Moving Forward

Now that I’ve officially announced my intent to transition this blog into something new (some of the things such as the title, etc., will be changed in the coming weeks), I wanted to give just a little preview of some of the things that I may write about here.

  • Bookish posts. Look, this is no longer a book blog, but books are still important to me. That means lists of book recommendations, wrap-ups when I feel like it, and maybe more dedicated posts on specific books. Dedicated posts will likely be more analysis-oriented, whereas the sort of “is this worth reading” reviews will remain on my GoodReads only.
  • Writing posts. Maybe related to goals on specific projects. Possibly writing samples from my novels or flash fiction pieces. Who knows? I don’t, or I’d have more to say on this piece.
  • Gaming posts. I don’t identify as a gamer, really, but I do play enough that I’ll probably mention it here and there.
  • Yoga posts. I’ve been practicing yoga since August of 2016. I took an impromptu time off from it after graduating from college, but I’m back and more dedicated than before. I have a lot of goals for myself when it comes to yoga. I also might be learning more about the spiritual side of the practice along the way, because I find that stuff fascinating, so maybe I’ll discuss my thoughts on that.
  • Speaking of the spiritual… I’m considering documenting my journey toward fulfillment in that area on this blog as well. It’s been a while since I still considered myself a Catholic. About a year and a half ago, I had started looking into paths to which I felt more called but had to put that aside as I felt like I needed to focus on the job hunt and felt guilty pursuing other things with my free time. And then I found a job! But I never picked the other stuff back up. I thought I might be content just leading a 100% secular life and calling myself an agnostic (even toyed with the word atheist for a bit), but it’s not entirely right for me. I know I believe in science. But I also believe in something more… I just haven’t quite figured out what that something might be yet.
  • General life posts. What am I up to lately? Good question. I wish I had a good answer.
  • No career posts.  It’s not that I have nothing to say; it’s more that I’d like to keep my professional life separate from everything else as much as possible. I am still figuring stuff related to that, too, but it’s probably for the best if I keep my thoughts in a more private space than this.

If there’s anything specific you’re interested in seeing, feel free to let me know in the comments. If you have any advice for me as I transition the blog and move forward, I’d love to hear that too. Otherwise, thanks for reading!

A (Not Much) Anticipated Return

Hey all. When I left this blog I wasn’t quite sure if/when I’d be returning. And now, two months later, here I am.

I was starting to think about what to do with this blog, since it’d been a couple of months, but I’ve decided that I will be transitioning slightly. I’m no longer going to be solely blogging about bookish things from a reader and consumer perspective, but it will also involve my own thoughts on writing and my own writing journey (maybe occasionally writing samples, if that ends up being something people are interested in) as well as maybe more thoughtful and analytical posts about literature. I’ll still be talking about books, but review-type things will be move pretty much solely to my GoodReads moving forward, so if that’s what you were here for feel free to add me as a friend or follow me over there.

While I’ve been away, I’ve toyed with the idea of setting up a BookTube/AuthorTube type channel, but after much reflection- and my own waning interest in a lot of the channels I watch there- I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s not the move for me. I’d like to get back into blogging, but I don’t really want to keep myself boxed into one thing, nor do I have the time or energy to keep up with separate blogs for all of my passing interests that I might want to post about here and there. So this is going to be focused on literature and writing, there may also be other things I post about from time to time including general life stuff and other interests and hobbies of mine. I understand if that’s not something you want on your feed and decide to unfollow me for that.

Otherwise, thanks for reading along.

Indefinite Hiatus

So, I’ve sort of dropped the ball the last few months with keeping this blog up to date. However, I have been super active over on my Goodreads. For now that’s probably a better place to follow what I’m reading than this blog because I’m sort of in limbo right now with what I want to do in terms of this blog, which is a feeling I go through every couple of months I know but it just can’t be helped. (I’m a Sagittarius after all.)

I’ll probably be back eventually, but who knows.

Anticipated 2020 Releases

With 2020 just around the corner, I’m thinking about books I’m excited for the release of. There are definitely a handful I’m looking forward to and I hope to get to them soon after their release.

The King of Crows (The Diviners, #4)

The King of Crows by Libba Bray

This is the fourth installment of the The Diviners series; a series I love for what it is on its own as well as for being the most spectacularly narrated audio books I’ve ever listened to. I’m serious, this series has ruined audio books for me because I’ve struggled to find others that live up to the standard this has set in my mind.

I’m excited to return to this world and these characters and I’m even more excited for an audio book that will make my commute not suck.

Woven in Moonlight

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

This is a YA Fantasy that pulls inspiration from Bolivian politics and history, and I am so here for that type of diversity in the Fantasy genre. The main character is a stand-in for the Condesa.

It seems like it will have a lot of political intrigue going on in a fantasy setting, and I’m really looking forward to the setting especially in this one. I have no idea how it will affect the types of magic we see playing out in this book, but either way I’m excited to find out.

The Ancestor

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

This book caught my eye on a Goodreads list for 2020 literary fiction. Two of the shelves for this book are “gothic” and “horror,” so there’s no way I’d pass up something like this.

It sounds like there’s a lot of family history and family secrets going on based off the synopsis of this book, and potentially something… supernatural? I’m really intrigued by this one and I definitely will be keeping an eye on reviews as it’s release approaches.

Sin Eater

Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

After committing a crime, the main character in this novel is sentenced to become a “Sin Eater,” defined in the synopsis as “a shunned woman, brutally marked, whose fate is to hear the final confessions of the dying, eat ritual foods symbolizing their sins as a funeral rite, and thereby shoulder their transgressions to grant their souls access to heaven.” A mystery later ensues when someone leaves a deer heart on a coffin despite the deceased person not having confessed to the sin it represents, and another Sin Eater is killed for refusing to eat it.

I am rarely excited for historical fiction that isn’t either paranormal or fantasy as well, but this just sounds too good to gloss over.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This is probably on the list of everyone who read The Hunger Games back in the day. I myself was obsessed with the series when I was in high school when all the movies started coming out and everyone who had a mild interest in books was reading them. And I do like that this new book is not a continuation of a long-over series, as many other long not-awaited series installments of late have been, but that it is a side story about a side character.

I will definitely be reading this book when it comes out and I really hope it reminds me of that time that I was so invested in The Hunger Games series.

Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I read Gods of Jade and Shadow in 2019 and was very pleasantly surprised by it. My rating of it on Goodreads sits at a 3-star right now, but it’s definitely one that I deliberated on and my real feelings sit between a 4 than a 3, and I think I might have enjoyed more had I read a physical copy rather than listened to the audio book since it is so hard for me to connect with audio books most of the time for some reason.

That said, I really enjoyed what she did with her last book and I look forward to what she does with Mexican Gothic, which is about a debutante on a mission to rescue her newly-wed cousin.

The Deep

The Deep by Alma Katsu

This is a historical fiction about The Titanic, and I never thought I’d have two historical fiction novels on this list when it’s the genre I read the least from overall. But this has a horror twist and I absolutely love it.

Basically What if the Titanic was haunted? is definitely a great story idea and I’m ready to eat that up. I’ve been saying for at least a year (probably more like two years) that I want to read more horror, and a horror novel about the Titanic sounds like just the thing I’d want to pick up.

Those are the titles I’m most excited for in 2020, but they certainly aren’t the only 2020 releases I have my eye on. What are the books you’re most looking forward to being released in the new year?

Down the TBR Hole #7

My Goodreads TBR needs desperately to be cleaned out, so I’m doing these posts until I feel it’s manageable, or until I’m back at the beginning of the list.

The Rules

  • 1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  •  2. Order on ascending date added.
  •  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  •  4. Read the synopsis of the books.
  •  5. Time to Decide: keep it or should it go

I’m adding my own twist on this and adding a 6th piece: if I’m on the fence about a book after reading the synopsis, I’ll read the preview of a book and make that part of my decision.

Ghost Wall

#1 Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

[Goodreads Link]

Okay, I was on the fence about this, and I read a few pages of the preview and actually find the writing style very much up my alley as well as the pulling me into the story. It’s definitely not in my usual genre or within my usual tastes, but I often need a break from my usual choices, so I’ll be keeping this one for when I’m in need of a breath of fresh air.

VERDICT: KEEP

Gingerbread

#2 Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

[Goodreads Link]

Okay, full disclosure, I think this has the lowest average rating of anything on my Goodreads TBR right now. I know literary fiction tends to get rated lower on average, but this only has a 3.07. Most books I like are at least a 3.8, so that alone has me questioning whether this book is worth it. No one I’m following on Goodreads has read this, and normally that wouldn’t bother me, but the fact that this has such a low average rating makes me want to read a review from soemeone whose tastes I’m familiar enough with that I’d be able to tell whether this book is for me. However, because I have so many books on my TBR, this has such a low rating, and my overall hesitation about it… I’m just gonna go with my gut on this.

VERDICT: LET GO

My Lovely Wife

#3 My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

[Goodreads Link]

This is a thriller, and I tend to not be super picky in what thrillers I pick up even if I am harder to please than average, just because they’re such a quick read and so it’s generally a pretty low risk to take a chance on them. If I don’t enjoy them I only wasted a couple days of reading time as opposed to a week or two. That and the premise of a married couple that murders together make this a no brainer.

VERDICT: KEEP

Little Fires Everywhere

#4 Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

[Goodreads Link]

Celeste Ng’s novel Everything I Never Told You is one of my favorite books of 2019. I rated it 5 whole stars. I don’t even need to re-read the synopsis of Little Fires Everywhere to know I’ll be reading it at some point. I really don’t have much else to say about that.

VERDICT: KEEP

My Sister, the Serial Killer

#5 My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

[Goodreads Link]

Frankly this book sounds too good to pass up. It’s basically a mix of a thriller and a family drama? I also know someone IRL who has read this and really enjoyed it, and normally when my real life friends read books I have to give those a chance because I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to talk about books with my friends.

VERDICT: KEEP

In total I’m keeping 4 and letting go of 1. Slowly but surely my TBR is getting a refresh, if not as quickly as I’d like. There are so many books I just want to delete off my TBR, but I’m trying to be good and do it systematically and give each book a fair chance. However, with over 400 books to get through it feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace.

October Wrap Up

I read a total of 9 books in October, which is way better than I’ve done in months. In fact, it’s the most I’ve read in a single month all year. This is exciting for me because I wasn’t even trying to read more than usual; it just happened on its own.

I’m going to jump into the books in the order I read them. (I am curious to know if people prefer wrap ups that are chronological or that go from lowest rated to highest rated? Let me know in the comments what you generally prefer to see.)

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

My Rating: ★★★

I didn’t do a full review of this book, but in general I feel like this like I do about the rest of this series so far. It’s fun to read and I liked it well enough but I didn’t feel very strongly about it in any way and I don’t think it really stands out at all.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

My Rating: ★

I did a full review of this here. The short version is that I expected this to be a 4 or 5 star book but I was just very disappointed with it.

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

My Rating: ★★★★

I also did a full review of this one here. I really enjoyed this one even though it wasn’t quite what I had expected (maybe that made me enjoy it more?) Anyways I definitely have to read more Stephen King after this one.

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

My Rating: ★★★★

I reviewed this here. I flew through this book and really enjoyed it.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

My Rating: ★★★

This was good but missed chances to be great or to discuss nuances in some of the topics it tackles, and it’s also not something I’d recommend to people who aren’t very well acquainted with feminism or who don’t call themselves feminists. I did a full review here.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

My Rating: ★★

I went from flying through this book to having to force myself through the end of it. I felt cheated in that the world wasn’t actually different from any other YA fantasy, it was just dressed up in incorrectly used Russian names and words. The characters were all flat, and I did not care one ounce for any of the romance nonsense happening. I do have a full review on my blog but as of writing this it’s still in my schedule waiting to be posted.

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My Rating: ★★★★★

I don’t plan on doing a full review for this because I don’t feel all that comfortable rating and reviewing the individual stories that this book discusses as most of them are fairy-tales or legends or myths. I went back and forth on the rating for this between 4 & 5 stars and decided to be generous mostly because I’m a hoe for the stories inside and the ways in which they empower or at least give agency to their female characters. I don’t think this book is for everyone, but I’ll definitely be thinking about it a lot in the future.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

My Rating: ★★

I don’t have a formal review of this but I was feeling a little jaded and snarky by the time I pushed through the end of this book so I wrote up an informal Goodreads rant review about it. The ridiculous love pyramid had me wanting to DNF this multiple times.

Low, Vol 1.: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini

My Rating: ★★

I’m not going to review this fully either, but I will say that the story was not well developed. None of the characters were developed. The female characters, even the ones who drive the action, are subjected to major objectification and male gaze. The world had the potential to be interesting but it wasn’t developed enough. Then there’s the art which was good, but I had a hard time telling the difference between the male characters who for some reason all had the same facial hair? There’s little to no facial expressions. And the mom looks the same age as her daughter. The colourist did a very good job with giving the art dimension though and that’s actually the only reason I pushed through to the end of this volume. Not gonna continue this series.

Let’s Talk Bookish: Reading Outside Your Target Age Group

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Eternity Books. This is my first time participating, and I’m looking forward to participating in more of these in the future.

This week’s prompt is: Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?

Examples of this are adults reading YA books, teens reading adult books, or children reading YA/adult books.

I’m of the general opinion that people should read whatever they like reading, regardless of whether they’re a member of the target demographic or not.

The exception to this might be children reading certain adult books. That said, far be it from me to police a child’s reading choices; that’s up to the parents. I don’t have kids nor do I ever want them, so I’m not going to touch this except to say that as a kid I was allowed to read whatever the hell I wanted, but I mostly stuck to my own age group by choice because I figured adult books would bore me. I wanted to read stories about kids doing exciting things. And, you know, I think I would have turned out fine even if I hadn’t stuck to those books.

In general I don’t see a reason to stick to one particular type of book just because you fit the target demographic.

Now, I might be biased. I occasionally read YA still even though I’m technically not a part of the target demographic (that said, is it just me or does the target YA audience seem to be trending older and older?) Heck, there are even some middle grade books that have piqued my interest. And in that same vein, I remember being a teen and not wanting to read YA anymore because I felt it was too juvenile (I feel like most readers go through a phase like this at some point) but I also didn’t want to read adult books because I had this idea in my mind that they’d be boring. Now that I’ve matured, I know that there are some juvenile YA books, but that’s not the whole landscape of YA, and there are some boring adult books, but that’s not the whole landscape of adult.

I think that there are a few different dynamics working to keep people reading only in a certain age group.

First, is the stereotypes associated with each grouping.

Some teens and young adults might think adult books are boring. I blame school for this. I myself have avoided the Classics genre like the plague since I finished school because it just reminds me of high school and being terribly bored and reading the sparks notes instead of the actual books for assignments, or else feeling like certain books were torture. To this day, I’ll tell anyone who listens about how much I hated the book Jane Eyre, though I occasionally wonder whether I’d have hated it as much had I read it on my own. There are books I had to read for school that I liked, but none that I loved. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein comes to mind as a book I liked but might have loved had I read it in my own time and in my own way.

It’s only now, 5 years post-high school, that I’m starting to think about reading any classics on my own.

On the other hand, YA books have a certain stigma to them (probably because they’re mostly enjoyed by young women and teenage girls, but that’s a topic for its own post.) On threads in book-related subreddits, I still see people referring to YA as a “genre” (which, isn’t the correct term, it’s literally just a way to group books with specific themes like coming-of-age stories) filled with vampire or paranormal romances, which 1.) isn’t even true these days, and hasn’t been the case for probably almost 10 years, and 2.) even if it were true why do people feel the need to shit on paranormal books or romance books? The people perpetuating this stigma often do not read YA, because if they did they’d realize that just like with adult books, YA books offer something for all readers.

That brings me to the second point, of people putting themselves into boxes.

People who answer this question and say that people should only read inside their own target age groups are probably adults who only read adult books. They’re on par with the pseudo-intellectuals from the book-related subreddits who turn up their nose at the mere mention of “Young Adult.” Some of them probably make wild claims of having been reading adult books since they were 5 years old to sound impressive.

At the end of the day, if you choose to only read books aimed at your age group that’s totally your choice. In my opinion, you’re just holding yourself back from reading more and from reading outside your comfort zone and maybe even from finding a new favorite book.

But whatever you personally choose to read shouldn’t dictate what everyone else decides to read.