No NaNoWriMo and Oct theme reading!

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’ve been debating over and over whether I am going to participate this year. The more I think about it, the more I think I’m not going to.  I need to focus on what I’ve already written and finish it once and for all and get it submitted somewhere. I haven’t figured out where I want to submit yet, but starting something else doesn’t make sense when I already have 1 finished, 1 half way and a 3rd about 3/4 done. I think I’ll use November to really fine tune the finished manuscript and my Christmas present to myself will be hiring an actual editor for the final touches. Stay tuned to see if that actually happens ….

I’ve been a bit under the weather for weeks, so that means reading, reading, and more reading! I have never attempted a theme reading month (surprising, I know!) so I thought I’d give it a shot for October and read only fantasy/mystery themed stories. I started out with a cozy mystery Witch P.I. series by Adele Abbott. It’s a cute story about a woman who was adopted only to finally meet her birth mother on her deathbed. Oh yeah, and birth momma has some news “you’re a witch”. Enter a whole new side of the family and The Dark One that wants her dead. No biggie. Each one only took about 3hrs to read so I polished them off in an evening. I figured with 21 in the series, it would last me a while. I got to book 14 and the time jump and just needed a break so I switched over to A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab . It didn’t grab me enough to finish the series so I went in search of something else.

Again Book Riot filled my TBR list and I searched out Shades and Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. I knew that name sounded familiar and then it finally clicked! She’s one of the cohosts for a favorite podcast of mine: Writing Excuses. It was promoted as “Jane Austen if she wrote fantasy” and that is totally in my wheelhouse. Well, it sounded like it would be. I suppose it had the makings of a Pride and Prejudice retelling but if just fell kind of flat for me.

Finally, I landed on the The Ministry of Curiosities series by C.J. Archer. I knew this format felt familiar only to realize she also wrote the Glass & Steele series that I really liked. It’s a good thing I liked that series because I’m not joking. This format is exactly the same as G&S with different characters. There were several times I laughed out loud during the first 8 books in this series. As a whole, I think I actually like this one better than G&S. Book 9 comes out Dec 5 and I can’t wait!

Speaking of release dates, The Delphi Resistance by Rysa Walker (Book 2) comes out  Tuesday! I loved her Chronos Series and this new Delphi trilogy is good so far. 17yr old Anna Morgan has a unique ability: ghosts like to catch a ride when she’s near. These mental hitchhikers won’t let go until she helps them take care of what they need to finish before they pass on. At least she gets to retain their knowledge and special skills, so there’s that. Happy early Birthday to me!

Last but not least I just finished up A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas. I think Thomas does a good job emulating Sherlock’s investigating skills and there are some interesting choices here how she feminizes Sherlock, but I can’t decide if I like her or not. Charlotte Holmes I mean. I need someone to read this so I can discuss it with them, because I guess the choices make sense for the time period but I can’t put my finger on what irks me about her.

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Summer reads and hitting 500 books!

I have finally hit the 500 mark AND met my 2017 Goodreads Challenge goal. As of last week, I have now read (will officially tracked as Read) 500 books in my life. Obviously there were tons of children’s books I don’t account for, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few over the years, but there is something intensely satisfying to see the proof of such a milestone. With my recent resurgence of love for audiobooks (it comes in waves), I have also managed to hit the goal of 55 on the year and am actually at 59. How you ask? Audiobooks and keeping a very, very disorganized house. Seriously y’all. No one can come to my house but darn’it if I’m not well read! I love physical books but I always have something on my kindle app I can sneak on elevators or long waits in line. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading of note:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

If you want a book with ALL the feels, this is for you. It’s a story of an unlikely friendship and an an even more unlikely love between teenagers from different worlds. Eleanor’s mom married an abusive drunk of a man so she could provide a semblance of a life for her many children after their dad left. There is never enough money, they live in constant fear, and Eleanor has been kicked out once already. Park is from a wealthy family whose parents love and dote on him. Thrown together by chance on a bus, their fates twist together as they try to navigate first love, life, and heartache. There is a lot of cursing and sexual language so FYI if you’re thinking of it for a  younger reader. This is just a really touching story of love, hope, and perseverance. When I finished this book, I wanted to just hug it to my chest. I highly recommend it!

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

This was one of the Book Babes choices for summer reading but I would not add this to your beach read list if you’re looking to stay happy & light. Overall, Ozeki is a wonderful story teller and I don’t exaggerate to say you have to really invest in these characters. Trigger Warning though, there are very heavy themes of depression, suicide, sexual assault, and extreme bullying. There are 2 main characters: Ruth, a modern author who discovered a diary on the beach in what is expected to be the beginnings of belongings washing in from a Tsunami, and Nao the 16ish year old diary author. Nao’s family were living in CA when she was a young child until the dot.com bubble burst, her father lost his job, and they were forced to move back to Japan. She struggles with not belonging, her father’s depression and many suicide attempts, and understanding her great grandmother who is a nun with quite the history. I do not think I can say I enjoyed this book necessarily because there were many times I had to stop reading to take breathe and get out from under the oppression for a few minutes. The best way I thought to describe it was, when I was done I felt like I had read something. Something of substance or importance maybe, but not something tossed aside. I wish she had stopped short of the explanation of how it all worked though. Once we got into quantum physics and Schrodinger’s cat, I glazed over and she lost me. The look into the Japanese culture is worth it if you’re willing to dig in but it’s not for the faint of heart.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I heard about this one on a favorite podcast of mine “Get Booked”, Book Riot’s customized book recommendation show and “All the Books!”, Book Riot’s new release podcast and thought it sounded simply fun. Dimple and Rishi are both graduating high school and have Indian parents who want to arrange their marriage. Dimple balks at this idea because all she wants is a career and a life of her own, not to be bogged down by a constricting marriage. Her parents suddenly agree to let her go to a computer app coding camp over the summer with little explanation and she is thrilled. Unbeknownst to her, it’s because they’ve found her a potential husband who is also going. Enter Rishi who is an amazing artist but very traditional and set for an engineering degree from MIT. He is on board with the marriage idea and is willing to meet her and give it a shot. He thinks she knows and agrees. His first words to her are are a playful “Hello, future wife. I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives.” She throws a drink in his face and runs. It only gets better from there. This story is so cute as they get to know each other and push one another to go after their dreams. Maybe they’ll fall in love in the process? This is a MUST for your beach reading list! Super enjoyable, quick read for the summer time!

Camino Island by John Grisham

Then there was Camino Island. It’s a story about a book heist, a book seller, and an author recruited as a spy. Sounds great right? It’s Grisham so surely there’s action and great storytelling. It delivers to some degree. The original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald have been stolen from Princeton. The main suspect is a book seller on an island with a penchant for having a roving eye. A young author is out of a job and happens to have a cottage on the island so an insurance company wants her to go spy on the bookseller because she’s pretty. It basically works until it abruptly ends. All wrapped up and over and I had to check to make sure I wasn’t listening to the abridged version. There’s just not much there. It felt like he was contractually obligated to write a book and he did the minimum to get one out. That being said it isn’t a bad read, I just found it unsatisfying. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of Grisham endings in general. I know, blasphemy. So overall, this isn’t a bad read, it’s just okay.

 

 

YA, Podcasts and Dollar Stores oh my!

Today we will be discussing YA, Series, Podcasts and some more fun music so buckle up!

First things first, I promised you a YA series and another series I just finished up. The Chronos Files series is by Rysa Walker and I fell upon these for free as part of Kindle Unlimited’s offerings. Loved them! Book one, Timebound introduces us to Kate, a normal 16yr old (or so she thought) and her time-travelling historian grandmother. Who doesn’t love time-travel, cults (though it feels more like scientology-esque), love and adventure? A really interesting aspect of this story is that Walker isn’t afraid for her characters to meet themselves or people who know them in different timelines. That can be super tricky to pull off but she does a fabulous job. Kate’s grandmother is sick and has basically recruited her to chase down a rogue ‘historian’ who has joined a whole group of people intentionally changing history. I devoured these as audiobooks (also free on KU) and love the voice actor. Great news that she will also be reading Walker’s new series The Delphi Effect. This one just came out about government conspiracies and paranormal abilities. Again, what is not to love? So on my temp scale, these are hot commodities so give them a listen or read and you won’t be disappointed.

Which brings us to 8 bodies is Enough by Stephanie Bond from the body movers series. I have waited forevvvver on this book it seems. You have Carlotta, whose parents left her as a child (as in disappeared one day amid allegations her dad stole a TON of money) and her younger brother Wes (who is always in trouble), a semi-disgraced coroner Cooper, smoldering detective Jack and a whole host of other characters who come and go. The main story arc is searching for her parents and the truth about the money as well as her mixed up love life. These are shorter books so you can read them in an afternoon if you want. I sped through the first few and the how much I liked them has been up and down. They’re kind of like watching your guilty pleasure tv show on Bravo. HOWEVER, I am so disappointed in this last installment. It has taken a long time to get to the real truth (we are on book 8 after all) but it was basically ok, here’s what happened and we’re bringing the real ‘monsters’ down in about 2 pages. Every question is wrapped up and answered but it felt like a conclusion dump and was just unsatisfying. I won’t even go into why her final love choice seems out of left field. I’m glad that she didn’t leave anything hanging but this just felt like an Epilogue that was made to be book length. Just lukewarm for me.

I have really been getting into Podcasts lately as I think I’ve mentioned. There are a couple on NPR I follow but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few others I’ve come to love. If you’re a bookworm and haven’t discovered BookRiot, you need to get out from under your rock! Not only do they have some great articles and cool clothes (Poe-ka dot socks anyone?), but can I be Liberty Hardy when I grow up? I noticed that every book from the Book of the Month Club I used to get turned out to be her picks and so looked into who she was. Enter BookRiot goodness. She and Jessica from BookRiot do a super fun podcast called All the Books about new releases and books they love. Get Booked is a great podcast they also do where you can ask for book recommendations and they actually answer you with 2 or more choices. (I was irrationally happy when they recommended Rules of Civility by Amor Towles the other day. LOVE That book). So yeah. Check out BookRiot and thank me later. There is so much book loving goodness you may never leave! Another great bookish option is “Book Club Appetizer”. It is about 30 mins with a book club suggestion and then an interview with the author. There aren’t as many episodes of this one but it’s good.

If you’re currently writing anything, you need to also check out a few podcasts like “Writing Excuses” by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells. 15mins of writing techniques that are so helpful! “Creative Writing Career” by Stephan Bugaj (formerly from Pixar), Justin Sloan (videogame writer) and Kevin Tumlinson (author) has great writing advice with special guests in a 40ish minute format.

SHEW! That was a long one today so thanks for waiting for it! I’ll leave you with a fun new artist this week. With great songs like “Halloween”, “Beckett”, and “Lela’s Stars”, Walker Hayes made me laugh with “You Broke up with Me” and “Dollar Store”