OMG That Song Tag

Welcome to

Aurora tagged me for this a lifetime ago (thank you!) and it’s been two lifetimes since I’ve posted a tag, so I figured this would be a good place to start!

 

[MY JAM]

A song you have to listen to no matter how many times you’ve heard it

Rachel Platten’s Stand by You because it is THE anthem for love and I get misty-eyed every time I listen to it.

And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine ’til yours can open too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

I’m 80% convinced Rachel is an actual angel.

 

A book that you’ll never get sick of

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Really, the entirety of the Realm of the Elderlings series, but this one in particular. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this in the past 3 years, but I think it’s at 6 or 7? And a lot of that has to do with the snowy setting. I don’t know what it is about expeditions into icy wastes that I find so irresistible, but I do. Give me books about characters trudging through snow, sharing blankets and fire, and telling stories to stave off the cold, and I’ll be a fan for life.

 

[THROWBACK]

A song that reminds you of the cringiest time in your life

So my current playlist? 😀

Well, my teenage years were disappointingly and unhelpfully bland. Age 18 to 21, on the other hand? Total train wreck.

I came across Poets of the Fall in 2012 thanks to the Alan Wake video game. But contrary to 2012 Kathy, there’s nothing cringey about this Finnish band. The lead singer’s voice is molten honey and sex combined and their lyrics are heartstopping poetry.

 

A book you read that you wouldn’t like now

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I read The Mists of Avalon when I was 15 and it blew. my. mind. This was the feminist Arthurian retelling I never knew I needed. And I could overlook some of the more questionable scenes because I thought the heart of the story was in a good place. Well, turns out it wasn’t in a good place because years later the abuse allegations against Bradley came out, and that was that.

Sometimes I can separate a creator from the creator’s work. This probably isn’t one of those times.

 

[REPLAY]

A recent song that you have on repeat

“Broken & Beautiful” by Kelly Clarkson. Because I mean:

I’m tired
Can I just be tired?
Without piling on all sad and scared and out of time

I need–NEED–Kelly and P!nk to do a live duet of this.

 

A recent favorite book

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No words. A once-in-a-lifetime-experience. A gorgeous fae prince/princess would have to ride their griffin down from the sky and whisk me away to their forest kingdom for me to even consider knocking The Mortal Sleep out of the Favourite of 2019 position. (You can read my review here)

 

[GETS ME]

A song that’s literally me

“Miracle” by The Score. The band wrote it as a way of expressing their anxieties about song-writing and being in the music industry, but I choose to interpret it as a general “I’m going through some shit in my life” song.

It’s not just a phase
Now let me explain
I’m working through some shit
Sometimes I’m medicated

 

A book that is me in book form

The Light Between Worlds

See “A recent favorite book.”

But also The Light Between Worlds. Because one of its main characters reminded me of myself in the most uncomfortable way. The mental health stuff, that is. Not the “got ported to a magical forest ruled by a talking stag” bit.

 

[WUT]

A weird song that you liked anyways

To be fair, this isn’t a hard song to love at all. Tierra Whack’s debut album Whack World is nothing short of brilliant–a treasure trove 15 songs (all of which are 1 minute long) that brim with experimental whimsy. With “Fruit Salad” Tierra sings about eating vegetables (yes), lowering cholesterol (really), and not caring about what other people thinks about her body. How she makes that sound so good and addictive I have no idea.

 

A unique book that stuck out to you for some reason

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Memory lane time! When I was a teen I went through a delusional phase where I decided I would go through the entirety of my library’s YA section from A to Z. It lasted for only about 5 months and I ended up skipping through the alphabet, but I did get a chance to pick up some of the more…bizarre titles I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. Madapple is one of them. It’s one of those contemporary books that feels more like a fairy tale because of how surreal and ethereal everything is. There’s virgin birth involved. And child abuse. And court drama. And incestuous romance!

Terrible girl-in-a-bad-wig cover aside, I really really liked it at the time, and I haven’t read anything quite like it since.

 

[LET’S GO]

Your best pump up song

Maybe not the best, but the most recent. Within Temptation is baaaack and they’re apparently leading a space opera revolution to take back Mars. I’m SO in.

 

A book that inspires you

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I live and die on the altar of Markus Zusak and not (only) because he replied to the letter I wrote when I was 13, telling me it was beautiful (you probably say that to every kid, sir). But because The Book Thief pretty much molded the way I approach writing and other creative endeavours, and just…life in general.

I read it around the same time that I watched Pan’s Labyrinth, and they both taught me not to be afraid of rawness and creating raw and dark things, and not to be shameful about finding beauty in them.

 

[CHILL]

Your best chill or relaxing song

Sleeping At Last is an international treasure and Saturn is my favourite from their Atlas album.

 

A book you’d curl up with on a rainy day

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Mix together hope, goodness, whimsy, and small wisdoms in a bowl, pour them into tiny bottles and string them up around your walls like Christmas lights, look at it for one hour or five, and that’s what reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is like.

 

[ADDICTING]

A guilty pleasure song

I…don’t really have one??? But I guess this is the closest? I mean, I don’t feel at all guilty about listening to it, but I would feel a tad guilty about singing it in polite company because the lyrics are pretty explicit. And only Damien Rice can make them sound like absolute poetry.

 

A light, trashy read you can’t help but love

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Okay, this isn’t really light (I don’t know if any story involving Henry VIII could be light) and “love” is a strong word, but I did find it an addictive read.

 

[Nostalgia]

A throwback song you look back on fondly

So for the longest time–like, eight years–I’d thought this song was about the bittersweetness of growing up and watching your friends drift away, and I loved that because at the wise old age of 14 I thought, “Man, all the golden years are behind me.”

And then I finally watched the music video and saw a kid George W. Bush pushing around toy soldiers and tanks and was like, “Oh, right. This is Rise Against.” But I love it now even more because it’s such a chameleon of a song and it can absolutely be interpreted both ways.

 

A book you read and loved when you were young

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I read first read The Little Prince when I was…6? And it’s the first book that I could describe as being poignant. Or whatever a 6 year-old’s version of “poignant” was.

 

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Tagging (because I’m very curious about your music tastes. I mean, I could just ASK but where’s the fun in that???)

Amanda @ MetalPhantasm Reads
Gerry @ BookNook UK
Kristina @ Books and Dachshunds
Lisa @ Way Too Fantasy
Nicole @ Thoughts Stained with Ink

And anyone else who wants to give it a go!

Shelfie By Shelfie #1

This is a tag that I first saw on Tar Heel Reader, which is run by the indelible, incredible Jennifer, and was created by Beth from Bibliobeth. Thank you to Jennifer for bringing this to my attention and to Beth for coming up with this awesome tag!

“If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf.”

I told myself I’d do this post weeks ago and then–surprise surprise–I ended up procrastinating. Now we’ve gone from scorching sun to constant rain and I lost the opportunity to make use of natural light. So I dragged out two desk lamps from the closet and tried to create some nice indoor lighting. The result wasn’t…great.

Imagine a praying mantis–like this one!

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Now imagine those two front legs as my table lamps. And imagine a camera resting against one of the shoulders.

That’s more or less how I looked trying to take this picture. Only 10 times more wobbly and 1000 times less fabulous.

Glitter and glamour, my life is not.

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1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

…That’s a very good question! *Sweats* Is “I like the way these books look next to each other” a valid sorting mechanism? How about “I let my right hand guide me like a dowsing rod and these are the books it picked out for this shelf”? No? Okay.

I recently resorted my books and I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me. But these ones do share a few things in common: they’re mostly fantasy, most of them have LGBTQIAP+ representation, and they’re some of my favourites. You may also notice that I have a habit of not buying all the books in a series.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

Six years ago, I got my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale signed at a university event where Margaret Atwood gave an hour-long talk about the zombie apocalypse.

Two things I learned on that day:

1. Atwood is very funny in a very dry kind of way. I couldn’t believe she was Canadian because I don’t generally associate our country with wry humour. Some guy asked during Q&A (in the most haughty tone imaginable), “What made you go into writing? Was it the elements of plot, the characters? Or was it the language, the words, the sentences?”

And she answered, “Well, it was better than Home Economics.”

I loved it.

2. Margaret Atwood may look like “a frail baby giraffe but [she] has the intimidation factor of a 8.0 earthquake” (actual words I found in my journal entry).

See, I’d brought The Handmaid’s Tale and my new journal to get signed after the talk–my new journal that I hadn’t written in for about a month. When I gave the journal over, she flipped to the latest entry, flipped to the front page, looked at the date and then at me and said, “You haven’t been writing.”

I squeaked out “Um, no!”

Which she followed with a shake of the head and a “You need to write more!”

Then she proceeded to scribble across half of an empty page, “For Kathy–write more on this page today! – Margaret Atwood”

I don’t know if I was more ecstatic or mortified. But I did write on that page that day. And the day after. Becaue when Margaret Atwood tells you to write, you write.

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

I think I would sooner ditch myself. BUT if my loved ones were being held at gunpoint, I guess The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg would do the job since I have another (larger) copy on a different shelf. 😛

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Beth, we haven’t even talked yet! Why do you already hate me? 😭 I adore these books and two of them are signed and beloved, so I’m going cheat this time. I’ll get myself a Bag of Holding and just stuff the entire shelf inside.

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Most of these are fairly new but I’ve had Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta since 2011!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

That would be The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

I have already re-read quite a few of these, but I’m very excited to get to Blue Lily, Lily Blue for the first time!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There are several objects!

Tal
On the left: the miniature traditional Korean masks (“tal”) my mom got for me on her most recent trip to South Korea. The larger ones were/are used during ceremonies, rituals, plays, and dancing (which my dad used to do). We had them hanging around our house when I was little and they used to freak me out. These two are much more pleasant to look at.

In the middle we have the Little Prince & Fox figurines!

And on the right there’s a Joan of Arc-inspired mini sword that I got for myself last Christmas because I love swords and Joan of Arc is one of my favourite historical heroines.

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

That I read a lot of fantasy and that my methods of organization are a mystery even to myself?

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I don’t want to pressure anyone to showcase their shelves so I won’t be tagging anyone, but if you’d like to do the tag, go for it!

And go check out Jennifer and Beth’s shelves!

The Weather in Books Tag

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I saw Lisa from Way Too Fantasy do this tag and it looked like a fun one! I have no idea who its creator is, so if anyone knows, drop me a note!

And speaking of weather, we’ve finally gone from Fire, Smoke, and Lung Cancer to rain–sweet, glorious rain–so that’s something! My sincerest condolences to those who lost their homes in a fire this summer. And an equally sincere F-U to a certain leader of a country who claims that Canadian lumber has been the cause of U.S. fires. Because global warming isn’t a thing, apparently, and neither is thinking. So–

*Furious cutting gestures from my imaginary assistant who’s hoisting up a sign that says ‘NO POLITICAL RANTS’*

…So yeah, tags! Fun, stress-free, non-political tags. That are about books.

Let’s get to it! 😀

 

☀️ Sunshine:  A Book That Made You Smile

The Adventure ZoneI don’t know what it says about me that this one took me the longest to come up with (a lie–I’m pretty sure I know what what says about me). The McElroys never fail to make me smile and laugh and there is a lot to smile and laugh about in their graphic novel adaptation of The Adventure Zone podcast. Even though I already know the story, I had a blast reading through it. The art is super charming and adorable and captures the humour of the “story” perfectly. I’ll definitely do a review on it sometime in the near future…Hopefully. *Glumly eyes my pile of unfinished reviews*

 

🌧️ Rain:  A Book You Couldn’t Put Down

Lies of Locke

I’m finding it harder to pull all-nighters with books as I get older, but Scott Lynch’s The Gentleman Bastards series is one I have no trouble doing it with. The combination of fun, eclectic characters, brilliant worldbuilding, and the best banter makes The Lies of Locke Lamora as addicting as any drug.

 

🌬️ Wind:  A Book That Blew You Away

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There are a lot of books that fit the bill, but I’ll choose this one since its sequel isn’t too far away.

I dislike economics with a passion. I hated learning about it (in the one elective class I took in undergrad) and I hate reading about it fiction. The Traitor Baru Cormorant not only made me like the economics aspect of the story, it made me invested (excuse the pun) in it, it made me chomping at the bits to know more. That’s sorcery. Pure and simple. And I would just like to know what blood sacrifices Seth Dickinson is making to which god, because I could really use some of that magic myself.

 

☁️ Hurricane:  A Tragic Book

At swim, two boys

There are books that make me cry, and then there are books that make me sob until I’m hobbling around in a state of complete exhaustion. Guess which category this belongs to?

Reading At Swim, Two Boys was like being pummeled by a rock slide and then flattened with a sledgehammer for good measure. And the funny thing is, most of the story isn’t tragic. Set in Ireland against a WW1 backdrop, it’s a tale of hope, friendship, and love, complete with beautiful characterization, heartaching prose, and quite a bit of humour. There’s nothing to suggest–Well, okay, maybe the “WW1” bit.

Anyhow, the book is a must read for all lovers of historical fiction and/or LGBTQIAP+ fiction. Just arm yourself with alcohol/chocolate/comfort food and a bucket beforehand.

 

❄️ Blizzard:  A Book You Had High Expectations For

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I could write a dissertation on the sheer brilliance of the first three books in this series and then write an equally long paper on how disappointed I was with this fourth and final book. The Monstrumologist series is a 19th century gothic horror story that follows the lives of an orphaned boy named Will Henry and his ward, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man dedicated to the science of monsters. It’s gruesome, the writing is drop-dead gorgeous, and the characters are drawn with exquisite complexity.

So I expected much of the same for Book 4. Instead, I got the last season of a TV show that knows it’s getting cancelled so it tries to wrap everything up while also adding in new stuff because hell, we’re getting canned anyway, might as well be experimental.

The series is still one of my favourites of all time and I’ve listened to the audiobooks more times than I can count. I just, uh, pretend this last one doesn’t exist.

 

🌪️ Tornado:  A Book You Didn’t Like At First But Ended Up Loving

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I had a bit of a hard time with this one because I can usually decide in the first 1/4 of a book whether or not I’m going to love the rest. Then I gave myself a smack and went, “Oh, duh!” Right. So this book. I bought it when I was 15 with what measly allowance money I had and got my first taste of buyer’s remorse within the first couple of chapters–“Is this even a contemporary?”; “Wha–are these kids fighting in a war?”; “What the HELL is going on???” I side-eyed the Printz award committee. Hard. I wondered if refunding it after already having read a part of it was an ethical thing to do. I didn’t think it was, so I gritted my teeth and read on. Best. Decision. Ever.

There are so many elements that make On the Jellicoe Road such a masterpiece, but at the core of it is the friendship. The book has, by far, one of the most beautiful depictions of friendship I’ve encountered in any genre. The kind that seeps into your heart and takes permanent root.

And it’s a book I even recommend to fantasy-only readers because Melina Marchetta has a gift for taking something as ordinary as a small rural town and turning it into an otherworldly place.

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I TAG:

Dorine
Jennifer
Norrie
Paige

And anyone else who wants to do it! ❤

Blogger Recognition Award – A 6 Month Anniversary On Which I Attempt to Give Advice on Blogging and Life

Blogger Recognition award

I was nominated by Gerry from The BookNook UK for the Blogger Recognition Award about a month ago! Gerry ranks among post-it notes and cinnamon buns with cream cheese as one of the more awesome things that exist in this world, so go shower her with love.

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Write a post to show your award
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  • Select 15 other bloggers you’d like to give this award to
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them, providing a link to the post you’ve created

This was meant to be a whole separate post in June, but then I realized July is the 6-month anniversary for this blog and so I thought, “What better way to celebrate a half-anniversary than foisting terrible advice onto people?”

So here goes!

Origin

The story of my blog getting started is astoundingly dull and short, and I’ve mentioned it twice already (here and on a post that I can’t remember the name of), so today I’ll just talk a little about the series of events that snowballed into its inception.

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, reading and writing had been two massive parts of my life. Then university came and the latter half of my undergrad soon became my lowest point. I don’t want to get into massively triggering details because this is supposed to be an anniversary celebration post, but most days it was like crawling to the edge of an abyss and wondering if today was the day that I finally had the energy to tip myself over. And so I stopped reading and writing for the most part.

Then I came across Robin Hobb’s books. And it won’t be an exaggeration to say that they saved my life. (I’m 100% sure that if I ever get the mind-numbing pleasure of meeting Robin in real life, I’ll break down sobbing and they’ll have to wheel me out in a gurney and everyone will be traumatized by the experience).

So after reading through every book Robin had published up to then, I thought:

I want to read more of this.

And then a year later:

I want to write like this.

And the goalpost just kept moving forward, tiny bit by tiny bit.

Up to now. (Sometimes it’s the small victories that matter the most)

So I’ve been blogging for just six months. I’m a small, waddling toddler trying to duke it out with the heavyweights. And today I’m here to dispense some of the wisdom that I’ve gained in my very, very short life.

I imagine all the veterans reading this right now are doing so with an indulgent smile, like they’re humouring the antics of a 8 year-old who came home from school one day declaring they’ve discovered the secrets of the universe.

“Yeah okay, kid, let’s see what you’ve got.”

Right. No pressure.

Well, I don’t claim to have stumbled upon the secrets of the blogsphere, let alone the universe. The internet freaks me out half the time and most days I’m just tripping over my feet hoping I don’t break anything when I hit the ground.

So my advice are as much an advice as they are reminders to myself. I can’t promise they’ll help you become the most successful blogger to have ever blogged. I can’t even promise that they’re good advice. But maybe they’ll help you feel a little better about yourself and make you smile or cringe (or both–I’ll take both).

 

1. Write your posts however the way you want to

Seems like a no-brainer, yeah? But I’ve seen a few people worrying about finding their “blogging voice,” so I’m guessing it’s not an uncommon problem people face.

Well, there’s no one way to write a blog post. I mean, there’s no one way to write, period.

You can be as informal or formal as you want. Use gifs and emojis to your heart’s content! Gifs and emojis are unprofessional, they say? Fuck that. The vast majority of you are doing this for free. The idea of someone caring enough about a book to write an entire post on it–gif-riddled or otherwise–is professional enough for me.

And not every post needs to be in contention for the next Nobel prize for literature or whatever pseudo-prizes they give out to bloggers (here I’m very much lecturing to myself). There are no English teachers or profs looming over your shoulder checking to see that your independent clauses are sufficiently independent and docking marks for overabundant use of semi-colons.

So use this opportunity to stick a middle-finger at your 11th Grade English teacher who kept scribbling on the margins of your paper, “This sounds good but STOP USING SO MANY SENTENCE FRAGMENTS” (FFS they were creative writing papers, Mr. Wallace). Because two of the greatest joys of being an adult:

1) Ice cream for dinner
2) ALL the sentence fragments, baby (unless you’re writing formal papers)

One thing that I keep in mind when writing reviews or any other posts is, “What would make me keep reading this?” For some it’ll be humour, for others it’ll be a super formal essay-style. Everyone has different tastes and you can’t please them all. So write in a way that pleases you.

And go wild! Experiment! Loosen up!

If you want write your reviews in verse, go for it!

You want to try rap lyrics? Heck yes!

I mean, hell, Captain’s Quarters writes like a pirate! (It’s pretty awesome)

Or if you don’t want to do anything super fancy, then don’t. Just write. And as long as you’re getting your thoughts across, I promise you no one will care about grammar errors or typos.

And if it takes you months and months to get settled into a style you’re happy with, that’s perfectly fine too. I imagine blogging is as much of journey in itself, with its high and low moments that sometimes mirror the trajectory of your real life and other times have an entire life of its own. And if you’re enjoying yourself, your readers will be right there riding the crazy train with you.

 

2. You’re never too big or too small to show kindness

“Kathy, if I wanted a fortune cookie’s worth of all sap and no substance, I’d have cracked open, well, a fortune cookie.”

First of all, once in a blue moon, those cookies give you fortunes that aren’t completely asinine.

Second of all, I don’t know why so much of our society has decided that kindness is something worth belittling. That it’s a show of weakness and naivete–a giving of all in exchange for nothing. I’m not saying that kindness is the answer to every woe that exists in this world–a sort of a deus ex machina–but it does make for a more fulfilling day-to-day life. And that applies to blogging as well.

Jealousy is an easy thing to get caught up in as a blogger (as in every area of life)–especially when you see people getting all the physical ARCs and all the followers. And that’s perfectly normal! Jealousy is a common and valid emotion that you don’t need to be ashamed of. The problem arises when you deny it and/or when you let it mutate into resentment and bitterness.

So focus on yourself and focus on the qualities that make these other bloggers so great. Is that always easy? GOD, no. Sometimes your brain is like a dog that just flops down in the middle of the street and refuses to budge. So you gotta haul it up and painstakingly drag it along the direction that you want it to go–which in this case is the Road of Kindness and Generosity.


But pretty much everyone I’ve interacted with in the blogging world have been wonderful thus far, so you won’t have to reach far to find something nice to say about them. And whether they have 20 followers or 2000, a short comment of “Hey, I enjoy this thing that you’re making! Keep going, you beautiful butterfly, you!” can make all the difference in the world.

And in the words of Justin McElroy, “There’s no narrative to your life, no arc, no reward for achieving all the things you want. That kind of thinking is a recipe for a you-centric world view and is a very lonely road. Focus instead on the role you play in the stories of others…Putting others first with a cheerful heart isn’t easy, but because of that, even the smallest acts can leave an incalculable impact.”

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So to those who have ever read, commented, or skimmed my posts and went “Eh, I guess that wasn’t a half-bad read,” thank you for making this experience as incredible as it has been. Here’s to six months more. ❤️

I’ll nominate Vera from Unfiltered Tales, Maddie from Munch Reviews, Consu from Paper-Eyed Girl, Kaleena from Reader Voracious, Kristin from Kristin Kraves Books (None of you are obligated to do it!), and anyone else who feels like taking a shot at advice-giving!

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: Royalty | 3 Days, 3 Quotes [Day 3]

Diversity-Spotlight-Thursday-Banner

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves & Paperbacks. Each week you come up with three book for three different categories: a diverse book you’ve read and enjoyed; a diverse book that’s already been released and is in your TBR; and a diverse book that hasn’t been released yet.

Today we’re donning all the crowns, the jewels, the unwieldy layers of fabric, and exploring some diverse books that feature royalty! This was a hard one, but it was either royalty or diverse pilots (you’ll see why in the second half of the post).

Diverse-Royalty

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The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Captive Prince was the first “royal” book that popped to mind, but that one has issues regarding sexual violence, so instead I’m picking the next diverse yet controversial book that immediately popped to mind (because I hate making things easy for myself, apparently), which is The Tiger’s Daughter. There are those who absolutely hated the representation of Asian culture in this book (Japan and Mongolia in particular), others who loved it, and others who didn’t much care. It’s a matter of inspiration vs. appropriation, and while I do think the worldbuilding is lazy in some respects, I don’t believe it portrays East Asian countries in a disrespectful or malicious manner.

So with that immediate digression…

The Tiger’s Daughter is an epistolary novel that follows the lives of Shefali, a child of the nomadic Qorin tribe, and Shizuka, the future empress of Hokkaro–two young girls whose fates were entwined from birth. The prose is breathtaking and the romance between the two characters is beautifully drawn out. The second book is coming out this October and I’m quite eager to get my hands on it.

A-book-on-my-tbrThe Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a standalone graphic novel that stars a prince who loves wearing dresses and his best friend who loves making those dresses. It seems like a sweet story reminiscent of the Princess Jellyfish manga series, and it’s been getting heaps of praises, so I very much look forward to checking it out.

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Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

 
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

~
This book doesn’t have a royal protagonist, but it’s set in a royal environment and has a king as a major character, so I figure it’s close enough. The premise reminds me a little of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy (except more queer and Asian), and I find the “forbidden romance” aspect rather intriguing.

Releases November 6th, 2018

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This is Day 3 of the 3 Days, 3 Quotes, for which I was tagged by Alyssa from Serendipitous Reads!

The Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you
2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day)
3. Nominate three new bloggers each day

For this last day, I’d like to feature a quote from my favourite littlest prince of all time:

Little-Prince-quote

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is my favourite children’s book and one of my favourite books of all time. It’s one of those stories that sinks its claws into you and refuses to let go, becoming more and more meaningful as you grow older.

It also comes with a rather romantic and tragic backstory (or afterstory, rather). The Little Prince opens up with an aviator crashed on a desert, and Saint-Exupéry himself just also happened to be a pilot (he’d inserted his experience with his own near-fatal crash into the story). He’d flew with the Allies during World War 2, until one day, during one mission, he vanished without a trace.

A partial wreckage of his plane has since been found, but I like to believe that he flew himself all the way to Asteroid B-612 to be with the Little Prince. I hope that wherever he is, he managed to find some measure of peace and comfort as I found in his story.

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Today I tag: You! Everyone! If you wish to be tagged, consider yourself tagged!

The Mystery Blogger Award (Part 1)

The Mystery Blogger Award

I’ve been procrastinating on these tags and have accumulated multiples of the same one, so I’ll be splitting this into two parts! For Part 1, I was tagged by two wonderful people–Justine from Milkz Bookshelf and Gerry from the UK Booknook. Justine is a relatively new blogger (only two months old), but she’s already been kicking ass and taking names. And Gerry’s posts are my kind of weird, hilarious, and passionate. Both are incredibly supportive and amazing, so go drop by and say hello!

RULES:

1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog.
3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well. (Maggie @okoto enigmas blog)
4. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
5. Nominate 10-20 people.
6. Notify your nominees.
7. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, specifying one weird/funny question.
8. Share a link to your best post(s).

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3 Things About Myself

1. I used to play tennis competitively, from middle school to undergrad, up until my mental health issues got dialed up to 11. Nowadays I just play for fun, and while I do sometimes miss the thrill of competing, I definitely don’t miss the crippling anxiety that comes with it. I adore the sport, though, both the playing and the watching, so if any of you are tennis fans, for the love God, come talk to me.

2. I have trypophobia, which is defined as the “fear of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps.” I used to freak out whenever my mom added fresh strawberries to my cereal, because the milk would cover up the seed dimples and create these hellish white clusters.

3. I don’t like drinking tea. I’m pretty sure this makes me some of a heathen in the blogging community (“burn her!”). I like the idea of it–the smell, the varieties, the…aesthetic. But once it enters my mouth region, all my happy feelings decay into a train of “UGH” and “BLERGH” and “THIS IS JUST WARM LEAFY WATER.” Though if you end up inviting me to your place and serving me tea, I will drink it up with a polite–and definitely-not-pained–smile like a good Canadian. And quietly plot your demise.

Justine’s Questions:

1. How did you into book blogging?

Oh boy, it’s a real rollercoaster of a story, so brace yourselves.

*Ahem*

One day I was ranting about a book to my friend and they said (probably in an attempt to extract themselves from my crazed lecture), “You should just start a book blog.” And I was like, “You know what? Yeah! I should totally do that.” And 15 minutes later my blog was born.

*crickets*

The end!

2. What genre of music do you listen to the most?

Rock and alt-rock, probably! Early teen me was obsessed with Linkin Park, Rise Against, Damien Rice, and punk-rock Demi Lovato. And that kind of carried into adulthood. Some of my other favourites today are Poets of the Fall and Breaking Benjamin.

3. If you could never read a book genre again what would it be?

*Deep breath* Canadian. Historical. Fiction *Shudders* *Curls up into a ball and weeps softly*.

Listen, I love this country and we have some incredible authors–from legends like Margaret Atwood to more up-and-coming ones, especially in speculative fiction. But Canadian history (sans First Nations history) is about as exciting as watching the Windows 10 update screen for 4 hours. And there are only so many stories about 19th century immigrants starting potato-and-wheat farms and surviving famines I can take before I start fantasizing about ramming my head through the nearest wall. Grade 11 AP English was decidedly not a fun time.

4. What’s your favorite scent?

The scent of a forest after a fresh fall of rain. Very few things make me happier than hiking through a damp stretch of woods.

5.  What came first, the chicken or the egg?

I want to be a smartass and say chickens obviously came after because eggs of all kinds existed before chickens were a thing….but my scientist brain is yelling at me to give a proper answer. I would still say eggs because the evolution of chickens from whatever pre-chicken species existed in the past couldn’t have occurred without sexual reproduction and the formation of zygotes.

Gerry’s Questions:

1. If you had to name a cocktail after your personality what would you call it? Bonus points if you know what ingredients it would have.

“Night Owl” Yes, it’s less personality and more lifestyle, but shush, because I know the exact ingredients for this one: kahlua, espresso, and irish cream served on the rocks with dark chocolate shavings.

2. You’ve woken up and had the sudden realization that you’ve grown a pair of wings. What do they look like? Do they suit you?

They start out as little baby bird wings that are all stubby and sickly-looking and spectacularly useless. I stare glumly at the mirror every morning, cursing myself for ever having dreamed about having wings, and do my very best to resist punching every smirking asshole who asks me, “Hey, can I see your wings?” (In this alt-reality, winged humans are considered rare, but not outside the realm of possibility.)

Then one morning I wake up tussling with an unexpected bedmate in the form of a pair of 14-feet wings that just happen to be attached to my back. Hallelujah, it’s the world’s quickest growth spurt! (Too bad the same couldn’t be said for my height). The wings are eagle-esque in terms of shape and they’re a mix of black and auburn with the occasional streak of grey.

So the good news is that that’s a definite improvement on ugly duckling wings. The bad news? Turns out owning a pair of new untested wings is kind of like being a pubescent boy popping inappropriate boners everywhere. I get hit with a gentle breeze? Out they go! I’m getting nervous during a presentation? Whoosh! Overnight I’ve become a walking, breathing hazard and all of this is just making me more depressed than ever.

Then yet another morning (I really need to stop sleeping) I wake to find a tiny sparrow sitting on my chest, sighing and mumbling, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” And it yells, in a hysterically squeaky voice, “Fate has chosen thee for a higher calling! And because fate is a bitch with a cruel sense of humour, it’s chosen me to be your illustrious guide. So quit moping around feeling sorry for yourself and get your shit together because we’re gonna to need to clean up this fucking mess of a world.”

“…What the what?”

And so that’s how I get saddled with a disconcertingly adorable and foul-mouthed mentor who whips me into a barely-competent, highly-reluctant superhero whose badass superhero getup consists of a bargain deal faux-leather jacket (because apparently being a superhero isn’t what you’d call a stable career), jeans with copious grass stains (from weeks of practice landings), and a pair of aviator goggles that looks to be circa 1920. Oh, and a bike helmet. ‘Cause safety and all that.

Look out evildoers, because I’m here to crash-land all over your ass.

(Fun fact: I was very much obsessed with the Maximum Ride series as a teen and even more obsessed with the idea of having wings.)

(And shout out to Gerry for giving me mini story prompts as questions. :P)

3. If you didn’t have to sleep what would you do instead?

Read, draw, catch up on TV shows, fly out into the night with my newfound wings to punch all the nazis dispense vigilante justice and rescue all the puppies, play video games. You know, the usual stuff.

4. You have to chuck three books you hate into the volcano to appease the god/goddess of bad books. What three go in?

Atlas Shrugged. It’s coldly devoid of any humanity so maybe it can help cool the volcano down a bit.

The North Water. I have no idea how this won the Man Booker prize. Is torture porn considered a form of highbrow literature? …Don’t answer that.

Fifty Shades of Grey. Though I don’t hate the book so much as I passionately dislike the author.

5. You’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and have entered Wonderland. Where the first place you head to? Why?

I know I said I didn’t like tea, but the Hatter’s tea party is probably one I shouldn’t miss. Weird stories and riddles are my jam. Plus, I want to pet the dormouse.

My Best Post(s)

Hands-down, my “Of Wit Bonds, Mental Health, and the Power of Stories: How FitzChivalry Farseer Saved My Life” post. I find it a struggle to allow myself to be proud of my creative work, but I poured every morsel of myself into this essay and writing it was a therapeutic, near-transcendent experience. So yeah, I’m proud…and content.  And it’s funny because I wrote it when my blog still very new so it didn’t get much traction here. But I cross-posted it to r/fantasy and r/robinhobb and the responses I got left me sobbing.

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I tag:

– Aurora @ Aurora Libralis
– Avery @ Red Rocket Panda
– Consu @ Paper-Eyed Girl
– Elissa @ Elissa Reads
– Nicole @ The Bookworm Drinketh
– Susy @ Susy’s Cozy World

My questions (and yup, some of these aren’t technically questions):

  1. Tell me one thing you’re really good at! (Aside from being an awesome blogger)
  2. Name one favourite and one least favourite plot trope.
  3. A character that you initially hated but eventually grew to love?
  4. What’s one place in the world you would love to visit?
  5. If you could form an adventuring party with any three people (real, fictional, etc) who would you pick? Free cookies if you can name your classes and alignments.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: Historical Fiction | 3 Days, 3 Quotes [Day 1]

Diversity-Spotlight-Thursday-Banner

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme that’s hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves & Paperbacks and the idea is that each week you come up with three book for three different categories: a diverse book you’ve read and enjoyed; a diverse book that’s already been released and is in your TBR; and a diverse book that hasn’t been released yet.

This week’s topic is: Historical Fiction

I’ve been stupidly busy for the last week and a half with work, volunteer, and various personal stuff, so to save time, I’ve decided to smoosh two sort-of-related posts into one. I’m also rather behind on comments so I’ll be slowly be catching up on all your recent posts!

DIVERSITY-SPOTLIGHT---Historical-fiction

A-book-I-have-read2
At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neil

At Swim, Two Boys is one of those books that makes you think, “No human could have written this,” and at the same time, “Only a human could have written this.” O’Neil manipulates the English language with the finesse of a god and the pathos of a mortal to produce what is probably the most beautifully-crafted piece of fiction I have ever read. And it’s so wonderfully accessible, because although the story is historical–one that slides a lens over the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland–at its core it’s a tale of the endurance of love, friendship, and youth amidst violence and hatred. And anyone, regardless of sexuality, nationality, age, or gender can relate to that.

Goodreads | Amazon (US) | Book Depository

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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is the Queen of lesbian historical fiction, and Fingersmith has been on my TBR for a while now. I did, however, end up watching the Korean movie adaptation, The Handmaiden (아가씨) last year, and it utterly blew me away. Sexuality and open expression of sexuality–of any kind–is still very much a taboo subject in South Korea, so it’s eyebrow-raising (in the best way) to see them produce something so beautifully erotic. If the original story is anything close to this film, then I’m in for a wild ride.

Goodreads | Amazon (US) | Book Depository

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

This one might be cheating because the first book in the series was a historical fiction with a dash of fantasy and I have a feeling the sequel will follow that trend, but it looks too good to pass up. Felicity was my favourite character from Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and I was beyond stoked to hear that she would be getting her own book. The story feature ace rep and a possible (?) F/F pairing, which is exciting.

Goodreads | Amazon (US) | Book Depository

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And for the second part of this post, I’ll be doing the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag! I was tagged by Alyssa from Serendipitous Reads ages ago, so thank you, Alyssa! She writes the some of the most thoughtful reviews so go check her out and shower her with love.

The Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you
2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day)–I’m totally gonna be bending this rule
3. Nominate three new bloggers each day

Because it’s Pride month, I wanted to share my favourite quote from At Swim, Two Boys:

“Help these boys build a nation their own. Ransack the histories for clues to their past. Plunder the literatures for words they can speak. And should you encounter an ancient tribe whose customs, however dimly, cast light on their hearts; tell them that tale; and you shall name the unspeakable names of your kind, and in that naming, in each such telling, they will falter a step to the light.

For only with pride may a man prosper. With pride, all things follow. Without he have pride he is a shadowy skulk whose season is night.”

This passage drove me to tears the first time I read it. It just speaks so powerfully of the importance, the necessity, of seeing our queerness reflected out in the world–whether through literature or some other medium. Each LGBTQIAP+ story is a call that says, “Your existence is beautiful,” and that’s something we need to be hearing every day, every minute of our lives.

Today I tag:

1. Gerry from The BookNook UK
2. Lily from Sprinkles of Dreams
3. Vera from Unfiltered Tales

 

Book Blogger Insider Tag

Book-Blogger-Insider-Tag-banner

I was tagged by Ashley from Ashley in Wonderland for this, so thank you, Ashley! Her blog is wonderful (and so pretty to look at), so be sure to check out it out!

RULES:

Answer the questions below
Credit the creator: Jamie @ ALittleSliceofJamie
Tag at least 5 people
Have fun!

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1. Where do you typically write your blog posts?

I’m an idiot and it’s 2 in the morning so the first answer that popped into my head was, “Uh…Wordpress? Duh.” *Smacks head* Right. So the locations at which I write my blog posts are my desktop and my bed. A lot of the structural, academical type of writing happens at the desktop and a lot of the creative work happens in bed. (*waggles eyebrows*)

2. How long does it take you to write a book review?

The shortest one so far took me about an hour. Usually it takes two days. One day for the rough draft and another for the final version. This current one I’m writing is turning out to be a record-breaker because I’ve been at it for nearly two weeks. It’s going to be the first perfect score given on this blog and I’m really desperate to do the book justice.

3. When did you start your book blog?

January 14th, 2018. The decision honestly came out of nowhere. I’d been rambling about a book to my friend–pretty much giving an impromptu review–and she was like, “Why don’t you just start a blog?” And I was like, “Huh, yeah, I should.” And that was that.

4. What’s the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

The stress of trying to aim for a consistent schedule. Also, having all these drafts for future blog posts but feeling anxious about publishing them. Okay, I guess this one’s not so much the worst thing about having a book blog, but one of the not-so-great things about having a brain and, well, being human.

5. What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

All these new, awesome bookish nerds I get to interact with! It consistently boggles my mind that there are people out there who not only want to read my ramblings but leave kind comments in the process. You guys are all amazing.

6. What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

Uh, “fun” might not be the right word, but my favourite post I’ve written so far is my gushing love letter to Robin Hobb and her characters. It was a very personal post and something I’d been meaning to write for nearly a year, and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out. I posted it when my blog was still just a hatchling so it didn’t get a lot of traction here, but I did cross-post it to reddit, and the responses there were just mindbogglingly amazing.

7. What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Lists are always fun and easy and a surefire way to encourage other bloggers to engage in a discussion. But, and this might be a weird thing to say, I love writing emotional pieces. So discussion and opinion posts (or even reviews) that relate back to me in a personal way, that other people can then also relate to, are the most fulfilling ones for me to write.

8. When do you typically write?

My brain thinks that 1 AM is the prime time for doing all the reading, writing, and gaming, so I tend to be the most productive around then. My best ideas also seem to come to me during that time, prompting me to drag out my tablet in the middle of falling asleep and tap out a wall of sleepy, semi-coherent thoughts. Thanks a bunch, brain.

9. How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddled up with your fur baby?

dog

This but skinnier because I’ve been squashing it so much.

 

With music and a lot of pacing. Sometimes with a snack, but never with tea (*whispers* I really hate tea. This probably makes me a heathen in the book blogging sphere). I also have a giant dog plush that takes up half the bed, so when I’m writing at night I sometimes cuddle up with that.

10. When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

I usually do a rough draft of a review while I’m reading the book–writing notes as I read is something that’s been embedded in me since senior high English and undergrad. This is where I collect all the visceral, in-the-moment reactions, and they usually end up being the structural bones of the final review. After I finish the book, I expand on these thoughts. These are usually choppy fragments: my opinion on the setting, the plot, the characters, and moments I loved or hated. Then I let it percolate for a couple of hours up to a day (sometimes several days) and stitch them together into something half-way coherent. Then I do editing (er, sometimes). *Takes breath*

If all this sounds professional and organized, don’t be fooled! As with any of my writing projects, I’m usually buried under a mountain of sticky notes while I furiously stab the backspace button and mutter expletives at the screen.

11. How often do you post?

Right now I’m trying to aim for 4 posts per week. I’m a little afraid that going for more will end up burning me out, so I’m trying to moderate myself.

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I TAG:
Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills
Aurora @ Aurora Librialis
Consu @ Paper-Eyed Girl
Kristyn @ Bibliophile Empress
Vera @ Unfiltered Tales

 

The 20 Questions Book Tag

I was tagged by Amy from A Court of Crowns and Quills for this, so thank you, Amy! She takes the loveliest book photos and her reviews are just as wonderful. Plus, she’s a former aviator, which is the coolest thing in the world, so go check her out!

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1. How many books is too many books in a book series?

If I love the books, then infinite. Okay, no. With trilogies I often find myself craving just a bit more, so my sweet spot is around five. Eight is where things start to get a little too much. Then again, it really depends on the quality and the genre of the series. With urban fantasies, I will happily read 8+ books, no problem.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

If they’re placed in the middle of an ongoing series, I’m perfectly fine with it. If they’re placed at the end of a series, and the author’s intention is to follow it up at the start of their next series, then there will be smoke pouring out of my ears.

3. Hardback or paperback?

Hardbacks for collecting and looking pretty on my shelves. Paperbacks for absorbing tears, scribblings, and just general abuse.

Harry Potter Goblet of Fire
Here’s an example of such abuse! My first copy of The Goblet of Fire has been through several continents, a bathtub dunking, dozens of falls–and all before I graduated middle school. (I swear, not all my paperbacks are like that, please don’t call book protection services.)

4. Favorite book?

Fool's Fate
Fool’s Fate
by Robin Hobb, just narrowly edging out Fool’s Quest. It’s got everything I love in a book: snowy/icy landscapes, an expedition to find a legendary creature, prophecies, and brilliant, heartrending character interactions.

 

 

 

 

5. Least favorite book?

I don’t know if I can pinpoint my least favourite book of all time, but Ready Player One is a hot topic lately so I’ll talk about that. I get why people love it–nostalgia trip and mindless fun and such. But for me, it’s a regurgitation of 80’s pop culture at best. At worst, it’s a book with an annoying protagonist, bad attempt at diversity, and casual transphobia and sexism. And like Clockwork Orange and Fight Club, I side-eye dudes who call it their favourite book of all time.

6. Love triangles, yes or no?

Generally, no. I hate seeing someone getting rejected and left out.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. I know a lot of people loved it, but the prose was just a little too florid for me (and I generally love poetic prose), and I didn’t think I could handle 400 more pages of it. It was like trying to eat an entire dark chocolate cake all by myself.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

Just started Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer! I loved her first book, Last Song Before Night, so I’m very excited for this one.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett to a friend’s mom!

10. Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

The Tale of GenjiI want to say Iliad and The Odyssey, except I haven’t read them completely from start to finish. So either The Tale of Genji (written early 11th century) or Beowulf, which is placed at sometime between late 10th to early 11th century.

11. Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards. So new it hasn’t been released yet! It’s also my newest obsession and, I think, my favourite book of 2018 so far. I will most definitely be yelling about it for the rest of the year.

12. Favorite author?

Robin Hobb. Hands down. No questions. I will happily perform blood rituals in her name.

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

I’m greedy and materialistic when it comes to owning physical copies of things I enjoy–whether it’s books or video games or film/TV–but my bank account doesn’t always agree with me. Plus, I love my local library, and borrowing books is a surefire way to sample more books while dodging buyer’s remorse.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seem to love?

A recent one? Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence, which is the second book in the Book of Ancestors trilogy. Everyone’s showering it with 5 stars and I’m the only one in the corner mumbling, “Um, yeah, it just wasn’t as good as the first…” You can see my review here.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Bookmarks. I form habits with disturbing ease, so once I start dog-earing books I’ll probably start doing it with all of them, including hardbacks, so I’ll stick with post-its, scraps of paper, tissues (yes), and more conventional bookmarks. 

16. A book you can always reread?

Fitz-Cover-CollageI’m a broken record, but The Realm of the Elderlings. I can read those books again and again, consecutively even, and never, ever get tired of them. How can I, when reading them is like coming home to a best friend?

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Instrumentals or quiet acoustic/indies, yes. I love making fan playlists for books, so listening to a bunch of OSTs while reading helps me find inspiration. 8tracks is a great site for finding music that suit the mood of a book.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s? (POV’s = Point of views)

Usually one. I’m a sucker for first person POVs, and with multiple POVs, I sometimes find myself skipping chapters to get to the POVs that I actually like.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Multiple days! (Unless it’s a novella or a children’s book.) It just doesn’t feel right finishing a book whose story spans months (or years) in 24 hours.

20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?

Incarceron
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. The hardcover of this just looked so gorgeous so I nabbed it immediately at the bookstore. This was back when I’d bought books impulsively without checking out any reviews. Thankfully, the story wasn’t too shabby, either!

 

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I TAG:

The Book Nook UK
Lost In A Good Book
Arisutocrat

A Science Girl in a Fantasy World
Alex Reads and Blogs

(If you do the tag, please link directly back to this post! ❤️)