Let's Talk Bookish – How has reading shaped your life?

It’s Friday and time for another Let’s Talk Bookish. This is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books where participants are invited to discuss a topic. This week’s topic is “How has reading shaped/changed your life?”

I have always been a reader. My parents read to me from an early age, and I grew up with a great love of books and reading. Some of my earliest memories are going to the library and checking out stacks of books to take home and devour. I participated in the library summer reading program and tore through books, wanting to read the most (I never did, though). Reading has always been a huge part of my life.

When I was in fourth grade, I transferred schools. It was an incredibly difficult transition and the girls at the new school could be incredibly cruel to me. They teased and bullied me, sometimes physically. I took solace in books. I’d always had an active imagination, and having that escape really helped. It didn’t matter that I didn’t live near any of the few friends I had; I had friends in my mind. Stories and books became a solace and a refuge. If the girls were being too mean, I could take a book out to recess and escape or even just walk away and imagine myself into another world.

In high school, I met another girl who loved to read as much as me. We initially bonded over Star Trek, but quickly found we had so much more in common. We would spend hours at the bookstores, pouring over books. We lent and recommended books to each other all the time. We never ran out of things to say to one another.

Reading has also shaped my writing life. Although I was always adamant about not wanting to be a writer (a stance I’ve since reversed), I’ve always been writing because I was influenced by reading. My earliest scribblings were poems. In fourth grade, I wrote a sequel to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM as a gift for my teacher who read it to us. I wrote Star Wars fanfiction in high school, then graduated to pirate romances after I started reading romances. I started writing vampires after Interview with the Vampire and the Anita Blake books by Laurel K. Hamilton. I realized I could connect all my writing into a shared universe from Cassandra Clare, which led to me writing two books this year. Reading has guided and directed my writing from the beginning.

My identity as a reader has always been important to me. I’ve always been proud of it and excited to share my love. Without reading, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I honestly can’t imagine who I’d be without it.

How has reading shaped or changed your life? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Review: The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Title: The Night Country

Author: Melissa Albert

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Length: 352 pages

Genre: fantasy

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Source: NetGalley

Alice Proserpine has escaped the fairy tale world, the Hinterland, where she was created. Now, she lives in New York with her mother and other escapees. Now, though, something is killing ex-Stories and taking their body parts. Worse, all evidence points to Alice. Desperate to find out what is happening, Alice decides to investigate, and finds that the deaths may serve a larger purpose. Meanwhile, Ellery Finch slips out of the fading Hinterland into worlds he’d only dreamed of all while hoping to find a way back home.

I highly enjoyed this book and tore through it with great enthusiasm. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more than The Hazel Wood. It moves quickly and dives right into the action. I liked Alice trying to first navigate the two worlds by being with the others from the Hinterland and our world, and then rejecting the her Hinterland heritage and past. Of course, that would never work and the Hinterland comes to her with a vengeance.

I liked the new characters, especially Sophia. I loved her back story and wish we could have gotten more of her. Daphne was another interesting character, but she was quite scary. I especially liked all the children characters, because they were creepy, like all good fairy tale children should be. The Trio was amazing.

I do feel it was a little rushed, even at it’s length. I would have liked to see more of Finch’s journey and get more of him. There’s something he does that’s really interesting, but I wish there had been more of it. There wasn’t enough. I also would have liked to see more of Alice’s life before it all started falling apart. It would have helped to see more of her normalcy. Or, maybe she never really had any.

Despite all that, I really did enjoy the book. I thought it was a strong follow up to The Hazel Wood.

Yes, I would. If you liked The Hazel Wood, I think you’ll enjoy this. If you enjoy creepy fairy tales and seeing them try to integrate into our world, then this book will entertain you. It’s a solidly written book with amazing characters and a great plot.

WWW Wednesday November 27

Hey everyone! It’s Wednesday and time for WWW Wednesday once again. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are invited to answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you just finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

I’m listening to The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer. I just started listening to it on Monday and meant to listen on my trip down to my parents, but got caught up in podcasts instead. Still, I liked what I listened to and can’t wait to read more.

I also made some more progress on Interview with the Vampire. They’ve finally made it off the plantation and are heading to New Orleans soon. So, progress!

Just finished reading:

I finished A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden over the weekend and really enjoyed it. My review is here. I finished The Night Country by Melissa Albert yesterday and loved it. I thought it was super fantastic.

Reading next

To be perfectly honest, I am probably going to march into my sister’s room after I’m done writing this post and borrow Finale by Stephanie Garber because I’ve been dying to read it and she said I could borrow it when I visited. I probably won’t read either book I’m currently reading at all. I also probably will not get started with The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner like I meant to this week like I intended because I will be reading Finale. So, that’s what I’m reading next.

What are you reading this week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Top Ten Books I’m Thankful I Gave a Chance

It’s Tuesday! That means in two day, I’m running my first 5K! I’m excited and nervous. I know I can do it, but I’m still worried that something will happen.

But that’s Thursday. Today is Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Thankful Freebie”, which means we get to choose the topic. I’m going with Top Ten Books I’m Grateful I gave a Chance.

  1. The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. So, I’ve been in fandom a long, long time, and I knew who Cassandra Clare was long before she started writing books. All I knew about her was that she was wanky and got her fans to buy her a laptop. Because of that, I never read any of her books. However, this year, I decided to give Clockwork Angel a chance and I’m so glad I did. Not only was the whole series wonderful, but it helped inspire me to start writing again. I didn’t realize that all her books were set in the same universe and it occurred to me that I could do the same thing. In less than a year, I went to having one book written to almost three (I’m currently writing the third.) So, yeah, I’m super glad I gave the books a chance.
  2. The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Before discovering BookTube, I’d never heard of these books. I was introduce to them by A Dash of Ash. Even hearing her enthuse about them, I wasn’t sure they were for me. Still, I decided to give them a try. At first, it was a huge struggle because I wasn’t following who the characters were. But, once I adjusted to the format, I fell in love. I love the characters, I love the story, I love the format, and I love AIDAN. In fact, it may be time for a reread of the series.
  3. Scythe by Neal Shusterman. This was another book I’d never heard of before BookTube and I dismissed it at first because I didn’t know what it was about. Then, I picked it up at a bookstore and read the first chapter. I fell in love. I didn’t buy it, but I checked it out from the library. However, I think I’m going to buy all three books now that The Toll is out and reread the first two before diving into the third.
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Yet another book I thought I wouldn’t care for, I bought this for three bucks at the library store. It was in perfect condition and I felt like I had to buy it. It was such a magical book. I loved the characters, the setting, the worldbuilding, everything. And to think,I never would have given it a chance if I hadn’t first read
  5. Caraval by Stephanie Graber. I’m not a huge fantasy lover, and I thought this book would be out of my comfort zone. However, I decided to give it a try, and I’m glad I did. I loved Scarlett so much and the whole game of Caraval and her obsession with following the rules was just so much fun to read. I liked Legendary even more and I’m so excited to read Finale very, very soon.
  6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This is another book that I picked up because of BookTube. It was so popular and people loved it so much, that I decided to give it a try. I admit, I struggled with it. I couldn’t get into it at first and actually put it down and stop reading. Then, one weekend last March, I hurt my foot and called in sick to work. I decided to spend the weekend reading and I went back to SoC and jammed through it. I was so glad I did. I actually liked Crooked Kingdom even more, but I never would have read that if I had’t read the first one.
  7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I struggled so much to read this book. My mom recommended it to me, and I tried, but couldn’t get past the first chapter. It just didn’t grab me. Finally, I sat down and pushed through and I discovered the delightful magic of Harry Potter. I’m so glad I gave it a chance.
  8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. So, one of the places I hang out on the internet has strong opinions about everything. I swear, everything they like, I hate and vice versa. Which is why I finally decided to give Fangirl a chance because they hated it so much. I figured, I’d love it. And I did. It was like reading about myself during my early years in fandom. I was never as popular as Cath was, but I had a very popular series that people made fanart for, fangirled my OCs, and kept me going through some dark times.
  9. Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I don’t like dragons all that much, and when I read the description of this book, I thought it was about a literal dragon. And even when I realized my mistake, I wasn’t sure. However, I have loved every single fanfic that I’ve read of Naomi Novik’s and decided I was being stupid. I loved Uprooted so much. I’m so glad I gave it a chance.
  10. Beauty by Robin McKinley. I remember the first time I came across this book. I was in eighth grade in our library. I was trolling the shelves for books and came across this one. Instead of reading the description, I read the first line and went, “A Sleeping Beauty story told in first person? That’s so dumb.” And I put it back on the shelf. It wasn’t until I got hurt (there’s sort of a theme here) and stuck in the library during PE that I gave it another chance and realized it was a Beauty and the Beast story and it was amazing. I cannot stress how much I love this book. It’s my favorite book ever and I read every year and just… yeah. It’s a huge part of my heart.

What are some books you are thankful you gave a chance to?

Review: A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

Title: A Touch of Death

Author: Rebecca Crunden

Published Date: February 23, 2017

Length: 306 pages

Source: I was sent this book from the author

Nate Anteros has a habit of speaking his mind. In the Kingdom of Cutta, a totalitarian kingdom where the last of humanity lives safely inside the walls, speaking your mind is the last thing you should be doing. Nate only survived prison thanks to the influence of his mother and father. After being released, he disappeared for two years before mysteriously returning. The trouble is, he hasn’t learned anything in his absence and causes a fight that forces him and Catherine Taenia to flee into the mountains one night, making the dark, cold, and terrible trek to a neighboring city.

Although they are quickly allowed back home, they find they are infected with a mysterious infection that makes it impossible to bear the touch of anyone but each other. Once again, they are forced to flee the city, and the King’s guards and make their way to the one place they will be safe: the Outlands. Of course, safe is a relative term, considering that beyond the walls of the Kingdom are mutants and rabids.

One the run, Catherine and Nate must find out what happened to them and how to stop it before it’s too late.

I really like this book, and I feel the strength of it lies with Catherine. She’s such an interesting character. At the beginning, she’s totally bought into the system of the world she’s lived in. She believes the king is just, the laws are fair, and that dissenters are insane to question the way things are. The book is her journey from pampered princess to understanding that there is something seriously wrong with their society. She starts out strong, too. She’s headstrong and determined and honest. She speaks her mind an isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. She’s amazing.

Nate is well done, too. His whole life, he’s been shown the ugly side of the Kingdom, even though he, too, has grown up in wealth and comfort. He believes in loyalty and friendship and brotherhood. I love his relationship with his brother, Thom. They are close and loving and totally connected. I like how he treats Catherine and how he enjoys arguing with her. His journey is painful to read, but so well worth it.

I was completely engrossed in this story. I loved the world-building, although I do wish some of it had been a little more explicit. I guess at one point, humans lived underground and mutants roamed the earth, and I’d like to know more about that. Especially the mutants. I hope that those topics are more explored in the other books. I greatly look forward to that.

I would recommend this to people who enjoy dystopian books and books about characters fleeing from the law. It’s engrossing, well written, and has great characters. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Weekly Wrap-up | November 24, 2019

I made it through another week! This week was rough, y’all. For 12 years, I’ve had the week after parent conferences off for Thanksgiving. This year, they moved conferences up a week so I had to go back and teach. And it was a rough teaching week, let me tell you. Ever tried to get 25 second graders to add two digit number with regrouping? Yeah. It took four days before they finally got the concept. Four very frustrating days.

But, now I have a week off, which is wonderful. I spent yesterday working on my NaNoWriMo novel and finishing up A Touch of Death by Rebecca Cruden. I also cleaned my apartment and it feels so nice to have an organized space again. Today will be another day of reading and writing. I also need to go running because in four days, I’m running a 5K! My goal for this race is to just finish. If I have fun, I’ll sign up for another race on New Years Day where my goal will be to run the whole thing without walking. Right now, it seems like I’ll never be able to do it, but I never thought I’d be able to do NaNo either, and I’m at 40,000 words right now. So maybe I can do anything I set my mind to.

Monday: Fable by Michele Packard (review)

Tuesday: Top 10 Changes in my Reading Life

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Friday: Let’s Talk Bookish

Saturday: Snippet Saturday: Dark Goddess

Monday: Review of A Touch of Death by Rebecca Cruden

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Friday: How has reading shaped/changed your life?

Saturday: Dark Goddess snippet

What’s in store for you this week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

It’s Saturday again, so here’s another part of my novel, Dark Goddess.

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7

Kali fit quite nicely into the trunk of Gabriel’s car with room to spare so she wouldn’t be too cramped.  Not, Garrison hastened to assure himself, that he cared at all for her comfort, even the slight comfort that breathing room in a tight space might lend her.  Human though the girl may be, she was still an abomination that must be dealt with ruthlessly.  She was not an innocent child to be pitied.

Except, in some ways, she was.  This girl, this incarnation, had no memory of whom she had once been.  No real idea of why she must forfeit her life for the greater good and to pay for past crimes.

The demon, Azazel, had obviously failed in some way when he’d taught the vampire of the past how to preserve her memories and history into the eternal unconsciousness.  Once they were safely tucked into the ether, she’d explained to Garrison so long ago, they would never be lost.  And, if she were ever to die—as she so obviously had—and return—as she had—her new incarnation would remember the life she had once lived through the memories, which would come to her in dreams.

Except, they weren’t.  Or, rather, maybe they were, only Kali didn’t see them as anything but strange nighttime imaginings.

It was hard, Garrison knew, to accept something like this.  Magic.  Vampires.  Reincarnation.  He’d had difficulty believing it himself, and he came from a time when magic and spells had been just as commonplace as computers and aeroplanes were today. And yet, he’d never quite been able to bring himself to believe.

Well.  That wasn’t exactly true.  Garrison had always believed in her.  From the moment she’d first told him what she was, he’d believed.  It was everything else he had failed to grasp.

Nowadays, the average person was much too skeptical to believe in demons and magic.  Those who did believe, or thought they did, often were so enchanted with their own fantasies, they failed to see the world that was right in front of them.

Kali, thankfully, was not one of those horrible children who dressed in black and cried over pain that did not exist in their lives.  For a young woman whose life had been filled with so much pain and frustration, she was remarkably practical and intelligent, just as she’d been when they first met.  She had no time for nonsense such as vampires.  Of course she did not believe him.

Garrison drove up the I-5 until he came to a small tourist town nestled at the base of the Grapevine.  He could save that hurtle until tomorrow when he was rested, the tank was full, and Kali could sit in the car proper, not the trunk.

Of course, it was obvious threats and pain would not keep her docile.  She was, as she used to be, a warrior, ready to defend her freedom no matter the cost to her life.

He’d have to drug her into submission.  He hadn’t wanted to, although he had prepared for this contingency.  Drugs were easy enough to obtain, and there had been many times in the past he’d needed prescription sleep-aids to send him into the land of Nod.  After what he’d seen in his life, it wasn’t a surprise.  The challenge would be keeping her sufficiently subdued without overdosing her.  His plan was contingent on her surviving four more days.

There were other supplies he needed, so he stopped at a store that was one of those miraculous marvels of modern convenience that sold everything from clothing to hunting supplies.  Inside, he purchased first aid accoutrements, food, clothing, undergarments, toiletries, and a book or two to keep the girl occupied on the long drive ahead.  He also refreshed his supply of duct tape.  He’d prefer handcuffs, since they were harder to get out of, but even this store didn’t sell them.

Motels were plentiful in this area, and Garrison was able to find one that was relatively vacant.  It was run down and could be rented by the hour.  Kali had to be worn out by now, and he was going to get the drugs in her as soon as possible.  However, if she did give him any trouble, he wanted to be isolated as possible.  This den of sin would do nicely.

After depositing his purchases in the room, Garrison went to the car and opened the trunk.

Kali opened her eyes right away but didn’t say anything.  Nor did she struggle as Garrison took her by the wrists and hauled her into a sitting position.  She merely sat there and looked at him from world weary eyes.

He hesitated only a moment before he released her wrists.  He wrapped his arms around her waist and gently—probably too gently–lifted her from the trunk and set her on the ground. Tiny thing that she was, she weighed next to nothing.  When she didn’t fight him, she really was quite easy to move.

“Where are we?” she asked, shivering.

Garrison wrinkled his nose as the stench clinging to her hit him.  She stank of vomit, blood, and dried sweat.  Her curls were matted, and she had blood caked across her face, arms and clothing.  Miraculously, her nose didn’t appear to be broken from when he’d planted it against his car, although her eyes were bruised.  She looked as if she’d been fighting for her life, though.  He needed to clean her up before anything else.  He didn’t want anyone to see her like this.

“Home, for the night,” he said in response to her question.  He shut the trunk and took her by the wrists once more.

I’ve heard it’s better to post small chunks than entire chapters, so I’m trying not to overwhelm. Let me know what you think. I’d love some constructive comments.