Tag Archives: books

You’ll Love When You Read

We interrupt this unintentional period of silence with good news: You’ll love when you read You Die When You Die by Angus Watson!


Every so often a book comes along and completely interrupts your currently reading pile and all your carefully made to read plans! Angus Watson has written such a book! The title caught my eye, the cover interested me, the premise intrigued me, and the story delivered even more than I had hoped for. 


You Die When You Die is a Fantasy set in a world similar to North America prior to the Europeans, except that a small group of people similiar to Vikings have somehow made their way far into this land and created a settlement where they lived mostly in peace. That is until their settlement is massacred and the few survivors set off on an epic journey to try and cross the land and find the safety that has prophesied far off to the West….


This story is excellent. It’s a fun page turner of a book! The chapters are short and action packed, the characters are interesting, the conversations witty, the blending of possible history and fantasy is well done, and this all works together to draw you in to an incredible story! How much did I enjoy it? Well since I have to wait until 2018 for the sequel I went ahead and bought Age Of Iron which is a separate trilogy the same author wrote before writing You Die When You Die. The two stories are unrelated, I just wanted to read more by Angus Watson immediately! 

Awaken To An Incredible Tale! 

When you review books you often encounter very pushy people who only talk to you because they want their book reviewed. It happens! I can even understand it from their perspective. It helps to get your name out there. But there are right ways and rude ways to go about getting reviews. Let me tell you about how much of a class act Edward Lazellari is and say if you want to gain someone’s interest: Edward is an author to model your approach after! 


Here’s an author who is published by Tor (and if you don’t know who Tor is then suffice to say it is one of my most favorite and trusted publishing companies) who talked with me as a person with shared interests and just politely asked if I’d be interested in reading his book. I normally don’t accept submissions as I’m trying to work through my unread books on my shelves, and I cautioned him that I was very backed up in my reading stack, but he was very polite and sent me an autographed copy of his book AWAKENINGS. A class act from start to finish!


Awakenings joined my currently reading stack and I also purchased a copy for my Kindle to be able to read while on trips. This book is an Urban Fantasy and it’s the first book of The Guardians Of Aandor trilogy. It’s also incredible!


Awakenings is a take no prisoners kick ass fast paced all out battle of a book! Right from the start you’re deep in the action and striving to learn what is happening around the characters just as they are! You see it spans across multiple worlds and the primary characters have unfortunately lost their true identies along with their memories and they’ve lost their purpose. That past quickly charges up at them and threatens to destroy them before they have the chance to learn who they are….


As I said this is a kick ass story! I took it around town to read and was quickly drawn into the world the author created. The characters are strong, the action first rate, the world building interesting, the plot compelling, the drama engaging, and the story is great! 

This is a book I not only recommend, it is one I have purchased the sequel to and look forward to reading more!

Five Books Fifty Pages!

As you can probably guess my TBR Pile has actually grown so much that it is a living breathing sentient being and desires world domination…. but that’s another post entirely! This post is about how I was inspired by my friend The Little Red Reviewer to select five books from my TBR Pile, read the first fifty pages, and decide if I want to read them now, later, or never! Time to find out which books were YAY, which were NAY, and if any were MEH! The books I selected were:

Norwegian By Night by Derek B Miller

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Vorrh by B Catling

The Depths Of Time by Roger MacBride Allen

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell


Norwegian By Night by Derek B Miller is interesting! I saw the cover and was immediately intrigued. A Crime Fiction that follows an older Korean War vet named Sheldon as his last surviving family member takes him away from NY to live in Norway. Sheldon is possibly suffering from dementia, he is xenophobic, he is combative, and he is out of his element. Yet he opens his door to help try to save a lady and her child from a violent crime which leads to an unexpected adventure. This book was really captivating. Sheldon isn’t a good person or a bad person; he just is a difficult person with uncomfortable views that have been negatively reinforced through the years, but he’s a person that you want to get to know and see how he might develop! Will I continue reading? Yes!

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is a book that I have wanted to read for ages! I’ve heard only good things and rave reviews for this book. I picked it up excitedly andddddd forced myself through 50 pages. There is a house that time travels and it has selected a killer to travel through time and it wants him to murder people? It’s an interesting premise but I’m not impressed with either execution of the premise or the characters. I sadly found the book quite off putting. Will I continue reading? No. 

The Vorrh by B Catling was a book that captivated me as soon as I saw the cover! It was a gift from my lovely wife, and I went in knowing that it’s an odd story, but I don’t think I was prepared for exactly how odd it was! This is one that needs to be a solo focused read. Will I continue reading? Not now, but one Winter I’ll read this odd book!

The Depths Of Time by Roger MacBride Allen is a SciFi that has to do with the spread of humanity through the galaxy via time travel through closely guarded worm holes. It starts with a grand premise and then quickly gets lost in the weeds. Way too many little details that slow down the story and make it an unappealing read for me. Will I continue reading? Nah. 

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell You should stop whatever you’re reading and get this book now! A near future SciFi in which we’ve discovered alien life, and while humanity is deciding how to approach and contact them: The Jesuits do what they’ve done throughout their history and send their own mission to make contact. This book is so smartly written! The characters are fully realized, the style of writing creates a mystery that draws you in, and the author’s writing is a joy to read! Will I continue reading? YES!


In the end: Yay, Meh, or Nah:

Norwegian By Night Yay!

The Shining Girls Nah!

The Vorrh Meh…

The Depths Of Time Nah!

The Sparrow YAYYYYY!!!! 

Have you read any of these? Would you Yay, Meh, or Nah any of these? Also: I’d love hearing from you if this post has inspired you to try the five books fifty pages method yourself! Let me know about the results!

Making Time For Reading

Life is busy. Life is distracting. Life is full of urgent things that pull you in every which direction! So how do you find or make time for your passions? For those things that bring you peace and joy? 


No for real, I’m asking you that question! That’s the dilemma that faces us all. If you have suggestions on how to make time for your personal pursuits please feel free to share them. And yes; I’m about to share a few too.


As y’all know I love reading. I love my books and my book collecting! Reading is one of my heart’s greatest joys, and a day feels incomplete without the turning of a few pages. Yet it can be difficult to find the time to read (and review) with life vying for your attention. I haven’t figured out the proper budgeting of time yet but I do have a few suggestions of what works for me. 


1)   Make sure you always have access to a book! This might sound silly but when the time comes to read and you left your book at work then what can you do? Well there is one thing…

2) Read more than one book at a time! I know people tell me all the time that reading multiple books is impossible or too distracting etc… but then those same people tend to watch multiple tv shows without an issue soooooo…. it’s all in what you allow yourself to do I think. I normally have between 5-10 books I’m working on at a time and I love it. 😊

3) Speaking of tv shows…. well you have to give up time consuming things to make time for other things! I made a conscious decision to watch less tv so that I can read more. It means I miss out on some of the pop culture discussions BUT I get to enjoy more book discussions! 

4) Find a book community that encourages reading! If you haven’t joined the Bookstagram Community on Instagram you should create a profile and join! Or join GoodReads! You’ll find people who love reading and sharing about the books they post! Doing something like an IG account is less time consuming than blogging but if you’re reallllllly serious about making books a priority….

5) Start a book reading blog! I use WordPress to host my site and I enjoy it. Having this helps remind me that I need to be blogging about books and how can I do that if I don’t read? That helps hold me accountable to reading. 

6) Create a To Read bookshelf or list. That way you have reading goals. Setting goals can really help!

7) Lists with seven points seem more legit than lists without seven points so I’ve added a seventh point!

8) Read books that you enjoy! Let me say that louder for those in the back: READ BOOKS YOU ENJOY! Reading time shouldn’t be wasted on books you don’t like just because everyone says you MUST read them. 

9) Don’t be afraid to quit a book (or series) and move on if you aren’t connecting to it. I thought I had to finish every book and series I started and if I wasn’t enjoying a popular book it was my fault and I had to make myself like or at least finish it. I can’t tell you how free I felt when I realized I didn’t have to finish every book! That I could walk away from it and find a book I connected with! FREEDOM!!!!!!

10) Plan a group read! You don’t have to get together, you can discuss it online! 

11) Give up on sleep. There is only reading now. 

12) But for real stop and examine your daily routines, keep a book close, make reading a priority, find friends you can share this joy with, set some reading goals, and decide what matters to you timewise. 

That’s all I have for now! I’m sure there’s other ways to make more time for reading, so I might add a part two one day, but I need to be reading now! AND I want to hear your suggestions and ideas! 

999 Books? 999 Books!

Acorrding to GoodReads I just read my 999th book. 999. That’s pretty cool!


Book 999 was A Hat For Mrs Golden by Michelle Edwards and G Brian Karas. It was amazing. A really touching story about knitting and love that brought a tear to my eye. Cute illustrations and great storytelling combine in one book. This one is well worth your time!


999 books read. I know this doesn’t count rereads, and also I’m sure I’ve forgot to add all the books I read as a child to the list; but still 999 books read is pretty cool!


I’m currently reading 8 books right now. Whichever one I finish first will be my 1,000th book read. I’m just shaking my head and thinking how cool that is. I’m also thankful for something like GoodReads that has helped me count up and keep track of initial reads of books and helped me remember my thoughts on those books. 


We’ll see which book becomes the 1,000th book read and then excitedly see which is book 1,001 and then 1,002 and then 1,003 and so on! Because the joy of reading should never end! Looking forward to my next 999 books! Happy reading everyone! 

Rocketship To Nowhere (My thoughts on the Hugos)

If you aren’t a fan of SciFi books then you may have never heard of the Hugo Awards before. They are a very prestigious and coveted award amongst SciFi writers and typically the Hugo Award winners list is comprised of excellent books to read. We’re  talking Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, Ann Leckie, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, the list goes on and on with excellent writers. And right now the Hugo Awards are under attack.

 

This year the Hugo Awards have been tainted by a group of very militantly political people who apparently feel that minority writers (women, people of color, LGBTQ people, etc) and stories that feature minorities have won too many Hugos in recent years. So they have banded together, named themselves the Sad Puppies, come up with a way to game the system and get their books and books of authors that they feel share their particular political views to be nominated on all of the categories available.  

 

It is worth pausing for a moment to discuss the Hugo Awards and who gets to vote on them. Basically the members of the WorldCon convention are able to nominate and vote on who should win. You don’t have to actually attend the convention as you can buy voting rights for $40.00 so essentially anyone who is interested in voting on the Hugo Awards can for a nominal fee. Through the years this has lead to a wide variety of works obtaining nominations and (I feel) a very fair representation of what is popular and of interest to SciFi fans being nominated for and winning the awards. Normally I would give greater consideration to a Hugo Award Winner’s work than I would otherwise. A link to the Hugo Awards website describing the history of their voting process is here: http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/a-short-history-of-the-hugo-awards-process/

 

Now fast-forward back to the present. This militant political group (the Sad Puppies) has decided to try and game the system by taking their slate of suggested works to their fans and to people of same political bent as they (whether they are SciFi fans or not) and having them buy a voting membership just to push their own political views upon SciFi. The primary leaders of this movement have a few historical feuds with other members of the SciFi writing community. Much has been made about this elsewhere and the only perspective I bring is as an outsider looking in. That perspective doesn’t favor the individuals attempting to hijack the Hugos. 


Overall this is a very sad situation. Multiple authors whose works are worthy of consideration and actually were nominated have decided to withdraw their stories from this year’s Hugo’s so as not to be tainted by the controversy and to keep from being associated in any way with these Sad Puppies. I respect that sacrifice by them very much. I also understand any author that chooses to remain on the ballots and attempt to give the voters choices other than the Sad Puppies nominees. It is a difficult situation to be in for an author. 


I’ve mostly stayed on the sidelines observing the back and forth between the Sad Puppies and the SciFi community as a whole. However I feel it worthwhile to use my (small) platform to speak out against this and say that while the Sad Puppies may be observing the letter of the Hugo laws they are trashing the spirit of those laws. I am truly saddened by this event and wish that this disgracefully immature behavior by the Sad Puppies was not taking place. 


My protest, small though it may be, is to consciously avoid purchasing, reading, reviewing, or supporting any of the works that the leaders of the Sad Puppies have created or will create. They can (and have) flung around their arguments and justifications and after looking over them I find them to be lacking and find their actions reprehensible. As such I intend to not provide them with any financial aide or positive publicity. 


In the end as a lifelong SciFi fan, reader, and reviewer my only power I have is my money and my platform. And people who think this is the way to behave will have neither. 


My hope is the the Hugos return to what they are truly meant to be and are again the prestigious awards for deserving authors that they have been in the past. My hope is that shameful acts such as those orchestrated by the Sad Puppies fall by the wayside. My hope is that seeing Hugo Winner posted upon a worthy work will again mean something positive about the quality of the work. 


For further reading upon this issue here is a link to Susan Grigsby’s blog about it. She does a wonderful job breaking it all down: http://m.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/13/1376743/-Freeping-the-Hugo-Awards 

 

  

 

 

Ten Of My Favorite Books And Honorable Mentions

Narrowing down a favorite book list for me is difficult. Might as well try and select your favorite star in the night sky. I was recently asked to create such a list and these are ten of my all time favorite books in no particular order and some of my reasoning included with the ten. Honorable mentions below.

1) The Silmarillion/LOTR/The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien because these books are the reason I learned how to read. My folks had awesome copies of them that inspired my imagination and I wanted to read them. My parents made me learn to read and prove that I could before I was allowed to read them. Read through them when I was eight. Which leads to:
2) The Iliad by Homer because this was the book that I read to prove I could read well enough to read Tolkien. It was and still is fascinating.
3) My War Gone By I Miss It So by Anthony Loyd as it is one of the most interesting and personal war journals I’ve read dealing with the Bosnian Conflicts. That is a time that interests me and his very personal story and struggles with what he experienced help to bring everything home in my eyes.
4) If I Die In A Combat Zone Box Me Up And Ship Me Home by Tim O’Brien for similar reasons as MWGBIMIS but set in an earlier conflict that of Vietnam. I found that O’Brien’s method of mixing story and truth while relaying his experiences helped me to see the Vietnam War from the eyes of those over there. It cut through a lot of the typical politics that flood books about this time.
5) Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of the most thought provoking books
6) The Dune Saga by Frank Herbert probably one of the most influential and enlightening set of books that one can read while also being amazingly entertaining.
7) In The Woods by Tana French simply the BEST mystery and set in Ireland. She solves the wrong mystery in her book though.
8) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie as it is an incredible SciFi that tackles Gender roles and bias in a very jarring and interesting way.
9) The Giving Tree for rather personal reasons and because one day I’ll be reading it to my future children as an example of selfless love for them.
10) The Great Divorce by CS Lewis as this book I feel is Lewis’ best and does such a wonderful job of laying out the truth as he saw it.

Honorable mentions go to:
Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
The Recluse Saga by LE Modesitt Jr
The Word And Void Trilogy by Terry Brooks
On Writing by Stephen King
A Talent For War by Jack McDevitt
Killing Rage by Eamon Collins
Thieves And Kings by Mark Oakley
The Sun, The Moon, And the Stars by Steven Brust

What are some of your favorite books?