Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On how to keep up with your blog when your life gets crazy

Blogging is a pretty serious time and energy commitment and it can be really tough to prioritize your blogging over everything else in your life - especially when things like work and family and your sanity are probably more important. When work heats up or when there’s a family trip to go on, blogging can fall by the wayside. But I have some tips for you for keeping up with your blog when you know your life is about to get crazy (or to prepare for those unexpected crazy times).
  1. Write a few weeks worth of material and schedule it - I tend to do this most of the time because I never know what’s going to happen in my life. I try to keep a couple weeks ahead on my blog posts (at least - as I write this, I’m three months ahead on my scheduled posts - because I know my life is about to get wild). That way, even if I forget that I’m supposed to post something, I can know that something will go up and I’ll have at least a couple weeks to get caught up, get my life back under control, or to give myself a much-needed break.
  2. Write in big chunks - If your life is perpetually busy, then this may be a better option for you (or you can combine it with the above option). Take some time on a day you typically aren’t busy and set aside a couple hours to write your next week (or month) of blog posts. If you are really productive, you can partially write a handful of posts and come back to them with fresh eyes the next time you have a few hours to write. Writing in big chunks can help you separate your crazy personal life with your blogging life.
  3. Keep a few link round-ups on hand just in case - This is something I do every now and then when I’m feeling stressed. Link round-ups are pretty quick to write and can be really fun and interesting if you pick a good topic. I like to keep a folder of finished blog posts that I can throw up if I need to post something quickly and don’t have time to dedicate hours to writing. Obviously, this isn’t something you can use for every blog post, but it helps for those random weeks where you are too busy to blog as much as you want to.
  4. Invite someone else to blog for you - If you have a good friend with knowledge about your blogging topic, they may be just the person to take over during your month-long tour of Europe. It may also give you an opportunity to find a blogging partner - which makes things a lot easier (less posts for you to write and come up with while still getting the same amount of material out). Also, this could give your blog a chance to appeal to different sorts of people within your blogging topic - which could equal more readers. You could even combine this idea with suggestion #1 and have scheduled posts from you alternate with new posts from your friend.
  5. Take a break - If blogging is difficult for you to keep up on long term, this may be your best option. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off to get your life in order or to finish something that’s important to you. Bloggers do it all the time.

How do you keep up with your blog when things get busy? Have you tried any of the above suggestions?

Monday, August 14, 2017

On Mistborn fan art

I haven’t always loved fan art, but I’ve recently found myself pinning quite a bit of Sanderson fan art and I think I’m falling in love. Below are my favorite Mistborn pieces of fan art.

This shot of Vin is fantastic - I especially love the coins in her hand and the mistcloak - this depiction makes me want to be Vin and also makes her look so strong and tough, yet petite and tender. I love it.

This fan art simply blows me away. Another take on Vin with mistcloak and coins, this scene is much darker and seems more action-packed, even while there is so little going on in the scene. The look on Vin’s face sums up my interpretation of her character - determined and a little darker than we always realize.

I’ve seen this piece all over Pinterest and it warms my heart every time. The early scenes with Vin and Elend always made me laugh quite a bit and I look back on them fondly. This piece of artwork makes me relive that feeling every time I look at it - and I love that.

Well, if it isn’t obvious, Vin is my favorite Mistborn character. This piece of artwork gives her a more swashbuckling feel, which is fun and lightens the mood a bit. Also, I love how the mistcloak almost looks like a bunch of fox tails - to me, that makes the cloak seem more alive. Vin’s hair is majestic in this artwork.

And here we have Vin and Elend again - in a much darker scene. I love how much older they seem in this scene and how they’re looking down at the city. It also makes me think of the cover for this book - which I loved. This artist did a fantastic job of making the scene feel dark, yet hopeful. And I really enjoy that.

What are your favorite pieces of fan art? Where do you go to find more fan art? Have you made any fan art of your own?

Friday, August 11, 2017


It isn’t easy harboring resentment towards someone else and sometimes, the best way to resolve your feelings is to destroy the person who hurt you.
Okay, I’m not actually advocating for painful and serious avenging. While it can be tough to actually get revenge on someone (not to mention quite unhealthy), revenge plots are lots of fun to hear/read about.
Here are a few books about getting back at someone:
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas - After having his life destroyed, one man gets a second chance at living and the means to get back at those who hurt him earlier.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - A group of thieves must work to save their city - and avenge their friends.
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski - A girl born into nobility purchases a new slave and must suffer the consequences of his vengeance-seeking - and of falling in love.
  • Gone Girl by GIllian Flynn - When his wife disappears, one man seeks answers - and finds more than he bargained for.
  • True Grit by Charles Portis - After her father dies, one young girl seeks to avenge his death with the help of the local marshall.
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson - A boy watches his father be killed by the superhuman beings that rule his world. He dedicates his life to learning more about them and soon finds a group that can help him finally get back at the killer.
And here are a few songs to go with those books:
  • “Comeback” - Ella Eyre
  • “Before He Cheats” - Carrie Underwood
  • “Mariner’s Revenge Song” - The Decemberists
  • “Goodbye Earl” - Dixie Chicks
  • “Forget You” - Cee Lo Green

What revenge books and songs would you recommend?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Series Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

In 2013, I was still a newcomer to YA fiction. I had taken a couple years off reading for fun (because of school) and was excited to come back to it, especially since I had just moved in with some girls who seemed to love reading as much as I did. In our first few months together, one roommate recommended Article Five by Kristen Simmons to me and I gratefully took her up on it. Having little experience with YA dystopian fiction, I was pretty impressed with the intensity of the novel and excited to read more. However, as time went on, I realized that this book was not nearly or fun as I’d originally thought and my interest waned as I finished the trilogy.
The description of the first book (pulled from Goodreads) is as follows:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.
Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.
That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Honestly, it took me some time and research to remind myself what happened in this series and I realized that I didn’t really miss it and that, in hindsight, it was not nearly as wonderful as I originally thought it was. But here I am today to tell you both the pros and cons of this book.
First, the pros:
  • INTENSE - My favorite thing about this series is that it starts off on an intense note and never really stops. It’s a dark and action-packed ride (with plenty of plot twists and suspense) and that made it a fun and exciting read. This is more intense than some other dystopian series I’ve read. The emotions are always at a record high and the stakes are always as high as they can be. For me, this was rewarding and fun - especially during the first book.
  • DECENT BACKSTORY - While many dystopian novels don’t explain how the world got from how it is today to being terrible and dark, this book did a good job of showing how things used to be and how they changed so much in such a short time. I appreciated this, since most YA dystopias seem to skip this step entirely.

And now, the cons:
  • FLAT CHARACTERS - Ember and Chase (the main characters) are your typical YA stars - she’s perfect and good at everything and everyone loves her and wants her to fall in love with them and he’s brooding and dark and tortured and really good at combat. They were nothing special in my mind and I enjoyed the story much more than I enjoyed the characters.
  • TYPICAL DYSTOPIA - I cannot stress how much this was just like every other YA novel I’ve read. As I think about it, I’m having trouble distinguishing this from Unwind by Neal Shusterman and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (and probably a bunch of other YA books I can’t think of right now because they were so boring and stereotypical). There is really nothing that stands out about this book except that it was the first real dystopian YA book I ever read, so it paved the road for my thoughts about all the ones I read later.
  • TOO INTENSE? - I’m not sure if this was a pro or con for me. Maybe a bit of both. At first, the intensity was fun and intriguing. By the third book, I was exhausted. I couldn’t afford to have my emotions running so high the whole time I read. Honestly, I was a little relieved when it ended - finally, I could relax a little and read something calming.

Have you read this series? Do you agree with my opinions on it? Are you as sick of dystopian YA novels as I am?

Monday, August 7, 2017

On the best Jane Austen retellings

Having been raised by a huge Jane Austen fan, I found that I couldn’t escape Austenitis. I’m obsessed, though not quite to an Austenland degree. But Austen retellings are something that I can’t seem to resist and something that I have very strong feelings about. So here are a few retellings I’ve read with some strong suggestions about whether or not you should give it a try.
  • For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund - This YA fantasy take on Austen’s Persuasion is wonderfully exciting and heartbreaking. While a lot of Anne Elliot’s maturity and patience is shown differently (it is a YA novel, after all), this book still does a fantastic job portraying our lovers and their conflict.
  • Jane Austen Heroes series by Amanda Grange - These are quick reads that show each Jane Austen novel from the heroes’ perspective. While they aren’t anything new or crazy, it’s a fun way to see what the hero could have been thinking and a way to reread the beloved Austen books while still adding a new book to your Goodreads.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - I LOVED THIS BOOK (though the movie was disappointing). I would only recommend this to zombie and horror lovers - this takes our beloved Austen books and adds a strange twist to them. Overall, I was impressed with how true to the original P&P Grahame-Smith was and how fun the addition of zombies made it. It’s an awesome book that’s worth reading, if only to say that you’ve read it.
  • Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman - This YA novel isn’t a straight retelling, but it’s a funny and fantastic look at a couple teenage girls who become obsessed with Jane Austen’s stories. It’s a quick and easy read and a fun way to introduce YA readers to Austen.

Looking for more Austen retellings? This Goodreads list has a bunch to pick from. What are your favorite Austen retellings? What retellings do you want to see more of?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

On must-read books for Mormons

There are a handful of books that it seems like EVERY Mormon has read. Then there are a few that I think every Mormon should. Below is the full list of books that Mormons read and a few more that they should.
The Infinite Atonement
  • The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister - This book about Christ’s Atonement is in-depth and references scripture constantly. Callister provides an all-encompassing view of the Atonement and how we can apply it to our lives.

Jesus the Christ
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage - This is a HUGE book that I must admit I haven’t finished yet. Talmage’s “doctrine” on Christ’s life and divinity is a subject of much controversy and debate, but this book offers fascinating and thoughtful perspectives on Jesus Christ.

The Screwtape Letters
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - This book about a devil’s quest to tempt a righteous man is a thought-provoking narrative revealing much about human nature and about our abilities (or inabilities) to guard against evil.

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact
  • Women at Church by Neylan McBaine - I’ve written quite a bit about this book, but I can’t discuss it enough. McBaine highlights important current gender issues in the LDS church and some practical solutions for individuals who are looking for change. She also offers understanding for individuals who don’t understand the need for these changes.

Letters to a Young Mormon
  • Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam S. Miller - This short and succinct book is meant for LDS youth, but it’s an excellent resource for anyone. Miller’s essays on various religious subjects are encouraging and thoughtful. Any LDS youth with questions or concerns will benefit greatly from this short and accessible book.

What books would you add to this list? Which books from this list have you read?

Friday, August 4, 2017

On bookish yarn projects #6

“Old books exert a strange fascination for me -- their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt.”
― Lauren Willig
These beautiful fingerless gloves were inspired by antique books and have a homey, rustic look to them. The pattern involves some color work, but is fairly simply and incredibly reasonably priced. For a quick and cozy pattern to match your home library, this is the perfect project.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On still reading comics

After recently finishing up a free 30-day trial of Comixology, my reading world has greatly expanded. I’ve seen worlds I never could have dreamed into existence, met characters who I fell in love with a little bit, and learned to appreciate artwork much more than I previously had. I also have a much much better idea of what sort of comics I enjoy, which will help a lot in picking out more comics in the future.
After this past month, I have a lot of comics that I’m interested in sharing with the world. They may be ones that everyone already knows about or ones that are already supermainstream, but I have strong feelings and I MUST share my thoughts. Here are the best comics I’ve read so far:
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughn- Saga is a space thriller with some star-crossed lovers, family drama, a war, and a ghost babysitter. It’s fun, it’s unique, and some of the species are the strangest I’ve seen yet. I didn’t know it was possible to love a series this much, but it’s fantastic. Vaughn successfully mixes science fiction with fantasy and gives us a cast of characters that you can’t help but love. Fiona Staples’ artwork is incredibly beautiful - far more detailed than I originally expected of comics. I highly recommend this to any SFF readers (and anyone who reads in general).
  • Giant Days by John Allison - If you like stories about quirky college students, this is the series for you. The series follows 3 roommates/best friends as they navigate their first year of college - full of first loves, mortal enemies, nicotine addictions, big mistakes, and gothic wardrobes. It’s fun, it’s silly, and it’s full of well-developed characters who are easy to relate to. This is great for new college students, aspiring college students, anyone who’s been to college, anyone who knows someone who’s gone to college, and basically just anyone.
  • Faith by Jody Houser - Faith Herbert has a lot on her plate - working at her new job, trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend (who’s now a reality TV star), and saving the world from any danger it might encounter. Faith is a superhero who has recently struck out on her own and is struggling to juggle her superhero life while still trying to keep up with her alter ego. This comic was a lot like Superman in some ways, but with the story turned on it’s head. It was fun and refreshing and I really enjoyed the characters and the ridiculousness. Also, it should be noted that Faith is overweight, but her weight isn’t an issue or a plot point or anything - she’s simply an overweight superhero. If you want more diverse characters without their diversity becoming the story, this is a great place to start.

Are there any other comics I should try out? Any comics you really love or really hate?

Monday, July 31, 2017

On upcoming or recently released books that I recommend

Ah, Netgalley. It’s both a blessing and a curse. There were so many more books that I wanted to finish to include on this list, but, alas, time has run out and it’s time to post. Nevertheless, here are a few books that caught my eye and gained my approval (and hopefully I’ll have more books read when it’s time to post another one of these):

At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces

  • At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces by Mary Collins and Donald Collins - April 25th - This memoir of a trans son and his mother and their experiences with his transition is interesting and powerful. This is an excellent resource for individuals who are looking for more information on a relative's transition or for people who would like to learn more about transgender issues and difficulties.

  • The Gender Agenda: A First-Hand Account of How Girls and Boys Are Treated Differently By James Millar and Ros Ball - July 21st  - This fascinating record of one family’s experiences with gender is an interesting perspective on raising children. This family kept a Twitter diary for a few years to monitor how people treated and spoke to their daughter and son differently. They also give wonderful recommendations of books and movies that have positive (or interesting) gender representation for children. Recommended for gender-conscience parents or gender studies students.

  • Children of the Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson- August 1st - An interesting sci-fi novel with analogies to current events, Children of the Divide is intriguing and fun with memorable characters and situations. Recommended for lovers of sci-fi and for lovers of straightforward literary analogies.

What upcoming or newly released books are on your radar? Are any of these on your TBR?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July: Best and Strangest

This month, I’m regretting Netgalley overzealosity (if that’s even a word). When I first started blogging, I signed up for a Netgalley account and requested everything that looked even remotely interesting. I was shocked when I got approved for most of them. Months later, I think I’ve learned my lesson. I’m barely keeping up on reading my Netgalley books before they come out and this has been a bigger source of stress than I assumed it would be. Of the 49 books I’ve been approved to read, I’ve only read 26 of them (and some of them were really not my type of book). I spent this month trying to get ahead of my Netgalley requests so that I can start working through my TBR shelf - which is completely full now. Next month, my project is to start working through that. Once I get enough books completed, I’ll reward myself by throwing a book swap to acquire even more books that I won’t read for months.
I was surprised that I read as much as I did. I’ve been able to stay ahead of school work this summer and I frequently get time to read in the afternoons after class, which has been so nice. What’s more unfortunate is that I realize I won’t be able to keep this up in the fall - with school and work and a Loverboy to pay attention to, I doubt I’ll get as much reading done as I want to. Oh well. For now, I’m relishing the time I have. And I got to read a lot of interesting books this month:

  • Lirael by Garth Nix - The second book in Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy is fun, fantastic, and still suspenseful. A young girl finds herself helping bring down a plot against her kingdom and must team up with some unlikely characters to succeed. Lirael is my favorite Nix character so far and this book was far better than Sabriel - it was more fun and I felt more connected with the characters. Also, Lirael gets to have a lot of fun with charter magic - Nix’s magic system - and this makes the book so much more rewarding than other books I read this month. The first part of the book is a girl figuring out how to use magic and having a lot of fun doing it - and that was awesome. Also, there’s a Disreputable Dog and a prince and an evil necromancer and a twist ending - so it’s a perfect fantasy story.

  • Treasure Island!!! By Sara Levine - I finally got around to reading this! A young woman with no direction after her college graduation finds inspiration in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and begins living her life by the principles of Jim Hawkins. This book reminded me of a sillier The Edible Woman (by Margaret Atwood) - it details a young woman’s emotional breakdown, but in a much funnier and more modern way. Directionless 20-somethings will really identify with this - as will anyone who’s felt like they aren’t living up to their potential.

  • Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson - I’ve been putting this book off for months, but I finally got around to reading Sanderson’s collection of Cosmere short stories. And it was BEAUTIFUL and wonderful and I highly recommend it for fantasy lovers. Keep in mind that there are so many spoilers for other Sanderson books, so put it off until you’ve read a few more.

  • Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock - This was a very odd and interesting book that I’ve been thinking a lot about. It was recommended to me in a Matt Colville video about Dungeons & Dragons and this book definitely gave me some new ideas and settings to work into my campaigns. This classic fantasy story is about the emperor of Melinibone as he tries to protect his throne. The world building is beautiful. The story is dark, but very fun. Highly recommended for fantasy readers.

  • The Gunslinger by Stephen King - I read this because of a friend’s recommendation (and also because of the upcoming movie adaptation) and I’m still trying to discover how I feel. In the foreword to this book, Stephen King mentioned that he wrote this when he was younger and that, in hindsight, it’s a rough book and could use some changes. In a lot of ways, I agree with him. It’s a dark fantasy story about a cowboy who’s looking for a Dark Tower for reasons that are still kind of unclear to me. King’s book moves at a snail’s pace, but the setting and the characters are interesting enough to keep you occupied. And it’s just so strange - I’m hoping the next books will help clear things up a bit.

Library books: 5
Books I bought: 3
Overdrive Audiobooks: 5
Egalleys: 7
Goodreads Giveaway wins: 0
Amazon Lending Library: 0
Free books on Kindle: 0
Gifts: 0
Borrowed from friend: 1
Book Swapped: 0
Available online: 0

Total: 21

What are the best books you read this month? The strangest?