Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Time Management Tuesday: Time To Begin Again. Again.

Yes, you have seen very little of me since December 19.

One of my first Time Management Tuesday posts involved the necessity of controlling our personal time in order to have work time. "...the boundary between professional and personal time is very thin and very wobbly," I said. "It is all too easy for personal time to bleed into work time," I said. And that is just what happened in December and January with some health problems for a couple of family members that were more time consuming than serious, and, of course, the holidays, and a branch of the family having COVID Christmas weekend, which resulted in holiday celebrations being moved and not finished until this past Saturday. Interesting side note: We had seven members of the extended family with COVID between mid-November and the first week of January. In case you were thinking the pandemic is over. We managed to avoid it Chez Gauthier, though we had what seemed to be a pretty good exposure the Wednesday before Christmas.

Retreat reading & yoga view

Also, I went on retreat earlier this month. 

For the last couple of weeks, I've started to get up off the mat and begin again, to mix martial arts and meditation metaphors.

That Was Then And This Is Now

Usually at the end of December I go over my goals and objectives for the past year to see how I've done and decide what I want to do going forward. I'm not going backwards a month to do that, because I'm already going forward. 

I will say, though, that last year I:

  • Made 32 submissions resulting in 8 publications
  • Walked 112 miles on trails in state forests and parks
  • Biked 44 miles

And What Is This Going Forward You Mentioned?

That will be covered next week. As a tease, I will say that I hope to have a slightly different look for the blog by then.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Lockwood & Co Is In The News

Lockwood & Co, an adaptation of a series of books by Jonathan Stroud (something is amiss with his website right now, so I can't link to it), premiered on Netflix a few days ago. As an introduction to the Lockwood world, I'm republishing a post from 2016 written after reading the first three books. I've just learned that there are two more, which I'll be seeking out.

Interesting point--a couple of the reviews/articles I've read about the TV show don't mention that it's an adaptation for a book series.


 May 9, 2016 "Lockwood & Co." A Good Binge Read

Well, it wasn't a total binge read because we're having trouble with Interlibrary Loan here, which may be the subject of another blog post one day. So I knocked off the first two books in this series, and then had to cool my heels for a bit before I could get the third.

Jonathan Stroud wrote the Bartimaeus series, which I liked a great deal, particularly Book Three, Ptolemy's Gate. His new series, Lockwood & Co., is totally different and yet similar because, once again, we are in a very intense and detailed alternative England. Though there isn't a character as amazing as Bartimaeus in these books, they're still very good.

 The Lockwood World

In the Bartimaeus universe, a demon world is controlled by human magicians, at least to the extent that they are able to drag various kinds of demons into the human world to do their bidding. These magicians are in positions of power in government.

In the Lockwood universe, a ghost world is totally uncontrolled. The dead turn up not to do the bidding of the living but to torment and even destroy them. Instead of powerful magicians we have children with powers.

Children are able to see the spirits. Depending on their powers/gifts, children may be able to hear spirits, see them, "feel" a presence. Children and teenagers are tasked with protecting adults from the spirit scourge. That is, until the children age out and become adults who need protecting, themselves.

This is a universe in which we have cars, telephones, and doughnuts, but no computers or cellphones.

The Lockwood Characters

Anthony Lockwood, the teenage head of Lockwood & Co., a small, "select" group of ghost fighters, is charismatic, brilliant, and heroic. Note the English cover of The Hollow Boy to your right. Note that Lockwood appears on all the English covers.

He is not, however, the main character in this series. That would be Lucy, one of his agents. She is extremely gifted, spook-wise, and just a little bit sympathetic to the plight of at least some of the dead who are hanging around where they're not wanted. We readers can see that she is a little bit attracted to Lockwood, too.

The third member of this Scooby Gang is particularly interesting because he's the stereotypical tech nerd for the group. Except, remember, I said there is virtually no tech here. Still, he performs the tech nerd function, because he is always running off to archives to do research on their cases.

Oh, wait. There's another character. A Bartimaeus-like character. He's pretty minor, and I'm not sure what's going to happen with him down the line.

The Lockwood Structure

Each book has it's own story-line/adventure with a violent climax that often has an "all-is-lost" moment. At the same time, each book has a modest cliff-hanger, or at least a lead-in to the next volume, making them part of an overall story encompassing all the books. And, like I said, something's going on with that Bartimaeus-like thing that isn't limited to one book.

And What About The Lockwood Darkness?

These are really dark books. Death is a daily threat for everyone, and there doesn't appear to be any hope of a Heaven waiting for those who don't make it to tomorrow. There's no talk of school for children. They go to work young and at horrible, dangerous jobs. If they don't die first, they'll grow up and lose their ability to see and deal with ghosts. What will become of them then?

A lot of YA fantasy is dark. The Bartimaeus books certainly are. So is Skullduggery Pleasant.  The Daughter of Smoke & Bones series is pretty grim, particularly for a romance. And, now that I think of it, I believe all those books have a violent climax, too, with some characters at risk or even lost altogether.

Well, conventional wisdom claims that young (and not so young) readers can safely explore disturbing or even frightening subjects in fantasy because none of this stuff can really happen. The dead don't come back. There are no demons controlled by high-ranking politicians. (Yeah. I know. There's a joke there.) Skeletons don't wear fedoras and drive fancy cars.

Not only can readers explore disturbing stuff in fantasy because it doesn't happen, it's okay to enjoy it. If these things could really happen, it would be so wrong.

Another Lockwood & Co book comes out this fall. If you wait for that, you'll have four books to binge on.

That would be fun. Maybe you could do it in October, for Halloween.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

What Is Going To Become Of This Girl?

Copy provided by Netgalley

Publication Date: January 17, 2023

This Is Not A Personal Statement by Tracy Badua wasn't quite what I expected, which is not a complaint. After being rejected by her top choice college (and all her choices) the main character, Perla, comes up with a plot to go, anyway. I thought she was going to somehow actually attend a full schedule of classes, enjoying freshman life, just not be on the books.

Granted, that would have been quite far-fetched.

Instead, Perla is living a disturbing, secret life, and attending only one class, if I recall correctly. Her plan is to find out what she did wrong with her application and apply again for spring semester.

She doesn't learn much about what she wanted to know, though she does spend a great deal of time thinking about her relationship with her parents who have no idea what she's doing.

I found Perla a little talky as far as her family expectations are concerned. But this is an intriguing set-up for a story and toward the end there is some tension over what's going to become of her. This reader was even left with some tension over what will become of her in the future.

Last fall I read of a man pretending to be a student managing to live on the Stanford campus for ten months. So the living on campus part can happen.