How Historical Fiction Became a Source of Comfort These Last Few Weeks

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Gentleman Jack (HBO)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and keeping relatively sane! I kind of pulled a disappearing act again, but March was uh…yeah. I had to go through some adjustments.

The past couple of weeks has been interesting. I’m forgetting what day it is, I’ve been crying non stop to The Weeknd’s new album, I’m in danger of overwatering my succulents, and I’ve been binging on….historical fiction.

Huh.

I mean, I love historical fiction and I always have, but it’s become this weird fixation since the quarantine began. Weird because contemporary romance is usually my go-to comfort genre; they’re the books I reach for when I’m stressed and need an immediate escape. So why historical fiction? Why now?

My tentative answer? Because I know how those stories end.

Well, okay, not entirely. I may not know how each and every storyline ends, or how a writer will re-interpret something that’s already written in stone. Historical fiction is still fiction, even ones that are based heavily on true events, and there’s at least some degree of surprise and unpredictability to them.

But I know the general picture of the world that serves as an endnote to these stories. And I know the world which will follow that ending. I’m living in it right now.

And that’s become an emotional anchor of sorts. A reassuring embrace of certainty when tomorrows come with looping anxieties and new fears pitching tent above old ones. Not so much in the way of “Look how terrible things were back then and see how rosy this looks in comparison,” but rather in the sense of recognizing that there were hurdles people faced in every era, in every corners of the world, and then looking at today and saying, “Despite everything, we’re still here.”

So I’m taking it day by day, moment to moment, but also keeping the past close in hand because they serve as reminders of hope and resilience. And “past” doesn’t have to mean 100-200 years ago. I can rewind 10 hours and remember that this morning I woke up, got out of bed, and pulled myself through the rest of the day.

So yes, I’m on a bit of a historical fic binge. I caught up on the last two seasons of Outlander, reread a few Mary Renault books, and rewatched The Handmaiden.

I’m also a couple of episodes into Gentleman Jack and Harlots and enjoying both. The former has been called the Lesbian Downton Abbey, if you’re into that (I’m very much into that). The latter is an 18th century drama set in a London brothel. So kind of like Game of Thrones–the sex and intrigue part, at least–but actually written and produced by women, and told from the perspective of the sex workers (also something I’m super into).

 

To Watch: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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Okay, how many souls do I have to steal and sell to be able to watch this movie? I’m asking for a friend. Quite literally.

The film was released in North America on February, and I was chomping at the bits to run to the nearest theater. I’d heard things about it for months. Exquisite pining, unapologetic sapphic beauty, gazes that say everything words can’t. I was ready to throw myself onto my imaginary fainting couch and sob into a handkerchief. But I had also promised a friend we would watch it together in March when they’re in town. Fast forward a few weeks: the news of the virus became loud and worrying, so we waffled back and forth about the schedule and the possible risks, and then bam, the theaters closed, cities went into lockdown, and the decision was pretty much made for us. 

So no romantic movie and dinner, sadly. But good news! The film will be made released  exclusively for streaming on March 28th! Sweet, sweet joy! And it’s on…on Hulu. Which isn’t available in Canada. Oh.

I mean, I guess it’s fitting that I’ve been gazing longingly at a movie that’s centered around looking. (It’s coming out in VOD form sometime this month, though, and I’m super excited)

 

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Have you been reaching for any specific genres lately?  Have you watched Portrait of the Lady on Fire? And if so, should I have an embroidered hankerchief ready to sob in??

Crawling Out of Cave Hiatus: What I’ve Been Up to, 2020 Blog Goals (Changes are Afoot…)

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Hello friends!!!

I am crawling out of my hibernation cave like a big grumpy bear in need of more sleep and less stress to say, I’M BACK.

*Poses*

*Scattered applause*

Launching and organizing a book promotion took up much of my time for the past two months (I’ll have to write up my experiences with it sometime in the future), and my energy meter was scraping bottom by the time December was over. Combined with some family drama and mental health issues, and well, 2020 wasn’t exactly off to a roaring start.

But I’ve missed everyone in the community and missed writing posts, and I have some plans slowly cooking up that I’m excited to unveil in the (hopefully!) near future.

So here I am! And with a few 2020 blog goals I’ve set for myself:

 

Healthier Relationship with ARCs and Reviews

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You might recall me moaning about being in a reading slump back in October. Well, the Wendigo quest did NOT go well and my slump continued into early January (ending about a week ago, praise the bookish gods). Zero books were read, ARC or otherwise, and…and it was actually somewhat liberating in a way. At least, it gave me some time to think about what I want as a reviewer/blogger and to remind myself that keeping up with the latest books is not the be-all and end-all. Perspective was kind of, sort of gained.

Here’s the thing. I think ARCs are great. It’s great that publishers are willing to work with reviewers to help promote their authors and form a nice little symbiotic relationship (though sometimes this veers close to less-than-mutual territory–but that’s a topic for another day). And there’s always a feeling of gratification that comes with each accepted request. Like a “You’re #1!” sticker slapped onto my forehead telling me, hey, maybe I’m doing something right with all this.

You know what’s not super great? The stress.

The stress of being behind on ARCs. The stress of not enjoying the ARCs I’m reading and oh god does DNFing 4 books in a row make me a terrible reviewer??  I felt guilty about being behind, but didn’t have the energy pick up a different book, and the whole thing started to spiral into a bad cycle. Hence the slump.

And that’s the last thing I want from my blog. I don’t want this to be a space that feeds my brain demons–they’re fat enough already. I want it to be an escape. A place I can feel excited about returning to at the end of the day.

So yes. Healthier relationship with ARCs. The HOW is something I’m still trying to figure out (right now it involves selective requests and reading without taking copious notes), and I’ll definitely have more to say on the subject soon.

 

 

Changes to the Blog and Review Format

*Rubbing hands* There are some changes I’m hoping to roll out in the next few months:

 

1. An overhaul of the blog’s theme

Not the wordpress theme, but rather the foundation(?) of the blog. I guess it’s more accurate to say that I’m going to build the blog’s theme, because right now it doesn’t really have one. At least, not anything cohesive that ties all my posts together.

But there’s an idea that popped into my head a few weeks ago that I just. can’t. stop. thinking about, and I think it’ll be very cool if I can make it work. It’s a little weird and requires some preparation, but I like the challenge and, moreover, I think I can have a lot of fun with it. And that’s the ultimate goal here.

Vague explanations are vague. Stay tuned!

 

2. Mixes of “traditional” long form (word) reviews, and short creative reviews

I love writing reviews. Like…70% of the time. The other 30% is an uncomfortable zone of “What are words?????” and “The only thing I can say about this book is that I have nothing to say about this book.”

I want to stop beating myself by trying to write something I don’t want to write. So I’m gonna experiment with different, less wordy formats. Which means bullet points! Subsections! And art! Because sometimes I can’t dig up 300 words about a book to save my life, but I can think of a dozen ideas for fanart. Which is weird, but hey.

 


 

If there are any posts you wrote in the last two months that you’re super proud of and want to share, please LINK THEM in the comments and I shall do my best to check them out. And I’m not just saying that to be nice. My inbox is in shambles and my reader feed isn’t much better, so please. Help a girl out. 😛

Wishing everyone a belated happy holidays and a happy 2020! Looking forward to another year of geeking out over fictional worlds with you all~

 

I’m Back! – Health Nightmares, Weird Analogies about Canadian Health Care, and Queer Mermaids

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I love how positive-yet-uncertain this bear looks. Which matches me perfectly right now. Like, “HI! I’m back…? Maybe…? I don’t know what’s going on….”

Hey everyone! I’m back (possibly? hopefully?) from my completely unintended hiatus!

Sigh. Let me be blunt: these past two and a half weeks have been the absolute worst.

You know the saying “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”?

Well, June came in like a beautiful flying unicorn spraying rainbow spectral dust and has been crashing in a big glittery inferno ever since.

So. Let me try to sort this mess out for you into something that’s digestible and not a blog post equivalent of me sobbing into a pillow for an hour.

It started two weeks ago when I got a call from my mom saying that my grandmother back in Korea has stage 4 liver cancer. And that was a “I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you properly” moment, because I’d seen her and talked to her in a video call a month ago and she’d seemed completely fine.

I hadn’t had to face the prospect of any of my grandparents not being healthy since my grandfather passed away 15 years ago, so I was at a loss to how to process it.

Now, that same week I’d been to the clinic because of some abdominal pains I’ve been having, and that led to a trip to the lab for blood tests. And not soon after I got the call about my grandmother, I found out from the doctor that my vitamin B12 levels were high, as were the numbers for one of my liver enzymes. Either one of those results by itself is notable but not exactly scary. Coupled together, however, means that there’s a probability of liver damage. (I had an ultrasound done since then and my liver seems fine, so that’s one worry off the list)

And that’s when my brain starting spinning in on itself.

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One of my favourite end products of human evolution is pattern recognition–our ability to take disparate bits of information and create a whole picture out of them (WAIT, there’s a point to this, I swear). And I love that so much.

I love that we hung a fish, a lion, a queen across the sky because we saw specks of light in the dark and believed them to have meaning.

I look at the stucco patterns on my ceiling and convince myself there’s a shape of a person holding an umbrella.

We connect dots and find stories in chaos. Which is beautiful, right?

Except when our brain turns it against us.

Because somehow I connected my grandmother’s health troubles with my test results and came to the conclusion that there’s something severely, awfully wrong with my own liver. And when it comes to personal stuff, I tend to catastrophize. So whenever something remotely bad happens I can’t help but assume the worst.

Cue stress dialed up to 11.

I was shaking, I was having anxiety attacks, I couldn’t fall asleep at night, and when I did, I only managed about 4 hours before bolting awake.

So I decided to go work out at the gym every other evening because I desperately needed to release the stress somehow.

Cue breathing troubles.

My first two workout sessions went fine–I took it easy and did light cardio. After my third session, though, I was dizzy and wheezing and it felt like my chest was constricting and I could only take shallow breaths. And this lasted through the next day.

So I visited a clinic and the doctor sent me in for an X-ray and signed off a prescription for an inhaler. Now, I don’t have a history of asthma and I wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing was asthma, but I just wanted to breathe properly again and surely a couple of puffs couldn’t kill me, right?

So I tried two puffs.

Cue intense vertigo and wooziness (I’m chalking this up to the inhaler’s side effects).

And I spent two days lying in bed watching Youtube videos and Netflix because I couldn’t focus on anything else. Also, getting vertigo on a 5th floor balcony is decidedly not fun.

Then about five days later, I started having chest pains. It started with my chest and spread to the shoulders and neck, and there were periods where I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe properly. And on Thursday night it got severe to the point where I was slumping against the wall of my apartment.

So I went to the ER, and they set me up with an X-ray, ECG, and yet another blood test, and then had me wait 5 hours until they came to the conclusion of “Tests look fine, don’t think it’s a heart problem. Take Tylenol.”

And I went home at 2 AM.

(*deep breath* Do not turn this into a rant about the Canadian health care system. Do not turn this into a rant about the Canadian health care system. Do not–)

Here’s the thing about the Canadian health care system.

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Let’s think of our doctors and hospitals and labs as little inns scattered across a kingdom. The quality of the inns is pretty great–clean environment, nice food, well-trained workers–but the roads that connect all the inns–the ones that you need to follow in order to get from one inn to the next–are unpaved and infested with bandits and giant man-eating scorpions.

So because you’re fending off swords and deadly stingers and trying not to trip over a minefield of uneven rocks, it takes you forever to reach the next inn, and by that point you’re poisoned and bleeding and sleep-deprived, and those well-trained workers have their work cut out for them. (oh god this is a terrible analogy)

You’re not really aware of the problem if you just visit the family doctor every now and then for checkups and things like the flu. But if you’re ever dealing with a more severe condition that has you moving from doctor to lab to doctor to specialist to lab, it becomes abundantly clear how inefficient and bogged-down the system can be. Especially compared to other countries that have universal healthcare.

But yeah! That’s kind of where I’m sitting at right now. Been crying a lot. Still dizzy. Still having chest pains. The tests say my heart is fine, so I suspect it’s a blood vessel issue, but I won’t know for sure until I see a cardiologist (which will probably take 4-6 weeks).

I think I’ve gotten past being scared and anxious into just plain exhausted. I hate the feeling of not knowing what’s going on with my body, but that’s what it is at the moment. I can’t yank our system by the collar and force it to work faster.

So in the meantime I want to try to get more rest and focus on positive things.

Like BLOGGING. And BOOKS. And GAMES. And talking with all you LOVELY, LOVELY PEOPLE. ❤

So let’s close on a good note!

 

Some Happy Things that Happened in the Past Two Weeks

🌻 I caved in and bought watercolour paints that have been on my wishlist for half a year. They’re a brand called Daniel Smith and their special thing is that they mine minerals from all over the world and grind them into pigments to make a lot of their paints.

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When I first started watercolour last year and began researching different brands, I kind of side-eyed Daniel Smith because using semi-precious gemstones to make paints (and charging $16-$30 per 15 mL tube) seemed kind of pretentious and elitist. But then I watched demonstrations and read articles and I saw how every paint behaves differently with the water in such mesmerizing ways…and it’s just the perfect marriage of science and art. How can I possibly hate that?

I’ve been playing around with them a bit and they. look. stunning.

🌻 I walked (very slowly) around one of my favourite forest trails in the region and sat by the lake for a couple of hours. Nothing gets me feeling more comfortable and at peace than being in the woods.

🌻 I saw female mallard ducks leading their ducklings on a practice flight session around a lake (a different one). It was disastrous and adorable and made me laugh.

🌻 I wrote an email to a UK publisher asking for an ARC, and to my joy and utter bafflement, they sent a physical copy over.

🌻 I stumbled across this freaking gorgeous painting on Twitter and I’m pretty sure it added several years to my life. I NEED it to be made into a story.

You can find the artist @trappedinvacancy on Twitter and Tumblr!

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Now you! Tell me something you saw, heard, experienced that made you happy this month!

Update (I’m Back!) and Discworld Month 6 (Better Late than Never…?)

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m back from my unannounced hiatus! Incidentally, I’m a broken record.

November and December are generally not great months for me (one of the million things they don’t tell you as a kid is how the holidays can go from the Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Time of Dread as you grow older), and this time was no exception. And then some. Bad mental health stuff and hospitals, basically.

I’m probably turning into one of those characters in SFF series who spend half of their screen/page time waking up in hospital beds and being like, “Hey doc, nice to see you again” and “We should really stop meeting like this.” Well, minus a cool sword and a world to save.

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As for Discworld, we’re now six months into the Discworld Readathon started by me and Nicole (the Bookworm Drinketh).

This month’s book is (was?) Wyrd Sisters and if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, you have two whole days to get to it. Pfft that’s totally feasible, right? :DD

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Arbitrary deadlines aside, if you want to join now then go for it. Leave me a comment, enjoy Sir Terry’s brilliant imagination, and post your review whenever.

And a thousand apologies to Nicole and the other participating bloggers for the radio silence. I’ll definitely try to get to the book by the end of next week.

I also have a backlog of posts I need to publish, a collab project that I’m super excited to unveil (hopefully sometime in January), and need to figure out how I’m supposed to write reviews for books I read over a month ago. So look out for those!

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Do tell me how your month has been, what interesting books you’ve picked up, etc, etc. Happy reading!

October 2018 Wrap-Up – Book Things & Art as a Double-Edged Sword

It’s the middle of the month…and you know what that means! 😀

So, I was going to include mini reviews for some of the games I played in the past month because Nicole @ Thoughts Stained With Ink was like, “Heck yeah! You should totally do that!” But the post was getting kinda long and there’s this one game that I absolutely need to GUSH about, so I’m shuffling those to separate posts.

And that means I’ve finally decided to do semi-regular posts about video games (with a heavy focus on indies because while I love AAA titles, it’s the indies that make my heart sing). Will anyone read them? Who knows!

As for books, October was an okay month. I read 9 in total, most of which I enjoyed:

⚔️= Fantasy; 🚀= Scifi; 👻= Paranormal; 🔍= Mystery; 🌺= Contemporary; 🗝️= Historical; 🌈= LGBTQIAP+; Horror= 👁️

The Brilliant

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth ⚔️🗝️:
If I were a cat, this book would have killed me nine times over. Thank you for breaking me in the best way, Laura.  [Review]

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland ⚔️🌈:
This was such a clever and entertaining story about, well, stories and their power to change the fabric of the world. And its protagonist is an elderly man in his 70’s which you don’t see everyday in fantasy. [Review]

 

The Great

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Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink 👁️🌈:
I really liked it. I think it works perfectly as a companion to the podcast. But I don’t know if it’s something that can hold up on its own? I’ll talk more about it in the actual review.

Sadie by Courtney Summers 🔍🌺:
Yet another review I have to finish writing! “Enjoyable” is probably the wrong word to describe the story, but it is a compelling one and I can’t say enough good things about the audiobook. Massive kudos to all the voice actors.

Mort by Terry Pratchett ⚔️:
Read this as part of our Discworld Readathon! I’ve heard people talk about it like it’s the second coming of Christ, and to my surprise, it was actually really good. [Review]

 

The Good/Okay

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The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood 👻🌈:
Gerry (Book Nook UK) remarked about the prevalence of male werewolves in stories, and this is one of the few books I’ve read with a female werewolf love interest! Overall, a fun, sexy F/F story about werewolves, MMORPGs, and harassment culture. Plus, the author’s a local!

Time’s Children by D.B. Jackson ⚔️🚀: A mashup of time travel and epic fantasy! I guess “pleasant” would be the best wor? Nothing amazing but I did enjoy it for the most part. [Review]

 

The Bad

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The Phoenix Empress (Their Bright Ascendancy 2) by K. Arsenault Rivera ⚔️🌈:
Yeah, this was not a good one. The cultural issues aside, I found the pacing to be glacial, the character development lacking, and worldbuilding more or less nonexistent. [Review]

Mage Against the Machine by Shaun Barger ⚔️🚀🌈: I noped out of this one halfway through and my tablet is so, so grateful. [Review]

 

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So in this second half of the wrap-up I’m going to ramble about art and my decision to return to it after so long.

And it begins with a little story, so gather around!

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a bit of an eclectic family. In terms of profession, anyway. On one half there was a seafood restaurant owner, a spicy chicken restaurant owner, movie producer, teacher, pastor, dentist, investment banker….and the other half were just artists and writers.

So the girl grew up with a brilliantly artistic mother and a brilliantly artistic grandfather, and some years later she met a brilliantly artistic young girl who would become one of her best friends. And it was really, really hard for the girl not to feel dull and dim in comparison. Like a ragged baby bird that may grow up to be large and healthy and magnificent, but most likely won’t.

The girl loved photography, writing, and drawing, and it was this last one that she felt the most insecure about. Insecurity turned to shame and shame turned to cold dejection and she decided one day that she would quit–because she wasn’t any good, so what was the point? (And when the girl looks back on it years later, she’ll recognize that it was partly an act of self harm–this denying herself of something she so loved)

But then 8 years later, thanks to a book, the girl’s returned to the world of drawing (because books are amazing and can literally change lives), and she’s been loving it–absolutely loving it. But on the heels of that love came doubt and heartache.

(And here I switch back to first person because talking about myself in third person is getting on my nerves)

So it’s been four months since my “return” and I’ve been spiraling into that oh-so familiar mindset of “I’m fucking terrible at this,” with my brain constantly yapping in the background, “Hey, remember how you quit all those years ago? Yeah, this is why.”

It’s hard to look at a finished work and not see a road map of all my flaws. Not just flaws of the drawing–though they’re obviously the first ones I see–but all of my flaws. Like, as a person. Because that’s how my brain operates.

And it is exhausting.

Turns out comeback stories are more fun to read/watch/play than to actually experience.

But one thing’s for sure: I’m not quitting again. Because once was enough for me to realize that it’s a shitty, shitty place to be in–no wi-fi, no heating, 1/5 on Yelp.

It was like locking yourself out of your house, throwing the key down a drain, and then just standing there, peering through the window (and there’s a part of you that knows this is your home, it’s always been your home, it could have always been your home, and just what the hell have you done?) And this terrible, aching longing settles inside you, and the more you peer, the more it floods you until you’re no longer a person but just a vessel of regrets and self-inflicted hurt.

I run through my life via two extremes–exaggerated indecisiveness or blind impulsiveness–and I never really know which one I’ll pick in a given situation. With this, though, my brain chose the latter. So deciding to return to art after nearly 10 years of avoidance was like punching through the window (because that key’s lounging at the bottom of the Pacific by now), climbing in and declaring, “Okay, you and me? We have unfinished business.” And the sheer relief I feel in that moment? Indescribable.

But then I realize my hand is all bloody and crusted with glass and I end up hopping around muttering expletives which really just ruins the bravado of it all. (That’s generally how my life goes. I want to think of myself as a protagonist in a Chris Nolan epic, but in reality I’m probably more like the sidekick in an Adam Sandler film–awkward, sad, and the antithesis of good comedy).

I could rant for days and days about how unfair it is that your passion can be this nourishing, too-bright thing that fills up your entire world until it’s not.

Until your fears and insecurities take the reins and turns it into an ugly, shameful blot that you can’t bear looking at so you shove it into the deepest corner of your mind-closet, buried under every rejection and hurt you’ve been collecting since childhood.

Except, as it turns out, not looking at it is equally painful, just in a different flavour.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Fighting myself (which isn’t anything new), a lot of late-night crying (also nothing new) and saying “I’m not letting you take this away from me again,” and my brain–always eager to get in the last word–whispering with smugness and false concern, “I’m only trying to help you.”

On good days I can laugh and give it the finger because, hell, the floodgates are open and I can finally create everything that’s been crowding my brain for years and I’m having fun. On bad days–and those often eclipse the good–I sit down and listen like it’s a sermon worth giving a damn about.

And I just wish it were easy to find a healthy, balanced relationship with our creative endeavours. To be able to hold forgiveness in one hand and critique in the other and navigate the tightrope that life demands that we walk, and achieve a state of…well, not satisfaction–because no creator is ever completely satisfied with their work–but a comfortable awareness.

And this is all just a really dramatic explanation for why my reading/blogging pace has dropped, why I’ve not been blog-hopping as much, why it’s taking me forever to respond to your comments, etc, etc. Because I’m dedicating these last three months to aggressive, aggressive drawing–to try to meet my pains head-on instead of shying away as I’ve done in the past.

Because it’s you or me, brain.

And I plan on winning.

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On that note, I hope all your Octobers went super well! Happy reading!

Review (DNF): Mage Against the Machine – An Exercise in Anger Management

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Title: Mage Against the Machine
Author: Shaun Barger
Publisher: Saga Press
Release Date: October 31st, 2018
Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction
Subjects and Themes: Artificial Intelligence
Page Count: 512 (hardback)

Rating: DNF (@ 50%)

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The year is 2120. The humans are dead. The mages have retreated from the world after a madman blew up civilization with weaponized magical technology. Safe within domes that protect them from the nuclear wasteland on the other side, the mages have spent the last century putting their lives back together.

Nikolai is obsessed with artifacts from twentieth-century human life: mage-crafted replica Chuck Taylors on his feet, Schwarzenegger posters on his walls, Beatlemania still alive and well in his head. But he’s also tasked with a higher calling—to maintain the Veils that protect mage-kind from the hazards of the wastes beyond. As a cadet in the Mage King’s army, Nik has finally found what he always wanted—a purpose. But when confronted by one of his former instructors gone rogue, Nik tumbles into a dark secret. The humans weren’t nuked into oblivion—they’re still alive. Not only that, outside the domes a war rages between the last enclaves of free humans and vast machine intelligences.

Outside the dome, unprepared and on the run, Nik finds Jem. Jem is a Runner for the Human Resistance. A ballerina-turned-soldier by the circumstances of war, Jem is more than just a human—her cybernetic enhancement mods make her faster, smarter, and are the only things that give her a fighting chance against the artificial beings bent on humanity’s eradication.

Now Nik faces an impossible decision: side with the mages and let humanity die out? Or stand with Jem and the humans—and risk endangering everything he knows and loves?

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I tried with this one.

I really, really did.

But between me and the book, something’s gotta give and the book is, well, a book. It doesn’t have emotions. It doesn’t have a network of neurons all simultaneously screaming “Abort! Abort!” The book will remain cool and unbothered and utterly pristine.

I can’t say the same for my tablet which has suffered from verbal abuse and my fantasies of hurling it against the wall.

Or the future of my tenancy in this apartment. Because I can’t count the number of times I yelled “What???” and “UGH” as I was reading through this, and I’m sure my neighbours were all privy to my 1 AM musings.

I actually considered DNF at about 1/4 of the way in, and the only excuse I can give for continuing is that I was overcome by an especially strong bout of masochism.

Here’s the thing. Nothing about the premise or the cover or the marketing screamed “DNF.” Harry Potter meets Terminator? Sign me up! And if you look at it from a wide angle, you can see that it’s got some really interesting material to work with: an Earth that’s been taken over by machines, a human Resistance group created to combat them, a mage world that occupies the same space as the human world, and some snappy action scenes sprinkled throughout.

All of that is negated by the characters.

One character in particular.

Nikolai Strauss gets the honour of being the most irritating, rage-inducing protagonist I’ve come across this year, his glowing list of qualities including arrogance, entitlement, pettiness, and fits of jealous rage. I have zero good things to say about him.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Nik is a mage and a member of the Edge Guard which the book unceremoniously tells you right from the start is “a powerful government order charged with the defense and maintenance of magical domed Veils that hid the magi from the human world, which had been reduced to lifeless, magically radioactive wastelands a century prior, in 2020.”

Clunky worldbuilding info isn’t all that the story throws at you from the first page. There are also reveals of long-buried family secrets, confession of betrayals, blooming of romance and then unblooming of it, and all within the first 50-ish pages.

Naturally the next half of the book would be dedicated to untangling some of these mysterious and exploring more of the world, right?

Yeah, no.

The next half of the book is dedicated to Nik trying to get with a girl he likes but getting the “I’m not one for relationships” treatment, brooding about it for some bit, meeting his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, and then brooding about that in the most childish ways imaginable.

At one point, after hearing about the boyfriend’s promotion, he stomps to his bedroom, slams the door and thinks, “okay, that was kind of immature,” and then proceeds to rip away all the posters on his walls in a fit of rage. Which is, of course, the far more mature option.

And the biggest kicker is that these childish fits come with dollops of self-awareness. Comments like “He knew he was being immature” and “What was he doing?” doesn’t make him any more likeable or complex, it just makes his actions all the more baffling.

The side characters fare no better, with some verging on caricature-levels of ridiculous. I mean, just what am I supposed to do with dialogue like this?

“I have a girlfriend now. And you know what that means? “
“That you–”
“Sex!” he interrupted. “And I don’t have to tell you, but this sex thing? It is some seriously good shit.”

The other protagonist, Jem, is much more likeable, if a little bland. Through her PoV chapters we get glimpses of the Resistance group’s conflict with the Synths, and Terminator vibes are most definitely present here in a good way.

But then halfway through the book I came across this one nonsensical sequence of events involving Jem and her love interest and I just had to call it quits. While a non-irritating protagonist is a big plus, I generally like my characters to come with credible motivations and actions that make sense.

If you can ignore cringey romance and unlikable characters, the story might be entertaining in a messy kind of way. It wasn’t to be for me, unfortunately.

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Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

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!

praying-mantis_kung-fu

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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shelfie1.png

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!

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!

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.

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