Thursday, August 31, 2017

August: Best and Strangest

Can you believe it’s autumn already?! Only a few more months in which to finish up any reading challenges you’re doing - whether it’s a Goodreads Challenge, Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, or any other reading challenge you’re doing to push yourself. Here’s what I read this month to keep up with my challenges:

  • Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples - I’ve really loved this series and it’s consistently been a fantastic read. Saga is bizarre, hilarious, and so emotionally involved that I need a break before picking up the next one. I’m excited to keep reading it and thrilled that I have no idea what’s going to happen next.

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - I’m surprised this is one of the best books I’ve read this month because it was good, but not excellent. My reading this month has obviously been a bit rough. Regardless, I’ve been hearing about this book for ages and I finally got around to reading it. I was delightfully surprised. While it’s very much a YA fantasy, I enjoyed it a lot and I’m excited to read Crooked Kingdom. If you like heist stories, this is a good book for you.

  • The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King - This series has consistently been really strange…..but it’s getting better. This book involves possessing other people’s bodies (kind of?), traveling through the desert with a wheelchair, and fighting lobstrosities (they’re actually called that in the book). It’s bizarre and exciting and unlike anything I’ve ever read before….in such a good way. Highly recommended for fantasy readers.














What’s the best book you’ve read this month? The strangest?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On the best blog posts/articles I've read recently #1

I read quite a bit of stuff that’s posted online and not necessarily in a book. I’ve been itching to share some of the more interesting articles I’ve found online recently, so here they are (and today, by recently I mean articles or blog posts that I’ve read since I started thinking about doing a post like this). Enjoy!



What interesting articles have you read recently? What makes an article interesting in your mind? How do you find media that’s interesting to you?

Monday, August 28, 2017

On upcoming or just-released books that need a second look

THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS IN THE WORLD and here are a few that are new/will be new that you should take a look at:

  • Strange Alchemy by Gwenda Bond (August 1st) - This YA story about Roanoke Island legends is pretty fun, though not without problems. It follows two teens whose destinies are tied up with the island and their journey to discover the mysteries of the island. Recommended for YA lovers of contemporary fantasy.

  • Surfing With Sartre: An Aquatic Inquiry Into a Life of Meaning by Aaron James (August 8th) - This book was fascinating and a bit difficult to pay attention to all the time. The times I was able to fully focus, I was greatly rewarded for my effort because this book is fascinating. Taking various philosophical ideals and discussing them from the viewpoint of a surfer is unique and wonderful and made me consider lots of things in a new light. Recommended for deep thinkers and philosophy readers.

  • Boy Seeking Band by Steve Brezenoff (Sept 1st) - This adorable story about a young boy coping with the death of his mother (and other changes) by forming a band is heart-warming, fun, and an extremely rewarding read. Best of all, every important character has a deep knowledge of music (especially jazz) and has a quirk to offer the band. Highly recommended for young music lovers.

  • Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (Sept 5th) - I liked this book. I really did. The most interesting thing about it was the main character - who is genderqueer and is VERY well-written for that. I also liked that Sal’s gender issues weren’t the main plot - it was merely an interesting aspect of the character. The rest of the book, while good and really enjoyable to read and really interesting, isn’t something that will stick with me in a big way. It’s definitely worth the read (and it’s a pretty short book, too) so you have no excuse not to give it a try at least.

  • Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure by Lynn Comella (Sept 8th) - Lynn Comella’s in-depth study of feminist sex-toy stores shows the reader the history, the barriers that these stores have broken throughout history, the change in how these stores have been run, and how these sex-stores have helped to change societal opinions of sexuality - especially when it comes to women. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in women’s issues or the intersection of education/societal change and business.

  • The Raven God by Alane Adams (Sept 12th) - This middle grade mythological fantasy is a lot of fun and a good way to get young readers interested in mythology and history. My biggest criticism is that this seems like a middle grade Percy Jackson - which may be a plus for Rick Riordan lovers. Recommended for young fantasy readers.

What upcoming or just-released books would you add to this list?

Friday, August 25, 2017

On the best rock 'n' roll biographies I've read (so far)

It’s impossible to read every rock biography ever written. I’m trying, yet it always seems just out of my grasp. There are countless biographies on so many people in the music industry that I’ll never get to all of them. My goal right now is to read a few here and there and to eventually get a good overall view of the music industry and the history of music.
While I’ve read quite a few music histories, I like to focus on musician biographies. In looking at the biographies I’ve read so far, I realized a few things:
  1. I read mostly rock musicians from the 1970’s - maybe it’s time to branch out a bit more - to understand the influences of other people from other eras and other genres.
  2. I haven’t read a single biography about a female musician. I need to find some of those.
  3. Apparently I really like music biographies with black and white covers.

Anyway - with those thoughts in mind, I present to you a commitment to read more broadly in music books. Also, here are my favorite rock biographies so far.

  • Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash - I honestly wasn’t too interested in CSNY until fairly recently - After I read Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 by David Browne, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about CSNY (especially after hearing about Crosby’s two month sailing trip to get over his dead girlfriend). So this book was perfect for that. I liked Graham Nash immediately and he quickly became my favorite member of CSNY. I like his attitude and I like the work he’s done and I especially loved his friendship with David Crosby. This book is a lot of fun and definitely worth reading if you like CSNY.
  • Change of Seasons: A Memoir by John Oates - I wasn’t too into Hall & Oates until I read this book, which sparked a fervor in me for H&O that I wasn’t aware I could feel. The first half of this book bored me, but once I got into the second half, I couldn’t put it down. I feel like John Oates would be buddies with my dad, which endeared him to me. This is a fun look at 1970/1980’s pop and rock.
  • Bowie: A Biography by Mark Spitz - This was only the second Bowie biography I read, but I enjoyed it quite a bit more than the first. I especially loved that Mark Spitz discusses Bowie’s musical influences and spends quite a bit of time sharing specific bands and songs that a Bowie fanatic should familiarize themselves with. For me, that was priceless and gave a whole new view to Bowie. I’ve since read more Bowie biographies, but this one sticks out in my mind as the best so far.

What music biographies have you loved? Do you agree with my picks? Which biographies would be on your list? Is there a different subgenre of biographies that you prefer reading?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On heroines I want to be when I grow up

As a little girl, reading strong, independent heroines was one of my favorite things to do. It was wonderful to have a heroine to look up to and to emulate as I figured myself out. I wanted to be so many different heroines when I’d grow up - and they’d all bleed into playing with my brother as I played increasingly strong characters in our games. Now that I’m a bit older, it’s interesting to look through some of the book I’ve read and pick out the women I’d want to be - and the qualities that make them such good heroines.
  • Rae Spellman from The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz - Rae knows what she wants and she constantly dedicates herself wholeheartedly to it - whether that’s blackmailing her sister, waging war with her uncle, or joining the family business.
  • Violet Baudelaire from “The Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket - Violet is both tender and tough, caring and courageous. She balances all this, is an excellent older sister, invents fantastic things, and somehow continues to hope for the best in the midst of everything the Baudelaires go through. As a little girl, Violet was my idol.
  • Alanna from “The Song of the Lioness” by Tamora Pierce - Alanna wants desperately to be a warrior - so she disguises herself as her brother for several years to train, fooling everyone but her best friends. Alanna shows us that girls can be tough and independent and still have good relationships with men.
  • Luxa from “The Underland Chronicles” by Suzanne Collins - Luxa lives through trauma, war, and lots of immaturity as she works to become the leader that her people need. She begins as a silly (and somewhat cruel) little girl and transforms into a thoughtful and caring leader. Luxa shows us that we can all change and become the people we need to be.
  • Lift from Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson - Lift is an adorable character who doesn’t let tough situations get her down and she’s always happy to show off her quirks and abilities.
  • Risa Ward from Unwind by Neal Shusterman - Risa is one of the most caring character I’ve ever read. She’s kind to everyone she meets and does everything she can to help everyone she cares about. But that doesn’t make her a pushover - she plays it smart and keeps working to get what she wants.
  • Steris Harms from Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson - Steris is featured in earlier Mistborn books, but she was a difficult character until Bands of Mourning. At first, we see Steris as a stern and irritable (and very dull) woman. But as we get to know her better, we grow to see that she’s funny, very thoughtful and well-meaning (though not always effective), detail-oriented, and that she can plan like nobody’s business. Steris reminds us that there’s far more under the surface for most people and that the folks who are dullest on the surface often have fascinating (and wonderfully quirky) backgrounds and personalities.

What heroines would you want to grow up to be? What heroines from this list do you look up to?

Monday, August 21, 2017

On books I love that no one's read

This post was inspired by the Broke and the Bookish.

It can be really fun to read a book that you know is good and popular and that everyone’s talking about. But the reverse is just as fun - sometimes it’s nice to be one of the only people to know about and appreciate a book. Then you’re in a better position to introduce it to people who will never have heard about it - and maybe be the only person to blog about it. Here are some books I’ve read that ( as I'm writing this) have under 2000 ratings on Goodreads:

Have you read anything on this list? What books have you loved that no one’s read? What undiscovered books would you recommend adding to this list? What makes you want to read a book you’ve never heard of?

Friday, August 18, 2017

On inspiring quotes from writers

As a fellow writer, I understand that every now and then, we don’t need another “How to write supporting characters with depth” article or a guide on world-building. Sometimes, all we need is a kind word from another writer - someone who gets it and is happy to offer their support and advice. Today, I’ve compiled a list of quotes from authors that have helped me throughout my writing adventures:

  • “First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about.” -Bernard Malamud
  • “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” - Louis L’Amour
  • “Treat all your secondary characters like they think the book’s about them.” - Jocelyn Hughes
  • “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” - Lawrence Kasdan
  • “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” - Shannon Hale
  • “You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more.” - Michael Connelly
  • “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” - Ernest Hemingway
  • “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” - Toni Morrison
  • “The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.” - Vladimir Nabokov
  • “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others: read a lot and write a lot.” - Stephen King
  • “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” - Margaret Atwood
  • “Writing is creative, but the guts of it boils down to discipline.” - Susan Duncan
  • “I just give myself permission to suck. I find this hugely liberating.” - John Green