Writing Journal

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(This was supposed to be posted a week ago, but apparently it didn’t! OMG!)

The end is in sight! Or, it was until I moved the goalposts.

My NaNo project only has 10 chapters left for me to write, which is somewhere in the region of 15-20k words, which sounds like a heck of a lot if I’m honest. Then I’ll have to go through chapter by chapter, refining and rewriting and hopefully, I’ll have the first draft and I can let people see it. Or not.

Also, I’m going to be setting myself goals in the future. Little manageable writing tasks for me to complete over the course of the week, and I’ll be keeping a record of if I manage to complete them. So in that spirit, here is my first goal:

Goal: Write 2 chapters / 3000ish words

Book Review: Nighthawks (Jeremy Flagg)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

I wanted to enjoy this more than I did.

TL;DR – A book about super-humans, government oppression and revenge. An enjoyable concept I just couldn’t get in to.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of X-men type novels

About the Book…

In the world of Nighthawks, super-powers exist and are heavily resisted by the American government. Powered humans (or, Children of Nostrodamus) are locked up, killed or forced to live in an uninhabitable wasteland – shunned by society. A powerful psychic made sends out a number of letters before her death, letters that bring together a group of Children who find themselves working together to fight back against their oppressors.

What I thought…

Nighthawks follows a fairly classic formula that I personally really enjoy. Powered humans are oppressed by somebody and spend the rest of the book fighting back. This is exactly my kind of plot, and because of this, I had high hopes for this book which unfortunately weren’t met.

My first issue, which admittedly was the smaller of the two, is that the action sequences, particularly the fight scenes felt a little sterile. I’m not sure if it was a language or a pacing issue, but for whatever reason, I felt distinctly underwhelmed after the various fight scenes.

The bigger issue came from the fact the I really – and I mean really – struggled to follow the story as it moved along. The story uses multiple points of view which I found a little confusing at times given the authors tendency to switch POV and then spend a little while using impersonal pronouns (she/he) instead of names. In addition, I struggled to follow the plot from one point to another. At times it seemed to leap ahead – the final section of the book, where the characters invade a prison seemed to come out of nowhere and left me wondering if I’d skipped several chapters by accident. If I’m honest, I would struggle to give more than an extremely broad-strokes recap of the plot of this book.

Oh yeah, and one final thing. This book also contained the phrase “Conthan stood up and Dwayne gave him an awkward male-on-male hug.” A sentence I hate so much I almost knocked a Button off the rating for.

That said, I did enjoy elements of the book. I particularly enjoyed the way the Children’s powers work. They are each unique, and range from the mundane to the devastating. I liked that the powers had a downside to them, that prevented their over-use, the characters had to be careful using their powers or they would lose control. It was an interesting mechanic. I also enjoyed learning about the way society treats the Children of Nostradamus, and the interplay between government thugs and civil rights groups, something I would like to see explored further.

Final Thoughts…

I’m not sure, personally, if I would continue reading the series. My reason for this is that I’m not sure I could deal with the writing style, rather than the content itself. As such, you might find the writing suits you perfectly and enjoy this book a great deal, so I suppose you should give it a shot and find out.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was designated “Options Week”, the first of 3 over the course of this module. I had to choose what I wanted to study, which was pretty cool.

I decided to study what I thought was advice on how to get the most out of the Open University’s OpenLearn website, but actually, it contained almost nothing I didn’t already know. However, I made the best of it and actually had a really productive week.

OpenLearn hosts a series of mini-lessons on all the subjects the OU teaches. I’ve now been through the website and marked down every biology and environmental science courses that looked interesting (plus a few maths courses) and I will be working through them during the course of my degree. This marks a significant change in my study style as for the first time I am doing more than I am asked rather than the bare minimum.

She-Ra Fan Art

I wanted to do some art today so I decided to do some She-Ra fan art.

I’m very pleased with it. I copied She-Ra from a partials screen grab and also drew myself in She-Ra style. Maybe they’ll add me to season 2!

Anyway, it’s not perfect but I totally love it!!

Queen of Zazzau (J.S. Emuakpor)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Totally kick-ass!

TL;DR – A smashing tale of war, love, magic and gods, with seriously strong female characters

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of historical fantasy, fans of strong female leads

About the Book…

Amina is a princess, heir to the throne of Zazzau and a destiny of war and bloodshed. Amina must prove herself as a warrior and lead Zazzau against hordes of foreign enemies and strange magic. But the god of war has his sights set on Amina, and ruling the nation soon proves to be far more complicated than Amina could have possibly imagined.

Queen of Zazzau follows Amina from her beginnings as the heir apparent, through war and love and impossible bargains. The book takes place over some 80 years, during which Amina becomes a strong military leader, a Queen and the wife of a god. It is full to the brim with battles and magic, gods and romance.

What I thought…

I put off reading this book for a while as it is pretty long, clocking in at 510 pages – and what a selection of pages they are!

My favourite thing about this book is its lead character, Amina. Amina is a wonderful example of well-rounded, strong female lead. She’s powerful, clever, loving, dedicated – she is brilliant. We get to explore so many facets of Amina’s character as the story progresses, from romantic interests, battle tactics, diplomacy…even an unexpected pregnancy. Life throws so much at Amina, and she doesn’t take it lying down, but at the same time, she has this fragile side that feels so real – she struggles to keep going at times, allowing fear and panic to take hold of her. Amina is such a great character for so many reasons, and I’m super pleased to have read her story.

Another thing I loved was the way religion is explored in this book. Strictly speaking, the Zazzauwa are Muslim, but for many, if not most of them the old religion still exists – a host of other gods hold some sway over the workings of the world and I found it really interesting to see how the two quite disparate set of beliefs gelled together into a functioning belief system.

My only complaint about this book was the ending. Now, I need to say before I go further, that I did like the ending – I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with it. Feel free to skip this paragraph as it does contain spoilers and isn’t hugely important.

So an old prophecy has linked Amina and the god of war for years, and when he first appears, Amina wants no part of it. She’s quite happy as she is, she is already in love with someone else but the god of war insists that she will be his eventually. This turns out to be true, but when she finally does go to him, she offers herself in exchange for his influence over a battle that will decide the fate of her kingdom and everyone in it. So Amina becomes his wife, and then the god drops the bombshell that she will now feel intense sexual desire, which he will only satisfy when he feels like it. She is free to sleep with other men, but they MUST die afterwards. I think we can all agree this is beyond creepy and straight up abusive – but that’s gods for you, those guys are jerks. Anyway, because of this, Amina is prevented from properly experiencing love for her entire life – which, incidentally, is spent eternally young, so for 80 years she can’t allow herself to love another man, instead of taking a number of ‘temporary husbands’ and killing them, or periodically having sex with the god of war. Which brings us to the end. Turns out, after all this, she completely loves the god of war and they ride off into the sunset together.

OK spoilers over, on to my point. As I’ve said in other reviews, I’m autistic – I have trouble understanding how other peoples minds work. But to me, the end doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure what I would have wanted in its place, and I’m not begrudging the bitter-sweet ending, but still, it doesn’t sit quite right with me. But that could just be my weird interpretation – don’t let it prevent you reading the book and making up your own mind.

Final Thoughts…

This book is an epic tale with so much to love about it. I’m really pleased I read it and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for anything J.S. Emuakpor might release in the future.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Cretaceous (Tadd Galusha)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

For the dinosaur lover in your life.

TL;DR – A superb book about living life, the dinosaur way.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Dinosaur fans, folks who appreciate the comics as a medium

About the Book…

Cretaceous is my best guess at the perfect use of the comics medium. The story follows a t-rex as he goes about his daily life, doing t-rex things in a t-rex way. It’s full of dinosaurs and drama and it’s super freakin’ sweet.

What I thought…

The first thing that needs to be said about this book is it includes no dialogue. Not. One. Word. No speech, no narration, NOTHING. And yet this book is absolutely soaked in drama and emotion.

We follow a T-rex, a loving, family-oriented T-rex, who goes out hunting to support its family. But disaster strikes! His partner and babies are slaughtered by opportunistic dinosaurs! Tragedy! What follows is an exploration of life in the past, mixed with a tale of revenge. We also follow a triceratops in its battle for survival.

The art in this book is beautiful and so expressive – it moves me better than words ever could. I felt like I had a deep understanding of the characters by the end of this book, and they don’t even have names. Galusha expertly uses his art to tell stories of love, revenge, survival and family, all without saying a word.

To top it off, at the back there is a little section telling you what all the creatures were and compares their height to an average human, which was a great touch.

Final Thoughts…

I loved this book, and if you appreciate the comics medium, you should definitely give it a go.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Weekly Roundup

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About my week

This week was mainly spent recovering from NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t prepared at all for the MASSIVE comedown I experienced when I hit that target of 50k words – someone told me NaNo is like running a marathon, you need time to cool down afterwards or you just break. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

I also finally watched She-Ra and the Princess of Power, and if you haven’t watched it already I INSIST you do so immediately because it’s genuinely my favourite thing right now!

This weeks reading

This week I’ve been reading (links to Goodreads)

This weeks posts

New acquisitions

Books added to the collection this week (links to Goodreads)

Nothing this week.

 

Soundtrack to the week

3 songs that had me hooked this week (Links to YouTube)

She-Ra and the Princess of Power Theme Tune – Only one song this week ’cause I love it so much!!

 

Book of the Month (November 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for November 2018 is:

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Pilu of the Woods

by Mai K. Nguyen (2019)

TL;DR – A beautiful story about overcoming your demons

See the full review here: Book Review: Pilu of the Woods (Mai K. Nguyen)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was very up and down in terms of student life. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, just a little challenging.

Most of my studying this week involved mathematics – and I’m pleased to say that I managed to get a couple of the questions wrong. Perhaps that’s an odd thing to be pleased about, but I see it as somewhat of a justification for my taking the access module – proof that my skills are as unpolished as I thought they were. So that gives me something to work with.

We also got the results of the PLEXUS committee elections. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected for a position, but that isn’t the end of the world. Frankly, I’m just astonished I put myself down for a spot in the first place. It’s a victory in and of itself. So I’m not too worried about it, and there is always next time.

Next week is the first “Options Week” of this module – I’ve never had one before so this should be pretty interesting.

Writing Journal

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This week has, by comparison, been pretty lacklustre for writing things. It’s hard to go from ‘I won NaNoWriMo’ last week to anything – it just doesn’t match up. But what can you do?

I sat down the other day and replotted my book in an attempt to plug a handful of areas that I don’t think are developed enough. I’ve slotted in a few extra chapters in strategic places and started plotting things I need to add when I run through it again.

I’ve only got a handful of chapters left to write before the story itself is complete, which is tremendously exciting. I’m setting myself an arbitrary deadline since NaNo seemed to be so helpful.

My goal is to complete my first draft by the end of the year! After that, I’ll let my buddies read it and then cry when they hate it.