Month: November 2015

Breaking up (with a book) is hard to do

How do you know when it’s time to quit a book? I keep thinking about that lately because I’m trying to chug my way through my loooooong NetGalley review list and to be honest, I end up feeling really “meh” about half of the books I read.

I know there are two trains of thought on this. A lot of  readers, particularly heavy reviewers, feel that you have to read the whole book before you can judge it, which is fair enough. (Though, I think there’s a big difference between writing a scathing review judging the whole book off the few chapters you read, and admitting you DNF’d and explaining why.)

And very rarely, I’ve read books that started out slow (hello, Game of Thrones) but ended up being epic. So I definitely see why you might not want to DNF too often. But what do you do when you realize you’re actively avoiding a book? Like, you’ve read 20% or so and you’re now picking up other titles to avoid returning to said book? Lately I’ve DNF’d a few because I set them down and realized I just honestly didn’t care about finding out how the story would end. The story is bland, the writing is poor, the characters are so two-dimensional that I forget their names as soon as I close the book…that sort of thing.

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I would argue that at that point, it’s time to move on. After all, my TBR list is currently sitting at 1,127 titles and those books just ain’t gonna read themselves. With limited time and so many other books to choose from, why waste time reading a book if it’s not doing anything for me?

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Well, bookworms? Do you DNF or not? Do you have personal “rules” for DNF’ing a book? Have you ever set a book aside, then come back to it later and liked it after all? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday: newish authors who have me looking forward to their next book!

Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is a little hard for me. My TBR list is so long and I’m always so far behind everyone else on new releases or new authors! However, after a little brain-racking (and GR perusing), I did manage to come up with a list of seven newish authors I’ve read that have definitely made me crave more. If you have any debut authors you’ve really enjoyed, please leave me a comment and let me know—I always love finding new authors and books to devour!

William Ritter (Jackaby and Beastly Bones): I picked up Jackaby on a whim last year and loved it! Beastly Bones was just published and I need to go to the library to pick it up. I’m a sucker for anything Sherlock-esque and the supernatural bent just made it even better!

Natasha Pulley (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street): This was an uneven book for me but was intriguing enough that I’d really like to see another book by the author.

Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Child): Easily one of my best reads of 2015 and highly recommended to anyone who loves magical realism!

John Darnielle (Wolf in White Van): I can’t even wrap my head around the intricacies of the plotting. Blew me away.

John Scalzi (Lock In): An awesome sci-fi novel that even a non-sci-fi-fan could appreciate, thanks to an easy flow of writing and no technical jargon info-dumps.

Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half): Apparently the sequel is due out next year!!! Brosh is hilarious but also wise, and a wonderful storyteller.

Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus): I’ve been handed a lot of other books that are supposedly like The Night Circus and none have been nearly as magical. Sigh.

Book review: ‘The Heart Goes Last’ by Margaret Atwood

'The Heart Goes Last' by Margaret Atwood: great message, but horrible packaging.(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy!)

This was one of those books that contained a lot of thought-provoking scenarios packaged in an utterly un-entertaining story. If I was looking at this book purely in light of possible book club discussions then I would have rated it much higher, but as something to read for fun, I hated it, and I only finished it because of a read-along.

Set in the near future, the plot follows a young couple, Stan and Charmaine, who have very nearly hit bottom. Living in their car, living hand to mouth in a world torn apart by greed and violence, they’re desperate for respite, so when they see an advertisement for a community called Consilience, they eagerly sign up. The housing project has a unique approach: live one month as a member of society, spend the next in the community prison; members alternate months and share a house with another couple, swapping back and forth and in exchange for their labor, receiving housing, meals, security—the whole nine yards. Of course, not everything is hunky-dory, and once Stan and Charmaine both develop obsessions with the “alternates” who share their home, their lives begin to fall apart. Consilience once seemed like a haven, but now even their “free” months are a prison.

Let’s first take a look at why this book didn’t work for me, after the jump!

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On my mind: November 2015

Join me this November for the #gratefullifeNOV challenge on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! (Original photo by Dayne Topkin via Unsplash)

Happy November everyone! It seems like October really flew by, and now it’s already time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This time of the year, everyone is talking about “the holiday spirit” and tossing around words like “thankfulness” and “joy”—but how much are we really focusing on those attitudes on a daily basis? And why is it so hard for us to focus on gratitude and maintaining a positive attitude once Thanksgiving is past? I know I personally have a tendency to zero in on tiny little things that irritate or upset me and then stew over them endlessly. And yet, when you focus on the positive, you’re bound to be happier (it’s science, people!). People who are more grateful also tend to feel better physically and have better relationships with those around them. Who doesn’t want that?

It also seems like this time of year highlights a sharp contrast between the “haves” and “have-nots”, and I don’t just mean the people who are well-to-do financially and those who are poorer or even homeless. A lot of people spend the holidays without the love of friends and family, or face a long gloomy winter that highlights mental or physical health problems. I know I have a TON to be grateful for in my everyday life—a warm home, a loving family, shelves full of books to read—and even though I see almost daily reminders of people who are hungry, hurting, or friendless, it’s so easy to start taking all of those blessings for granted.

So this month, I’m kicking off a gratitude challenge on Instagram. Each day I’ll post something I’m grateful for that day with the hashtag #gratefullifeNov. I’d love it if any of you want to follow along! If you don’t have Insta, you could do this on Twitter or Facebook, too. There is no daily prompt, just snap a pic of something you’re thankful for and share the story behind it. (Maybe it’s a mug of hot tea on a rainy day or a surprise card in the mail—it could be anything!) And be sure to tag me so I can see all your posts!

I think taking note of all the little things I have to be grateful for will make me happier overall, and if you join in I hope it will help you have a happier November as well. <3