to add. For BAW, I need to start at the beginning and do some serious chopping out of unnecessary scenes tightening all the bits into a good story. So that will be my new week-day project.

On the weekends, when I actually can write (because I haven’t found a good way to get my brain to write during the weekdays), I’ll be rewriting a story I wrote a long time ago. I love the story and the setting and the concept, but I have a fight scene that takes four lines at one point. It’s one of those things that just needs to be trashed and re-written, although much of it will remain the same.

And I have my trust ol’ writing mug with me, of course.

You can see it, because it’s imprinted, but it says “fresh-brewed inspiration for the day ahead.” And this technically has hot chocolate in it. Don’t judge.

The book I read in January was Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin, which was amusing and had moments that were laugh-out loud, but didn’t blow me off my feet, either. It was playful and cute and I could see the moments where events in the ‘original’ were turned on their head and mocked, but it also didn’t rely upon having read the source material. Which is good, because I only got about halfway through the first before I returned it to the library.

That said, people who read the books (painfully) might enjoy this more. It was a quick read, too, which mean I was able to fit in another short book (book 1 of The Crimson Spell), which I’ve read before but am trying to read the whole series now that they are actually being translated.

Artwork by DA ID Hinata141

While it’s sort of porny, especially in the beginning, the art is gorgeous (if you like the detailed style), and from what I remember of the story, the plot begins to pick up as the story continues. Also, the one main character turns into a hot demon covered in black markings. Mmm.

The story is focused on a young prince who takes up a cursed sword in order to save his people from invading demons, but now he’s, well, cursed. He travels afar to a wizard who promises to help him break the spell, and thus their journeys together begin! The prince only turns into a demon sometimes (mostly at night?) and the wizard finds ways to…restrain him. And…keep him distracted.

If you know what I mean.

Now to spend the rest of the weekend being productive!


Links and lalala

I went to West Chester today to visit the tattoo shop. The guy was very nice (though my friend was worried b/c he has a teardrop tattoo–a sign of killing someone in prison?) and gave us estimates and we made appointments for Saturday.

(I didn’t meditate today, but I’ll do it tomorrow. Just too hectic and buzzy today, which one could argue is when I should meditate the most. Maybe I’ll do it before bed.)

On our way into town, my friend played me The Rake by The Decemberists. It’s pretty messed up, but kind of a catchy tune. If you like children you may not want to listen.

Still reading Wishing on a Blue Star, which is good, just not something I can power through, unlike Tigers and Devils, which I read yesterday (when everyone else was watching the Super Bowl). Also still working on You Better Not Cry, which is good, if not sad. Possibly more sad than Wishing on a Blue Star, which is about someone with terminal cancer. I guess You Better Not Cry is more lonely sad, while WBS is just achingly sad.

Need to text my brother to see if he wants to get together for lunch. I don’t think either of us have time.

Not What I Expected

Hello all.

Or just YOU.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted much of anything recently, either here or on my reviewing blog. The reason? My computer decided to start the new year with a bang. Thankfully not literally, but it’s doing its best.

Last Sunday I started getting an error message and some popups when browsing the web, so I did a virus scan (didn’t help) and then a boot up virus scan (which didn’t help and may have caused later problems). I downloaded another virus software and did a scan with that too (just to be sure). They all found plenty of viruses, but none deleted the one causing the problem. In addition, one of them (most likely the boot scan) resulted in me deleting a file that probably caused other problems with my system. Or it may be the virus, there is no way of knowing.

So my desktop is currently about as worthless as a brick at the moment, and my netbook is in repairs with my very (awesome) (bestest) computer friend, since it’s been long suffering of “I don’t feel like working.” Which leaves me on my 10-year old laptop who somehow can still connect to the internet and let me edit my novel (which I have to be done editing by end of February *gulp*).

Much of my free time has been spent rebooting my desktop computer, so the amount of reading I’ve done is minimal, and when I had free time, I was so stressed that I didn’t think it was safe to read something new and be pissed at it. I did read one story, which was wonderful and will get a review up, hopefully by the end of the week.

This was not exactly how I planned on spending the beginning of my year, but there is very little to be done about that.

On Reading

A recent author inquired (I can’t find the post) if we (as readers) are annoyed when a writer (like she does) jumps around in sub-genre. Do we want an author who writes consistently or who writes whatever he/she wants? (Not that these can’t be one and the same.)

Personally, I like both and said as much, but I thought I’d explore that a little more in depth.

When I’m in the mood for a certain type of book, I rarely start a new one because I don’t know what that book will give me, in most cases. In some instances (such as with Andrew Grey), I can be fairly certain I know what I’m getting, especially if it’s his Farm series. But for the most part, I prefer to go into a book only knowing the barest of details and with minimal expectations.

This usually works. Assuming my expectations are always set at 3 (for acceptable writing, plot, characters), most books meet it, some go above it, a few go below it. My only real requirement is I’m a huge fan of happy ever after (HEA), or potential happy endings. (Life sucks enough, I don’t need to be heart broken after reading.) If a book is good enough (as judged via reviews on GoodReads), I’ll risk the non-HEA. (Side note, I recently got the two books in the Infected series by Andrea Speed. I’ve heard the ending is not so HEA, which worries me, but I’ve otherwise heard good things.)

So I start new books without needing anything from them except basic good book protocols. If I need something, I go to something I’ve already read, because I know the emotions it evokes (or the events that occur to satisfy that need). I don’t want the author to feel trapped in a writing style, and I think I’d become bored if I kept reading the same book over and over again in slightly different plots. And yet…

And yet I read every book of Grey’s Farm series and am chomping to read the next one. Why?

Aside from my insane need to buy books (I just picked up Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, first of the series [and I think what the show is based on] at Good Will for $.25), I’m attached to the characters we’ve been introduced to and look forward to hearing more about them. In addition, Grey is very good at giving exactly what he gave in the previous four books in a way that’s just different enough (for me, at least). Okay, when I read three of them in a row, it probably wasn’t a good idea (I get a little sour on things), but I still read and enjoyed them. It’s like eating chicken every Monday. Sounds boring, right? But it isn’t just plain chicken. It could be chicken parm, chicken in white sauce on shells, chicken sandwiches…you get the idea. That’s how Grey’s Farm series feels to me.

So why am I chomping at the bit to read the next of Grey’s books (Love Means … No Fear, fyi) and not just reading it?

Well, for one I want to finish the book I’m reading (The Lexicographer’s Dilemma, the review should be up by end of the week), two I shouldn’t be buying more books (I have over 20 that I already own that should be read), and three, even if I’m really in the mood for one of his books (aka, something with emotional struggle that has a HEA), I can’t really excuse buying his new one when I have four others that would work, plus a kindle full of other stories that match that description. But damn you, Grey, I still want to buy it.

Okay, so this wasn’t really about reading, it was about me resisting the temptation that is an author who produces cookie cutter books (I mean this in a good way, not a bad way). But to make it less off topic, what do you do? Do you like your favorite authors to surprise you? Or do you want what they write to be what they always write?

In which I haven’t started anything yet

November is quickly approaching, and while Halloween is on my mind (I still haven’t come up with a costume yet), Christmas decorations have already begun appearing in stores. I’ll be honest, I’m in the mood for pumpkin pie and oyster dressing, but I’m in publishing, so we’re already running articles about all the delicious foods at the holidays, so I blame that!

November also brings about Nanowrimo, which I’m bowing out of this year in favor of hardcore editing and finishing my novel. Mostly finishing and piecing everything together into a quaint little complete work. Trying to get myself in the mood, I re-read a story that takes place in the same world, and started a new story that is the same. It’s going to be hard to put aside the new to revitalize the old, but I think I can do it. I’m just hoping I don’t get in there and find major surgery needs to be done.

In case I didn’t have enough on my plate, I’ve taken on a new horse to get fit. She’s pretty heavy and out of shape, and she needs to be ready for hunting, but also hopefully for me to work her all winter. So I’m working her at least twice a week, but I don’t know if I can take her out of the ring yet, so I still like to trail ride with my friends, which is another horse…and well you’re seeing the time constraints. I’m hoping I can take her out on a trail soon. Until then, I’m sort of exhausted on that front.

I have three books on my review pile for the group I work under. I know, such a strain to get free books and then write reviews of them, huh? My GoodReads list of to-read books hit 100 recently. So free ones are good. So are Amazon gift cards. And sales. Good and dangerous.

Time to go back to reading.


My head is extremely scattered right now, so that I am having trouble focusing on what needs to get done and what I want to get done. Sometimes it feels rather futile, because no matter how much I get done there is always more that needs to be done.

My laptop is being difficult. I don’t know if it’s Ubuntu or the laptop, but it freezes (seemingly randomly). This weekend it froze every ten minutes, if that. I had to do a hard reboot (I think that’s the word for it). I’m trying to find solutions online, but I swear they are speaking a different language. Ever since the fiasco in Anaheim, my laptop has been a little wonky. Thankfully there is very little saved on it that is vital to my writing. I think I’ll back up everything I currently have, just in case.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently and a little writing. I feel like I should read higher quality books in order to improve my writing, but there are few high-quality books in the genre I’m currently devouring. And I want to read books I enjoy, it’s my time afterall, but I also worry that the stories I read influence the books I write which aren’t really mainstream (not that I’m writing for fame, but it’d be nice).

In order to spread my wings a bit, I’m going to start submitting to Bang*Bang, maybe, you know, if I don’t chicken out. Maybe it’ll encourage me to submit to real magazines, and real publishers. Once I have a completed piece.

Also, I was supposed to sew a suit jacket tonight and instead read half of Whistling in the Dark. Is anyone really surprised by this? Go ahead Soba, yell at me, I know I deserve it.

Gray skies are smiling

I’ve been in a strange way lately–not easily distracted, but not completely focused. I’ve been writing, but also reading and watching some old favorites on DVD. And riding, of course. Just feeling a little restless.

I read Anima which was good. It wasn’t amazing, but for what it was, not bad. It had a strange way of having plot, but still leaving me with feeling it didn’t have enough plot. Maybe because it lacked depth.

Still reading Bloodsucking Fiends. It’s good, but not really inspiring. Not one of those books you gobble down. I also finally purchased Coraline (the book). I’ve never had one of those moments where I went to a bookstore and didn’t really find anything I wanted to buy. But now I have (except I did end up buying something, because that’s what lists are for).

I rewatched Ouran, because although I can’t seem to finish other series that I watch, Ouran is like candy. Candy laced with cocaine. I think I enjoyed it more this time too, because I knew what was going to happen, so I could just sit back and studying everything while being less involved.

My computer has been rebeling like an angsty teen lately. At first AIM was glitchy, and then my computer stopped recognizing my internet, but still let me use the internet. Thanks to a certain zombyhero, I was able to fix that, but AIM still isn’t working (I’ve changed to Trillian), and it won’t even let me uninstall. Things also feel a little slow. I may defrag, run some virus and malware searches and see where I come out at.

Work is exhausting me. Overworked, underpaid, overstressed. We have cut hours, which you’d think would mean “yay, time to relax” but it just means that when we go back to work we get stressed out all the more quickly because there is so much to do. Plus, while normally during our busy times we’d be willing to take things home and work on them, I have no desire to do so since it’s their own fault that they put us in this position. Sure, it’s fine for sales to have cut hours, but we’re all expected to get the same amount of work done in less time. It’s not possible without something breaking. I don’t want to be the one to break.

I’m going to go try to fix the world.

Why Neil Gaiman gets better every day

Today on Neil Gaiman’s blog, he made this post describing why he believes in supporting Freedom of Speech. For those of you not familiar with the circumstances behind the original question, here is a very brief description: A man is being charged (? I’m not sure where they are at in the proceedings, etc, so don’t quote me on this) because he owns comic books (manga) of questionable content. The content (the actual content is hotly debated throughout the internet, and many in the anime/manga community question how much is actually inappropriate) is possibly (or actually, again, my following of this is minimal) lolicon (young girls represented in a sexualized manner) and perhaps shotacon (which is the male equivalent). So the question the person poses should make sense now.

I’m pretty sure I agree completely with Gaiman in his argument and reasoning. I liked especially how he pointed out that pornography that used real children was a different realm since those children were directly being injured. And the allusion that porn could be an outlet that keeps real people from being harmed. I think it’s well worth the read.

The most important point I think he makes: “It’s because the same laws cover the stuff you like and the stuff you find icky, wherever your icky line happens to be … because you only realise how wonderful absolute freedom of speech is the day you lose it.”

It reminds me of a poem by Niemoller that I saw in history class (all those years ago):

… they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.


You have to fight for what is right, even if you don’t agree with it, because you’d want others to fight for your rights when it’s your time.