?

Log in

Chloe Neill's 'Merit' series.

I'm not sure why I picked up Chloe Neill's first novel about freshly minted Vampire named Merit. I was on an urban fantasy/paranormal romance spree, and after devouring Seanan McGuire's Toby Day novels much faster than I anticipated, I had a gap in my reading schedule that needed to be filled. Amazon's suggestion lists may be flaky, and even downright schizoid at times, but they do throw up the occasional gem. On the face of it, and even now that I know the Merit stories inside and out, I wouldn't have thought I'd have enjoyed them as much as I did.

Merit is a mousy eng. lit. post-grad, with all the angst associated with the hard work and few rewards of that academic future, and who is suddenly 'turned' without her consent into a creature of the night. The plots are suspiciously heavy on the student life, Vampire 'houses' look a lot like university dorms, along with pizza nights, pub crawls and slumming in front of the TV. With Ethan, head of Merit's new house, a centuries old Vampire who reminds me too much of the alpha type student council leader who only went to university to get that position as part of their grand plan to run for high political office.

There's a liberal amount of smexing, a few scenes captured voyeuristically by our heroine, but mainly the long meaningful stare across a crowded room. Violence too, as Merit turns out to be able to kick surprisingly large amounts of arse.

It's politics though, both larger city wide questions as well as interpersonal, that hangs over the books. A population demanding acceptance and finding rejection and hatred. Powerful vampires aiming to one-up each other, and a traitor, not to theirself of course, nor even to Vampiredom, but that personal paper-cut painful treason of office politics.

I wouldn't have read this series for any of it's constituent themes, but Chloe Neill seems to weave them into something that is extremely enjoyable and far more than the sum of its parts. I found myself projecting my own memories of university life onto Merit, the little power plays of new people coming together, the agonisingly tentative feeling out of new personal spaces, and the slow, surprising, realisation that you have stopped comparing your new life to your old and that both have blended in to just 'life'.

Neill squeezes out all the angst of a sudden life shift, and brings fresh life back to the old Vampire lit. staple of fangs as metaphor for alternative sexuality. The sex here may be pedestrian hetero, but the sudden life changes of university, the open bigotries and surprise acceptances, and the struggle to find a place in a strange new society are pure LGBT theory gold.

I just picked up her latest 'Hard Bitten' and it's looking like it will be read and enjoyed in quick order

 

20/04/11

Life -

Hard to keep my eyes open at the minute, the warm weather is back too. So the temptation to lazy evenings in the sun is a horrific torture inflicted by an arbitrary and uncaring universe at this time of needing to get some damn stuff down on paper before I miss my course deadline. Apart from that, wheeee, warm weather and lazy evenings in the sun.

Mood -

Happy, got enough work done that I can relax a bit, the paper is due in tomorrow, but bar a bit of writing and editing, it's done.

Uni -

This one has been hard, why did Myth survive the Greek Enlightenment? How many reasons do you want? So I pared it down to the reception and opinion of Philosophers in post-imperial Athens, and a bit of boilerplate about how myth is the DNA of society. Everyone needs it, everyone believes in it, it just depends which myth or population you're talking about. Community is everything, and myth is a large part of that, even more for a pre-scientific society. Even science isn't immune to being analogised, it's just a bit more specific about it to be honest.

Writing -

Wish I had the time, but the last couple of weeks have been rough, they always are when an essay is coming up. I have a kinda deadline too for my writing group, but the story I have for them is far more complete than the essay, so I've let it sit on the back burner. Just need to stick in a lot more description of sensation, I always write dry, need some smells and loud noises.

Reading (possible spoilers) -

Finished 'Kushiel's Dart', enjoyed it a lot, so I raided the local second hand shop for the other two books in the first series. I'm a good boy though, I'll buy more of her stuff once I get some moneycash in hand. The end of the book was interesting, LoTR ships up the river, and the seige of Minas Tirith, but done very nicely. I'm sure Tolkien wasn't the first to write about the lifting of a seige, so perhaps I'm being uncharitable. Didn't see the romance coming though, I suppose when two people have shared that much it's inevitable that the relationship deepens, it made Phedre far more 3 dimensional. Sacrifices were writ large in the last third of the book, Hyacinthe and Phedre both sacrificed something that defined them, possibly for the rest of their lives, to gain something. Too many fantasy protags sacrifice during the quest, but come the end of the book, gain everything they ever wanted. To choose between desires, sacrifice one for the other, is a real world adult decision, and it made the book for me.

Watching (possible spoilers) -

The bloodbath in Criminal Minds continues to get worse, it's reaching Jacobean Drama levels of random psychopathic bloody stabbings now. Still enjoying it though, a couple of episodes have turned me off, but they hit a bit close to what I actually find emotionally upsetting myself and beginning to empathise with a TV character who is there to die solely for my entertainment doesn't bode well for the happy factor.

Playing (possible spoilers) -

Portal 2, want to play it, want to finish it, want to listen to all the commentaries. So looking forward to it. I do not want to buy a hat at £5 a pop for my robot avatar however.

Unless it's a REALLY nice hat.

18/04/11

Life

Good, worried about this damn Uni essay that is stubbornly refusing to answer itself.

Mood -

Fine except for my Uni related stress levels. Will need a week of sleep to recover :3

Uni -

Gah!

Writing -

Got some lovely sounding sections of prose, have to see if it works when it's put together. Might end up as an unholy abomination, with the torso of Zelazny, the legs of Chandler, the head of Valente, and the arms of McGuire, all being controlled by the zombie brain of an idea that I was originally going to use for a 5 page one-shot graphic story.

Reading (possible spoilers) -

A few more chapters of Kushiel's Dart enjoyed. One of those funny things about writing, we've had entire chapters about one evening, and now a single chapter in which a war is begun, fought and won. Nothing wrong with that, got to focus on where the plot is, and what's important to the story/characters. I just thought it amusing. The sea crossing was nice, buying passage with a new song.

Watching (possible spoilers) -

Ok, Criminal Minds is really beginning to freak me out at times, especially the Suspect Behaviour spin-off. Most of the violence is shown to normal standards, shootings, knifing etc. it's what's implied off screen that's making me put down my sandwich. It's still fun to watch, if very disturbing at times, Forrest Whitaker is chewing the scenery with the best of them, moving from crime to crime looking crazy twitchy and putting himself in the minds of the unsubs to see what they'll do next, that can't be good for his character's mental health. Sort of a reverse CBT, where you try to go completely insane.

15/04/11

Life -

Another bright, but cloudy day. Kinda shiny, the two cherry trees I can see from my bedroom window are blooming, may have a Sakura Festival later :D

The Lilac appears just about ready to bloom too. Spring is indeed very shiny.

Mood -

Slightly foggy, needs more coffee.

Uni -

Getting down to it today, done as much reading as I can. Time to write, will scoot off to the library with my huge shoulder crippling bag. There's a secret lair down a spiral staircase that hardly anyone uses and it has power sockets, so I can set up my little tech-nest of doom and not worry about battery life. I have to sit on the floor, which is more fun than anything, like having a nerd picnic.

Writing -

Not much done, had some ideas for extra world-building for my short, but didn't get much done.

Reading (possible spoilers) -

Nice plot twist in Mary Robinette Kowal's novella 'Kiss me twice', a faulty memory for the AI, hacking and fun disruptions of the detective's investigation. Who and what can he trust? The idea of a person losing the ability to remember is so sad, especially when they don't know their memory is faulty.

Finished it. Great story, Chandler meets Gibson, huge cliche of an ending, (actually a non cliché as it's only ever happened a couple of times in famous detective stories, but hey, you can have cliché cliché too) but handled so well all I could do was laugh and think she was brilliant for even trying it, and wonder why my Christie loving self hadn't suspected it.

Read the Ian R. MacLeod 'The Cold Step Beyond' Novelette in Azimov's as well. Stand-alone short from his universe I think. Might have to give his stuff a try. Lots of sword fighting, heroic female protags, almost existential theme. Didn't think I'd have time to read it before sleep, but I couldn't put it down.

Watching (possible spoilers) -

Almost caught up with Criminal Minds, at the tail end of the 5th season now. In the middle of the backdoor pilot for the spinoff. I just want to see Janeane Garofalo and my new crush Kristen Vangsness working together. Have to hurry my watching, I'm anal enough to not watch the spin-off before I reach it in the chronology of the universe. Even though spin-offs are like their own little mini-universe and hardly ever react to things that happen to their parent show.

14/04/11

Life -

Still a bit chilly, but it's bright. Getting bogged down in the Uni stuff, and my brain decided to fire last night only for the non-Academic writing, which was great for my Ego, but bad for my studies. Not feeling too bad, the past couple of weeks have been a tad rough, haven't had the energy to do much, good job I read up in advance, though that's slipping away every day I spend fardling about asleep. Missed my writing group last night, though I didn't have anything ready or the time to read other people's stuff to critique, so I don't think I'd have made a good 2nd impression if I had have gone.

Mood -

Shades of meh, laced with silver linings.

Uni -

More reading today maybe, but I have to do at least a few paragraphs if I want to keep up to schedule. The deadline is a week today, so plenty of time if my brain would just start working.

Writing -

Did a thousandish words last night in bed, very happy. Decided to trash my original idea and go back to the circus setting. Wrote up to the entrance of the sideshow. Should be fun seeing what I find inside.

Reading (possible spoilers) -

Only managed a few more pages of the M.R.K novella. No huge twists, but plenty of clues and/or herrings. I love a good mystery, and she's written one so far. Intrigued about what will happen if they do manage to save Metta's 'twin' sister. Will they fight for the top bunk?

Watching (possible spoilers) -

Been catching up with Criminal Minds again, they're really laying the blood on thickly now. I've fallen in love with Ms. Vangness, her character is nice, but I've found out she's been appearing in my favourite popular secret 'The Thrilling Adventure Hour' podcast. We need more faux golden age radio drama comedy parody shows.

Watching the TV version of the Dresden Files. I'm only in the middle of book 2 of the novels, and I'm sorta happy with them so far, think they're growing on me so I decided to try the TV show. Most of the way through the first episode now, lots of cliche TV detective drama overlaid with magic. It's interesting, I do love me my Urban Fantasy, nothing amazing so far, but pilots are always a bit 'look at our shiny toys' do not look at the man behind the curtain. It's only the second half the any first season that's any good anyway, when actors have settled into their character like an old armchair and writers have stopped trying to give buckets of world-building and just get on with the story and let people work it out for themselves.

13/04/11

Life -

Cold front coming in, so the warm sunny days have disappeared again. Cold wind, cloudy day is a bit miserable, but the vine in the greenhouse doesn't seem to mind, it got what it wanted and the new shoots are growing so fast you can almost hear them, should make writing in there fun during the summer, especially when it rains. I'm in love with my socks, strange I know, but I went to a Catholic school which was heavy on the uniformity, white sports socks or else, didn't think about it till a few weeks ago, then I finally (I am slow sometimes, years late in fact) that the black boots, white socks, black jeans, made me look like a zebra crossing. So I wisely invested in some of Debenham's stripey socks of many colours. I still look like a zebra crossing, but one on LSD. I've decided to wear them mismatched too, aren't I exciting? No? Then I decry your attempts at originality too :P

Mood -

Down from yesterday, the glee ran out mid afternoon and I spent the rest of the day in bed, asleep :( Just got up circa 11 am feeling blegh. Got a lot of work to do on this damnable essay.

Uni -

Downloaded a million papers from Jstor at 3am last night during an hour when sleep was desired but wouldnt come. Now to read them. Like all research, there will probably only be 3 or 4 that directly apply to my topic, a few more that just fill in gaps in my knowledge but aren't actually of any use to me for this topic, and a the majority will be interesting, but I won't get a chance to read because of time.

Writing -

None done, still thinking of settings for this idea. Might have to abandon it for now, and go write about something else till I'm a better writer.

Reading (possible spoilers) -

Read a lot of the Mary Robinette Kowal novella in Asimov's. Lovely futuristic Noir detective story, full of ideas about AI's place in the world. Made me think a lot, what would happen to a 'free' AI that couldn't find a job to pay rent on it's server farm slot, or how would an AI react to being forcibly moved to a different hardware setup, would it feel mutilated when the response from the 2nd processor on the left was 3ms later than it was used to? Would it think differently, react differently, would it seem like it had undergone a personality shift to people around it? Stroke?

12/04/11

Life -

Quite tired today, not as bad as yesterday, which was a complete washout. Up early, which is a good sign, had coffee, going to have some more, watching Criminal Minds, which is getting seriously 'horrific crime of the week', not sure if it's good or not. I'm happy with characterisation, but the plots are seriously messed up in a lot of cases, and they seriously over represent psychology as a predictive tool and terrorists as effective.

Decided to have another go at a more ordered daily schedule. Tried it before, it works for a time, but I seem to have an annoying body-clock that needs 25 hours in a day. Every day I get up on time, but get to sleep just a bit later, till I'm so tired I can't function and the schedule collapses and I spend three weeks in bed feeling like crap.

Mood -

Quite good.

Uni -

Essay due in on the 21st, I know the stuff, reading up for specific quotes and references. It's 2k words, not a huge amount, but big enough to be detailed. It's on why Myth survived the Greek Enlightenment. Going to split it into two sections. The first is why myth didn't survive :3 but was radically transformed, lots of stuff about science, empiricism, Popper, Russell, Galileo, and how religion, while not needing to be self-consistent with the outside world, needs to be self-consistent internally, and multiple traditions plus the Greek Enlightenment dealt a death blow to lots of small traditions. Section two is why myth survived in some form, tradition, community, etc. How it functions as the glue of a society, and how, when it comes down to it, most explanations of the world are mythological in basis, as there is no one to one mapping of analogy to reality.

Writing -

Having problems with my latest short story, I think the underlying idea is good, but I just can't find a way to put it into a story. All I seem to be able to come up with is a chase, capture and psychological pressure plot, and it just isn't working. Might go back to the original idea of a circus sideshow attraction.

Reading (possible spoilers) -

Kushiel's Dart -

Chapters 58-60 were a big infodump of political intrigue, handled well. Lots of stuff going on, fills in just a bit of the fog from Delauney's plans that Phedre didn't know. Good movement into the last act, seems to be an example of the last door, when the PROTAG chooses to make the last irrevocable step in the book's journey. Having real fun with the book, glad Phedre got her marque finished.
Did 1200 words today, very happy, seemed to start coming at last. Not to say that it wasn't a struggle, there's a zone you can get into, but it's like playing the old school sports computer games, where you had to keep the crosshairs in the target, and with time they wander, wander, then fall out and you're back to staring at a page wondering how you wrote what you did, and desperately trying to get back into the zone.

Apr. 2nd, 2011

Joined a writing group, trying to get something good done for my first meeting. It isn't going well of course, but I'm only a baby writer, though I have enough ego to think I'll learn how to do the whole writing thing quicker and better someday. Or at least more than a line a day.

Had a nice idea to write that's been running around in my head for a while now. So it's not the plotting that's being the b'stard, it's the setting, description just doesn't seem to be flowing.

From what I've read about writing though, that's the kicker, ideas are cheap, good descriptive writing is the hard part.

Startingish

I made this account quite a long time ago, planning to fill it with musings and ramblings and possibly some writing. That didn't quite work out and I slipped off to distractions and Uni work and games. It's getting near the end of this Uni year now, and I've been putting more and more effort into my writing, so I intend to do something here, my intentions are good, my creative fire burning. Time will only tell if I actually do post with and frequency or regularity, but as of today, my resolution is firm.

I'm working on a couple of pieces, possibly in the same universe, I'm hoping to knock at least one worthy short story out for the #mancspecfic writer's group which I've just joined. 3000 words needed in a couple of days and a backlog of inspiration, hopefully I can take a couple of my ideas and put them onto paper properly in time for them to be read by people with more experience than myself, and have them improve my tentative first steps into serious writing.

 

I have a mad plan to reread the first chapter of Kat Valente's Palimpsest over and over, then copy her beautiful wordcrafting in my own short. Not plagiarism, I've had any urge to cut corners that way knocked out of me by Uni, just the style, flowing prose and most importantly of all, the beautiful imagery.

Profile

akheloios
akheloios

Latest Month

May 2011
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Syndicate

RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com