Author Archives: Zarah Robinson

How is social distancing going?

My family and I have been social distancing for about a week now. Honestly, this has required very little from us. A few canceled social events, no music lessons, or dinner dates. We’re introverts by nature, my husband works from home, and the girls have been on Spring Break. So, nothing much changed, except the understanding that staying home is more necessity than choice and the girls won’t be going back to school next week (it’s closed).

All the same, I’ve had to fill my time. I have to consider filling more time in the future. My children and husband have found and are currently playing Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, a video game that apparently requires all three of them to fly and defend a space shuttle. I know nothing about it except they sound like they are having a blast.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the entire day obsessively collating my Goodreads library. And I do mean all day. I began while drinking my first cup of tea this morning and have just finished. (It’s about 7:30 pm now.) Well, finished is maybe a stretch. I’ve come to a stopping point…a pausing point. It’s worth remembering that this is what my Goodreads shelves look like. And nothing goes on a shelf unless I actually have access to it. So, I own all those “want to read” books.

It might not be too much of a stretch to imagine I’m transferring some of my generalized Coronavirus stress into compulsive, all-absorbing, ultimately meaningless tasks. But let’s not go there. As I said, it’s not affected us personally in any huge way yet. But I think that yet is important.

I started by making sure all the books on my shelves have listed page numbers. It drives me absolutely nuts to not know what is a short story, novella, or novel when picking out something to read. So, I periodically do this; sort my library by page length and individually search out page numbers for any book coming up as unknown. It’s a slow process. (Why doesn’t everyone include page length when they upload to Amazon?)

On a side note, I cannot tell you how much it irritates me that audiobooks don’t get listed page numbers. I mean I get it, their audio files and don’t actually have pages. But I need Goodreads to incorporate some way to show their length. Need I tell you! All those unknown in a row that I can’t fix get under my skin.

Then, I moved from there to checking all the anthologies, compilations and boxsets I have. I found too many instances in which I had books 1 and 2 in a series and then a compilation of books 1-5, for example. There was a lot of deleting going on. And when I say delete, I mean I even went to Amazon and deleted it from my cloud. I no longer own a lot of single books.

You have to understand that deleting books is really hard for me. It’s not normal, the resistance I have to trashing a book (even a digital one that barely even exists). But there just isn’t any reason to own these books more than once, except that it was time-consuming to find them and consolidate my shelves. And I’m not going to pretend I found them all. But I found a lot.

I also deleted several anthologies outright that I’d picked up a few years back when anthologies were all the rage. If I haven’t read them by now, I’m not going to. There are actually a couple more to go. But at some point, I was organized enough to mark each individual book included in them. So, to delete them I need to track those books down and delete their listing too because I won’t own them anymore. But I put that off until tomorrow.

I found three books I suspected of book stuffing. This isn’t something you hear much about anymore and I don’t know how these three managed to survive on my shelves. Actually, that’s not true. It’s too easy for things to hide on my shelves. That’s part of the reason for today’s exercise in thinning. Needless to say, these were deleted.

All in all, I deleted hundreds of books. Soon…I have to work myself up to this…I’m going to go through and delete anything I’m no longer interested in. My tastes have changed quite a bit and there is a lot of detritus on my shelves that could go. But I need to read each synopsis before I’m willing to take the leap. And that will take a lot more time. Luckily, as I said before, I have time to fill in the near future. I’m going to make the most of being homebound.

Of course, I haven’t spent the entire week collating my Goodreads shelves (just all of today). I’ve spent quite a lot of time playing Overwatch.

I brought my support SR up to 2466, in case you’re wondering. (I only queue support/healer in competitive mode. No one wants to depend on my crappy aim, trust me. I main Moria, Lucio, and Mercy.) I’m never gonna make top 500 or anything. But considering this is the first shooter game I’ve ever committed to playing (and I’m a 43-year-old woman), I’m pretty thrilled to almost touch platinum.

I’m WondrousBeet6 on Xbox if anyone ever wants to play. I’m awkward as hell at first, but I promise it’ll fade.

Other than gaming, I’ve also listened to a ton of audiobooks while working on diamond paintings. This is the one I finished last night. I’m actually pretty thrilled with how it came out.

I have a whole stack of unstarted ones. So, I figure I’ll be putting a dent in both my audio library and my diamond painting stash.

So, so far so good. I won’t say anyone is accomplishing anything overly meaningful (though tending my bookshelves is immensely satisfying). But nor have we gone too stir crazy, which is good since we’re committed to this whole social distancing thing. I don’t really understand why some people aren’t. Of course, some people can’t and that’s another matter altogether. I recognize how lucky we are to be able to with so little disruption that I’m thinking about how to fill time, not how to fill bellies. But if you can stay home for a while, giving our health system a little room to breathe and maybe saving lives, please to. I’d be more than happy to spend some digital time with you if that helps.

Review of Witchmark and Stormsong, by C.L. Polk

I purchased a copy of Witchmark (by C.L. Polk) some time ago but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. Then Netgalley offered a copy of the sequel, Stormsong. I accepted a copy so I could read the whole Kingston Cycle together. How could I not want to with those covers? So gorgeous.


Description of Witchmark:

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen. Description of Witchmark:In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

Review:

I don’t know why I held onto this so long, reluctant to read it for some reason. But it was a mistake. I really enjoyed it. Admittedly, I was confused in the beginning. It took a while for the magic and political system to untangle itself enough to make sense. Once it did, however, I was hooked. Then I was outraged. Then I felt vindicated.

The world is an interesting one, with some electronic gadgets (run on aether), early cars, carriages, and complex bicycle etiquette. Men and women seemed to hold equal positions of power (and victimization). And, while not deeply explored, there appear to be several species of ‘human.’ For a small book, it packed a lot in.

I loved Miles and Turner as characters and appreciated the difficult position Grace was in. Though, I only appreciated that in the end. At the middle mark, I was wondering why Miles wouldn’t just let her die. (That would be my extended moment of outrage on his behalf.)

All in all, I’m really looking forward to reading book two.


Description of Stormsong:

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Review:

I must admit that I didn’t love this as much as Witchmark. It was still enjoyable, mind you, but not as good IMO. The reasons being that it ended quite abruptly—with a lot still in the air (pending you don’t simply assume everything will work out as planned, nothing else has)—and I didn’t feel the romance AT ALL.

The problem with the romance was that though you know in advance who the romantic interest is (it’s in the blurb), for half the book any affections she showed Grace felt like manipulation to get a story. I didn’t believe for a moment a woman as astute as Grace would see all the touching and soft words as anything else, given their limited acquaintance and the circumstances. What’s more, when later Grace makes decisions, stating they are to be with Jess, it feels like a leap. She wants to be like Jess, her brother, and Tristan. She likes who she is with them. But that’s not the same as being in love with someone, especially since it’s not limited to one person. So, I didn’t make the connection to love, be it romantic or otherwise. All of which left me pretty cold on the romance front. I liked them both, but I didn’t feel a romance bloomed between them.

All in all, however, I’d be happy to read more in there series (if there is any) and certainly more of Polk’s writing.

Review of The Hanged Man (The Tarot Sequence, #2) by K.D. Edwards

I borrowed a copy of K.D. Edward‘s The Hanged Man from my local library. This is book two in The Tarot Sequence series. I reviewed book one (The Last Sun) about this time last year and also listed it as one of my top six reads of 2019.

Description from Goodreads:

The last member of a murdered House tries to protect his ward from forced marriage to a monster while uncovering clues to his own past.

The Tarot Sequence imagines a modern-day Atlantis off the coast of Massachusetts, governed by powerful Courts based on the traditional Tarot deck.

Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Throne, is backed into a fight of high court magic and political appetites in a desperate bid to protect his ward, Max, from a forced marital alliance with the Hanged Man.

Rune’s resistance will take him to the island’s dankest corners, including a red light district made of moored ghost ships; a surreal skyscraper farm; and the floor of the ruling Convocation, where a gathering of Arcana will change Rune’s life forever.

Review:

Book one of this series was one of my favorite reads of 2019 and, unless something changes, I imagine The Hanged Man will make the list for 2020. It’s certainly the best book I’ve read so far this year. I love the many different types of love legitimized in it—romantic, paternal, fraternal, maternal, adoptive, platonic. Care is shown in so many different ways, without ever being sappy or didactic. Everyone deserves a Brand, Addam or Corinne in their life. Or we should all strive to live such that we deserve them.

I especially love Brand and Rune’s relationship (and Addam’s acceptance of it). It’s full of insults and sarcasm. But, where too many authors overdo this, letting it fall into overuse and become a redundant schtick, I don’t feel like Edwards ever does.

I think the book could have done with another round of copy edits. But all in all, I cannot wait for the next book. (I really hope there will be a next book.)

On a funny side note, I cannot tell you how many times I picked the book up upside down and then had to rotate it. That cover apparently did a number on my brain. LOL