Hello my lovely readers!
So, I knew I hadn’t written a Friday Fun post in a while, but was floored to see it hadn’t happened since November 16, 2012.
I know we all hate it when bloggers talk about their crazy busy lives, even though it’s true, because, hello, we all have busy lives! Suffice to say, what I thought was a busy phase is actually the new stasis of my life. I’m proud of the fact that I’m still managing to find time to blog, because I do love book blogging. But I want to continue to touch base with you all periodically. Weekly is just too overwhelming though. So I’ve decided to move Friday Fun to just occurring on the last Friday (or Saturday) of every month. Treating it more like a special event instead of a weekly meme will help me keep up and enjoy it. I hope you all enjoy the new change!
On a similar note, I am still closed to review requests, and I don’t expect that to be changing anytime soon. I still periodically request ARCs, if I’m highly interested, but that is a rare occurrence. I also, you may have noticed, switched my reading from about 50% things I felt I “should” be reading (for ARCs, to better myself, etc….) down to about 10%. This means 90% of my reading is for funsies, because frankly I need that stress relief in my life. Reading “should’s” worked great when I was in a life limbo and needing to fill the time with actual things to do that made me feel like I was accomplishing something. But now when I read, I want it to be for fun. I need it to be a stress reliever. Something that helps give me a few moments of internally-focused peace in my day. So any changes you’ve noticed in the books being reviewed here reflect that choice I made at the beginning of 2013.
As for my non-blog life! The holidays happened. I taught my first library orientation by myself for the incoming class of one of the schools affiliated with my library. I created my first library tutorials. I finished my first archival finding aid. Those have been the big-hitters in work life. In regular, non-librarian Amanda life I went on vacation with my boyfriend to an off-the-grid cabin! We snowshoed and built fires in wood stoves and generally thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I went home to visit my dad in Vermont and learned how to make the perfect grilled cheese. I got an iPhone. I became addicted to Instagram and taking photos in general. I survived Blizzard Nemo and got my first real snowday in *years*. I learned how to play the Call of Cthulhu tabletop game. Finally, I just last week joined my gym’s 60 day fitness competition, and I am loving how much it has reinvigorated my passion for fitness. And I’m still trying to figure out how to be a part-time indie author in amongst all of this.
How was everyone’s March? Ours came in like a lion and out like a lamb, just like the old saying goes.
Hello my lovely readers! I know you can all tell I’ve been very busy since there hasn’t been a Friday Fun from me in….over a month. I am pleased that I managed to at least keep a few posts trickling in, but even so I have three books waiting to be reviewed. No one thing in particular has kept me busy, it’s just….life is busy! So, beyond my usual work, reading, exercising, cooking, general hanging out, what have I been up to?
First off, a friend told me all about Boston Organics, and I signed up for it! Basically you get a box of fresh produce delivered to your door either every week or every other week. You can choose organic or organic and local. I chose organic and local. So far it has been totally awesome and removed my sense of boredom I had recently acquired over choosing recipes. Getting produce chosen and sent to me challenges my cooking skills, and I’m really enjoying it! Plus knowing that my food is coming locally, organic, and fresh makes me feel good both about what I’m feeding myself (and my boyfriend), but also makes me feel good about supporting local farmers.
Of course Halloween also happened. Friends of mine are on the organizing committee for a Boston area scifi/fantasy group (I am so nerdy), and so boyfriend and I went to their costume party. We were Gem and Sam from Tron, and it was awesome. My friends did a great job organizing, and it was the nicest Halloween I’ve had in a while. We also carved pumpkins! Since my current work in progress is set in the Lovecraft universe, I decided to do Cthulhu!
Hurricane Sandy also arrived. Thankfully, it really did not affect Boston very much. Most people either didn’t have work or got sent home mid-day. The T stopped running partway through the day as well. I briefly lost power, but frankly Nstar did an amazing job maintaining power to homes in Boston during this storm. I was a bit disturbed that my building was shaking, but truly nothing adverse happened. My cat spent the morning trying to dive out the window to chase the wind-whipped leaves (her survival instinct is clearly amazing *eye-roll*) but by afternoon needed some serious snuggles. I actually had to wrap her up in her favorite fuzzy blanket to calm her poor little kitten nerves. I was saddened to see that the National Park I worked at through Americorps in New Jersey suffered severe damage. Almost every single historical building was flooded, but more importantly, the dunes that the endangered piping plovers nest on were demolished. It’s very sad, and I can only hope that Americorps will have enough funding to send larger conservation teams than usual there in the spring.
Currently, I’m revving up for Thanksgiving this week! Since neither boyfriend nor I can make it home to our respective home states to visit, we’ll be making our own vegetarian Thanksgiving. The planned menu is chili and pumpkin pie with vegan maple whipped cream. Nom!
Be expecting some book reviews to come up! I’m hoping to get caught up writing them this weekend.
Happy weekends all!
Hello my lovely readers!
Just a couple of quick blogger and writer related updates for you all this week.
First off in very exciting blogger news, you all may remember me telling you about the new initiative called Bookstore Book Blogger Connection, which is all about connecting online reviewers and reviews with brick and mortar bookstores. Welp. I popped on over there to check in on how things are going and lo and behold there were some photos from a bookstore showing off their new displays with book blogger quotes, and my recommendation for Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner was one of the two shown off!
Not that this isn’t cool enough already, but what moved it up a level in the squee factor is that this is from a bookstore in the Netherlands! The American Book Center to be exact. And they look pretty damn cool. There’s something that’s just extra-exciting about being part of a bookstore that isn’t even in my country. So thanks, guys, for sending the shots to the Bookstore Book Blogger Connection website. You gave this blogger warm glowy feelings, and I do hope the display helped introduce more readers to the awesomeness that is John Brunner’s writing.
In writerly news, I got to participate in Ang’s blogoversary over on Eastern Sunset Reads. She gave Waiting For Daybreak her top rating of four paws (out of a possible four), saying, “I was expecting Waiting for Daybreak to be a book mostly about zombies and fighting them, but what I found was more a journey into a survivor’s psyche. I don’t know what was scarier, the zombies or being in Frieda’s mind.”
I also was able to contribute a guest post to her blogoversary where I talked about her theme for the month on where a love of reading came from for me. My guest post is quite personal, and I really enjoyed writing it. Big thanks to Ang for inviting me to be part of her special month!
Although my blog tour is not still going on, book bloggers are always welcome to request review copies of both my novel and my novella. I appreciate any and all signal boosts.
That’s it for the news for this week! I hope you all have completely awesome weekends. *waves*
Hello my lovely readers! It is finally fall in lovely New England. If I was forced to pick, I’d choose fall as my favorite season, although winter would come in a very close second. I might not feel this way in other areas of the US where there is no leaf changing or crisp autumnal weather or orchard season. But here all of these awesome things exist, so yayyyy!
Things I love about Fall, in no particular order:
- Cooler weather, which means I don’t immediately look like I ran a 5k when I step out my door
- Fall fashion, particularly knee high socks! And denim jackets! And getting to wear my hair down periodically!
- Also my hair no longer looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket.
- Pumpkin. Spice. Latte. (with soy)
- Fall leaves
- Kicking fall leaves
- Hiking in the woods
- Hot chocolate
- Spiked hot chocolate
- Giant pots of tea
- The perfect weather for snorgling
- Did I mention pie?
- Squash dishes
- Slow cooker season!
- Long hot baths
- Related: horror everywhere. Oh how I love horror.
- Cinnamon and nutmeg in everything
- CIDER for the love of fsm, I almost forgot cider.
I had a long weekend this weekend, which was partially a reward to myself for making it through what I have been told are the toughest two months in medical academic libraries’ calendar year and also partially to spend some time with my bf who just got back from a two week trip abroad. Many things on this list were covered, including pumpkin spice latte and pie. We made an apple pie together with apples we got from the orchard ourselves, and it was amazingly delicious. Special thanks to my daddy for sharing his pie crust secrets.
As for the blog, you may have noticed that my most recent read was actually four books in one, and you really should check it out particularly if you are a scifi or 1950s American culture fan. That slowed the reviews down a bit, but I have this new rule where I won’t kick myself over my book numbers being lower because I read a long book (or two. or three!). Big books shouldn’t be left on the sidelines purely for being big.
Happy weekends and happy fall, all!
Hello my lovely readers!
Yes, I realize it’s technically Saturday, but things have been rather quiet around here the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer! So why have things been so quiet?
Well, first, it was Labor Day weekend here in the States, and I actually for once went on vacation for it. Shocking, I know. I went camping in the Green Mountains. This was the view from my tent:
Gorgeous, eh? And it was such a great break! Zero technology. My cell phone didn’t even have reception. I got disgustingly filthy, and I loved it. I went for a swim in the pond and for a hike and cooked over a campfire.
Oh, yes, and the boy I’ve been dating asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes. He’s an awesome boyfriend, and I love him.
Beyond the vacation and personal development, it’s the start of the semester at work, so I’ve been incredibly busy with beginning of the semester library classes, orientations, and just general helping out the new students. Also, the audiobook I’m currently reading while completely *awesome* (Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi), is also super-long. The other book I was reading on my kindle that will be reviewed next week was kind of dullsville, so had trouble holding my interest. All of these things came together to make for a bit of silence, BUT! Never fear. I will always return! With bells on.
Happy weekends all!
Hello my lovely readers!
I had the best weekend last weekend. It included bicycle rides, farm stands, picnics, and listening to a record player. Super relaxing. Which is a good thing because this week was orientation for another school (think of them as like departments) at my university. Busy busy! I found ways to relax though. I of course got in my gym time. I don’t always manage to do spin classes because of how the timing works with my schedule, but I was able to this week. I was really pleased to see that my leg strength has drastically improved. My level ten of difficulty used to be gear twelve. Now it’s gear eighteen. Yay! I also started playing a new videogame this week. I picked up Donkey Kong Country Returns for my wii. It’s super fun! Very old school side-scroller but still integrates the wii motion controllers in well. I do die a lot in it, but I’ve never been a great videogamer. I just enjoy it.
This was the final week of the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour! I’ll be posting my author’s wrap-up with thoughts on the tour as a whole a bit later today, but I didn’t want the last week of blogs to miss their weekly wrap-up spotlight. So let’s get to it!
Just a Lil’ Lost posted a review where she states, “McNeil brings a fresh voice with this zombie apocalypse-type story. She has written a character that is refreshing and different from others I have read.”
Obsessions of a Library Gurl (who, full disclosure, is my friend but who was able to use her librarian talents to offer a fair, even-handed review), also posted a review stating, “It was an easy read and one I was able to quickly get into.”
Obsessions of a LibraryGurl also interviewed me. Check that out to hear what I think about zombies as an analogy for rape.
Reflections of a Book Addict posted a review where he states, “In all, it is an awesome read that really gets you in tune with Frieda’s struggle with the undead.”
And that’s it! Hard to believe the final week of the tour is over. Many thank you’s to everyone who helped make the last week varied and exciting!
Also, happy weekends to my blog followers.
Hello my lovely readers!
You might not all know of my love for the Lovecraft universe, but it is intense. I think it is wonderfully creative horror, I love that Lovecraft encouraged other authors to enter and use his world, and I even have a piece of art of Cthulhu rising from the ocean and rocking out on a guitar. It will probably come as no shock then since I’ve already written about zombies that my next book will be set in the Lovecraftverse. So it was wonderful timing that a local indie theater, the Brattle, had a Lovecraft film festival last weekend. Clearly I had to go! I wasn’t able to make it to every night, but I went the last night (on Sunday) when they showed In the Mouth of Madness, which just so happens to be a John Carpenter film. (You know, the dude who made Escape from New York?)
The cool thing about the Brattle, besides being an indie theater that shows old and new films, is that they sell beer and wine to drink during the movie. How cool is that?! I know. So cool.
So I had a nice beer of some sort and settled in to watch the movie. It basically is about the dark ones crossing over into our reality due to an opening made by a horror writer named Sutter Cane (who clearly is supposed to be Stephen King). It was intensely meta, and I loved it! Highly recommended.
Offbeat Vagabond posted a review where she states, “I would love to see this made into a movie/TV show. This would look and feel great. Waiting For Daybreak will give you such a unique outlook on the world through Frieda’s eyes. Highly recommended.”
Offbeat Vagabond also interviewed me. Check that out to find out what authors inspire me. She also is running a giveaway that ends today, so be sure to enter that right away if you want another chance at a free copy!
Mervi’s Book Reviews posted a review stating, “The story’s strength is definitely Frieda who has to confront her inner demons in addition to the zombies. She also doesn’t go the usual way of becoming somehow cured or getting some powers to survive.”
Blood, Sweat, and Books also posted a review where she states, “Waiting For Daybreak has just enough Action, Romance, and Angst to satisfy even the most jaded Zombie fan. I look forward to reading more from this Author.”
Blood, Sweat, and Books also interviewed me. Check that out to find out what my favorite quote is.
Paperless Reading posted a review, where he states, “Even though Waiting for Daybreak is a quick read, it has a fully fleshed out story with a fascinating and different lead character and is very entertaining overall.”
Last but not least, An Eclectic Bookshelf posted a review stating, “This was an entertaining post apocalyptic zombie novel that also makes the reader think about how the normalcy of life is relative. It isn’t always a light and easy novel to read due the characters McNeil has utilised but these characters are what make it unique. I think any fan of post apocalyptic survival horror that is after something a little bit different and thought provoking will enjoy this.”
I was also interviewed at An Eclectic Bookshelf. Check that out to find out what books have had the greatest influence on me.
That’s it for the tour for this week! Thanks once again to every participating blog!
And to my blog followers, happy weekends!
Hello my lovely readers!
Another busy week at work this week (as it will be until the end of September, so be prepared to hear that sentence repeatedly). I finally got my booty outdoors this week, though, and I have the tan-lines to prove it!
On Sunday, I went for a long (accompanied) walk along the Charles River. It was completely gorgeous, but I did manage to get a bit of a burn. According to my dad, I do this every year and always along the Charles. Oops? Maybe next year I’ll finally remember to put on sunblock….
On Tuesday (my work-week Monday), I was meeting up with someone in the North End for gelatto, which I totally did not end up eating, but anyway. I decided that since he couldn’t make it there until 7 at the earliest and I had a couple of hours to kill, I would walk it. Bad. Idea.
My work is on the south side of Boston, so I basically walked across the entire city. In flat pretty sandals. And now I have the shin splints to prove it. Again, oops? You may have noticed that I don’t always manage to think my plans all the way through. On the plus side, I got to see the Public Gardens and got a sandwich from the Clover food truck in Boston Common. On the minus side, my shins were too sore for zumba on Wednesday.
I know, I know. #firstworldproblems
Anyway, after all that walking, instead of gelatto I had a glass of sangria, because that is obviously infinitely better.
Also, the best street for gelatto in the North End is Hanover Street, not Salem Street. Just fyi.
It was a much busier week this week, which was of course exciting!
Wickedly Bookish interviewed me. Check that out to find out my self-publishing advice!
Wickedly Bookish also hosted a giveaway that is still open. If you have yet to win a copy, definitely consider entering.
Ellie Hall posted a review (that is also cross-posted to 1889 Labs) where she says, “The story flies by and it is thoroughly engrossing, with periods of action and adrenaline nicely balanced by periods of memory and self-reflection. The sense of danger and suspense is well developed, and the narrator’s doubts and fears are easily understood.”
The Book Hoard‘s review says, “If anyone had told me that I’d enjoy a zombie apocalypse a year ago, I’d have told them they were nuts. However, I have come to enjoy a few zombie apocalypse stories like Waiting For Daybreak.”
The Book Hoard is also hosting a giveaway that is still open. That’s two! Two chances to win a copy! Ah-ha-ha.
Last but not least, Persephone’s Winged Reviews posted a review stating, “At the end of the day, it’s much more about Frieda trying to find out what normal means in a world gone wrong instead of a zombie book. I believe that it is a fresh take on zombies in the fiction genre.”
Thanks once again to every single participating book blogger! I truly appreciate you giving me (and my writing) time and space on your blogs.
To all my loyal blog readers, happy weekends! *waves*
Hello my lovely readers!
This was honestly a very long week for me. Work has been very busy, and I had a couple of stressful personal situations come up. No worries though. All is well now.
*knock on wood*
I’m glad I planned ahead and took a vacation day this week. I went for a very long walk along the Charles just taking in nature and the sounds of summer around me. Then I went home and baked muffins. By wisely taking downtime moments like this throughout the week, my stress levels weren’t quite so bad.
In any case, today I just want to let my fellow book bloggers know of a new opportunity. Little Red Reviewer and her friend Darkcargo have taken it upon themselves to start an awesome project entitled Bookstore Bookblogger Connection. This is entirely a labor of love in which they are attempting to match up book blogger reviews (currently of just scifi and fantasy) to bookstores to be add to their displays. It’s good publicity for the book bloggers, and a neat new way for bookstores to find books to recommend. See Little Red Reviewer’s announcement post here, and the official Bookstore Bookblogger Connection website here.
Ellie Hall graciously hosted a guest post in which I explain how the tagline for the tour, “What is normal?” relates to the book.
Eva’s Sanctuary interviewed me. Among other things, you can hear many more details about my busy medical librarian job.
Eva’s Sanctuary also offered a review, stating, “This is a unique zombie tale, but well worth the read. I think you will be quite surprised.”
Last but not least, today Lily Element posted a review, suggesting it to readers, “if you want something different and enjoy zombie books.”
That’s it for this week. Happy weekends all!
Hello my lovely readers!
No, I have not lost my mind. I know today is Saturday. Yesterday was just too busy to get a Friday Fun post up!
Right after work, I went to MIT where I was meeting a long-time friend (and her new significant other) for dinner followed by a local production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. I’d seen the recorded Broadway version, but never seen it live. I was quite excited.
We had Mexican food for dinner (chips and guac ftw) then settled in for the play. The local folks did quite a good job, showing lots of enthusiasm. In particular, the women playing the Baker’s Wife and the Witch had superb singing abilities. The set design was also creative and highly functional. Most of the set changes from homes to the woods didn’t take long at all. I also, as always, enjoyed “Hello Little Girl.” Yes, I know it’s deliciously creepy, that’s the point, eh?
It was so nice to get out to see a show! I hadn’t in a long time. I also hadn’t seen my friend in forever, so it was great to catch up.
Gizmo’s Book Reviews interviewed me. Check that out to see what celebrity I’d be most distracted by if s/he walked into a restaurant I was in.
Cynthia Shepp hosted a guest post in which I talked about why I chose Boston as a setting. She also hosted a giveaway, which is now closed. Congrats to the winner!
That’s it! As I said, a quieter week, but still containing lots of variety. Both of these ladies were also an entire pleasure to work with.
In other writing/publishing news, I had a short story accepted this week! It will be out in September. Check out my publications page for more details.