Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been? 
Where is This Blog Going?

Hello Everyone... 

I am back today to explain where I have been over the last week and why posting has become a difficulty and what you can expect from this blog going forward. I have recently moved out into the "real world" for the first time this summer at my university doing research, I have hit some bumps along the road with planning  and time management as you can see. I am researching the population dynamics of Golden-winged Warblers in the area near my university. While I love these cute little endangered songbirds, they require me to wake up each morning at 4:00AM EST to be in our research location by 5:30AM EST. Needless to say my body has not adjusted or taken this abrupt change well. Each day I take a nap during the three hours I have to myself to keep myself awake for my evening job. After my evening job is done at 9:00PM I go to the apartment and sleep until the next day. This schedule has left little time to blog or read, for that I regret it. 

Golden-winged Warbler Breeding Habitat
However, I also have come to recognize that I am a workaholic. Thus meaning if I have a topic I am learning about or working for I will devote my whole life, and all of my free time to it. This is not good, nor is it healthy. I am working on a routine right now where I will build in time to read and blog each day of the week for about two hours by curbing the length of my naps, fingers crossed it will start to work soon. I have a joural where I keep my plans and necessary activities for the day to which I have now added a section for relaxation and fun. I know, I know how lame can you get, needing to schedule fun time? Well pretty lame if you see me, I am finding my research and other wrk to be dangerously consumptive of my life and I need to make a change; planning my free time for fun is how I intend to do it. 

Local Humane Society has also taken my time, and heart.
That being said, I am going to leap head first back into blogging and reading this week. If I try to take baby steps I will just fail and fade out again which was never the goal initially. I will have a post up on Friday as well to let you know my weekend goals for reading and reviewing as well. I have not moved on from those books which I listed last week as I have not been reading as much as I would like. The Great British Bake Off and research life have stepped into my reading time which I do not like and will be cutting back on or rearranging to fit reading. I have many books for review at the moment which I may put aside to make myself excited about reading again and just to start fresh with all new books. Let me know how you all get through reading funks or how you think I can shake this weird funk?

Regardless of my absence on the blog, I assure you I am always active on Twitter (@Komondor70) and on my GoodReads page (Wil H.) That being said I will be back in a big way this week with some chatty posts and even some critical thoughts on books that I have started recently. Keep your eyes on the blog to see upcoming blog giveaways, articles, and reviews... I promise they are coming as imminently as the Winter in A Song of Ice and Fire!

Do not forget, I still have not selected a winner on my blog for the Jennifer McMahon Giveaway of Burntown. This I will leave open until Saturday, May 27th at 12:00AM EST. Please follow this link o see how to enter:

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Weekly Reading Goals

Weekly Reading Plans
May 15th-21st

Hello Everyone, 

I am here today with a quick post about what I intend to read this week. I know many of these books you will have seen me speak about before, however I still have not read them yet. That being said I may throw in some other books to keep it interesting for you and I. This week marks the start of my summer research with my university, and my advisor has not returned yet to help me begin so I have until the 19th to read and enjoy almost open daily schedules! That being said I am still reading articles and reports for my research during the day so it is not all allocated to reading, sadly. 

This week I intend to make some headway in a few books, hopefully. This books begin with:  by: Rachael Kasper and Robert Wills, this book was written by two local authors in my hometown and I was lucky enough to get a review copy from them. This book follows the Thorpe family and a women called Ellen as they cross paths and learn to love and help one another, it is truly amazing so far. I am currently on page 133 of 551, needless to say I do not foresee this book getting read completely this week. 

The second book that I am hoping to make some headway into is The Hearts of Men by: Nickolas Butler. This book follows many characters whom all have ties to a Boy Scout summer camp and their lives as their worlds get increasingly more chaotic. Being an Eagle Scout I requested this novel from the publisher, Ecco, and was kindly awarded a copy
and I would love to finish it in May. I am currently on page 65 of 400 pages. This novel is a slow paced exploration of what it means to be human and an adolescent and how society forces us to grow up, it is therefore slow moving and rather dense.

The final book that I intend to start and finish this week is The Heart of Stone by: Ben Galley. This is Ben's newest novel and he was kind enough to send it to me for review and I am very eager to dive in and share with you all my thoughts on the book. The plot follows a golem and his war torn land where his masters are always fighting a war using him as a weapon; but now a new war has broken out and it is time to
decide whether to fight or abandon the only thing he has ever seen, war. This book sounds like a great epic romp through a fantastical world, and I cannot wait to dive in!

These are the books that I hope to make progress in this week, we will see how I am able to get on with this challenge at the end of the week. I always seem to bite off more than I can chew in terms of reading for a given week, though I am hoping that this summer will allow me ample time to read and write reviews for you all. 

What are you all reading this week? 
Don't forget to enter the McMahon giveaway, it closes this Friday May 19th.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jennifer McMahon Interview: May 10th 2017

Vermont Horror Writer Interview: 
Jennifer McMahon

Hello Everyone, 

Sorry for the hiatus from blogging this week, the real world just caught up to me and I realized that I needed to focus more on the aspects in my personal life than Blogging. I have completed my second year at university and just came home for a few days on Tuesday-Sunday to see family before my research begins on Monday. That being said, the lovely Jennifer McMahon's newest novel Burntown just released and I had the pleasure of speaking her about the writing process and Burtown on Wednesday afternoon. For those of you who do not know who Ms. McMahon is, I will link her website below so you can read about her novels and where she is hosting events. 

Who is Jennifer?
This biography was taken directly from McMahon's website: 
"I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness — I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella. These days, we’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure."

The following are some interesting portions of our conversation on Wednesday, I hope you all enjoy this and if you have not yet given her works a try I implore you to do so very soon!


Jennifer McMahon and I at The North Branch Cafe, Vermont
- Me/Wil (same person): Where do you get your inspiration for your stories, and why do you think that Vermont lends itself to your style of writing? 

-McMahon: "I get my inspiration from everywhere, I have inspiration from everything around me. I get a lot of inspiration from dreams, I keep a notebook on the side of my bed and I write down all my dreams every morning; quite a few of my books have atleast scenes if not whole story arcs that were inspired by dreams. My brain is an idea factory I feel like... Vermont is just, I love it here so I came here to go to college in the late eighties and never really left; I mean I left for short periods but I always came back. I feel because I am not a native Vermonter, I am a flatlander that gives me this outsider status so I can pick up on things that I might not necessarily pick up on if I had grown up here. I love playing with the idea that we live in this beautiful idyllic place, but what if things aren't like they seem... I try to set my books in other places sometimes, but they always seem to come back to Vermont (chuckling)... Each book is based in a fictional town that I create, and each time I have to make a map for the town... Because I want to get the details right."

-Wil: Creating towns for these novels, do you just pull inspiration from all the towns you have been in all over the state?

-McMahon: "I do, and I also spend a lot of time looking at maps. Especially when I am creating maps for my books, I also visit physical towns for inspiration. Burntown is different than every other novel I have written, in that it is set in a small rundown mill town instead of the rural woods of Vermont... I spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, Manchester New Hampshire looking at the ways the mills shaped the "city" and also what happened once they went away... In my next book part of it is set in a bog, so this summer my plan is to go bog hopping in Vermont to gather information on the setting."

-Wil: I noticed when you are writing you often have multi-layered timelines going on, especially with Winter People, how do you keep everything straight in your mind?

-McMahon: "I tend to write chunks of each timeline sort of all together, you know if I am stuck in the early 1900's timeline I will write a whole bunch of that out and then I will divide it up into chunks and go back and forth later. I have to be careful, for example in that book I have two timelines going on which I need to keep separate story arcs and make sure it is not too jarring to go back and forth between the two, because I do not want to lose the reader. I keep lots of notes, I have timelines going on, I have lots of charts, even then when I write my first draft it is always a terrible mess... Every single time I write a book I print out my copy and I lay it all out chapter by chapter all over the floor of my house and then I move things around, like doing a giant collage almost. Only when the story is laying all about the house do I really start to understand what the book is going to look like. Once it is finally in a collage on the floor I then will make outlines and timelines to find the missing pieces and put everything together again." 

-Wil: When you were starting to write, was there a specific turning point in which you knew you wanted to write for a living, or was it something you always did and it morphed into something larger?

-McMahon: "I started writing in third grade. I wrote my first short story then about a haunted meatball, and I was hooked from that moment on. It was this magical thing where I got to create this universe and make anything happen, including having a meatball be glowing green and haunted and haunting the little boy who was trying to eat him. It was magic! My teacher gave me good feedback and recommended that I take a writing class that summer and I loved it. I predominantly wrote poetry previously, I studied poetry at Goddard college. My poems grew into something that was more complex where I was trying to tell stories and they were getting longer and turning into prose poems, one day I was working on one and it just kept growing. That turned into a novel."

-Wil: I know a lot of authors actually project themselves into their works along with those around them, is this something that you do?

-McMahon: " I never do it intentionally, there are definitely little pieces of me in all of my characters and probably little pieces of people I know whether it be a person I see at the grocery store, or a dear friend. But I never base a character on anyone I know in real life."

-Wil: With Burntown, now that you are going around and doing a lot of tour stops and readings, how do you stay excited about a book while you are on tour?

-McMahon: " It is pretty easy for me to get excited, and be excited about my work. But honestly I finish a book and it goes into the world of editing and production and in the mean time I am writing a whole new book that I am working on. When a book comes out I am going on tour but my head has this new story in it, I have to stop working on the new book and reread the touring book. When rereading I get excited again about my books and am able to talk about them and remember the details... I love going out on tour and meeting people, though it is a little stressful."

-Wil: With Burntown, if you could pitch it to someone in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Jennifer McMahon's Newest Novel

-McMahon: "It's about a young woman who is homeless and has been on the streets for four years, she has been accused of murder and finds herself on the run from the police and the real killer; she must look into the secrets of her own past to save herself."

-Wil: With the character Necco in Burntown, is there any reason why she has this as a nickname?

-McMahon: " Eva (Necco) goes through and event called The Great Flood, her mother tells her the story of the flood, Her mother also tells her that when she woke up from the flood she had a head injury and her mother was so happy to see that she was okay and asked her if there was anything that she could get Eva, and Eva responded Necco Wafer Candy because they are her favorite candy. From this point on they reinvent themselves with new names and go on the run."

-Wil: Thank you for coming out here and chatting with me this afternoon, your books bring the strangeness of Vermont to life.

Ms.McMahon was kind enough to bring a signed copy of her new novel Burntown for me to giveaway in this post. If this book is anything like her previous books it will blow you away with her quality of writing and the amount of subtle unease that she is able to weave into the story will keep you up late into the evening. To enter this giveaway you must: 
  • Leave a comment saying that you want to enter, and your favorite book or a book you would recommend to people. 
  • Be atleast 16 with parental permission to give your address as I will need to ship this item to you. 
  • Tweet me/follow me @Komondor70 that you want to be entered in the giveaway. 
The winner will be drawn/announced on Twitter and contacted on Saturday May the 20th, and your prize will be shipped on Monday May 22nd. 


Happy Reading!

Friday, May 5, 2017

My War and Peace Summer

My War and Peace Summer

Hello Everyone, 

By this point in my blog, I am sure you are all tired of hearing me yap on about my summer in New York where I will be studying birds with my university, though today I have some rather daunting and exciting news about those summer plans. First I am moving into my first apartment for the summer tomorrow which is devilishly exciting to think that I will be able to decorate and cook in my own style, not only that, it also means that since we will not have cable or TV in anyway there that I will be able to indulge in the silence and read. Having only Netflix and books this summer and the wilderness as my entertainment is wildly exciting and I cannot wait! 

You all will know by the title of this post that this summer I intend to read War and Peace by: Leo Tolstoy. Why would I want to take on such a challenge you might be asking yourselves right now, well let me explain my motives. War and Peace, much like Ulysses is looked at to be the highest achievement a reader can attain through reading the tome, that being said I am not getting any younger at this point and I should take advantage of the reading that I can do now. That being said I have fallen in love with the new Broadway Musical, Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 written by Dave Malloy. This play is based on the romance in War and Peace, being that I would love to attend the show at the end of the summer I MUST read the source material first. I would also like to read this book since it is many people's favorite book of all time, and it aligns with my fascination about Russia. 

My Copy of War and Peace
I will be joining in and reading from the Vintage Classic Red Spine version of War and Peace which is translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volkhonsky. This book has a total page count of 1,217 pages, with rather small font so we will see if I can complete it. Sadly my copy which I bought second hand is slightly waterlogged, and I was unaware of that at the time of the purchase, however if I love it I will purchase a pristine copy. 

This book will take me the entirety of the summer to read and enjoy, though I aim to take it slow so that I am able to have these characters keep me company throughout my time away from home. I am going to be reading this with a Buddy Reading Group that is hosted by Ange and Yamini who are from BeyondthePages and TheSkepticalReader on YouTube. This readalong will start on June 1st and run through the 31st of July 2017, each day we will be reading approximately six chapters to slowly work our way through this tome. They have a Twitter account that you can check out if you would like to join in on the fun, WP Read-a-Long. I am so excited to start and I cannot wait to dive into this richly rewarding read. The reading schedule can be found on this Spreadsheet


Needless to say, I am crazy about Russia and their literature, I cant wait to dive into the greatest classic to come from Russia very very soon! What are you reading this summer, will you be diving into a tome as well?

Happy Reading!

Purging the Shelves

Purging the Shelves & Why I Must...

Hello Everyone, 

Today' post is more of a rambling post in which I want to chat to you all about the reasons that we get rid of books from our collections and why I need to do this very soon. For myself I get rid of books if I do not want to read them any longer, or if I have read them and do not care enough to own them anymore. Though at the moment the reason why I am forced to think of getting rid of books is the sheer volume that I own and the very limited amount of space that  have to house them in. 

I own a lot of books, I think on the order of more than 250. Those books are not all read, not even close. I am enjoying the experience of cultivating my own library, however I am worried that I have finally run out of space to house the thing that brings me most joy right now, books. It is for that reason that when I go home for a few days next week that I must purge the collection to maintain some sense of normalcy and balance. All of my current shelves are stacked to the brim with books, many of which I have not had the urge to read in many months, those are the ones that will be leaving the stacks of my shelves. 
This is an old photo of my books,
I now have another full case that
would not be in this picture

Getting rid of books is not always the easiest thing when you are a book lover and you think about the amount of money that you have spent on them. Though it has come to a point where I must start to thin my collection in order to stay sane. This is not something that I will have an issue with when I own my own home or apartment, however right now I just have my bedroom in my parents home when I am not at University which does not allow for me to keep many books. 

When I get rid of my books I tend to bring them to the local bookshop near me for credit, however this time I may bring them to a few bookshops to distribute the wealth from my collection. There is a used and new shop that I love, Bear Pond Books, where I bring most of my books to; and the Book Garden where I go when I need to find some lesser well known books and classics. For that reason I will be splitting up the areas where I donate them to this time, as I hope to diversify what I pick up in the future. 

Wish me luck when I go home to select wisely for those books that I care greatly about and would like to keep, and getting rid of those that have stood on my shelf for a long time. 

Happy Reading, and Book Purging!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekly Reading Plans

Weekly Reading Plans: 

Hello Everyone, 

I am back today after a slight bread this weekend to bring you some reading and other bookish goals for this week. This week marks the beginning of the end. University final exams are occurring during this week so I am not anticipating that I will finish a book this week. That being said I do have some book related plans that are going to happen this week as well. 

With final exams going on it means that it is almost time to move out of my university housing and on my own for the summer. This will be my first time living on my own. Part of my main book goals this week is to go through my books which I have here at university to select the books that will remain with me for the summer in my apartment.  This is going to be a very hard thing to do though I cannot keep all of my books that are here with me at university right now. Keeping all of my books that are currently with me would just take up space that I do not have in the small apartment. Some of my major goals for this summer (2 month) experience is to read large books interspersed with review copies and research material. That being said a large goal of mine is to read through the entirety of War and Peace by: Leo Tolstoy this summer. Aside from a mammoth Russian classic, I will be delving further into my escapism, science fiction and fantasy. I will bring out a post on May 15th with the books that I kept with me to read through my summer of research. 

When I am not studying and calculating the grade I need on the final exam to get an A in my courses people can expect to see me reading a few books slowly. Those books include: 
  1. New York 2140
    1. by: KIm Stanley Robinson 
    2. This is a science fiction book speaking about the possible impending flood of our planet when the ice caps melt, and how a large city such as New York would handle that. I am finding the large character base to be very comprehensive and enjoyable. Though this novel is over 600 pages, regardless of the fact that I wish to curl up with a cup of tea for hours to read it, I cannot. 
  2. The Collapsing Empire
    1. by: John Scalzi 
    2. This is Mr. Scalzi's newest novel that I have checked out from the library to read and explore. I am glad that this was a library copy since I am still hesitant if I would want to own a physical copy,  I do not think that it will get reread, and it has a plethora of cursing in the dialog. 
Reading a big catastrophe book filled with excellent characters and an expansive world viewpoint, to reading about an excessive cursing new emperor. And selecting the novels which will be staying with me this summer while I remain at school. Those are just a few of the many bookish things I have planned for this week. Many more bookish events will happen this week, though they will be university books that I will be focussing on. 

Posts This Week:
  • Meeting authors: The Perks, and the Joys
  • War and Peace Reading Plans
  • Weeding the Bookshelves: Why I need to do it and Why I hesitate
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review 4-26-17

By: Brian Kimberling

Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in the United States Midwest, with all of its oddities and cozy small towns? Snapper allows you to do just that. This novel follows the main character, Nathan, who is from Evansville Indiana on his journey through life. Each period of his life is covered through this short novel, his younger years, mid twenties, and thirties and onward. Nathan Lochmueller is a birder who studies the migration and general interactions of songbirds in Indiana for the Audubon Society, this attribute drew me fully into this story. Through Nathan's issues with finding love, birding, and coming from a small town in a rural state I was able to identify with him greatly.  The character development that this novel exhibits is sporadic and slow to build, though I assure you by the end of the novel you will be rooting for Nathan to figure out his life and to help all of those who were trapped in that Midwest town. 

This novel has what I would deem a meandering plot with no true purpose but to show the reader how the Midwest differs culturally from other parts of the world. Just because this novel does not have an explicit plot set that it is going to follow, does not mean it is without merit. This book spoke to me on a few levels about the hardships that are ahead of myself in life, heartbreak which I knew, standing up for what you believe in, and taking a leap of faith for love and career goals. Heartbreak is shown through Nathan's relationship with a fly by night girl, Lola. Lola is spunky and a drifter who is never able to commit, to give you an idea of her personality, she painted Nathan's truck with mermaids and butterflies and named it the Gypsy Moth. Standing for what you believe in is a constant theme through this novel, be it when Nathan takes the state lumber company to court to slow legislation that will harm the songbirds in the area, or cherishing a human thigh bone. The court case is rather self explanatory, however you have to read the book to learn the mystery behind the human thigh bone. Having a leap of faith is illustrated perhaps in the most poignant way at the end of the book when Nathan takes a job out of his state, in my home state of Vermont. This is something that I have been struggling with for a long time, as I would love to work in Vermont after graduating with my degree. However, I realize that may not happen and I may need to move where the jobs are, this is something I am still mulling over the benefits of. 

This novel paints a rich scene of southern Indiana, full of racial prejudice and quirky happenings that define the strange place in America. This book is not always an easy and enjoyable read as it covers topics involving the KKK and the shortcomings of our justice system, however I would say that is is worth the read. If you have any interest at all in the natural world or conservation ecology this novel will give you the extra mile, Nathan's relationships with the group of songbirds he observes is both harrowingly melancholy and comforting. While I do not think this book is going to be for everyone, it made an impact on my life as I am able to for better or worse relate to Nathan and his struggles and love of songbirds. All in all this book follows a quirky man, a small town, racial issues, heartbreak, and songbirds to give a complete and fully realized story of the Midwest.  

Quote: "I got my job by accident. A sycamore tree landed on the roof of my predecessor's 4x3 during a thunderstorm. he spent six months in a neck brace."

Rating: 4 stars

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Audiobooks: A Discussion

A Discussion

Hello Everyone, 

Today I have been thinking about the many ways that stories can be consumed and why each one of them matters for a different reason. The topic that most intrigues me is audiobooks, as they are something that I struggle to use in my daily reading life though I know that they could greatly improve my reading speed and amount of books that I am able to read each month. My relationship with audiobooks is slightly complicated in many ways. I do realize that it would allow me to read more, however even with that remarkable promise I find it very hard to get into audiobooks. 

What is an audiobook? 
Well if you are a part of the book world at all then you will know that this is just a book that has been read allowed by someone and recorded for someone else to purchase and listen to later. These are usually a great way to enjoy a long car ride, or a long walk in the woods. Neither of which are things that I am able to do on a regular basis. Audiobooks have helped me through some dense coursework before when I have not wanted to sit and read a text passage, however I am odd in the sense that I must also have the physical book in front of my whilst I read the audiobook to prevent my thoughts from drifting. 

Why are audiobooks great?
Audiobooks grant people access to stories that they may not have otherwise had the privilege of seeing due to either the text size in a book, the reading level, or the availability of the print book. Audiobooks are often a part of the local libraries catalog and can be checked out in a typical books fashion which is great since audiobooks are very costly if you do not have a subscription to Audible or a similar site. Reading, listening, consuming stories is all the same to me. As long as everyone is given the chance to enjoy the written word I am happy, and to me that is what audiobooks allow people to do. 

When hearing a soothing voice lulling on about a fantastical world it always makes me relaxed and calm even when I am most stressed out with university and life. For that reason I love listening to audiobooks after a day at university. I tried to make that a part of my daily routine, however starting a new habit is harder than breaking an old one for me and so far I have been unsuccessful at even sitting down for a mere 30 minutes per day to enjoy an audiobook. This is something that I am working on and hopefully will be able to do this summer when I am driving to and from the research site each day. As I have stated above, listening to audiobooks without the physical edition in front of me is difficult. If given the chance to sit and mull over things in my head I tend to zone out and not focus on the story being told, for this reason I will only buy audiobooks which I own the physical copy of as well. These limitations of how I am forced to read an audiobook slows my reading time to anytime that I would normally be able to read a physical book which is not too often.  Aside from needing to practice the art of focussing on a spoken story and creating time for audiobooks in my life, I love audiobooks and the stories that they hold within. 

My favorite audiobook so far that I have listened to is The Name of the Wind by: Patrick Rothfuss. The narration is great, and the story is even better!

What are some of your favorite things about audiobooks? And how do you make time for them in your life? Answer in the comments section below.

Happy Listening!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Self Published Saturday

Self Published Saturday

Hello All, 

I am back speaking with you about the joys of reading self published books! If you are anything like me you will require a novel to have great character growth and world building; today I am here to give you all resources to find your next self-published read. 

When selecting my next read I rarely remember to check online for any newly released self published novels, however I do realize that they are out there and that they have the same if not better merit than those more widely known titles. For this reason I have created a system that I check each and every time that I purchase a book. The best resource I can give is to read reviews of any and all books you are interested in, you never know what will be self published. Some of my favorite reviewers are, Kitty GJen CampbellMercedesPaul, and many others most of which are on YouTube. 
Indie Book Reviewer List Andrew Liptak. These people speak about loads of books which I would rarely find otherwise mainly in the popular category, though occasionally they will feature a novel that is self published and I am able to capitalize on their love for it. Getting these recommendations allow me to pick up new novels and trust that they will captivate every second while I am reading. 

If something is not reviewed by people that I trust then I will go to the Amazon Kindle store to read a sample prior to purchasing the physical book. Usually reading the first few sections that are provided within the Kindle sample a reader is able to grasp the author's style and character depth which will add to the story if they are done right. Goodreads giveaways are another way to find books that are self published since the authors will often use that platform to get their books more exposure, in doing giveaways on Goodreads readers are able to try a new author's work and review a novel for them. The Goodreads giveaway tab can be found Goodreads fantasy Giveaway Page

Between these places that I explore to find new self published books and authors to read, and local authors in New York and Vermont I have plenty of options for my self published library. If you are unable to try to find self published books through these methods you may have better luck approaching your independent bookstores to see what events of authors that they recommend who write in your area.

Some of the books that I am eager to dive into that fall under the self published topic include: 
  1. The Axe and the Throne
    1. by: M.D Ireman
  2. Dawn Of Wonder 
    1. by: Johnathan Renshaw
What are you looking forward to picking up?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Updates, and Weekend Reads

A Week in Review: 

Hello Everyone! 

I am sorry that I have been missing in action over the past few days. I have been rather busy here at university with school work and examinations, therefore reading has been slow at the best. I know this is not something that anyone would like to hear about, as this is supposed to be a place where I post my reviews and bookish banter. I promise that bookish content will be in the works for this coming week since I am done with exams until finals arrive in two weeks. 

This week has been filled with reading for my organic chemistry exam, and the scientific articles that I must read and analyze for classes here; however now it is the weekend and I am ready to dive into the weekends free choice reading. When I was not reading for courses I spent my time catching up with my YouTube subscription feed, and listening to my new favorite musical soundtrack, The Great Comet of 1812. This is based on a scene from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace , which inadvertantly I have purchased to read now since I have fallen in such deep love with the characters in the shows cast. This is going to be a "minor" task of mine to complete during the summer months in hopes to finish this tome and share my thoughts on both the musical and story if I am able to see the show on Broadway at the end of the summer. 

Lofty classical dreams are in my future, but of interest to all I am delving further into many books at the moment which will allow me to review and chat more to you all about the phenomenal books that I read. This weekend will be filled with work and reading so I will be attempting to read sections from the following books: 
  1. The Hearts of Men

    1. By: Nickolas Butler
    2. This was kindly sent to me by the publisher Ecco books for a review. It discusses the importance of Boy Scouting and the family issues that surround those who attend the summer camps, which is something I have a deep connection to. I am enjoying his style and portrayal of this languid summer camping scene. 
  2. CUP 
    1. By: Rachael Kasper and Robert Wills
    2. This again was kindly gifted to me by the authors for a review, I have been loving Ellen's meandering plotline so far, however school and other things got in the way but I am finally ready to pick it back up again. This novel has a deeply researched setting and a decadent slow burning writing style to top it all off. 
  3. A Science Fiction or Fantasy book of my choosing. 
    1. Because we all need to pick something on a whim to indulge in the expansive and creative worlds that are out there for us. 
I am going to be reading this weekend and exploring the bookish world to escape from my heavily scientific work world. How do you all unwind after the work week? I will be brewing tea, with a cozy blanket in my chair reading or sitting outside in my hammock with a cool glass of water and a book. 

Enjoy spring everyone! 
Tune in tomorrow for Self Published Saturday!

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Buying: The Influence of Friends

Book Buying: 
The Influence of Friends

Hello everyone, 

Today I am here to discuss the influence my friends have on my book buying and reading experience as a whole. We all have those extra bookish friends who will share any and all recommendations with you at the perfect time for you to purchase them, it is those people I will mention today. 

These people are predominantly my online friends that I am speaking about, as many of my in real life friends to not read much. These people often times will chat about something with me or on Twitter which will intrigue me, I then search for it on Goodreads. If the synopsis sounds good and my friend has given it praise it goes in my library or Amazon cart. This leads to minor issues when planning my reading for a given month since I normally will acquire books that I would like to read throughout the month as well. While for those who give me the recommendation or who praise the book it is not an issue to read just one more book in a month, for myself it is very difficult to to do so. The reason it is slow for me to read an additional book in a month is due to the following, I have a slow reading pace, time management is not my friend, and university all throw curve balls at my reading pace for a given month. 

Reading is a hobby of mine which many I know or have seen help to enable with their recommendations or gifts. A few of those people who I readily listen to and love their suggestions are: 
Each and every one of these lovely people have given me great recommendations over the years, be that intentionally in conversation or just through my enjoyment of their channels. I would highly recommend you check them out. 

In order for me to pick up books by friends I must trust them, I must enjoy similar books, I must watch their channel or speak with them regularly. All three of these things lead to my often blindly purchasing of books to discover the characters and world building that my best friends enjoy. Reading books blindly by friends recommendations is such a fun experience that I hope you all are able to experience one day. 

Let me know any books you have read blindly through recommendation and loved, I would love to know!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Library Week 2017!

Why I Love Libraries!

Hello Everyone, 

Today since it is midway through National Library Week here in the US I thought that I would make a post about what libraries mean to me and how I use them. I am as you have all heard, a University student in upstate New York here in the US. That being said I obviously an going to have a very slim budget, which is where libraries come in! The library system where I am is phenomenal! The system that I had to use at home in Vermont was small at best and never had any new titles, the system in New York is massive compared to that with many new releases. Having new releases is not the only important quality or reason that I love libraries, though it does influence which ones that I go to frequently.

Libraries for my must be a safe space for everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, age, or gender. This quality is important to me as I believe that reading is something that we can ALL learn from and find solace in. That being said, most libraries fit this requirement to offer books to all who come through their doors as well as a quiet space to read and reflect. Within a library people are free to explore topics that they may be curious about, or just explore different worlds and scenarios that they could never see in daily life. Not to mention, as a book lover the thought of having access to thousands of books for free is an amazing possibility!

Sharing the written word, caring for one another, and maintaining a place of serenity are a few qualities that I enjoy about small town libraries and libraries in general. While I may not utilize my local libraries in the same extensive manner as others, I frequently visit. These are the reasons I go to the library near me: 
  • Escaping the stress of University. 
    • Our library is only a short 15 minute walk from campus. Which allows me to walk or drive there any time that I just wish to get away from the chaos that is happening at my school. While I am at the library to escape stress I will bring a book that I own with me to read, though it is rare that I walk out without more books in hand.
  • Just to browse.
    • I am horrible about giving new authors a chance when I am purchasing books for myself. I tend to take my friends recommendations and read purely those, therefor when I go to the library I am able to explore new authors. I will often times pick up books from the shelves and read the first paragraph, if I am intrigued it will either come home with me that day or go on my library wishlist. 
  • Meeting up with bookish friends. 
    • Some of my friends do not attend the same university as I do in New York, though they are close by and can easily stop by to read and char at the library. When we use the library for this function we tend to stay for hours on end.
These are the reasons that I go to the library near me, however they offer many other activities than this, such as reading hours, craft days, technology classes, and free computer usage. Each and every one of these activities that are hosted provide crucial entertainment or knowledge to those in the community. In order for libraries to afford to maintain their stacks of books and wonderful programs, they must have the communities interest and support. For that reason I am asking you all to go to your local library and get a library card to explore everything that librarians work so hard to build for our communities world wide. 

Why do you use your local libraries, let me know in the comments?

Thank You Librarians!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekly Goals 4-10-17

Weekly Goals: 
April 10th 2017 

Hello everyone, 

I am here for a very quick blog post today about my reading plans for the upcoming week and to remind you of a fun giveaway that I have running on my blog right now until Friday. The giveaway if for the first two books in the Themis Files series by Sylvain Neuvel, that information can be found on my last blog post. Now onto the books that I hope to read this week!
  • Rendezvous with Rama 
    • by: Arthur C. Clarke
    • Page Count: 303
  • The Book of Joan 
    • by: Lidia Yuknavittch 
    • Page Count: 267
  • Shotgun Lovesongs 
    • by: Nickolas Butler 
    • Page Count: 306
I know with my weekly plans that this is even a stretch to complete but I am going to try. Wish me luck, what are you reading this week? I hope to have some discussion posts up later this week along with a review if at all possible, be sure to check in on Friday when I select the giveaway winner as well. 

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Waking Gods Review!

Waking Gods
by: Sylvain Neuvel

Hello all, 

US cover!
Today I have the honor and privilege to review an amazing science fiction book that has been published by Del Rey! First of all I would like to thank Del Rey for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I must say, after reading Sleeping Giants by: Sylvain Neuvel I was hesitant at how the pacing and character growth was going to fit together and build on past knowledge being that this is written still in an interview format, I was blown away by Neuvel's results! This novel came to me in the post in January, and I waited to read it closer to release day which is a shame because I love it so much and could have known it so much sooner. 

Press Information: 
Release Date: April 4th 2017
Price: $28.00 (retail)
Publisher: Del Rey
Page Count: 324

My Review: 

This book picks up after the events of Sleeping Giants, which I must admit if you have not read that, do not continue reading this review spoilers may lie ahead. This book kicks off with Dr.Rose Franklin being resurrected through new technology after dieing at the end of book one. THis was a shock to me, however I knew that Mr. Neuvel had to allow her to have a role within Waking Gods since she was an integral part of the research team. Regardless of Rose's role within this book, we are able to see a whole host of new characters and old friends within this expansive plot that Sylvain has created. The first aspect of this novel that I would like to discuss is Neuvel's world and technology. 
I am in Awe!

While this world is our own, the technology was imaginative and plausible which is rarely seen in science fiction. There are whole chunks within this book that discuss the genetics of a new species which have correct terminology and validity with a slight twist; as a biology student at university I enjoyed this a lot. While topics such as genetics are covered in a correct and plausible way, his mixture of alien robot technology gave this novel the sense of wonder and creativity which I expect from every science fiction novel! The world follows a similar pattern, while it is our own and he has not changed names of places or anything significant, he has succeeded in creating a masterfully crafted dystopian world. This dystopian world is complete with both alien invasions and robots, and the all too real political issues of our time. You must read the book to discover all that Sylvain Neuvel has in store for you. 

The characters in this book, like with many novels are what drew me into the story and captivated me throughout. The characters in this book are predominantly the same ones that were followed in book one, however Sylvain Neuvel has given them depth and complexity in this book which allows the reader to become "friends" with each one. While not each character is nice, or thoughtful, I found myself rooting for characters throughout this story that I would never consider friends or even good people in real life. This was due to the nuanced character development that Neuvel implemented. In the end, the characters made me laugh out loud, and cry which is the sign of a phenomenal writer. A new favorite couple that I have is Kara and Vincent, their sass and antics had me chuckling and wishing that I had a whole novel following their relationship. 

 Knowing that this is a second book in a series and that I cannot say much about the plot detail, I urge you all to pick up these two books and jump into the Themis Files series before it gets too long. Sylvain will have you laughing at the mannerisms that each character possesses and the witty banter which occurs between characters; as well as crying for those whom you have come to love. These stories are the science fiction books that I would recommend to anyone, they are accessible, fun, and fast paced. For that reason, I am doing a giveaway for the first two books in paperback from the BookDepository with the UK covers. 

Giveaway Details: 
  • You must either:
    • Comment below this post your favorite science fiction book, and why.
    • Or you can tweet me @Komondor70 what your favorite science fiction book is, and tell me you would like to be entered for the Neuvel Giveaway. 
  • You MUST be 18 years or older, or have you parents permission as I will need your mailing address to send the copies of the books to you through the BookDepository. 
  • You must live in one of the countries around the globe that BookDepository ships to. 
  • This giveaway will close in one week, on April 14th I will select the winner and contact them to send them the copies of Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods in these gorgeous editions:
UK Cover of Sleeping Giants
UK Cover of Waking Gods

Rating for Waking Gods: 5 Stars! 

Simply put, the best science fiction book I have read since Old Man's War by: John Scalzi and The Long way To a Small Angry Planet by:Becky Chambers!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Choosing My Next Book

Choosing My Next Read: 
How, Why, and When?

Hello all, 

Today I thought it would be intriguing to check in with you all and explain how I decide what to read next especially after finishing an amazing book. As you all will know I am working my way through Waking Gods by: Sylvain Neuvel for review, I am absolutely loving it and I am almost done so I will soon need to select my next book. There are many scenarios which will determine my next read, for example, my enjoyment of the prior book I read can slow my rate of picking up my next read, while if I read a character heavy novel I will tend to pick up a lighter novel. So with this current moment in time let me take you through my selection process and internal questions.

Picture it, a 19 year old male curled up in his college dorm room by his bookcase slowly turning the last page of a phenomenal science fiction novel (Waking Gods). The weather is bleak and miserable outside, with rain clouds that have not let up in days. Diving into another world is crucial for his enjoyment of the coming Uni week. This is my current state. The questions that I am asking myself in order to select my next read and their answers are as follows:

  • Why do I want to pick up another book, I do not want to leave this world yet?
    • "I am a reader, and blogger, so I guess reading is my hobby, joy and entertainment whilst at Uni. I read to explore and escape, so, Let's Go on an Adventure!"
  • Why did you enjoy your last book so much?
    • "The plot and characters were more vivid and engaging than any other science fiction novel that I have read! The pacing was fast and fun, light yet thought provoking when it was applicable." 
  • Am I ready for something like that again right now, after all the tears and fast paced thrills it gave?
    • "He** yes! I cannot wait for another fast paced book with this level of character growth and world building in it. Though I am not sure I want to leave this wonderful world yet."
  • Which genre are you in the mood for?
    • "Science Fiction, Fantasy, with a hint of literary fiction. Essentially I am looking for something that has great character growth, with an engaging plot and setting." 
  • How long do you want this book to take you to read, or how long should it be? 
    • "I am in the mood to crank through books in order to review them for you all, I would say a good speed to finish would be in 4 days, and the length should be no longer than 500. "
  • What books to I have that fit this description? 
    • Shotgun Lovesongs by: nickolas Butler (literary) 
    • The Sword of Summer by: Rick Riordan (Middle grade fantasy) 
    • CUP by: Robert Wills & Rachael Kasper (literary) 
    • Ninefox Gambit by: Yoon Ha Lee (science fiction) 
    • Rendezvous with Rama by: Arthur C. Clarke (science fiction) 
    • Strange the Dreamer by: Laini Taylor (fantasy) 
  • How will I choose what to read next? 
    • "Try the first chapter of the ones which intrigue me most, and then carry on with the most engaging. I have not started them all yet but the ones I am going to try are: SHotgun Lovesongs,  Ninefox Gambit, Rendezvous with Rama, The book of Joan, Strange the Dreamer."
These are the questions that have been floating around my head since completing my last book, the amazing Waking Gods by: Sylvain Neuvel. The review for which will be up tomorrow for my Friday post. I hope you all have enjoyed getting this glimpse into my mind when it comes to choosing my next read. I will let you know what I choose in my next weekly plans post, so stay tuned!

How do you all choose your next book?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Waking Gods Release Day Fun!

Waking Gods 
by: Sylvain Neuvel 
Release Day Fun!

Happy Release day to Waking Gods by: Sylvain Neuvel! 

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy from the publisher early for review during release week, sadly I am not done with the book yet, however by the end of the week I will have completed it. Upon completion I am going to post a review right here on this blog! 

Who is Sylvain?: 
Sylvain is a Montreal Canadian author who wrote both Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods. I had the amazing opportunity to meet Mr.Neuvel at Bear Pond books last August, I have been hooked on his books since then! Both novels are told in a very unique interview style which creates a unique character study and viewpoint for all events occurring in the novel. I am in awe of his narrative voice within this style! Each and every character is distinct and full of whit and sass, something that I love to read. This book series stemmed from stories that he told his son about a robot that came to earth; knowing this minor detail will make the books all the more endearing to read. Waking Gods is now his second novel, and hopefully not his last in the Themis Files! 

What is the Themis Files? 
The Themis Files is the name of his series which includes both  Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods thus far, but will include more in the future. These books follow the events and reactions that the world has when a MASSIVE robot is found scattered in pieces across the globe in the first book. This is all I can tell you without spoilers, just know that it is amazing and has a great sense of place and pizazz. 

Be sure to stay tuned for my review of the sequel, Waking Gods within the next few days (by Friday 4/7/17)! Until then, here is my review of book one in the Themis Files! 

In my review of Waking Gods there will be a giveaway for book one and two, stay tuned for more details when the review is posted! 


Happy Book Birthday, Waking Gods!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Weekly Plans 4/3/17

Weekly Plans: 

Hello Everyone! 

I am back today to speak about my weekly plans for reading and what I have coming up for reviews this week! First and foremost I have been reading Waking Gods by:Sylvain Neuvel which I hope to review tomorrow on it's release day, April 4th 2017. That being said I have about 130 pages left to read in that book, which is completely attainable for one day's reading if I am able to sit down and read at length, which I am not sure I will be able to tomorrow. That being said, there will be a special post going live tomorrow discussing the Themis Files books by Sylvain Neuvel and the release of Waking Gods. This book will be my predominant read for the week until I am able to complete it and write a review for you all! 

I am hoping to get through at least one more novel during the course of the week. I know that this is going to be a test of my will however the books that I have to choose from at the moment are: 
  1. Shotgun Lovesongs
    1. by: Nickolas Butler 
    2. This is Mr. Butler's debut novel that came out a few years ago, following the events of a small town where a member becomes famous and then returns. This is a personal choice that I am reading before I dive into his newest novel, The Hearts of Men which I was kindly sent by his lovely publicist at Ecco books. I am finding the story to be a glimpse into small town life that is uncanny and has given me the joy of reminiscing on my small town back home while I am at school. This is a high priority as I would like to complete it prior to beginning his newest novel. 
  2. The Sword of Summer 
    1. by:Rick Riordan 
    2. This is a selection for the Booktube SFF awards. I am attempting to read the whole shortlist this year, however as always I have fallen behind and I am working to catch up. This novel as I am sure you are all aware is a new series by Rick Riordan who wrote the Percy Jackson series, though this one follows Norse Myths and their gods. After completing Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology  I am enjoying the plot and action packed pace that this has. Being that it is a Middle Grade novel I hope to complete it within the week as well. 
Total Page Count (Including Waking Gods): 964 

I know, I know you all are well aware of my slow reading pace during the Uni months but I am going to make the effort to complete these novels during the span of a week to remain in control of my ever growing review que. 

As I said aswell check in tomorrow to see what I have in store for Waking Gods by:Sylvain Neuvel! 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Self Published Saturday

Self Published Saturday!

Hello everyone, 

I am back today with my weekly segment called Self Published Saturday, where I highlite books that have been self published and my thoughts on them. This segment is still rather new, however because I started this segment off by choosing to read a rather large book CUP which is written by the lovely duo of Rachael Kasper & Robert Wills. This book is a lovely slow burning book set in 1920's England and follows the story of Ellen, a deaf girl who is taken in by the Thorpe family and the complications that ensue from that. I am enjoying this slow burning plot with incredible characters, however today I want to bring to light some other books that I am keen to get my hands on in the future for this segment!

My Self Published Novel Wishlist: 
  1. Mageborn: The Blacksmith's Son
    1. by: Michael G. Manning 
    2. Mageborn: The Blacksmith's Son Goodreads Page
    3. Amazon Link
  2. The Book of Deacon
    1. by: Joseph Lallo 
    2. The Book of Deacon Goodreads Page
    3. Amazon Link
  3. First Contact 
    1. by: Michael R. Hicks
    2. First Contact Goodreads Page
    3. Amazon Link
  4. A Galaxy Unknown
    1. by: Thomas DePrima
    2. A Galaxy Unknown Goodreads Page
    3. Amazon Link
  5. The Written 
    1. by: Ben Galley 
    2. The Written Goodreads Link
    3. Amazon Link
  6. Heart Of Stone
    1. by: Ben Galley 
    2. Heart Of Stone Goodreads Link
    3. Amazon Link
    4. Ben Galley's Website

As you all can see I have a fairly long list so far, and I am constantly on the look out for more titles to add to the list to share with you all. Each of these books is self published or was self published at one time, all of which fall under the science fiction or fantasy category. Most of these recommendations come from a list which Michael J. Sullivan, author of the Ryeria Revelations book created on the Ranting Dragon website. Though these may have been recommended by others, that does not diminish my eagerness to read them and share the magic that these authors have created with you all. As this is a new series where I look into self  published books I have found it quite difficult to find some self published gems, though I think I am going to check out Amazon and the internet further to select more books to chat about. 

With these books that I am looking for, I am not just looking for something that has been self published and will hold the readers attention. The book to be considered well done should be well written and easily read by all. This requirement may be difficult to complete, however with these novels I am trusting Mr.Sullivan's recommendation. Each holds a unique and intriguing plot which I think will make for a great adventure! Check out their links to see what they are about and how you can purchase them. 

In the mean time, how do you all find out about self published works? Do you browse the internet, chat to bookshop owners, or peruse Amazon? 

Happy Reading!