Archive for November, 2012

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge 18

Nov
11
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Clock Rewinders

Clock Rewinders banner

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else we’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books we plan on reading in the coming week. [Description and banner borrowed from On a Book Bender]

The Corner Newsstand
(This week on Creativity’s Corner)

Behind the Desk
(My life behind the scenes)

I love my new job. No joke. I am so much less stressed, and even the people around me have commented on how much happier I seem. This really was the right direction for me. Also a major plus is the ability to listen to audiobooks while I’m working! I went through three just this week, so I’ll definitely be needing plenty of recommendations for good ones there!

In other news, I was kinda hoping to have all my grad school apps in by this Wednesday. It looks like that won’t be happening, but I’m getting close enough that I feel like it will be possible to get them all in before the deadlines at least.

Oh, and THE RADIO IS PLAYING CHRISTMAS MUSIC! I have been waiting for this day for at least a month!

 

Around the Corner
(Blog posts I found awesome since the last post)

This is about two weeks of links, so bear with me. That said, they’re good enough that I couldn’t bear just not sharing them, so keep that in mind.

  • Lisa (Read. Breathe. Relax.) asked if we reread books and why. I most definitely do, because I am a mood reader, and there are some days that I don’t want anything new and difficult – I want safe and comfortable!
  • Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) talked about living with a non-reader. She is incredibly lucky that even though her husband doesn’t read, he’s happy to let her do so and talk about it!
  • KM (One Page at a Time) wanted to discuss small publishers vs. the former “big six”. I found it absolutely fascinating – I rarely, if ever, look at the publisher of the books I really like. As long as it’s good, I’m all for it (though I’m not a huge fan of self-pubs – I’ve read too many that haven’t even been edited!)
  • Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) procrastinated by writing a song about procrastination on her new writing blog, A Winter Writer. She’s really good, plus I love meta songs like that!
  • Speaking of meta – Amanda (On a Book Bender) wrote a discussion post on writing discussion posts.
  • And finally, two geeky I Can Haz Cheezburger posts I just had to share – The Whovian Prayer and The Harry Potter Quiet Book.

GoodReaders’ Digest
(Books I’ve read in the past week and books I plan to read next. Also includes stats for the Unbreaking the Shelves Challenge)

Read:
  • Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel – Zombies that didn’t make me want to lose my lunch for once!
  • Hounded by Kevin Hearne (Audiobook) – I. Want. Oberon! Also, I can enjoy audiobooks! WOO!
  • Hexed by Kevin Hearne (Audiobook) – Not quite as much fun. Not as much Oberon either, maybe there’s a correlation?
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Audiobook re-read) – Loved it just as much as an audiobook and the second time around!
  • The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith – I am SO CONFUSED. Plus it was a little bit too gory for me. It’s definitely not my favorite.
  • Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett (Umpteenth reread) – Yep. Still love it (just had to make sure 😛 )
  • The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen – Need the next book, NOW!

Currently Reading:

  • Until I Die by Amy Plum

Unbreaking the Shelves stats:

Get my “Embarrassed I haven’t read yet” shelf under 45.

  • Beginning total: 65
  • As of 11/11: 58

Keep my to-read-now list as close to 250 as possible. Expert level: bring it down to 235.

  • Beginning total: 253
  • As of 11/11: 266

Added:

  • Imposter by Susanne Winnacker
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Tucholke
  • The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Read 15 books off of my Series Completion list

Series Completion
5/15

EXPERT LEVEL: Read a total of 57 books from the TBR list (overshooting my original GR year goal by 25)

Total Books
24/57




Discussion day: What’s in a genre?

Nov
09
5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion Day
Genre word cloud

Image doesn’t belong to me. If it’s yours please let me know!

When I say the word “genre” what comes to mind? There are so many different genres of novel that a specific definition is hard to pin down. Here’s what Dictionary.com has to say:

1. A class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like.
2. Genus; kind; sort; style.
That’s awfully vague. Let’s try wikipedia:
The term for any category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, e.g. music, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.
That’s better, though still not very specific.. Genres are extremely helpful when picking out what to read next. I know, for example, that I will probably like a Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel over most Mystery or Romance novels. I love that they keep all the books that are similar together in one place and if I ever needed to, I could wander through one specific section to find something I’ll like (not that I’ll EVER need to again, with a TBR list of 500+!)

 

The problem with genres, as I’m beginning to find out, is the genres are generally so open to interpretation. I know, as readers we like our freedom of choice and expression, and if you want to call a book a certain genre, I’m not gonna argue with you. Subjectively, you as a reader read it that specific way, and that’s fine by me.  But say, for example, you’re at your local library. If it’s anything like mine, they had to decide which genres to separate out. There are 22 different genres on wikipedia’s list of genres and that’s not even counting all of the sub-genres under things like Action, Fantasy, or Science Fiction!

 

This eliding of genres is definitely necessary – but as a reader, it frustrates me to no end. My library essentially has five sections: Fiction (of which there are a few shelves marked as mystery), Non-fiction, Romance, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and YA. Now, I can understand why they put Sci-fi and Fantasy together. They’re both “speculative” or “imaginative” fiction. That makes sense to me (though why novels like American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Graveminder by Melissa Marr are classifed in the Fiction section makes NO sense). But what I don’t get? Throwing all the YA into one pile. Granted, it’s probably their smallest collection, but it does have it’s own little room that could easily be divided up into small sections. But for some reason the powers-that-be have decided that YA is a genre – everything else is sub-genre. As a genre-specific reader (I’ll read anything Sci-Fi or Fantasy, no matter what age it’s geared to) this industry wide distinction has me itching my teeth in disgust!

 

There is another facet to the problem, of course. Someone (if you can remember who, MEGA brownie points) once said “There is nothing new on this earth” or something like that. That may be true, but author’s are still trying, and the easiest way to get around that is to combine old things in new ways. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve read that straddle the line between Sci-fi and Fantasy, or Fantasy and Contemporary. Mixing of sub-genres is even more complicated, and would require a national, or possibly international, committee to decide on. I mean really, who decided that in YA the sub-genre would be Paranormal Romance, while in adult the exact same genre masquerades as Urban Fantasy?!

 

I honestly don’t have a working solution to this thing either. I can see both sides of the argument. My OCD side hates the fact that we can’t be more specific and uniform in the way we describe our books. The rest of me feels like that kind of system would be FAR too much work for everyone.

 

What would you suggest to describe genres? Should we be more specific? Less? Is there any one genre that you wish we would pay more attention to?




My brain is evil. EVIL I tell you! See sometimes, I don’t give my brain enough to do. So, it goes off and does it’s own thing and comes back with “fun” things with which to torture myself. Which brings us to this weekend.

Kristilyn (of Reading in Winter and various other blogs) and I are planning a triathlon of EPIC proportions this weekend. We’re not the athletic type, so we won’t be out running, or riding bikes through the snow. We’ll be doing creative things! The schedule is as follows:

The Creative Arts Triathlon, Codename #WeekendOfAwesome

  • Friday (11/9): NaNoWriMo Day
  • Saturday (11/10):Reading Day
  • Sunday (11/11):Blogging Day

That’s a lot for one weekend! If you’re crazy like us and would like to join in, feel free to let us know in the comments (here’s Kristilyn’s goal post) or you can just follow #WeekendOfAwesome on Twitter.

Just to keep myself accountable, I thought I’d share a few goals:

Friday: I am SO BEHIND on my NaNo words it isn’t even funny. Goal #1 is to catch up. Goal #2 is 10,000 words for the whole weekend. Since we’ll be trying to hit our word counts for each of the days that aren’t OFFICIALLY NaNo Day that means 6,668 words on Friday. Oh, and Goal #3 is write more words than Kristilyn over the weekend ;P (Kristilyn will probably win because I still have to work 8-2 on Friday.)

Saturday: This is my first time that I don’t have to work on a Saturday (and didn’t have plans) in a year and a half. I’m planning on getting some serious reading done! What I read will kind of depend on what I have done by then, but my “checked out from the library” shelf currently holds:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky
  • Switched by Amanda Hocking
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  • Carnival of Souls by Marissa Marr
  • Ten by Gretchen McNeil
  • The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray

I also have quite a few books that I’ve bought or been gifted recently that I’d like to get to soon. So, Goal #1 is finish whatever I’m in the middle of on Saturday morning, and read at least 1.5 books on top of that. Goal #2 is to read at least one of my own books for part of that. Optional Goal #3 may be to finish whatever audiobook I’m in the middle of so I can get a few chores done while I’m trying to read-a-thon.

Sunday: Unfortunately, Sunday is the day I’m most busy this weekend, between church and a Veteran’s Day concert with the community band/jazz band. BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t at least try to get some stuff done, right? Goal #1 is to write up reviews for anything I read on Saturday, as well as at least one backlogged review that I’ve been putting off. Goal #2 is to update my review archive (AGAIN!) and make sure all my reviews are cross posted to GoodReads. Since Sunday will be busy for me, I think that’s enough to be going on with, don’t you?

If you plan on joining us, please do let us know! The more the merrier!





Book Review: Ready Player One

Nov
08
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Ready Player One Cover

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Summary: [from GoodReads]

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

My Review

New. Favorite. Sci-fi! Bar none! I loved this book! LOVED IT!!! That’s a little odd because cyber-punk is often hit or miss for me. Even the ones that everyone says are “must-read” works are often difficult for me to get into. Not so in this case. Ready Player One is fast-paced and suspenseful right from the very beginning. It sucked me in, ran me through an emotional meat grinder, and spat me back out again.

There are so many things I loved about this book that it’s hard to know where to start. I have a puzzler’s mind so I think the thing that most appealed to me was the puzzle at the center of the story. I’m also kind of obsessive like the ‘Gunters’ – I really identified with their need to know everything there is to know about Mr. Halliday. I’m the same way about anything I like too!

Beyond that there are so many things I love, I CAN’T EVEN…! Like the way they all worry about somebody being different than their online selves and then realizing that’s not what matters. Or more basically the part about creating who you want to be without restrictions of stereotypes and prejudice (or at least with less of them). I love that it’s an escapist book about escapism. And I want there to be a video game of this book so bad!

So basically, if you couldn’t tell,Ready Player Oneis AWESOME! It is easily one of my favorite reads of the year, and I think you should try it, even if you think you might not like it. Just in case!





Book Review: Red Glove

Nov
06
5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Red Glove Cover

Title: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)

Author: Holly Black

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Curses and cons.
Magic and the mob.

In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth — he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything — or anyone — into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion-worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue — crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too — they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone — least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

My Review *WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS for book 1*

It took me way too long to get from finishing the first book to reading the next. You know how I know? I had no clue what was going on as I tried to start this book. All I remember about the previous book was who did it when they solved the thing. Because of that it took me a few tries to get into it. I would start in, read a few pages, end up royally confused, and put it back down for a few days. Eventually, though, I got far enough into it and began remembering enough that I was sucked into the world of magical mobsters once again.

The world of the curse workers easily remains my favorite part of the series. The unusual mixture of crime bosses with magic leads to infinite possibilities of interesting situations. Crimes become so much more complex when a touch of a hand can change your emotions, or turn your heart to glass.

My second favorite part of this book (thouch I can’t remember enough of the last to have anything to compare it to) was the relationship between Cassel and Lila. They’re constantly back and forth between being the perfect couple and being the fake couple. I totally understand why Cassel reacts to it the way he does, but I’m not sure I’d have the self control to react the same way. And with all the liars in that family, I’m still not sure whether Lila was actually cursed or if Cassel’s mother just wanted them to think so.

Despite a slow start (due to my lack of memory) I am still SO IN LOVE with this story and it’s premise. Black Heart has moved much higher on my TBR list – I can’t wait to read more!





NanowriMondays 1

Nov
05
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Community Events

Nanowrimo Banner
It’s that time of year again! Time for the more crazy among us to attempt to drive ourselves batshit insane! I mean… Time to write 50,000 words in 30 days! For the month of November I’ll be replacing my usual Media Monday posts with NanowriMondays (borrowed last year from Casey @ The Bookish Type, who sadly is no longer blogging). They’ll cover my progress, the frustrations and excitement, and some basics of the story I’m writing.

This year has seen a much slower start than last year. I had a lot to worry about in the last few weeks of October, which meant I spent very little time planning out what I was going to do. It certainly didn’t help that November first was much closer to the weekend than last year – every year I help my mom out with her craft show the first weekend in November, and last year I managed to get myself ahead enough that a few days off from writing didn’t matter too much. This year? Not so much.

Then, of course, there’s the problem of what to write. Since I had so little time to think about it and prepare, I threw together a few ideas and decided to call them a sequel to last year’s novel. I haven’t edited that one much yet, aside from reading it through and trying not to vomit in the nearest trash can from how bad it was, so a tiny part of me still didn’t really want to write this story. What’s the point of writing a sequel when the first one needs to be completely rewritten? After writing a mere 2500 words, I was already stuck (too many conflicting ideas), and kind of bored with what I was writing.

And then I talked to Kristilyn (from Reading in Winter). She fixed EVERYTHING! Isn’t it amazing how a new set of eyes can completely give you a new perspective? Sadly I haven’t had much time to write since I talked to her. But just to give you an idea of the difference – it took me the first 3-4 days to write my first 2500 words. Last night, I wrote over 1000 in ONE HOUR! Talk about a huge difference!

Now, even though I’m more than 5000 words behind (EEP!) I am newly excited for writing this book. My goal for this weekend (the next time I have a whole day to myself) is to write 10,000 words between Friday and Saturday together. Since last year I did on occasion manage 10,000 in one day if I was really focused and determined, I don’t think this is too unrealistic of a goal. Wish me luck!

Nanowrimo progress
3,616/50,000
Can't talk now...

If he can do it, so can you!
Image from I can haz Cheezburger





Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Nov
01
9 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

The Knife of Never Letting Go Cover Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

Author: Patrick Ness

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

My Review

Forget zombies, vampires and ghosts. You know what creeps me out the most? The idea of someone being able to read my mind. There are so many times I think something, and then immediately think “Geez, I would be SO embarrassed if they could hear me think that.” So this book? Terrifying!

In a way, though, I loved it because it was so terrifying. My heart was almost constantly in my mouth while Todd was on the run because I was so sure that he and Viola would get caught. Somehow, even though they supposedly would have heard their pursuers coming I was sure they would miss it anyhow and be caught and killed. I grew to love the characters so much, despite their gruff manners and blunt speech. And when [SPOILER! Highlight to read.] Manchee died I cried right along with Todd.

And then there’s the ending. Way to twist the knife on the way out Mr. Ness! I both hate him and love him for that cliffhanger. On the one hand, the ending left me bereft, in the depths of despair and sure that if I didn’t find out how they managed to get out of the situation RIGHT NOW then they never would. On the other hand, that book was so heavy that I’m not sure I could handle reading any more than one in a row!

For such a well-crafted sci-fi this book is incredibly heavy on the moral issues. It kind of reminded me of reading Grapes of Wrath in high school. Only in outer space and everyone could hear each others’ thoughts. Those moral issues are what really made the book for me, but the suspense is what kept me going. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and see what happens!





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