Reading List Check-in

It’s 3/4 of the way through the year (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!?), so here’s a reading list update!

I’m moving a little slower this year than I was last year, but maybe I can still read nearly 30 books before December 31…right?

Fiction:
Endymion by Dan Simmons
Long Lost by David Morrell
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis
The Course of Honor by Lindsey Davis
Young Men in Spats by P.G. Wodehouse
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Shada by Douglas Adams
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
The Honor of Spies by W.E.B. Griffin
Foreign Influence by Brad Thor
True Blue by David Baldacci
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Gone by Michael Grant
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Apostle by R.A. Salvatore
The Wind Merchant by Ryan Dunlap
Triple Play by Abigail Barnette
Long Relief by Abigail Barnette

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne/The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
Lamb by Christopher Moore
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Men-at-Arms by Terry Pratchett
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

Jingo by Terry Pratchett
Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
The Marrying Kind by Ken O’Neill
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh
His Bride by Design by Teresa Hill

Nonfiction
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Story by Robert McKee
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Creating Characters: How to Build Story People by Dwight V. Swain
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Mid-Year Goal Update

Back in January (as you may remember), I posted my goals for this year. Now that June is over and the year is more than halfway gone (holy cow, seriously?), I figure it’s time to take a look, see how things are going, and make some updates.

Physical
Work out at least twice a week for 30 minutes apiece.
Well, I started working out with my roommates, which means I haven’t so much been working out “twice a week for 30 minutes” as I’ve been working out “4-5 times a week for at least an hour.” So yeah, I’m accomplishing this goal in spades.

Drink at least six glasses of water per day.
I’ve done a good job with this as well, especially since I got a 20-oz. water bottle that makes it easier to keep a lot of water at my desk.

Writing
Finish draft 4 of my ’06 NaNo for CPs.
Completed in January.

Finish a first draft for at least two of the three projects I want to complete (my NaNo novels from 2012, 2011, and 2008).
I finished the draft of my NaNo 2012 novel in April, but I haven’t worked on the other two yet. Not sure if I’ll get to them, unless I make finishing one (or both!) my goal for NaNo this year.

Attend the OWFI conference in May and the OCW conference in October.
I had a great time at the OWFI conference, but I’m not sure if I’ll be attending the OCW conference this year.

Pick two of the pictures in my “holy cow I want to write a story about this” folder. Write at least a short story for each one.
Well, the urban fantasy I’ve been working on for the past two months? That is based on one of these pictures. I think if I finish the draft of an entire novel, I can count this one complete.

Set up a Facebook page for my writing.
Haven’t even looked at this one.

Blogging
Review at least one new movie each month. Except for months where the idea of actually giving money to a movie in the theater makes me sick to my stomach.
I…have not been doing quite as good with this one. However, I have actually made an effort to go see the movies I want to. They’ve just all come out in the past 2 months. 🙂

Keep to a posting schedule of twice a week.
Some weeks I do better than others!

Comment more regularly on the blogs I follow.
I’ve been doing all right with this, but I’ve kind of faded a little more on it lately. I’ll try to pick it up once again.

Career
Attend another CSS summit.
I have actually attended three summits so far this year, for responsive web design, user experience, and WordPress. LEARN ALL THE THINGS!

Up my coding game in PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript.
I’ve certainly been doing this…

Intellectual
Read 70 new books in 2013.
I’m a little behind, but I’m getting through a lot of books that have been on my list for awhile (see below!).

Read all the unread books currently on my shelf/Kindle. (Or at least, attempt to.)
Slowly but surely.

Read at least three non-writing-related non-fiction books.
So far I’ve read one, and I’ve got two more on my library list. I’ll put them on hold once I clear out a few more from my shelf.

Take more books off my gigantic TBR list than I add to it. (Borrowed from Marissa Meyer.)
I…yeah. No. I don’t think this is going to happen, but I’m trying!

Fiction:
Endymion by Dan Simmons
Long Lost by David Morrell
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis
The Course of Honor by Lindsey Davis
Young Men in Spats by P.G. Wodehouse
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Shada by Douglas Adams
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
The Honor of Spies by W.E.B. Griffin
Foreign Influence by Brad Thor
True Blue by David Baldacci
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Gone by Michael Grant
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Apostle by R.A. Salvatore
The Wind Merchant by Ryan Dunlap
Triple Play by Abigail Barnette
Long Relief by Abigail Barnette

Nonfiction
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Story by Robert McKee
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Creating Characters: How to Build Story People by Dwight V. Swain
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Recently Added
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
Lamb by Christopher Moore
The Dame by R.A. Salvatore (Actually was a Christmas gift for a friend, but he loaned it to me once he finished)
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Mort by Terry Pratchett

Men-at-Arms by Terry Pratchett
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Jingo by Terry Pratchett
Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan

Book Review – A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

a-civil-campaignI wanted to read A Civil Campaign as soon as I read this introduction to a review of the omnibus Cordelia’s Honor:

Lois McMaster Bujold wrote what is quite possibly the most famous, beloved, and awesome science fiction romance ever, A Civil Campaign. A Civil Campaign is a Regency Romance set in space, with manners, fantastic clothes, and awkward dinner parties mixed with cloning, recovery from physical and mental trauma, inter-galactic politics, humor, sadness, glowing HEAs, and much more.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Really, why wouldn’t you want to read it?

I am here to report that A Civil Campaign lives up to the hype. I absolutely adored it.

This picks up a few months after the events of Komarr, with Miles back on Barrayar and bound and determined to start courting Ekaterin properly. However, he knows that she’s not all that keen on getting married again, so it’s a SECRET courtship. A secret courtship that he tells absolutely everybody about except for her.

(Don’t worry. He gets smacked for this. A few times.)

Then there’s his brother, Mark. Mark returns home from university with a brilliant scientist (that he may have helped escape from prison), a girlfriend, a bunch of bugs, and a business idea that involves all three.

And during all of this, Miles’s foster brother, Gregor (who also happens to be the Emperor of Barrayar), is getting married, which means that wedding preparations are taking up a great deal of everyone’s time.

It. Is. AWESOME.

I loved the way the various plot threads intersect and the culture clash between the staunchly traditional and conservative Barrayar society and the more progressive Beta Colony. I loved the more serious political plots moving under the romances.

I loved getting to meet Miles’s family: Mark, Ivan, Gregor, and his parents, Cordelia and Aral. Even though I hadn’t read the previous books that built the relationships between these characters, I still got the sense of camaraderie between them all. And I loved seeing how Ekaterin and her son, Nicky, slowly became integrated into the Vorkosigan family.

I loved seeing Miles in love and generally stumbling over himself and becoming his own worst enemy as he tries to do what he assumes is the right thing. (Because it’s what he wants, of course it’s the right thing.) And when he screws it up and it’s identified how badly he screws it up, Miles does apologetic like nobody’s business.

Ekaterin really grows in this book as well. After all the events of Komarr, it’s wonderful to see her come into her own, to stand up against people who want to beat her back into the mold she just escaped. And over the course of this novel, she becomes more than a match for Miles.

A Civil Campaign is much longer than most of the romances I’ve read (400 pages in a hardback), but it never feels that long. With everything that’s going on—the wedding plans, romantic plots, political plots, and business plots—it needs the space. The pacing’s brisk, and I was never bored.

There are so many things I want to talk about in this, but half the fun of the book was the discovery, seeing how all the best-laid plans you learn about in the first few chapters of the book just go straight to hell by the middle of it.

If the idea of a Regency-style romance set on another planet intrigues you, and if the elements from the quote at the beginning of this post pique your interest, then you must add A Civil Campaign to your TBR list. It was such a joy to read. I really couldn’t put it down.

I’d recommend reading Komarr first to get to know Miles and Ekaterin before you jump into this one, but as both are really, really good, you won’t be sorry.

The Updated Reading List

Now that we’re almost three full months into 2013, let’s see how I’m doing with the actual reading list, shall we?

Fiction:
Endymion by Dan Simmons
Long Lost by David Morrell
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis
The Course of Honor by Lindsey Davis
Young Men in Spats by P.G. Wodehouse
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Shada by Douglas Adams
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
The Honor of Spies by W.E.B. Griffin
Foreign Influence by Brad Thor
True Blue by David Baldacci
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Gone by Michael Grant
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Apostle by R.A. Salvatore
The Wind Merchant by Ryan Dunlap
Triple Play by Abigail Barnette
Long Relief by Abigail Barnette

Nonfiction
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Story by Robert McKee
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Creating Characters: How to Build Story People by Dwight V. Swain
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Recently Added
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
Lamb by Christopher Moore
The Dame by R.A. Salvatore (Actually was a Christmas gift for a friend, but he loaned it to me once he finished)
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Mort by Terry Pratchett

Men-at-Arms by Terry Pratchett
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Jingo by Terry Pratchett
Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan

I think I’ve actually done a not-terrible job on reading books I actually own, and a particularly good job of reading more in genres that are not romance. I’ve also managed to hold off on buying too many more books; the one exception, as you might be able to tell, is Discworld. And I don’t really count that because I buy them as much for my roommates as for me; all three of us are kind of in love with the series.

What books have you read lately? Anything worth adding to the TBR list?

The Book List for 2013

As with last year, I have a scary pile of books sitting on my shelf that I would like to attempt to read at some point during 2013. Some were on there last year (Um, oops?), some were gifts, some were recommendations, some were “Oh, hi, massive sale at the used bookstore,” and still others were “I have disposable income and no willpower.”

No willpower whatsoever.

No willpower whatsoever.

And as with last year, this list will expand as my favorite authors publish their newest books (come on, February!) and as I discover new shiny things that make me go “Oooh!” (Example: Brandon Sanderson has a handful of novellas I have not yet read. I MUST AMEND THIS.)

Fiction:
Endymion by Dan Simmons
Long Lost by David Morrell
If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis (finished on January 4!)
Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis
The Course of Honor by Lindsey Davis
Young Men in Spats by P.G. Wodehouse
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Shada by Douglas Adams
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
The Honor of Spies by W.E.B. Griffin
Foreign Influence by Brad Thor
True Blue by David Baldacci
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Gone by Michael Grant
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore
The Demon Apostle by R.A. Salvatore
The Wind Merchant by Ryan Dunlap
Triple Play by Abigail Barnette
Long Relief by Abigail Barnette

Nonfiction
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Story by Robert McKee
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Creating Characters: How to Build Story People by Dwight V. Swain

Anything on there look good to you guys? What does your 2013 reading list look like?

The Critic’s 2012 Goal Wrap-Up

Well, 2012 is coming to a close, and it’s time to take a look at the goals I set up for myself at the beginning of the year. I may have been a wee bit overly ambitious in some respects.

Let’s see where I ended up, shall we?

Physical
I want to lose 10 pounds.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…*gasp* *wheeze* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… I did get to where I was working out a couple of times a week for the first few months of the year, but that’s all gone to hell since about August.

Career
I want to finish the first draft of my steampunk novel (NaNo 2011).
Didn’t do this because I spent so much time on the next one.

I want to finish draft 3 of my NaNo ’06 novel and start submitting it to agents.
Boy, did I hit this one! I finished draft 3, started draft 4, and pitched it to two agents and an editor. I focused so much on this one, though, that the other writing goals on this list suffered.

I want to finish the first draft of my NaNo ’08 novel.
Maybe not so much…

I want to attend the OWFI conference and the OCW conference again.
Attended both of them with a wonderful group of writing friends.

I want to attend another CSS summit, if at all possible.
Missed the CSS summit, but I did attend a JavaScript summit in November. My brain hurt for three days afterward but IT WAS AWESOME.

I want to find a way to quantify “be a better project manager.”
I don’t know that I found a way to quantify it, but we did find ways to have better project management. So…kind of a win, I guess?

I will enter one writing contest per month, as funds permit.
Over the course of the year, I entered four contests, but I entered eight stories (and placed with three). So I’m fairly happy with that, especially considering I entered zero contests in 2011.

Intellectual
I want to read every unread book that is currently on my shelf/Kindle. (There are over 20, not counting the 2-3 that I will probably purchase over the next month.)
I didn’t read every unread book on my shelf/Kindle because I kept buying new ones. Yes, I have a problem.

That being said, I did read more than 50 books in 2012, and I would like to keep that up in the new year. Especially considering I have more than 30 unread books sitting on my shelf.

Spiritual
I want to continue to read my Bible until I have finished the whole damn thing. And then I want to start over and actually THINK and MEDITATE about what I am reading.
I completed half of this one. I finished reading the whole thing and I have started over, but not nearly as consistently as I was.

Family/Social
I want to remember the birthday of every immediate family member and close friend with a card at the very least.
I will talk to both of my parents at least once a week. I will talk to my grandmother once every other week. I will talk to my brother once every other week.
Let’s not discuss how absolutely terrible I am at actually keeping in touch with people. I’m sorry.

Random
Attend the midnight premiere for The Hobbit with Rebekah in costume.
Attended it, with Rebekah, but I was not in costume. I don’t care, though, because it was AWESOME. (And I did wear my Arwen necklace.)

So, I learned a few things about myself this year.

1) I drastically overestimate how much I can accomplish in a given year.
2) I underestimate how much I actually read. (Not a terrible problem to have, huh?)
3) I should probably alter the way I set some goals in order to see if I have better luck with them next year.
4) Even if I don’t accomplish them, having my goals set down like this helps me to keep them at the forefront of my mind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made “finish a draft and start submitting it” a resolution. This is the first year I’ve actually DONE it. That makes me extremely happy.

I also think being involved in #WriteMotivation helped tremendously with the writing-related goals throughout this year. If it continues through 2013, you can bet I’ll be signing up.

Now…maybe I can make some better headway with the non-writing-related goals next year? 🙂

How did you do on your goals for this year?