Book Blogger Memory Challenge

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Two bloggers I follow recently did a fun tag that I thought would be a good challenge (even though I’m not really a book blogger).  Thanks to Vicky at The Roaring Bookworm and Madame Writer for the inspiration.

The Book Blogger Memory Challenge

Rules

You must answer these questions without looking anything up on the internet and without looking at your bookshelves!

I decided to make it a step harder and only answer with books that I actually own.

Name a book written by an author called Michael

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Rogue Squadron by Michael Stackpole.  I have at least half a dozen of his books; he’s one of my favorite Star Wars authors and his Talion: Revenant is a perfectly plotted fantasyRogue Squadron was one of the first Star Wars books I read and remains of my favorites to this day.

Name a book with a dragon on the cover

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Eragon by Christopher Paolini.  I still haven’t finished the last book in this series haha.

Name a book about a character called George

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Emma by Jane Austen.  The first character I thought of was George Weasley from the Harry Potter series, but I wanted to pick a book with a George as a main character.  This was very difficult!  Because George seems like a very British name, I went through all my Brit lit books in my head until I remembered that Mr. Knightley’s first name is George.  I knew Austen had to have a George somewhere!  He may not be the main character, but as the love interest I think the book is still “about” him.

Also, this image is not the edition I have; I have a hardcover with all her collected published works.

Name a book with an author with the surname of Smith

I came up with White Teeth by Zadie Smith, which is one of the 100 books from the Great American Read last year.  But I’ve never read it, and I don’t own it.  I scanned my shelves later and didn’t find any Smiths.

Name a book set in Australia

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Playing Hearts by WR Gingell.  The main character lives in Australia, though she also spends a lot of time in Wonderland.  This is a cute novella from an indie Tasmanian author; I really recommend her full length novels as well, including Masque, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Name a book with the name of a month in the title

I came up with Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, but I don’t think I own it, and I’m not sure I’ve even read it.  All I can tell you is that it’s an award-winning children’s book.  I also think “May” refers to the name of a person, not the month itself, but it technically fits.

Name a book with a knife on the cover

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  This is the start of a wonderful YA fantasy series with beautiful covers.  I also thought of The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, but ironically I own a copy that does not have a knife on the cover!

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No knife! It’s part of a set.

Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title

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Choices of One by Timothy Zahn.  This is another of my favorite Star Wars authors, featuring my favorite EU character, Mara Jade.

Name a book with an eponymous title

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  In fact, all the books in the Lunar Chronicles series, which is a YA sci-fi take on fairy tale retellings (and it also has some Sailor Moon references).

Name a book turned into a movie

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There are so many I could pick from, but the first that came to mind was The Lord of the Rings, which actually consists of three books.  (If we’re getting really picky, it’s six books in three volumes.)  So to be specific, I’ll say The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien.

I think I did pretty well in this challenge!  I only looked up the covers once I had written down my answers.  I have a good memory and this was a fun test, though I struggled with a couple.  I’m not going to tag anyone, but feel free to do this challenge yourself!

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It’s National Book Review Month!

Several years ago, SUNY Geneseo created National Book Review Month to “give readers an outlet to bring lesser known works to the forefront.”  This year, NaRMo falls in March, so if you’ve read a book recently (of any genre, including “including children’s books, drama, non-fiction fiction and poetry”), you can go to the NaRMo website and submit a review for publication there.  The only real rule is that the review must be between 100 and 1,000 words, though the website does have some great tips for crafting a review.

NaRMo

Although I’m not a book blogger per se, I’ve been talking about books since the very beginning of this blog seven years ago.  To my mind, there are three main reasons I write reviews of books.

First, to help other readers.  This seems pretty obvious.  Reviews can help people decide whether they want to read a book or not, which is especially useful when they are going to be spending their hard-earned money on it by buying it.  I personally like to read the 2 star reviews of books on Amazon, because those tend to have more specific, useful critiques than the one- or five-star reviews.

Second, to help the authors.  Many independently published authors depend on reviews on blogs as well sites like Goodreads and Amazon to entice new readers.  When a book only has a dozen or so reviews, every one counts.  So every time I read something by an indie author (often one of my blogger friends), I make sure to review it somewhere to give them some free publicity.

Last, to help me.  Part of the reason I started this blog was to have a space for my thoughts on books and other media.  Reviews are sometimes a way for me to process what I read, as well as an outlet for me to share my thoughts.  Like an internet-wide book club or something.  I do try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but sometimes I dive a little further into analysis than a proper review does.  I also like to do brief reviews when I don’t have too much to say about a book.

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I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about reviewing books over seven years.  I can’t even claim that I’m good at it now, and I’m certainly still learning.  Here are a few things I’ve picked up since that first review.

  • Give a picture of the book cover.  Not only does it give your post some visual interest, but it also helps people remember the book better if they come across it again.  Of course I prefer to take a pic of my own copy if possible, but most of the time I just end up using an image of the cover art.
  • A short summary is helpful to give some context of the book.  I’ve been using snippets from Goodreads summaries recently (with attribution of course).
  • I like to review both books that I know many people have read (so I can have a discussion) and also some that I know will be new to readers (so I can convince them all to read it, and then have a discussion).  I also tend to stick to the sci-fi/fantasy genres here on the blog, though I do go outside that occasionally for a special book.
  • For trilogies or series, I will often write only one review for the whole thing (though I often focus on the first book, which helps avoid spoilers).  Since I’m not a book blogger with ARCs or anything, my reviews aren’t usually about current releases, and I’m not sure that anyone wants to read a review of just the third book of a trilogy from five years ago or something.  If you haven’t read the first two already, what’s the point?  And if you have read the first two, but not the third, by now, well, that seems weird, too.

Okay, I’ve babbled long enough.  Do you guys enjoy writing book reviews?  Will you participate in NaRMo this year?  I’m going to try to post a review for NaRMo next week, as I’ve read several books recently.  Have you guys enjoyed reading my reviews?  Even better, have you read any books because I recommended them??

My 7th Blogiversary

Happy birthday to Jedi by Knight!  Seven years ago today I began this crazy blog journey.  It’s had its ups and downs and changes, and I was worried I would have to give up blogging entirely when I became a mom.  But it seems this is not the end of my journey here!

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Although last year brought the end of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges, I was happy to join the Lens-Artists Photo Challenges last fall, sharing some of my photos of Europe every week.  And I’ve continued to do the monthly Star Wars coloring book posts with Kiri for our Fan Art Fridays.

Over seven years, I’ve had about 68,000 views and 3,000 comments on my blog, as well as gaining about 900 followers. Recently, I got a huge spike in views when someone went through all my Fan Art Friday posts, so thank you whoever you are!  I also really enjoy when someone reads all my KOTOR II playthrough posts; that’s like the highest complement in my mind!

Thank you all so much for reading all this time.  Here’s to many more years of nerdy blogging!

DIY MFA Book Club: My Storytelling Superpower

I’m participating in the DIY MFA Book Club this month, and one of our daily prompts asks us to consider our Storytelling Superpower.

I took the Storytelling Superpower quiz at the DIY MFA site, and after a few quick questions, it told me my result is The Protector.

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“Your superpower is writing superheroes!”

This means my characters tend to be self-sacrificing and selfless (even to the point of martyrdom…).  They have a strong sense of duty and “superhuman fortitude.”  They strive to protect the people and things they love.  It gives Scarlett O’Hara, James Bond, and Iron Man as examples.

I had never thought of my writing this way!  For the result of a goofy little quiz, it does seem to fit my characters pretty well.

I love superheroes of all kinds.  I see superhero comics as a kind of modern mythology, a reflection of cultural aspirations and values.  Even though I’m drawn to grey characters, I don’t write a lot of them (at least not yet…).  Most of my characters have a Lawful Good bent, which I think mostly goes along with the superhero concept.

My last NaNoWriMo project is a great example of this; it features a healer who’s trying to free the spirit of a goddess (while possibly losing herself in the process), and a gladiator-turned-personal bodyguard who gets sucked into her quest.  They may have different reasons for doing what they do, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are both Protectors in their own way.

At first, I thought that another NaNoWriMo project, Ash and Team, threw a wrench in this scheme.  However, although the titular characters Ash and Team don’t really fit this superhero mold, the narrator Meg does.  Meg is Team’s older sister and a friend of Ash, a protector to them both. Way back when I started conceptualizing the retelling, it wasn’t until I looked through her perspective that the story really took shape.  She’s really the heart of the story, despite not being the “main” character.

You can take the Storytelling Superpower quiz, too!  Let me know what your result was 🙂  You can also join the DIY MFA book club here or get a copy of the book here.

 

2018 Reading Review

In some ways, 2018 was a great year for reading.  But it had its downsides, too.  I was once again able to read approximately 100 books this year (not counting re-reads).  But being a parent has really changed how and what I’m reading, which is disappointing to me.  Here are some notes from my reading this year and my goals for next year.

The Great American Read

PBS’s Great American Read was the highlight of my reading year.  I had great fun reading four of the books on the Top 100 list, bringing my total read to 36, and voting for my favorites in the contest.  To Kill a Mockingbird was the big winner, but many of my favorites rounded out the top five.  You can read more about it here.

Author Discovery: VE Schwab

When I was getting back to reading earlier this year, I picked up the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy by VE Schwab and fell in love.  You can read my longer review here.  I then went on to read Vicious, which I may love even more!  I’m still working my way through the rest of her repertoire, so expect to see more about her other novels next year.

Audiobooks

I tried listening to some audiobooks for the first time this year and had a mixed reaction.  I listened to two romance novels and VE Schwab’s Venegeful (sequel to Vicious).  I did enjoy listening to them on my commute, but I actually like listening to music just as well.  Mostly, I felt very impatient with them.  I was listening to them on 1.5 speed, and it still took hours longer to listen to them than it would have to read them.  I also didn’t really like the voice performance aspect, because when I read of course I never do different voices for characters in my head, so that was a bit weird to me to hear that.  What do you guys think?  Should I keep trying?  Do you have suggestions for books that are really good as audiobooks?

Blogging Book Reviews

One of my goals at the end of last year was to review more of what I am reading here, and I’m happy that I did review a lot of my genre reads here on the blog.

Now for the downsides…

Although I read about 100 books, about 80 of these were Regency romances, and I would say only about half of those were worthwhile reading.  So I hit the mark for quantity but not quality.  Hence I want to change a few things in my reading next year.

  1. Read from more genres.  Although I did read a good mix of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as evenly from adult and YA, I barely read any manga or comics and no nonfiction at all this year.   I also want to read more short stories and historical fiction.
  2. Finish Heyer’s romances.  I’m not giving up Regency romance entirely! I mentioned last year that I began reading through the works of Georgette Heyer, and I was able to read several more this year.  I have yet to be really disappointed by a single one of her stories.  I want to finish reading her oeuvre of historical romances (I only have about five left) and maybe try some of her mysteries.
  3. Read books I already own.  I have shelves and shelves of books and people keep giving me more.  Yet I’m constantly requesting books at the library, and then I have to finish them first because there’s a deadline!  Which leads me to…
  4. Finish the books I started.  I started 11 books this year that I was unable to finish before they had to go back to the library.  Eleven!!  I would check out too many books on my Kindle, then not get to one until it was almost due, then be unable to finish it.  I couldn’t renew because they all have long wait lists.  It was a vicious cycle I want to break next year.  Because my reading time is more limited now, I need to be a little more focused in my reading and maybe not check out every single ebook that looks vaguely interesting.  I’ve also discovered that I can “suspend” holds, so instead of a library book just showing up on my Kindle when it comes available, it won’t come until I’m ready for it.

What books did you enjoy most in 2018?  Do you have reading goals for 2019?