Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Norse Mythology Review

Norse Mythology
by: Neil Gaiman
Review 

Hello Everyone! 

I must say that it feels splendid to be out of this sluggish reading funk that I have been in for the past few weeks. I am in the process of picking up my reading pace in order to share my thoughts with each and every one of you. Today I am hear to share my thoughts on Norse Mythology by: Neil Gaiman, which I finished on Sunday. This book is a collection of short story retellings of the classic Norse Myths. I will leave links below to Amazon, Goodreads, and BookDepository links for the book so you are able to check it out when you have time. 

Initially when I picked this book up from the library I was skeptical at best for the stories that would lie within. This was proven to be a solid intuition, while I enjoyed the typical Gaiman writing style and banter, I did have some issues with the book. In general the story is quirky and fun, just as each of the original tales is. The characters all have distinct voices and antics that are intriguing and engaging while reading, each having a slight twist on the original. Knowing the style Gaiman typically writes in I was expecting perfect balances of character, whit, and world building; he delivered on all fronts except for the character growth and development. The writing is simple and clear with a touch of British whit and humor as all of his novels tend to include, thus making the read a fast and engaging plod through Asgard and the world of the Gods. 

The reason that I give reserved marks for character growth and development is due to the ease that I am able to forget these characters and their plotline when I am not reading them. Whilst reading this collection I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love to have remembered each tale, I just am finding each to slowly be slipping my mind. For a five star novel it must give me an enticing and engaging plot with well defined and unforgettable characters, which this did not. Each individual myth in this collection can be read separately as a standalone tale, though each flows beautifully into the next to create a complete and endearing overarching plot. 

If you are new to the tales of Norse Myths, such as I was prior to this collection; I would highly recommend this as a great starting point. Gaiman's talent with simplistic and engaging prose will envelope you from page one and reluctantly release its grasp when you read the final page. Each character grows to be a quirky and snarky version of themselves throughout to portray the classic stories that many will have seen through the Marvel universe or any other variations. Overall this book is a joy to read, and one that I may reread in the future. However I would be wary to pick it up if you do not like Gaiman or his rich and engaging plots, otherwise this would be a light read for any avid reader. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Pick this up from the library if you are unsure, it is worth the read/shot. 

Links

Happy Reading! 

Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite myths or retellings that you think I should read! I am severely poorly versed in this area of literature. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Reading Goals

Weekly Reading Goals: 
March 20th 2017

Hey Guys!

I am here today to speak about my weekly reading plans and what I intend to plow through during my spring break. I know many of my friends are in exotic locales across the globe, however I am in my paradise, my room with books. I know you all are probably thinking, 'a 19yr old male who loves reading in his rural Vermont home?' yes, that is me. I am a strange dichotomy of old soul and new. Regardless of my peculiar plans and love of silence here are the books that I plan to read during this week. 

I am home from Uni for spring break until Sunday, unfortunately I do have school work that I need to work on as well so I am going to set my goals low and pray I read more. I am currently reading, as CUP. This is a lovely amble through the impact of a traumatized deaf girl on an english family during the early 1900's. I will talk at length when I am done with the novel, however suffice it to say that I am enjoying it greatly though it is a very slow burn. I would love to complete this before the end of the month in two weeks, though it is not a story that I would like to rush through and not savor so we will see when I finish it.  
you will know if you saw my last post,

I am also currently reading The Night Circus by: Erin Morgenstern. This is a novel that I was not intending to pick up over my break, however yesterday (Sunday) I was craving another circus book similar to Caraval by: Stephanie Garber and this one popped out on my shelves
to fit the build. I would like to complete this novel or atleast make progress in it. I am enjoying this book as well, however it too has a meandering plotline that I do not want to rush through. This book nods to the French language quite heavily with its names and terminology which I am finding soothing and enchanting as I took French in school for 4 years in elementary school and 3 in highschool. With a rich plot and deeply moving cast of characters, this book has me hooked.

I also have other books that I may begin or delve further into during this period of time, which includes: 
  • Shotgun Lovesongs by: Nickolas Butler
  • Hear the Wolves by: Victoria Scott (ARC copy)
  • Waking Gods by: Sylvain Neuvel (ARC copy) 
  • Ninefox Gambit by: Yoon Ha Lee 
    • This is a book that I attempted to read earlier last year and failed at, however it has been nominated for a bookish prize that I am following (Booktube SFF Awards) therefor I must try again. This is one that I am not eager to read but I think I MUST read it now or never since I have enough time to devote to the complex plot. 
These are the many books that I could be reading this week. I do realize that this is a very very ambicious TBR for only a week with other plans, but I am up to the challenge! What are you all currently reading, and how do you decide your next reads? 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Self Published/ Small Press Saturdays

Self Published/Small Press Saturday!


Hello everyone! 

Today I have been reading and boiling off some sap with my brother to make maple syrup. I apologize for the lack of a post on Friday, however I was on my way home from Uni and did not have time to post. I am back today with a regular segment I will be doing here on my blog, and all other regularly scheduled posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! This segment was inspired by a current read of mine, CUP that was written by an amazing duo in my hometown, Robert Wills and Rachael K. Kasper. 

During these segments I would like to highlight self published works that I have enjoyed or will be anticipating in the near future. I know that I have said this before, however it sickens me how many authors fall through the cracks because people are too scared to take a leap of faith on their work. I am here now to shine a light on works I love or will be purchasing in the near future. 

As I said, this blog post was inspired by the wonderful book that I am currently reading, CUP. This book was something that I reached out to review by the authors whom as I mentioned live in my home town. This book has an intriguing plot, however as with many self published works I was speculative as to the quality of writing that would be showcased. However when I picked this book up I was pleasantly surprised to see an immersive period correct dialect and syntax that mimics that of England in 1925! This is something that I did not think could be done with such succinct and comprehensive prose, however I was happily proved wrong. 

This story follows a couple, John and Anna Thorpe as they go on the journey together to protect deaf and brutally abused women (Ellen) who wanders into their life. The women who appears on their porch is anything but ordinary, she will bring joy and a new challenge to their life, a truly beautiful tale of love and friendship. This book was published recently via the Amazon publishing platform, which may deter some of you from purchasing it but I want to urge you all to try it and then decide. I will be reviewing this in about a week or two when I have completed it, in which I'll share a section with you all. My point in sharing this is to say that we all need to give self published authors and the "underdog" a shot, they may shock you as Rachael and Robert have done with me!

I must be back to reading, but please take the time to check out CUP on Facebook, and Amazon! Links below: 


Happy Reading! 

I will see you all on Monday for another fun and important week of blogging and sharing my love of books!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bookish Buzzwords as a Sales Pitch

Bookish Buzzwords & Buzz

Hello Everyone, 

This blog post is coming to you tonight from a man who has been staring into Organic Chemistry notes all day, so bare with me as I switch into my creative mindset. Today I saw an add for a book that had a few keywords on the ad that caught my attention so I thought I would discuss what words catch my eye and why these keywords work. The words that caught my eye today were scouting, friends, and ideals. These words were associated with Nickolas Butler's new book The Heart of Men which was released on March 7th 2017. 

These words on the ad for The Heart of Men caught my attention for several reasons, I am an Eagle Scout, friendship tales are always fascinating to see the dynamics of people, and ideals told me that this book would focus on society's/and personal ideas of masculinity. This combination has a great potential to blow me away! With blurbs or quotes about a book, publishers need to make an impact in a few lines. This can be done by sharing a shocking scene to grip you, or a condensed synopsis,  or they can try to create a nostalgia with their audience. These are a few of their techniques, in this case the line checked off two of these options; forming nostalgia with me, and synopsis. However not everyone will have a connection and nostalgia for Scouting or summer camp they draw literary fiction fans in with the idea of a question regarding morality and multi-generational storylines. 


This short and powerful sentence that is on the cover of books or in press releases has the power to attract buyers in a way that nothing else can. Someone can pitch a book to you in a bookshop and you may be inclined to try it, however for myself I will not purchase it unless the quotes or synopsis hook me. Many factors go into designing the quotes for book jackets, and I cannot speak about them all so I will leave this analysis to publishers. 

Buzzwords are a similar concept to quotes or press release quotes. Buzzwords are designed to draw a reader in and give them a feeling for the plot and themes dealt with in books. These are more prevalent in the reviewing community instead of on the physical copy of a book, however if certain words are used in review people are either attracted or repelled. For my personal taste there are a few words that peak my interest: 
  • Family saga 
  • Quest 
  • Magic 
  • Russia
  • Scouting 
  • Loyalty 
  • Gender Norms.
  • Friendship
These words will draw my attention and usually cause me to search deeper about the book mentioned. Further searching allows me to evaluate my interest level in the book, to determine when or if I pick up a book. The magic of words is incredible! With a few simple words a publisher or reviewer can create a sense of intrigue and need for the book at hand which astonishes me each time! I know we have always seen these on books or in reviews, what are your favorite buzzwords or quotes on books/reviews? 

Happy Reading! 

Check in Friday for more bookish discussions and reading fun! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Review

Every Heart a Doorway:
by:Seannan McGuire 
Review


Hello everyone, 

For those of you who are wondering, yes, I did not post on Wednesday. I had a very busy week and did not get around to writing this review in time so the wednesday post. I am here today to talk about the first Booktube SFF Awards book that I have completed, Every Heart A Doorway by: Seannan McGuire. 

Plot: 

"Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Guests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost." (Goodreads.com)

This book was nominated under the best short fiction title of the Booktube SFF Awards, therefor I had to pick it up and read it to read all of the books in the short list. This is not the typical kind of story that I would reach for on the shelf, however prior to reading this I heard some great buzz about it on the book community about the representation of people in the story and its beautiful writing. Frankly I felt that this was all that this book had to offer. 

I know my opinion is the unpopular one, however I saw this novella as being a fun exploration with the psyche and the concept of home. The idea that home is not the place where your family is, and that it is actually where you feel most at home struck me. I have never truly thought of this before with the conventional idea of home with a family and pets playing in the yard with a white picket fence always popping into my mind when someone mentions home. This novella toys with the idea of otherworlds being home, such as the underworld, pixie worlds etc... Though the commentary on home was interesting it did not pull this whole book together for me. 

The writing in this book is rich and immersive. McGuire has crafted a world that you can vividly imagine and are able to experience through the thin pages bound before you. Though this writing was beautiful and well crafted, I did find this book to be confusing in the beginning when I was trying to gain a "foothold" in the world that she has created. This confusion may not have been the writing's fault, personally I think you must be in the correct frame of mind to enjoy this book; that frame of mind includes preparedness for whimsy and oddities with a dash of murder mystery. 

For a book to get a high rating, I must feel emotionally invested in the characters, the book must be well written, the plot must be engaging and the themes must be an interesting exploration of a topic or idea. This little novella frankly did not have that for me, I did find the themes to be fun and engaging, none of the characters particularly irritated me however no one character stuck in my head. I would read the sequel novella coming out in June from the library if I saw it there, however otherwise I do not think I will seek any more of this series.  

Rating: 3 stars

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weekly Plans!

Weekly Plans: 
3-6-17

Hey Guys! 

I am so sorry that I did not have a post up as usual on Monday. I was super busy with school all day and when I sat down to write the post on Monday evening in my bed I just fell asleep. The true struggle of a Uni blogger and reader, sleep trumps all past times. Anyway regardless of the reason that I missed Monday's post, I am here today to tell you all what I will be reading this week, and hopefully completing! This segment has become a staple on the blog to let you know what I am going to be reading and my goals for the week, let me know down below if you do not want to see these so often. 

This week is going to be a rather chill week as far as assignments go, which hopefully can transfer into having a great reading week. That being said, I do have an Organic Chemistry 2 exam next week that I will need to prepare for as well. I am going to shoot for reading one and a half books this week in total. This may be ambicious however I have to read quite rapidly for the next few months to stay on top of the Booktube SFF Awards shortlist read-a-longs. 

The first book I intend to complete this week is Neil Gaiman's new book Norse Mythology; this is a compilation of his rendition of each story surrounding the Norse Gods. I knew nothing about the Norse Gods going into this book on a whim yesterday, Monday, and now I am attached and enjoying every page! This is not your typical Gaiman book, as it reads with a fast pace and does not spend copious amounts of time describing the world, this is something that I love about this book. It is going to be just a great booster book for me to read this week.  I am currently on page 94 of 283, this is something that I can surely finish this week as it reads so quickly and my enjoyment is through the roof while reading it. 

The second book that I intend to finish this week is Furthermore by: Tahereh Mafi, this is her latest
middle grade novel that was nominated for the Booktube SFF Awards. This is one that I am bound to enjoy regardless of the plot if it is anything like her previous series (Shatter Me). Tahereh's writing is richly rewarding and a joy to immerse yourself in, her style includes poetic language and often times copious metaphors. This book is one that I am anticipating to have a faster pace than her previous books and less poetic language, fingers crossed it is still enjoyable. This book is a total length of 401 pages... This may not be completed completely during the work week, however I will have the utmost enjoyment attempting to complete these books!

Please let me know what you are all reading for this week, and if you have any tips for how to read whilst in Uni...

Happy Reading! 

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Man Behind the Throne

Unmasking My Bookish Empire:
My Story


Hello all, 

I am here today by popular demand to chat about my non bookish life. I know that you all are here to see my bookish life and chat about the books that I love, however I received a request today via Twitter to chat about my time about my non-bookish life. I am here to tell you all about who I am in my daily life. I promise that this will be the one and only about my non book life, since this blog follows my life as a reader and not my general life.

In my daily life I am a college student going to school in upstate New York in the USA where I am studying Biology. I hope to work after school as a conservation ecologist as a field researcher in New England. I got to this point through a long journey of high school where I graduated second in my class of 42 in rural Vermont. During my junior year in high school this is where I began writing this blog and reviewing the things that I love, my books. Aside from reviewing books, during high school I was also in the Boy Scouts of America Program where I learned what it meant to be a productive and civically engaged.  In my senior year of high school I attained my Eagle Scout rank which is the highest award that you can get in scouting, similar to national honor society and graduating at the top of your class. 
Moi!

These pillars of knowledge that I learned while in scouting have followed me throughout my life scince. While I have only been out of scouting for a year, the friends that I made while in scouting have left a lasting impression on me which I will forever carry in my heart. Aside from scouting and working on the blog I was busied by my coursework and clubs in high school such as student council and yearbook committee. My time in high school was a time of discovery and expanding my knowledge more than it was fun, however I am happy to report that now after making a successful transition into University life. What I am doing now is something that I hope will make a difference in the world when I am out of Uni working for a living. 

While at Uni I am studying the biological sciences which is something that I found I loved very much when I was in high school and participated in the many scouting camping trips. This degree is something that I chose instead of the pre-veterinary as I was scared of the lengthy schooling and debt that would shackle me with such a degree. With Biology I found a happy balance with helping people and working with the animals that I love so much. This summer I will be staying in upstate New York to research the population dynamics of a small endangered warbler, Golden Winged Warblers. These small birds have been crossing with a close sister species for years and are diluting their gene pool which is what I want to ultimately uncover why they are doing this, I would be happy to share later if anyone would like. Aside from my research, course load of:
  1. Organic Chemistry 2
  2. Organic Chemistry Lab
  3. Physics 2 and Physics 2 Lab
  4. Biostatistics and Lab
  5.  Research methods course
and my honor society presidential position on the Beta Beta Beta chapter at my university I tend to spend the rest of my spare time reading and writing this blog for you all to read and interact with. I love my degree and my social life, however this blog allows me to open my mind to the creative outlets that I don't see around me. This endeavor of blogging and chatting about my bookish life is the best aspect of my life right now and I cannot see an end in the future! 

Oh and in my free time when I am not in a bookshop or studying I can also be found hiking the many high peaks in the Adirondack state park!

I will be back to chat books again on Monday, until then, I hope you are all able to relax and read a bit this weekend!

Happy Reading...