Monday Musings

Monday Musings: Poetry Month

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This isn’t so much a blog post as a request for assistance from my readers. I guess you could also possibly classify this as a discussion post; you are free to create discussion in the comments, but I’m mostly hoping you’ll be able to offer some input.

As I’m sure most of my readers already know, April is National Poetry Month. I know I’ve probably already mentioned this elsewhere, but I’ve never been much of a poetry reader. It’s not that I don’t like poetry, I think it’s more that I have trouble finding poetry that I can really relate to and get into the way I do novels. I’m a nerd and have enjoyed reading some of the epics (I’ve read The Odyssey, The Iliad, and Paradise Lost more than once, though Paradise Lost was for class not my own free will). I also enjoy the rhythm of Langston Hughes and one of my favorite poems is Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe simply because I love the way it sounds and rolls off the tongue when recited. However, I have yet to find a poet or poems that I really connect with.

And that’s where you come in, dear readers. This year, in honor of National Poetry Month, I would like to give poetry another chance and try to find a poet and/or poems that I can fall in love with. I just don’t know where to begin. Who should I read? Mary Oliver? Billy Collins? Someone more obscure? And which collection should I start with?

I appreciate any and all suggestions!

I’m Still Here! And Other Monday Musings…

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Good Morning blogging world! Surprise! I didn’t fall off the face of the planet! The past couple months have gone by so fast, and I’ve completely failed in my plan to post at least once a week – and I had been doing so well at sticking to that resolution! Plus it’s already the third week of 2016 and I’m just now getting around to my first post. Hopefully from here on out I stick to my at-least-once-a-week goal.

I see WordPress has changed their posting format again while I was away. Now I get to learn how to do this all over again. I swear they do this to me every time I disappear for a month or two.

The holiday season got crazier than I had anticipated – I was working more hours at the bookstore, plus I had an unexpected by very positive development in my personal life that now takes up a significant portion of my attention and time. Now that things are settling down I’ll be able to get back into a rhythm and work on my time management so that I’m still able to do the posting and reading I want.

Speaking of reading, blogging isn’t the only thing I’ve been slacking off on. I’ve really fallen behind on my reading as well. So far I’ve only finished one book this month, which is VERY SLOW for me. I blame most of that on the fact that I was fighting a bad cold for a couple weeks and just wasn’t feeling up to reading. Hopefully I can pick up my pace there as well, because I have a lot of things I want to be reading all at once!

I completely missed publishing a 2015 wrap-up post, which I had planned, and I’m not sure I’m going to go back and write that at this point. However, I do have a couple reading resolutions for 2016 to share. I try not to set a lot of reading goals at the start of each year, because I like to just go with the flow as far as reading goes – one of the reasons I’ve never succeeded in sticking to a summer reading list. But there are a few things I’d like to try this year.

2016 Reading Goals:

  1. Last year I wrote about a reading challenge where I would read a different genre book each month. Well, that kind of failed. I think I kept up with it for three or four months then forgot all about it. I’m going to try to do that again this year, and actually get through all the genres this time. I really would like to vary my reading some more this year.
  2. Along similar lines I would really like to have more diversity in my reading this year. I don’t mean just racial diversity in authors in characters (though I would like that as well), but diversity in genre, subject matter,  and style. I want to try to discover new books that I didn’t expect to like. I have a tendency to veer towards the scifi and fantasy more often than not, and I’d really like to try to branch out a little.
  3. I’ve sign up to participate in Emma Watson’s feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads. I’m not sure how much I’ll participate in the discussions on Goodreads, but I’m looking forward to seeing what books are selected each month and reading them.
  4. My Goodreads challenge goal for this year is currently set at 60 books. I read almost double that last year, but I didn’t want to be too overly ambitious given my start to year. Hopefully I read well over 60 books this year, but we’ll see how things go.
  5. This year I am going to make more of an effort to read more of the books I already own. My stacks are starting to get a little out of hand and there are so many good books there that I’ve never read, I really need to give more of them a chance.

So those are my current reading goals for the coming year. Not anything too extensive, but it gives me lots of room to read whatever books I discover that I may be interested in.

Lastly, the Best Picture Nominees for the Oscars have been announced, so expect to see some posts about each of those films as I see them!

Monday Musings: NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo2015When I posted my planned November reading I was completely forgetting the fact that it was November. Strange, I know. But I have signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year, and though I’m running woefully behind I am making an attempt to get as much written as I can this month. Naturally, this means that I will not be doing nearly as much reading this month as I had planned. Had I actually remembered what month it was, I wouldn’t have planned such a big list.

This also means that, unfortunately, I won’t be around here as much this month as I would like. Since I won’t be reading as much I won’t have many reviews to post, nor the time to post them. I am going to make an attempt to still post a Top Ten Tuesday each week. Earlier this year I promised myself I would post at least once a week. I’ve been doing a really good job of getting in 2-3 posts per week the last few months, but this month is busy. Top Ten Tuesday is a good way to keep at least one post a week.

Also, if you’ve tagged me for an award or tagged post that I have not followed up on, I’m very sorry. I had every attention of doing all of them but just haven’t had the time to write those posts in addition to my regular reviews. The closer we get to December the more hours I’m putting in at the bookstore, and the less time I have to do the things I would like to do, such as post to my blog. Please know that I appreciate being included in all those tags and awards, but it may be a while before I would have time to participate in any of that (at least until after the new year).

If anyone is interested in my NaNoWriMo progress, I do post word counts to Twitter. However I am so far behind at this point I don’t know if I’ll make the 50,000 words. However, maybe I’ll at least get my novel actually finished. That’s an even better goal. I’m hand wriiting it this year as opposed to typing because I have a very unreliable laptop, and a notebook and pen and go with me anywhere much easier than a laptop anyway. Also, if anyone is interested, here’s a few things I learned from NaNoWriMo last year.

Now I’m going to go back to writing my Top Ten Tuesday so it’s ready to post tomorrow!

Monday Musings: Shadowhunters

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ShadowhuntersThis probably isn’t going to be a very long post, but I’ve been following the Shadowhunters news from NYCC this weekend and just have to say that 1. I am so disappointed I wasn’t there this year and missed this panel and 2. I am getting really excited about this show.

I am a big fan of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books. Let me amend that, I am a big fan of the first three books of The Mortal Instruments and all of the Infernal Devices. I have mixed feelings about the second three books of The Mortal Instruments and still haven’t finished the last book of the series (my goal is to do so before the show starts). I love the world and the characters Clare has created.

That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie. Don’t get me wrong – I loved almost everyone in the cast, I just did not like them in those roles. I think Lena Headey and Godric Gao were the only ones to really fulfill the role in the way I had envisioned it. The rest just didn’t seem to jibe with my vision of the characters. Especially Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. I will always love him, but he was just so wrong for Valentine. He wasn’t even close to the way I pictured him. I think I made allowances for Aidan Turner as Luke simply because he was Aidan Turner (though he was pretty close to the Luke I pictured).

When I found out they were planning a TV series to re-adapt the books I was actually excited, despite my growing annoyance with reboots and remakes. After the disappointment that was the movie, I really wanted the books to get the adaptation they deserved, and a TV series seemed like a much better way to tell the story. I even tried figuring out who I would cast in the roles. None of my ideas were right, but I love the cast they put together. I can’t believe I didn’t think of Harry Shum Jr. for Magnus, and Alan Van Sprang is exactly the image I have of Valentine Morgenstern.

The trailer for the series has me even more excited:

 

From that trailer I can already see where they may be deviating from the books a little, but I’m okay with that. There’s something about adapting a book for television vs. film that gives the writers a little more leeway. It seems fans are much more forgiving when it comes to making changes on television than they are for movie adaptations. Just look at The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or True Blood. None of those shows closely follow the plot of the source material, but each is still wildly popular with fans of the books. Sure, there are some fans that can’t forgive the changes, but I for one like that I can enjoy the books and the series separately and don’t need to be constantly comparing. I also don’t have to worry about one spoiling the other – there are always going to be twists and surprises in each medium that I didn’t see coming.

Two clips from the first episode were also released this weekend, and I gotta say I’m already excited about the look of the show. And I have a feeling Harry Shum Jr. just might become my favorite part of this series.

 

I cannot wait for the show to premiere on January 12th. I was already excited, and what I’ve seen this weekend has just increased that excitement. What about you? Are you a Mortal Instruments fan excited about the series too?

Monday Musings: Adult Fiction vs. YA Lit

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TeenYAvAdult1Last week my book club met to discuss Red Rising by Pierce Brown. In my review of the book here, I mentioned that I could have sworn at one point I had seen the book categorized as a YA novel, but instead it belongs in adult fiction. Several other members of my book club had the same experience, which prompted a discussion about whether or not this book should have been classified as YA. This got me thinking about what makes a book YA and not Adult fiction?

There’s been a lot of debate, and I’m sure there always will be, on the merit of reading YA literature. Some people think intelligent, functioning adults should not be reading books written for teenagers, while others argue that you should be able to read whatever you want, and there is nothing wrong with reading YA literature. I love reading just about anything and everything I can get my hands on. Last year around this time I wrote a column about reading YA books in which I mentioned that sometimes, it’s nice to just read a book that’s not too dense and doesn’t take me weeks to finish. This also makes me wonder about the difference between YA and Adult novels.

If you were to describe the difference between a YA novel and an Adult novel, how would you do it? It’s not easy, but I know I view YA novels and adult novels differently, even though I love both. I tend to think of YA as lighter, easier, and more refreshing reads; they’re also more colorful. I can’t really describe what I mean by that, but books like Harry Potter are a perfect example. To me, YA tends to be colorful and imaginative in a way different than adult fiction. Not that adult fiction lacks imagination – there are plenty of scifi and fantasy novels out there full of imagination – but YA novels just have a different feel. They’re not as “dark” as adult novels. I really can’t think of a better way to describe it than that, and it’s more a feeling I get when I read than a concrete description.

Reading Red Rising, to me, felt like reading an adult novel. The story was very similar to The Hunger Games, and it focused on teenagers, but it didn’t read like the YA novels I’m used to. It had that dark grittiness that I tend to associate with adult novels, and it was in many ways far more brutal than The Hunger Games. So though the main characters were mostly in the same age range, and it had a lot of the other elements of a YA novel, it still felt like I was definitely reading Adult fiction.

On the flip side, last year I read The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz. This book was labeled as an adult novel, but it read like a YA novel. I don’t know if it was the length of the story, the choices in the font, or the story itself – which was more simplistic than a typical adult novel storyline – but it just did not feel like adult fiction. The only thing that could possibly classify it as adult was some of the language and sex scenes, but you get that in YA novels now anyway.

So is there a definite difference between YA and Adult fiction? And should that difference exist? Why can’t novels as complex as Red Rising be targeted to teens? And why aren’t more novels written that way for teens? I was reading John Grisham and Michael Crichton before I was 13, so teenagers can certainly handle adult novels. Is this a conscious choice or just how things seem to fall? And why is the more colorful, creative style of YA fiction looked down on by adult readers?

Has anyone else experienced this or had similar thoughts?

Monday Musings: The Hard Copy vs. eBook Debate

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Books v eBooksI recently bought a new Kindle as a birthday present to myself. I have a Nook Color (old school) and an iPad, but both are a little cumbersome, and the Kindle is smaller and lighter to carry around, especially now that I’m getting more and more eARCs to read. Purchasing the device got me thinking about the endless debate between reading physical books or eBooks.

I used to be 100% against using an eReader. Nothing could beat the smell or feel of a good book. I had absolutely no interest in a Kindle, even if it was smaller and lighter than a hardback. Then, the bookstore I was working in started selling eReaders. The more I played with it, the more I liked it. So, I bought my first Nook. It was the first generation E-Ink device, and I actually loved it. I loved the accessibility and ease of the book. I also loved that I had gotten it as a 3G device before they started charging extra for that, so I didn’t even need to worry about wifi.

Two years later I decided to upgrade to a Nook Color. This was the first color tablet Barnes & Noble offered, and it was a great device for readers. It was better, faster, had a better web browser and more games and apps. I used this device a lot, though I still found myself reading a lot of physical books.

While I was in grad school I purchased an iPad to use in class, and then I had access to any reading app I wanted – Nook, Kindle, iBooks, PDF readers, etc. Suddenly I didn’t need one designated reader, because I could read whatever I wanted when I wanted. However, the iPad is large and not easy to carry around all the time. Also, I discovered that trying to read on a device that also gives you notifications for texts, Twitter, Facebook, etc. can be a little distracting. I would switch apps to respond to a message and it’s 15 minutes later when I finally switch back to my book. The Nook (which I now barely use) is also somewhat heavy (though at the time it was considered rather light). Plus, I was starting to miss the simple E-Ink screen of my very first Nook.

Now that I am reading a lot more books from Netgalley, the easiest way to access the eARCs is to just send them to my Kindle (the process for getting them onto a Nook is more complicated). So, I decided if I wanted a smaller device I could carry with me, it was time to invest in a Kindle. And so far I love it. But where does that leave me in the Physical Book vs. eBook debate?

When I was working in a bookstore that sold eReaders it was interesting to observe the kind of people who were interested in the eReaders and those who weren’t I discovered that a lot of the people uninterested were actually part of my generation. It was the older generations that seemed more inclined to purchase the eReaders, while the younger ones still preferred the feel of an actual book in their hands. This was quite the opposite of the response one would have expected.

I love actual physical books. I still spend way more money on them than I should, and I still read exponentially more physical books than eBooks. Nothing will ever replace that feel or smell. I have found that there are a lot of books that I want to have to line my shelves, and I want to feel that book in my hand – particularly a paperback. The books I tend to purchase in digital form are the ones that I’m really not sure I’ll care about having on hand (quite often these end up being ones chosen for my book club). If I’m not sure I’ll like the book and can buy an ebook for $2.99, I’ll definitely go that route over paying much more for an actual copy. But despite now owning three different devices on which I can read eBooks (four if you count my phone) my first instinct is still to purchase a physical copy of the book, and I’m sure that will never change. Last month I ordered a copy of Eoin Macken’s Kingdom of Scars from the U.K. because I wanted an actual book and the only way to get it in the US currently is on Kindle. Sure, I had to pay more for it than I would have the eBook, but it didn’t matter to me. (And when it arrived I discovered it was actually a signed copy, so it was definitely worth the extra cost.)

Reports from this summer say that this summer’s popular reads Go Set a Watchman, Grey and The Girl on a Train, actually saw higher physical sales than eBooks. I don’t think we have to worry about physical books going anywhere any time soon. Hopefully, the same will remain true for the brick and mortar bookstores, as they will always be better than ordering online as well.

So, where do you stand in the eBook vs. Physical Book debate?

Monday Musings: The Evolution of a Blog

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If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are.
For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained.
Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing. ~Saint Augustine

If you are a reader who actually follows the links to my blog on a regular basis, you may have noticed that I’ve been slowly making some small changes over the past week. Nothing major, just a few updates – evolving things to try to make this blog better and more productive.

When I first started this blog nearly six years ago, I wrote about anything and everything. It had no specific goal or structure. I also had a habit of writing semi-regularly for a few months, then disappearing until a year or so later when I made a resolution to come back and try to write regularly. This pattern continued until January of this year, when I promised myself to make a significant change in the way I blogged. So far, I’ve surprised myself by actually sticking to that promise. I’ve managed to stick to my goal of posting at least once a week (often more) for the last eight months.

However, my blog has continued to evolve over the last eight months. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a huge nerd. And this blog was intended to be my refuge where I could write about anything and everything nerdy to my heart’s desire. And I have been doing that. It was also intended to be built up and used hopefully to help get experience and provide something to show on a resume to potential employers, because I would like nothing more than to someday work for a publication like Entertainment Weekly, or TVLine,com – some entertainment/media outlet that allowed me to write about all the things I love. My time as a member of the press at New York Comic Con last year showed me how much I really love being a part of that world.

Booksale FIndsWhile that’s still my ultimate career goal, this blog has been evolving into something else the last couple months. I’ve been reviewing more and more books and discovering that I get the most feedback from my book-related posts (with the exception of my Supergirl review, which remains the most viewed post of all time on this blog). Not only that, but I’m starting to venture out and discover the wider world of book bloggers and am finding that I like the idea of being a part of that community.

Which brings me to my point – finally (admit it, you’re all thinking it, at least, those of you who are still here with me) – from now on my blog will primarily focus on books. I’ll still do my annual Oscar Watch and will likely post about other random topics as the mood suits me, or as something comes up that I absolutely feel the need to rant or rave about, but from now on I’ll mostly be publishing posts about books (which you may have already noticed anyway).

I’m also in the process of making a few cosmetic changes – I’ve finally figured out how to set up the top menu the way I wanted it from the time I chose this theme (and I’m embarrassed to admit how long it too me to figure that out in proportion to how easy it actually is). You can now easily find some of my most frequently used categories through the menu.

I’ve also decided to add a couple new regular features:

Top Ten Tuesday – this is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it’s a fun way to ensure that I do stick to my goal of posting at least twice a week (with this I only have to come up with one of my own posts).

From the Bottom Shelf – This is still in the early working stages, but at least once or twice a month I plan to read and review a book that’s been sitting in my TBR pile for over a year. Not only will this help add variety to my reading, but it will hopefully help me get to more of those books that have been waiting forever. (Of course, that pile will likely still grow faster than I can read books from it).

If you’re still reading, I thank you for bearing with me through all these ramblings. I’m excited about the direction this blog has taken, and my plans for it going forward!