The Lies of Locke Lamora Review

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Lies of Locke

Synopsis: An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.

Rating: 5/5

Cons: None.

Pros: This book is amazing

Recently I have been browsing /r/booksuggestions on Reddit for new series to read. I mean, I have lists of series on my wall for me to read but why not find some new ones?

And it has seemed that every time someone mentions they are looking for a new Fantasy book, no matter the original posters criteria for a book, Lies of Locke Lamora always comes up.

I’m not going to lie: The above synopsis did not intrigue me until after I had started reading. Had I accidentally found Lies on Amazon I don’t think I would have bought it.

It was what everyone was saying about the book-things not at all indicated in the actual summary of the book-that made me buy it as well as the passion people seemed to have for this book.

I received it, read the first chapter and had to force myself to put it down because I was working on the His Dark Materials trilogy and I wanted to finish those before I picked anything up. But I was anxious to get started after just that little taste.

When I finally had the chance to pick it up, it was a few hours after I finished The Amber Spyglass. I meant to read maybe twenty or thirty pages before bed(I figured I wouldn’t get more than ten pages in before I got distracted but I try to be optimistic) I read nearly one-hundred and thirty pages, went to bed, got up and continued reading.

This book is absolutely amazing. One part Oceans Eleven Heist, One part Count of Monte Cristo Revenge , one part Carrie revenge novel and one part something completely inexplicable, this book has it all. It has pirates, it has thieves, guilds, some magic, cursing. You name it, this book probably as it. There is even a background chapter where a group of prostitutes rise up against their pimps in a dark and bloody revolution.

The writing style is also very unique. Every other chapter is a flashback. For the first half of the book it is background on Locke or his friends and how they were trained to be the Gentleman Bastards. Then the background chapters branch out into background on the city.

He builds the world as the characters move through it as opposed to how many authors world build-separately from the characters. And the world is gorgeous and full and definitely well thought out. I look forward to learning more about the civilizations that are briefly mentioned in Lies that disappeared one day though their architecture remains(and no one knows anything else about them)

There were several times reading this when Locke and his gang of Bastards would do something and I would put down the book and slow clap in the middle of my living room because the brilliance or audacity of it was a thing of beauty.

There were also times when I would set the book down and just stare out the window. My boyfriend stopped playing Skyrim one day and looked at me and asked, “Are you all right.”

I told him I was and he said,

“You look like you’re in shock or something.” To which I replied,

“This book is fucked up.” He laughed. And I repeated myself. “This book is fucked up.

This book has twists and turns every which way. Some you will see coming ahead of time(or so you think), some you will see coming in hindsight and some will come out of nowhere and rail over you like a freight train leaving you stunned and bloody.

But despite the twists and turns it never feels like Lynch is doing the twists just because he can. You never get whiplash from reading this like you do with some books. He managed to pull off a perfect balance of action and surprise that never felt forced.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. I wasn’t even finished with it before I was recommending it to everyone I know who has ever picked up a book in their lives.

If you own an E-reader, pick it up right now.(If you still aren’t convinced then have a sample sent to your e-reader and you will be dying to know more immediately) If you don’t have an E-reader, on Amazon (see the link above) you can “Look Inside” on your PC.  Then head down to your local book store and pick it up.

You will not regret it.

I’ll be filming my video where I’m going to talk more about it later today and the actual video review should be up tomorrow afternoon so check back.

If you aren’t convinced after that then there really is no help for you.

-M-

P.S. Don’t forget to follow my blog for my weekly reviews along with other random things that my brain spits out between readings!

Putting this into the Blog-O-Sphere

Hi guys! Some of you who have been around either of my blogs for a while are probably at least somewhat aware of Sam Spivey who is the lead singer of a band in my hometown called Authmentis.

Sam wrote a guest blog for me while I was in the throes of NaNoWriMo and he also appeared in one of my video book reviews.

Right now, Authmentis is trying to raise $3,000 for to finish their latest EP, “The Patient” and get it mastered/pressed as well as being able to order merch and physical copies of the EP.

They are a truly talented band who could use your help and there are great perks for all who donate. (You can donate as little as a dollar) Go visit their Project Page, watch the video(That I helped put together and film!) and if you have a couple bucks to spare they, as well as myself, would really appreciate it. And if you can’t donate, share the event page or campaign page around with people who might be able to help.

Thanks as always,

-m-

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10 Ways to Unblock Your Creativity

Sometimes you just want to write/draw/paint etc…

But when you put your pen to paper/keyboard nothing flows. But the urge to create is still itching in your fingers? What do you do?

Well here’s a list of what I do!

This is mostly aimed at writers but any of the “tips” can be modified to fit visual artists as well. Some of these are really simple and some of them less so.

 

Enjoy!

P.S. I’ve written about this here, but this is an updated version.

1) Search for writing prompts

creative-writing-prompts

This might seem silly at first but let me explain:

A lot of times when we sit down to write, we sit down and work on something we already have in the works. Either an idea we have had in our heads that we just haven’t started yet or an ongoing novel/short story etc…

And sometimes those ideas just don’t want to work the way we want them to right at that moment. It’s not flowing and it feels unnatural. Sometimes you can push through it-and you should try because just on the other side of struggle is genius-but sometimes you can’t. If you try too long you might just start to hate your stories. And no one wants that.

So I advocate visiting prompt blogs, googling “writing prompts” etc…until something strikes you that you think you could write a page or two on. If nothing else it can get you warmed up for the real work you have to do.

This is a good place to start perusing for prompts.

P.S. The above also has image prompts for artists like “Make a wanted poster for your favorite fictional character” and such.

 

2) Search for Image Prompts

Image Prompts

 

This kind of goes into the tip above but is also not quite the same.

For me, sometimes images will set loose a stream of ideas in my head that form into a story.  Sometimes my brain comes up with these images all on its own and sometimes it needs some help along.

When that is the case and Google-ing”writing prompts” isn’t working for me, I will take a minute and think about the kind of story I am in the mood to work on. Is it a vampire story? An epic fantasy? A sappy romance? And I will search for images that might set something off.

One thing I will advocate, however, is be very careful in your search terms. I like looking at Fantasy-esque photos but try typing Fantasy into Google with safe search off. I doubt the images that arise will be the images you are looking for.

 

3)Change how/where you’re working

Fountain-Pens

 

Something that doesn’t occur to me as often as I would like it to but that usually helps me to unblock my pent up creativity is to either change where I’m writing from or to change what I’m writing with.

If you are typing most of your work-which I think a lot of people do now-try picking up a pen and paper. If you are a big paper writer try changing the size or type of pen you are working with. I personally tend to prefer extra fine ball point pens so sometimes I will pick up a thick pen to work with.

If what you are writing on is portable then move from your normal spot. Instead of sitting at your desk, sit on your bed surrounded by blankets.

What works best for me, usually, if I’m typing and I am in the mood for typing but it’s not working out is that I will save whatever I am working on to Google Docs (I usually write in Scrivener) and then pick up my iPad and go for a walk somewhere and then open Google Docs and continue from there.

The ways in which you can change how and where you are working are virtually limitless so experiment!

4)Journal/Free-Write/Blog

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I don’t know about you but usually when I write the first thing it occurs to me to try is fiction. I will try all sorts of stories and such before it will ever occur to me to write non-fiction.

But sometimes, in my experience, the reason I am blocked is because something is stressing me out that I haven’t properly dealt with yet.

I deal with things in writing so do keep that in mind.

I think keeping a daily journal is a good idea because it keeps your mind clear, but that’s not always easy and it’s something I am phenomenally bad at. But, if you have the time to write right this instant than you have the time to journal.

Don’t think too hard about this one. Just write. Write everything that comes to your mind. Write about the fact that you have nothing to write about. Write about that guy you saw on the bus who you think smiled at you. Write about how stressed you are about money. It doesn’t really  matter what you write about. Just write. The more and the longer you write the more you may find buried. You might unearth some stresses or thoughts you weren’t even consciously aware of having until you saw it down on paper.

You can also take this time to reach out into the blog-o-sphere. If regular writing prompts don’t work try finding blog prompts. Something non-fiction you can write about with some sort of ease. The point isn’t to write a masterpiece. It’s to unblock your mind.

5)People Watch

peoplewatching_Large

For this you won’t be actively writing, which may or may not appeal to you at any given moment.

One of my favorite things to do is go somewhere-a park, a ride on the bus, outside a cafe etc… and watch people. Sometimes I’ll sit with a notebook and sometimes not, but I’ll watch people. I’ll watch them in their cars and with their friends and imagine who they are and why. I will picture what their house looks like and then ask myself questions about them.

Are they married? Do they have kids? What do they like to do when they think they are alone? What secrets do they have? Do I think they had an easy life or one filled with obstacles? Why?

Find someone who fascinates you-for whatever reason-and then write about them. You aren’t giving them a plot or anything. You’re just creating a character from someone you see.

Hey, maybe they’ll show up in your next novel?

 

6)Change your playlist

0605-dalek-with-ipod

I think we, as artists, occasionally underestimate the influence the world around us has. It’s easy to get lost in our own little minds and tune out what else is happening.

But even if most of you is tuned out, not all of you is. Part of you is picking up the sounds around you and while it might not be hurting you, it might not be helping you either.

I don’t usually write with music until I’ve lost myself in what I’m working on but when I start the impact that changing my playlist has on my writing has shocked me every time.

I like loud rock music. I just do. Evanescence is one of my favorite bands to listen to because I know every song by heart and can sing them at the top of my lungs without actually thinking about what I’m doing. I rock back and forth in my chair and write and write and write.

But, strangely enough, Evanescence isn’t always the right music to listen to. Rock music isn’t always the right music to listen to.

I know. Shocking.

Try using Spotify and making an unlikely playlist. Fill it with piano music or folk music or game soundtracks. Just try something new. Do a search based on a song you like but don’t normally listen to. You might be surprised at what comes up.

The reason I advocate Spotify and not Pandora, by the way, is because you can actually make playlists or listen to full albums on Spotify which  makes it easier to control what you are listening to but, for all intents and purposes, Pandora could also work for changing up your music habits and depending on how you work it might even work better.

You never know what new music might unleash in your brain.

7)Try something new

life-of-high-adventure

 

So you want to create but your regular medium isn’t working. You’ve tried everything you can think of and still you find yourself unable to create even though you know something is itching to come out of you.

Try changing your medium.

If you write, try and draw. Don’t focus too much on quality, just on kind of creating something you see in your head.

I am awful at anything visual related. I can’t learn by watching things, I can’t draw a tree to save my life, I can’t paint. I can’t do anything relating to visual art. But, sometimes, I want to give it a shot.

Think of something you want to draw(or print out something you want to trace, even) and work on that instead of focusing on trying to write. Let a different, and yet adjacent, part of your brain work out the creativity for a while.

8)Write outside of your genre

the-writer2

Usually I write Fantasy of some sort. I write in all different genres of Fantasy-Epic, Urban, Angelic(which I just made up but it’s the only description I can come up with for one of my stories) etc…I like Fantasy. I read a lot of Fantasy among other things.

Which, obviously, means you might occasionally find yourself in a rut.

For this, I advocate stepping outside of your normal genre. It doesn’t even have to be far outside of your genre. If you normally write adventure epic fantasy, try writing an Urban Fantasy short story.

If you read in a lot of different genres-which I think all writers should-try writing in something else. I have a novella that I am working on that is Sci-Fi. It’s not something I’ve ever attempted but I’m having a lot of fun researching and creating new technologies.

Try something new. You might have something better in you than you ever thought!

 

9)Research

researchgethelp_0

This is another tip where you are not specifically writing, but the act of doing something related to writing but not actually writing might help you along.

Research things for your story. Research the mythos your world is based on.If you are creating your own mythos research lots of myths throughout history to get a good, rounded baseline.

Research historical characters who share traits to your characters.

Research something wholly unrelated to what you are working on but something you are interested in. (One of my in-progress stories came about when doing research on Greek Mythology just ’cause)

Learn something you didn’t know about a person, culture, place etc…that you didn’t know. Delve deeper and deeper. If nothing else, you now have baseline knowledge for something in the future.

10)Take a story you hate and re-write it

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Chances are pretty good that if you are a writer than you are also a reader. And chances are equally good that if you are a reader you have picked up a book with an awesome premise that is just badly done. It happens a lot.

So re-write it. I wouldn’t suggest ever submitting it for publishing(at least not until you have re-worked it seven or eight times  into something wholly your own) but you probably already have a base plot line down in your head, right? As you were reading the story you were probably thinking “They should have done this. How come they did that instead?”

So do it your way. It’s therapeutic and gets you writing even if it serves no other purpose.

You can also do this with movies, by the way. Any story with a premise you love with story-telling you hate.

 

Hope you find at least some of these helpful.

-M-

The Amber Spyglass Review

Review: The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

amber spyglass

 

Synopsis :The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping end, making the final volume of His Dark Materials the most powerful of the trilogy. 

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, come a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. So, too, come startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone’s amber spyglass, and the names of who will live–and who will die–for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that–in its shocking outcome–will uncover the secret of Dust. Philip Pullman deftly brings the cliff-hangers and mysteries of His Dark Materials to an earthshattering conclusion–and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic.

 

Rating:

4/5

Pros:

Good ending to the trilogy

Most main character arcs are resolved

Lyra and Will’s story had a logical conclusion. No “because books” ending

Interesting philosophical angles

Interesting take on Enoch, Adam, Eve, the Tempter and the Garden of Eden

Liked the new lore introduced upon meeting some new species

I liked the idea that the book ended with

 

 

Cons:

Slowest of all the books

The main events that the whole trilogy had been building toward felt very anti-climatic to me

Some character endings felt rushed

Lyra never gets any more likable (to me.)

Two of the characters change A LOT between book one and book three with no explanation at all.

One of the main characters doesn’t get an ending

 

Overview:

I think, eventually, I am going to have to re-read the trilogy and see if I can get something out of it that I didn’t the first time around. I more or less enjoyed the reading of all the books but I just felt empty when it was done. I didn’t feel satisfied as far as the story went.

I read on Goodreads someone said that if you finish the trilogy and aren’t a better person than you are reading it wrong or some such comment.

Well, I don’t feel like a better person.

The Amber Spyglass is the finale to the His Dark Materials trilogy. It starts immediately where The Subtle Knife ended and picks up with Will trying to find Lyra as he begins to comprehend the power he holds in his hands.

When push came to shove, I felt there was one thing that the whole trilogy had been building up to that never happened and the other thing they spent two books building up was just…over…I didn’t feel as though the characters accomplished or changed anything. To me, at the end, it felt as though the entire journey was a waste.

I do give kudos to the author for where Lyra ends up, reminiscing about how she remembers people. She remarks at one point how everyone in her world has changed while she’s been away when, really, Lyra herself grew up. Or I think that’s what the author intended.

I don’t actually feel she underwent any kind of change except, if I really reach, I can say that she learned patience from Will. Other than that she was the same girl at the beginning as at the end, she just saw the world different because of who she had met along the way.

The reason I gave this book, as well as the series, an over all 4 instead of lower based on the final book is because I did enjoy the philosophical side to a point. It didn’t feel preachy to me but I also agree with the points he was trying to make.

I also thought, where the trilogy itself was concerned, that the way it was executed was really interesting.

In book one you start with Lyra and then you branch off as she meets other characters. Every significant character she meets eventually branches off into their own story so you are learning the adventures of many characters instead of just Lyra.  Lyra is the center of the story but among the least important characters until the last 10o pages or so.

Or at least that’s how I perceived it but I do recognize why other people may have loved it as much as they did.

I think perhaps it just wasn’t for me at this point in my life.

I will eventually buy it on my Kindle(the book I have is the trilogy on giant pages with small text that is over 1000 pages long) so as to be easier to read and see if a second read through changes how I see it.

For now, The Amber Spyglass and His Dark Materials trilogy gets a 4.

Look for the video with more detail later this week and next weeks review will be The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and I am very very excited to talk to you about that.

-m-