Monday, January 30, 2017

Weekly Plans

Weekly Plans:
January 30th-February 5th


Hello Everyone!

I am here today to speak about my reading plans for this week! I am going to step up reading on my priority list this week to see if I can reach my goal of at least 2 hours of pleasure reading per day of the week. This new goal will allow me to complete more books and in turn give you all more fun and intriguing content. To do this new goal of mine I will be awake starting at 6:30AM Eastern Standard Time to fit in two hours of reading before the work day begins... I will kick off the week reading some fantastic novels, today I want to list them and share my page goals for the days this week. 

The Weekly Goals: 
  • Stories of Your Life
    • By: Ted Chiang
    • For this wonderful short story collection I need to read on average one story a day and then this weekend I will need to finish the book with the last long essay inside it. On average each day, in order to complete this book in one week I will need to read about 50 pgs per day. I do realize that this is a lot for me to read in a day however I am going to kick off my day with one of these stories! Later this weekend I also will watch the new movie, Arrival which was inspired by one of these stories. 
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora
    • By: Scott Lynch
    • This book is the first in a new epic series that follows a thieving crew in a medieval Italy. I will not be finishing this book to be honest, however I would like to make more progress in it this week. I have so much to read on top of this stuff, but if I want to finish this book this coming week I need to read 66 pages a day. 
  • The Blinding Knife 
    • By: Brent Weeks
    • This is the sequel to The Black Prism which I read two years ago now and never got around to. I love this world so much when I am immersed, however when I see the size of these books I am daunted and honestly scared to pick them up. I began reading this book on Sunday and I fell right back into the world and want to continue, so this is a rival for The Lies of Locke Lamora as my large fantasy novel to read for the week. If I wanted to complete this book in a week I would need to read 87 pages a day which is not a realistic goal for myself, though in all honestly I may continue to delve deeper in this richly imaginative world! 
Happy Reading!

Check out my social media @komondor70 for Twitter and Wil H on Goodreads to see daily updates on my progress for the books I have chosen to read this week!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Girl on The Train

Girl on the Train
By: Paula Hawkins
Review:

Hello Everybody!

Today I have a very special review for a new found favorite genre, thrillers. I read this book with my friend Missy over at BingeReader on YouTube two weeks ago and we watched the movie just a few nights ago. This book was so much fun to read, though it was confusing at times I believe that was done intentionally by the author to show you how Rachel (main character) is feeling. The book was fun, fast paced, and held a twist that is never expected all of which contributed to the enjoyable read that The Girl on The Train is. The movie on the other hand was frustrating and inaccurate, if you want to hear my thoughts on inaccurate adaptations I certainly can do that for you all because I do have a ton of adaptations I can discuss. 

This book was one that I had found about a month ago in my local library's book sale for $1, and as this was a hardcover in decent condition I picked it up. I must say that this book was worth every penny that I paid for it! Though I do not see this book winning a literary prize for its writing or depth of character, I do see this book as a rip roaring thrill ride through the quiet English suburbs. This book is set in England specifically on a section of railway tracks leading into London, The main character Rachel has been through hell and back dealing with a messy divorce and her ex-husband's affair, though she is not particularly likeable, I found myself rooting for her to get up again and fight. Rachel and all the characters that Hawkins has written in this novel are morally ambiguous, none are good or bad. This questionable moral character is something that I enjoy immensely in novels for me it allows all understanding and compassion to fall on the reader to decide for themselves, and I deem Rachel as morally right! With a cast of questionable and fully formed characters Paula Hawkins has created  a story that you will not soon forget. 

The plot of this book was odd, it has an alternating timeline which at first is confusing and jarring however as you become engrossed in this book all of that fades away. The idea for creating a layered plotline is amazing, as it does add a layer of complexity to Rachel's story which makes sense as she is an alcoholic. From the very beginning of this book the reader is swept up in this brutal British mystery! I do not want to discuss much as far as plot goes because I feel it is best to go in blind this book, essentially this book follows Rachel as she tries to help solve a mystery in suburban Britain. 

As a whole this book combines a fun plot with complex and engaging characters to tell the story of a rogue woman trying to prove her innocence. The themes in this book are phenominal, Hawkins seemingly discusses issues of prejudice and class divides in one fell swoop that will suck you in and not let you go! All in all I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something that is quick to read and engaging with a sinister twist.

Rating: 4/5 stars 

While this is only a four star book for me, it is still a fun and decent read. I couldn't give it five stars for the fact that it was missing something that I cannot place my finger on but regardless it is a great read! 

Happy Reading! 
If you are in the mood for a crazy crime novel or something unnerving, The Girl on The Train must be your next read!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Diverse Books Goals

Diverse Books TBR & Goals

Hello everyone!

I am back today to make up for my MIA post on Wednesday of this week. I am going to be discussing my general goals for future reading on the subjects of diversity and I will show you a selection of books that I would like to read. In reading diverse literature I know it is important to have a broad understanding of many groups to gain a well rounded perspective on the groups that are marginalized on a daily basis. While there are groups that I have learned a lot about in school or through prior reading such as the African American community, the Asian American community, and the Native American groups; though I have heard a lot about these groups I feel that I need to go through and read literature surrounding these groups with a critical eye on the author's research and portrayal of them. Groups that are often villainized in literature will use stereotypes to generalize group's characteristics which is not fair on any level! There are some books that I want to revisit for this reason include: 
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    • By: Mark Twain
  • Black Boy 
    • By: Richard Wright 
  • Obasan 
    • By: Joy Kogawa
  • Itsuka 
    • By: Joy Kogawa
When I reread these books I want to take a more attentive approach when I come across questionable representation. I want to give these all another chance as I have not always enjoyed or seen the importance in these books, however I now see that representation in both literature and media is an epidemic that needs to be eradicated. When reading these books I am sure I will be forced to experience uncomfortable issues and scenarios that were previously glossed over in my reading, seeing these difficult topics with an older mind I hope will allow me to grow as a person. I have always been interested in many cultures and pleaces around the world, however reading diversely is not always about reading from different nationalities perspectives. Reading diversely must encompass differing abilities both mentally and physically, different sexualities, and different religions which all are topics that I have not explored much thus far. To correct my shallow knowledge of these topics outside the bounds of race, I will be picking up these books: 
  • History is All You Left Me
    • By: Adam Silvera
  • Can You Hear the Nightbird Calling
    • By: Anita Rau Badami
  • A Fine Balance 
    • By: Rohinton Mistry
After reading books dealing with the topics of sexuality, religion and disabilities I would like to explore the immigrants experience. I was born and raised in America, thankfully I have never travelled long distances to move though I know that many people have been forced to uproot themselves and venture into a foreign country. I know that the immigrant experience varies depending upon the location they are fleeing to and what experiences that they have had along the way; for this reason I have the most books to read from: 
  • The Good Immigrant 
    • By: Nikesh Shukla
  • Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town
    • By: Mirta Ojto
  • Immigration Essays 
    • By: Sylbil Baker
  • Undocumented: How Immigration became Illegal
    • By: Aviva Chomsky
Though my knowledge of marginalized communities will constantly be growing until the day I die these books will serve as my jumping off point for my study in comprehension and compassion towards those who have been oppressed. I will keep a list on Goodreads for the diverse books that I want to read in the future and which I want to purchase for giveaways and fun projects. Please let me know any recommendations that you have for diverse books, I will continue this project and review hopefully one books a month in this category to help my growth and to push publishers to publish more diverse literature!

Happy Reading!
Remember to never settle for less than accurate, and open representations of every marginalized and diverse community. The world would not be the same without them.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Diversity in Literature

Diversity in Literature

Hello All, 

I want to apologize for the late posting of tonight's blog post, needless to say it has been very chaotic here for me. I am here tonight to speak about diversity and the importance of representation for all within novels. You all will know by now that I am taking part in the #DiverseAthon this year to step out of my reading comfort zone and experience new cultures. In order to participate in the tough discussions that are going around I will be posting here with my thoughts throughout this week. Tonight we will discuss the broad topic of which this readathon was built upon and then on Wednesday there will be a post discussing books I recommend everyone to read to support the many diverse communities and books that our world has to offer. Be sure to keep up to date to see the discussions that will be going on this week here at MyBookishEmpire! 

In light of recent events I am sure you all can think of a good reason for us to come together and support everyone who is here on this earth, from the recent US election, to the war in Syria and every issue in between. However the main question I want to ask is: Why do we need diverse literature and how can it help? 

Many people are able to connect with or identify with a character in literature, usually that means the character is white, cis gendered and able bodied. While I can identify with a majority of white males in literature on a loose level, many people cannot find accurate representation within books or the media. I believe that having a character to connect with in a novel is important for the author to build key character traits and emotional investment with the reader, without seeing a character like yourself in a novel can be disheartening and uncomfortable at times. This discomfort may be a simple question from a child to their parent why no character looks like them or it can be a powerful and alienating feeling of demeaning self doubt; regardless of the outcome, we as a reading community cannot allow this to continue.

From: http://www.unitetheunion.org/unite-at-work/equalities/
Feeling uncomfortable and out of place is something that we all could benefit from in this day and age, this would force us to expand our capacity for compassion and understanding for marginalized groups and people across the globe. This expansion of understanding and compassion can be gained in many ways, including social interactions with the marginalized communities, however this may not alway be available for some. To eliminate the barriers standing between these experiences, reading can be used to expand your mind and "experience" new and possibly intimidating scenarios within a comfortable space. Comfort is what has isolated human society for hundreds of years, from a safe and secluded den to our cozy warm beds with mountains of pillows, humans have a tendency to fear the unknown or new scenarios. However without these new and uncomfortable scenarios we as a society will never grow or come to accept all members of the society we live in. These uncomfortable and unknown scenarios may occur when dealing with or coming to terms with the atrocities that have been committed against marginalized groups and or breaking down the stereotypes that society has enabled for so many years, this is where we all can begin the process of accepting everyone. 

Personally I am guilty of being intimidated and leary of new scenarios with groups of people who I am not familiar with, this is something that I have been working on for many years. I come from a very small town in New England USA where the majority of people who I encounter are white, heterosexual, middle class, educated, and able bodied. This insulation layer as I am going to refer to it as did not help with my initial understanding of different cultures and backgrounds, though I have come a long way from the days of elementary school I still recognize my weaknesses in understanding different groups. Though I have some aspects that I have yet to encounter in daily life or between the pages I know I have improved and will continue to do so. This transition to acceptance of all people and their abilities largely stemmed from my experiences between the pages of books. The very first time I saw a person dealing with anxiety, and racial inequality were in my required reading during school with the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Since then I have travelled and seen the workings of cities aside from my tiny township of 3,500 people, those experiences have changed me for the better, however they would not have such a profound impact upon me without reading people's stories dealing with hard hitting issues. 

I must say that I am not "well " travelled by any stretch of the word, however I have begun to venture out and explore the unknown more and more both through literature and adventures I take part in within my daily life. I am not perfect, you are not perfect, no one person in this world is perfect, to combat this it is my sincere belief that we cannot stop reading and learning about new cultures, people, body abilities/types, and definitions of gender and sexuality. Together through diverse reading, and quizzically open minds, we can make this world a better place for everyone! 

Join me in demanding both accurate representation within books, and more own voice novels to be published in the coming year!


Thank you for taking the time to read this tonight. I would like you all to leave one comment or email me at MyBookishEmpire@gmail.com your recommendations for diverse books that you love, they can be any genre, length, or deal with any range of diversity. With these recommendations I will compile a list of which I will attempt to read all of by years end, so please send in as many recommendations as you can to spread the love and appreciation of diverse literature! 

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 20, 2017

#DiversaAThon TBR

DiversAthon TBR
2017

Hello everyone, 

As many of you will know, today is inauguration day here in the United States. This year We are putting a man into office who genuinely scares me, so to combat this I am joining up with the lovely hosts of DiverseAthon to participate in a week long readathon. Nothing like running from your problems in the real world... 

I am overjoyed to see this lovely readathon happening once again as it is promoting the enjoyment of OwnVoices novels and proper representation for marginalized groups in our literature. This is something that prior to round one of this readathon I did not think of much, as I always had a character to relate to within a book as a straight white male. However I am just now realizing how poor representation for so many people are, not just differing races, but illnesses, disabilities etc... So to combat that I am going to be dipping my toes into the waters of diverse literature for one week. 

This readathon takes place from January 22nd-29th 2017! During this week there are going to be some fun things happening on social media using the #Diverseathon handle so check those out as well... This week I will be rather busy, however I wanted to mention the three books that I am going to try to complete during this upcoming week ontop of the other books that I already have started. 

#Diversathon TBR: 
  1. Norwegian Wood 
    1. by: Haruki Murakami 
    2. Page Count: 386
    3. I found this novel on an own voices list within Goodreads and instantly knew that I wanted to read it! This story follows a man having a flashback about his university days and the issues he had during those times while in Tokyo. Though I have never been to Japan I hope that I too will connect with the story Murakami is speaking about.
  2. Homegoing
    1. by: Yaa Gyasi 
    2. Page Count: 300
    3. This was the readathon's group read for round one, and I did not have time to read it then, though I have heard nothing but amazing things since then about this novel. This follows the many generations of these two sisters from Ghana whose paths are very different. I do not know much more than that, but I am eager to start this novel!
  3. Hidden Figure 
    1. by: Margot Lee Shetterly 
    2. Page Count: 265
    3. This movie was astounding when I saw it last week and I bought the book immediately after seeing the film! This nonfiction book follows the African American women who helped make the space program function with the John Glenn orbit project. I did not know that NASA had employed people of color in the early days of the space program, and I know that this book will illuminate all of my misunderstandings.
I do have many other books sitting here on my shelves that I wanted to weave into this TBR however I realize that even these may prove to be challenging for me to complete in one week. I will be weaving the rest of my diverse books into upcoming weekly TBR posts so that we all can embrace accurate and fair representation in books! I hope that if you are all going to participate in this readathon that it goes well and you are able to shed some light onto the many differences in human life and learn to appreciate them all! 

Happy Reading!
Check in this weekend to see a bonus post! Shh it is a secret just between you and I...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Planetfall Review

 Planetfall by: Emma Newman
Review


Hello everyone!

Today's review is for my favorite science fiction novel that I have ever read, Planetfall by: Emma Newman. This book was one that I picked up on a whim and chose to listen to with an audiobook which the author herself narrates. To begin with I will review the narration for the audiobook... Emma Newman is British and it is crystal clear when you listen to her speak, this added an extra layer of adoration to the book for me. I love listening to different accents, however a British accent is soothing and allows me to fully pay attention to the book being read as the accent and story captivated me from the opening line. Emma Newman gave the book a depth of character that I have seldom seen within an audiobook, from depth of emotion to flashbacks all were narrated in a convincing and enjoyable way! Please go to Audible.com and check out the sample of the Planetfall audiobook and you will see what I am speaking about.

Emma Newman suffers from anxiety and she has written her main character to have the same illness. It is not apparent until the midway point of the book that the main character Renata has anxiety, however when you figure this out it allows you to see her side of the story more clearly. Renata is a deeply secluded and private person who only trusts a few people within the entire colony, until Sung Soo arrives at the border of the colony her life is calm and serenely ignored by those in the rest of the colony. Sung Soo is the mysterious character who appears at the border of the colony and throws everything out of the normal circumstances for all in the colony especially Renata. I found that each character within these pages leapt from the page and was actually surrounding me! These characters are flawed and kind in the same line, anxious, and private which is something that I appreciate Newman integrating into the novel as I was able to see bits of myself in each character.

The plot of this book is very interesting, in general it is about a new comer coming to join their interstellar colony and all of the repercussions of that interaction. I will not say much more than that as it would give away major plot points. Though I can discuss the technology that is in this book which I found intriguing and every so plausible with our current technology, this book uses 3D printing to build their homes, and everything that they needed in society including foods. This is scary to me as I feel we are close to creating an edible 3D printing device; though this book also discusses possible issues surrounding the idea such as recycling the building materials to be reused after they serve a purpose. Though the idea of recycling is a very good way to help our planet, I feel that i we were trying to implement something on this scale it would cause even greater problems for our world societal structure.

From religion, food shortages, 3D printing a life to live in, the right to privacy, and friendship are all discussed within this novel to create a luscious world and cast of characters that you will find yourself caring for long after you put the book down! This wonderfully imaginative and succinct novel will pack the emotional and intellectual stimulation punch that we all should be seeking in literature! Emma Newman is an #OwnVoices novelist who I will be sure to read more from in the coming months, I suggest you all give her a chance as well.

Star Rating: 5/5 stars

Writing: Succinct, powerful and impeccably crafted.
Characters: Friends through it all. Fun and endearing, people who I would live to befriend in the real world!
Plot: Philosophical, intriguing, and provocative! I love this plot though it feels more like a character study with ample mysteries to solve for yourself along the way; it was a true delight to experience.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Weekly Plans January 16th

Weekly Plans: 
January 16th 2017

Hello Everyone! 

I am here again on a Monday morning to speak about what I plan on doing this week in terms of reading, and other nerdy activities! I am happy to report that I have finished my third book of the year last night, The Girl on the Train, which I found to be immensely entertaining and eye opening in the end. To find out my full thoughts on this book, check in right here on Wednesday January 25th. This week I have a very important post going up to review, Planetfall by: Emma Newman. In this review I will be mentioning some pertinent topic about representation within Sci-Fi and the importance of an audiobook narrator's voice, in addition to the regularly scheduled review of this AMAZING Sci-Fi novel! On Friday you will see a surprise post from me, I will host a poll on Twitter to choose the topic. If you would like to give me your input on this Friday's blog post, check out my Twitter poll @Komondor70. 

This week I will be focussing on four new novels! I know, you all are going to think I am batty for starting so many new novels right away. I will be reading them in my spare time and scheduling some time to read each and every day this coming week, regardless of other aspects of my life. These four books include: 

  1. Obelisk Gate 
    1. by: NK Jemisin 
    2. This is the sequel to The Fifth Season which I read last year and enjoyed immensely. I have yet to get to this book as it is quite a complex world and I need to revisit some notes on the first book before diving in. However this week I will be diving back into the luscious world that Jemisin began to explore in The Fifth Season! This book is also a buddy-read with my pal James over at James Chatham on YouTube. 
  2. Hillbilly Elegy
    1. by: JD Vance 
    2. This is a new memoir that has recently gained a copious amount of buzz within the bookish community for its deeply personal voice, which is used to tell a uniquely American story. Being from a rural town myself in a part of the country which has a heavy dose of "redneck" behavior engrained within its culture, I felt as though it would be fun and interesting to see another person's perspective on a similar culture. This book is guaranteed to be an enjoyable and thought provoking read. 
  3. The Unseen World 
    1. by: Liz Moore
    2. This book has received some incredible buzz on YouTube recently from creators that I really respect and enjoy their bookish tastes! Those people who have recently praised this book include Mercedes from MercysBookishMusings, Max from WellDoneBooks, and Reagan from PeruseProject; each one of these amazing creators had nothing but amazing things to say about this book and the writing within its pages. This is one that I know very little about before going in, except that it is set in the 1980's which is always a refreshing time period to read from!
  4. The Lies of Locke Lamora 
    1. by: Scott Lynch 
    2. This is an epic heist based fantasy series that has been out in the world for a long time and I have get to get around to reading this book and I think that it is about time to get reading it! This book follows a thieving crew called the Gentleman Bastards and their antics that they embark on within this fantastical version of Italy; what else can I ask for!This is a chunky book in the end I am hoping that this will be a fast paced read with wonderful intrigue and characters!
With this giant stack of books to delve into this week I am also going to attempt to watch at least one movie or show. I have yet to decide what I am going to be watching, though I have options backed up on my Netflix account some of which include: 
  • Arrow Season 4 
  • The Crown Season 1
  • Friends Season 1
  • Parks and Recreation Season 1
  • The Flash Season 1 
  • The Young Pope (HBO Show) 
I know I will not get to many of these television shows, however I like to keep my options open when I am planning my week. I think with this list of books, and shows I can fill my free time pretty well during this busy work week at Uni. I will let you all know how I am getting through this list on Wednesday in a separate post from the Planetfall book review, so be sure to check in at 8AM EST on Wednesday to see my progress on this list and much more!

Happy Reading! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Independent Authors: Why read their works?

Independent Authors and Small Presses: 
Why read and critique their work?

Hello All! 

I am here today to chat with you about our reading tastes and why we all should give up and coming authors and small presses a chance when shopping for our next read. This is a topic that I have began to think about recently, as I have accepted some local independently published authors to read and review books for in February. I have worked with small presses in the past and it is my experience that they often times are more responsive and cooperative in the reviewing process in addition to publishing unknown works. In looking for my next read I must say that there are so many popular books that I have seen talked about on YouTube and in the blogs that I follow, however I have begun to look for lesser known books to give a shoutout in the blog and show Indi authors some reading love. 

I am asking us all to step beyond the traditional route of book buying by popular publishing houses and reach for an independent work occasionally... I know it will benefit us all to expand out To Be Read piles even more with new authors.

I love the idea of supporting local authors and smaller presses, which is what I have recently done in Cup by: Robert Wills & Rachael Kasper and The First Day by: John Duprey.  John was in my high school graduating class and is a hard working young man who I respect immensely so I decided to share his story with you all; Robert and Rachael are a writing duo who live in my town and show such care and compassion for their story that I was captivated and swept up and could not wait to read their book. Though these two examples are of authors who I knew in real life I do not think that this is what you should focus on, we should just open up and try all authors equally. 
connecting myself with independent authors from my hometown. I will have reviews of their books up soon, however the books that I am talking about are


How can we try new independent authors without a huge commitment? Well as many of you may know the books that are published by independent authors are quite costly and can hinder people from picking them up. However I have a few suggestions on how we all can read independent authors and small presses without much monetary involvement, check your local library to see if they have the books you're looking for, or even better for the author and the press you could look on the Amazon Kindle store to see if they have a cheaper option. Regardless of how we attain these works I think it is crucial to give authors a chance before instantly judging them on the sole reason they do not have a traditional publishing house. Another glory of small presses is that they can often times take a stance that is risky or controversial and thus giving another opinion on topics that may otherwise get swept under the "rug" by traditional publishing houses. 

Taking risks and supporting those who are published independently or small presses is something that I am going to be focusing on during this year. I will begin with the two books that I have by those listed above however when I am done these two I would like any recommendations you all have for independent presses or authors, at which point I will purchase some more and spotlight a few independent works a month! Pleas in the comments let me know who you like in the independent publishing world. 

Links: 
If you all would like to check out a lovely small press subscription box, I would highley recommend checking out Mercedes from MercysBookishMusings on YouTube, as she has just launched Moth Box. Moth Box sends you two books every other month hand wrapped with some bookmarks from small presses in the UK that Mercedes has enjoyed. This is an excelent way to try new books and support an awesome person aswell! 

Mercedes announces her amazing Bookish Postal Service here!


Happy Reading Everyone! 
Remember to take a chance on new authors and presses. Read read read, my life motto some would say.




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Closed and Common Orbit Review

A Closed and Common Orbit
Review

Hello Everyone! 

Today I am bringing you my first review/book of 2017! I decided this year that I wanted to carry on with a  tradition that I had of reading a Becky Chambers book as my first book of the new year, and this was the newest one that she has published. Becky Chambers wrote The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which I read last year, this book is a companion novel following one of the original characters in book one as they go on an adventure in Port Coriel. Science fiction is something that I do not often times read because I fear the amount of science that will be present within the book, however Becky Chambers has created a style that is easy to comprehend and enjoy. This allows the reader to focus on her diverse cast of characters and their intricate storylines that all come together to reveal her topical and pertinent themes.

Review: 

Though this book is a companion novel and technically can be read first I would highly suggest you pick up  The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet first, you will have a greater connection to the main character of Sidra within this book. This book follows Sidra who is an AI system that is now in a body kit and is able to move around and interact with people as a normal sentient being would. Seeing the AI (Sidra) learn how to cope in the real world with the difference in perspective than she is used to really gave insight as to what it would be like as an immigrant to a foreign land. Sidra has it rough for the first little while but she is able to catch on rather quickly once she is immersed in the world. I love this book for the themes that it speaks about and how the characters interact with one another. 

Chambers has a unique style in this book where she uses alternating chapters to share two converging storylines, though it is predictable who the second chapter is within Sidra's story I found this technique to be engaging and fun. Usually with a dual perspective I am leary as the author will not give the two characters different voices, however here the storylines of each vary so drastically that it was easy to discern who is speaking. As seen in the first book, these characters are endearing and well written. The depth of character growth and personalities that is seen within Sidra, Pepper, Blue, and Tak gave me a sense of friendship and comradery that seldom is attained in novels. Through well crafted writing and detailed characters the aspect of this story that I enjoyed most is Chambers commentary on Sentient beings and AI systems. 

Sentient beings and AIs are a common theme within the world of Science Fiction, however Chambers explores what it would mean to have an AI that is sentient and not demonic. In this case I feel that the AI in question, Sidra, is completely stable and should be allowed to live within society even though that is not what their law dictates. Seeing her learn about the culture she is in and how the world works was fascinating as the reader is able to get into an AI's thought process and appreciate her motives and goals, rather than instantaneously vilifying her because she is not supposed to be in her body kit. Having compassion for all walks of live is important, and in this book Chambers has explored that well with Sidra and her rag tag group of alien friends. We also see from the AI's perspective on where she would rather be, for example since she is a ship AI she enjoys being up in the high nooks of corners and observing everything which to us is odd but for her would be normal and remind her of her old function. With all of her quirks, Sidra, shows the reader that regardless of what you were "designed" to do you can break your mold and integrate into new scenarios with friends and a few trial and error runs. 

This book was comedic at times and discussed rather pressing topics such as AI "life" and sentient beings role in the technological world at others, however these themes and characters wove together to form an engaging and fun story about the little AI that could...

Rating: 4.5 stars 
This is not a full five stars for me just because I was not so attached to the plot of this book as I was with the first, however I still thoroughly enjoyed it and urge you all to go and read it! 

Happy Reading!
And please remember not to judge a "book" by its cover...

Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekly Plans January 9th

Weekly Plans: 
January 9th 2017

Hello Everyone! 

I decided to bring you all a very informal post today to chat about what I plan to read, do, and post about this week so you all will have a good idea of what is to come. I have quite a big week ahead of me, as this is the week that I am headed back up to University. I know if you have been here for a while you are probably scared that I will disappear again once classes begin again, though I am here to tell you that is not the case this semester. I have an open schedule that will allow me to have time to read and blog every week! 

I have some very exciting plans and reviewing partnerships that I am going to be highlighting this year, and I cannot wait for you all to see these amazing books! Reading, blogging, school work, hiking is going to be my life for a while, I guess I can live with that.
As for what my weekly plans are, I plan to blog a lot today in order to have the rest of the weeks posts nearly completed, the material will be relevant when it goes live but it will help ease my re-integration into college life. I am also going to be doing a fair amount of scrapbooking today to finish a project for one of my school clubs that I work with, while I scrapbook I will be listening to an audiobook. The audiobook that I will listen to is Planetfall by: Emma Newman this audiobook is amazing as the author reads the book in her beautiful British accent. 

Other Books I want to read this week include: 
  • Hidden Figures 
    • by: Margot Lee Shetterly
  • Red Rising 
    • by: Pierce Brown
  • The First Day 
    • by: John Duprey 
    • This is written by a friend who graduated highschool with me, and I will have a review of it live in February!
Reading this week and packing to go back to school is what this week will be consumed with! I leave on Wednesday to drive back up to my University and start sophomore year semester two. Anyway I have rambled incoherently for a while now; I need to go scrapbook now but I hope you all have an amazing week!

Happy Reading!
&
Happy Monday!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday Reads

Friday Reads: 
January 6th 2017

Hello Everyone!

I am here today to speak about the shenanigans that I will be getting up to this weekend and the books that I hope to read. I have been doing a massive amount of film watching this holiday break and I have loved every second of it, however this is sadly coming to a close because I head back up to University next Wednesday the 11th of January. In having my holiday break coming to a close I hope to end it with some good movies, and some massive amounts of reading! 

For films this weekend I am going to watch a documentary about masculinity that I am sure will Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity did when I read it a month or so ago. This is something that I heard about from Paul over at ACommonTouchofFantasy on YouTube in his liveshow, and I am incredibly happy that I am able to see it before heading back to University! Saturday I will be seeing Hidden Figures with my aunt and then picking up the non-fiction book in which the film is based on, this shows an important aspect of NASA that many do not know, the African American women who worked for them. I will also be watching Arrow Season 4 of what is out of it because I want to catch up on old episodes that all of my friends have seen. I will surely find many other things to watch on the off chance I have free time. 
evoke the same fire in me as,

As for reading, I will be focussing on two main reads. A Closed and Common Orbit by: Becky The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which I started 2016 by reading. This books follows different characters but still captures hard hitting topics such as race issues, gender ideology, and much more within this exciting Science Fiction world. I have 127 pages left until I am done, though I am not sure if I want this story to end. The second novel that I am re-reading is The Power of One, and no this is not a self help book, by: Bryce Courtenay. This book is probably my favorite book of all time, for its rich character development and themes that Courtenay uses to show how much one man can change the world. I am eager to read more of this and then dive into the sequel which I never knew about, Tandia by: Bryce Courtenay. 
Chambers I will be finishing and writing a review for in the coming days. This book is the companion sequel to

These are my humble weekend plans, I hope you all enjoy this time and get to read some phenomenal books. I also will be spending time with my family because I am leaving so soon...

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tolkien Reviews!

The Two Towers & The Return of the King
Review

Hello all, 

I am coming to you today from my cozy Vermont USA bedroom to tell you about the pure love and joy that I have for the Lord of the Rings series, in particular the last two books in the trilogy. I will be referencing some events that occur in the books so if you have not read them yet I advise you read them first and then come back here. 

Yesterday was JRR Tolkien's 125th Birthday, if he were alive today. I must first comment on the sheerThe Lord of the Rings trilogy. Every corner of these lands has a tangible beauty that Tolkien has captured among the pages, each landscape has undertones of reality with a perfect balance of fantasy within the pages. This man had an imagination that was able to concoct a richly personal connection with the reader and his characters and the reader and give an atmosphere like no other, and for that I am in awe of him!
wonder and scope that this single man was able to capture so well within this trilogy! I am astounded that one man could imagine a concoction of characters, creatures, and a world so rich as is seen in

Review:

These two final books mean so much to me in this tumultuous world that I live in today. These books show that friends can conquer any obstacle  that is thrown their way, this is a message that I needed to hear when I was reading them. Reading these books put the current state of the world at ease in my mind. The recent 2016 USA election has been weighing heavily on my conscience and many of yours I presume as well, the state of our environment has also been gnawing at my conscience as of late. To combat these feelings of hopelessness and peril I dove headlong into books to escape and see the wonderful worlds that authors have concocted over the years, Tolkien first. With these books I was able to see the long hard "good fight" winning out and conquering the fears and issues plaguing Middle Earth, this feeling of empowerment transferred into my daily life allowing me to come to grips with our globe's current state. 

Knowing that everything is going to be okay, and that evil would not always prevail gave me a light to focus on and run towards as a moth would to a flame. Seeing friendship on this level helped to open me up and create deeper connections with those around me, yes including you all. The most heart warming moment of this trilogy has to be when Sam physically is forced to carry Frodo to the top of Mount Doom in The Return of the King. In this scene readers see that even though Sam is dying he gives all of his strength to fulfill his journey for good to save the free world and his friend that he has stood by for many years. These two pals, Frodo & Sam, are exactly what I strive to have in a friend as they will do as much as possible to support one another. Themes surrounding friendship are prevalent all throughout this series from Frodo & Sam to the lovely Marry & Pippin and the odd duo of Gimli and Legolas. Seeing friendship and support focussed on so much actually was refreshing to read about in the high fantasy world that Tolkien has created for us all to enjoy. 

With friendship does come some problems, however Tolkien does not shy away from the topic of jealousy and revenge. This whole thing is seen in the final scene of The Return of the King when Frodo attempts to dispel the ring into the pits of fire when he attempts to claim the ring for his own, thus illustrating the greed of human (Hobbit) kind. When Gollum sneaks into steal this precious powerful ring Tolkien seems to explore the kind of jealousy that drives humanity into a fury, Gollum stole the ring briefly by biting off Frodo's ring finger which is uncalled for and grotesque.  Through this final scene I see 2016 summed up in, fear, jealousy, rage, violence, as well as optimism for the future; while the optimism may not be present in our world right now I know society can make changes for the better when we come together! 

The World that Tolkien uses to discuss these complicated themes within is unmatched in most other fantasy novels! I love these characters and their many customs, though I must say a few of my favorites are: 
  • Legolas: I love the mystique nature of the elves and their connection to the natural world. As a biologist I find their connection with the trees to reflect my affinity with the natural world. Elves also hold the key to eternal life which I would love to use to see the world change over time, not to mention these people make some of the most amazing cloaks! The brotherly competition that I saw between Legolas and Gimli in the many battles had me smiling the whole way through because I too may have that same competitive streak...
  • Gimli: Brutal are this people, mithril driven, cave dwellers, and notoriously bad at riding horses. Though Gimli was at a disadvantage from the very beginning, yet this did not stop him from helping the fellowship attain their ultimate goal. I loved the friendship that this short gruff dwarf showed to each of the members within the fellowship. 
  • Sam: Hobbit, gardening for a living, brave, and loyal. This character taught me the most throughout this series about what a true friend is like, and even showed me where I may be lacking in my current friendships. Through his determination and undying love for his family and humble Shire Sam gets through it all with a simple set of guidelines and a determined attitude; in 2017 we all could benefit by acting more like Sam. 
I loved all of the characters that arose in this series, though the three that I listed above are the ones that I will treasure forever in my heart. This series honestly deserves every ounce of praise that it has received over the years, I only wish I had read it sooner...

Phenomenal fantasy, friendship, epic journey, and fun all describe this series! If you have not read these books please stop what you are doing and pick them up! 

Ratings: 
The Two Towers: 4 Stars
The Return of the King: 5 Stars

Overall Series Rating: 5 Stars!

Happy Reading! 
This series will stay with me for a long time to come, please head this review and read them! But in the meantime please stay optimistic and trudge on through your stacks of books...

Monday, January 2, 2017

January 2017 TBR

TBR Time: 
January 2017

Hey Guys! 

So the new year is finally here and I am hoping to kick off this year with a bang and read a ton this year, so for a while I will try to continue posting To Be Read lists at the start of each month in order to keep myself on track and accountable. I just want you all to know that these lists for me are more of a target than a guarantee as I am a slow reader and an over ambicious planner. I will however be attempting to read these books in the month of January to kick off the year with a bang!

January TBR: 

As many of you will have seen in my 2017 Goals post I will be focussing on my personal horde of books predominantly instead of the new releases, however a HUGE task on that list is to complete the Harry Potter Series this year. Yes, yes I know I should have finished it a long time ago don't get upset. I am determined to make January my Potter month to marathon the series and finally complete them! This will take the anxiety away from me for each time someone mentions Harry Potter in conversation I will freeze and leave the conversation for fears of being spoiled, no longer will that be the case after January!

  • Harry Potter (Books 1-7)
    • This is going to be a huge undertaking to read in one month but I am hoping to read them quickly and enjoy the experience exploring the wonderful world beyond book four which is where I stopped all those years ago. I will focus on these books this month to power through and hang out with Harry, Ron, and Hermione again. 
  • A Closed and Common Orbit
    • by: Becky Chambers 
    • Page Count: 364
    • This is the companion book to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which I read at the beginning of last year and absolutely loved! I am surprised that I haven't picked this one up sooner, however I am going to make this one my first read of 2017 to carry on the tradition of Becky Chambers ushering in the new year for me. This one follows some of the original crew as I know and I just want to dive in and see what wild adventures I am taken on this time!
  • The Girl on the Train 
    • by: Paula Hawkins 
    • Page Count: 322
    • This is a thriller that has been making the rounds in the book community that I picked up recently at my library book sale for a dollar. I am going to be reading this with Missy at BingeReader on YouTube! We have buddy read books together before, all of which have been horror or thrillers so I am excited to keep the trend going! This book will also be used to break up the large amount of wonderful fantasy that I am reading this month with the Harry Potter series. 
Is this too much for me to read in one month? Yes, probably. Will I try to complete as many of these books as I can? You bet I will try my hardest to power through these wonderful books and finally finish the Harry Potter series if all else fails I willl solely read them. Wish me luck on this first month of the new year trying to read so many books and big books at that in one month... 

I gotta run for now to go and read A Closed and Common Orbit to kick the year off right! I will chat more on Wednesday with a review for the last two Lord of the Rings books! 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Favorite Books 2016

Favorite Books of 2016!

Hello everyone!

I am finally coming to you with my favorite books of the year. I waited until the first of the year as I was still racing to complete the books I was reading before the end of the year, which I must say that I gladly did so. I was reading right up until 11:58PM on December 31st at which point I made my goal of reading 52 books in the year! 

I am so happy to have read so many wonderful books this year, however out of the 52 books that I read there are some that stand out to me as the best of the year and I feel that you all should pick them up in the New Year! Without further ado let us see what I thought was the best books I read in 2016!

The Books: 
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    • by: JRR Tolkien 
    • This series is something that I did not expect to fall head over heels in love with but as many of you, I have succumbed to the spells that Tolkien wove in these books! I love all of the books in this trilogy for many reasons, though my most prominent reason for loving them is how realistic and endearing the characters are. These characters will be stuck with me long after I have stopped reading the books, Frodo, Sam, Mary, Pippin, Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn will always be my friends in the lands of Middle Earth! This is the first series that I have ever read where I immediately planned a reread of the books in the coming year! I cannot believe it has taken me so long to read these wonderful books, I cannot wait to explore more of Tolkien's work soon.
    • Review Forthcoming!
  • The Long Way to a Small angry Planet
    • by: Becky Chambers
    • This was the first book that I completed in 2016! I was reading it through the night on New Year's eve to complete it in hopes before the new year, however that did not actually happen. TO this day even 366 days later I am struck by the wonder of the characters and the mystifying little ship that they crew for. Kizzy, and Sissix are characters that I still think about even this far in the future, Kizzy's spunk and spice for life helped to kick off the new year right last year. I think I will dive into the sequel as my first book of 2017, A Closed and Common Orbit, I am coming for you!
    • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Review
  • Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity 
    • by: Jack Urwin 
    • This is probably my favorite non-fiction book of ALL TIME! I loved the dry British wit and sass that this book was laced with, along with its oftentimes outspoken message of men and their seemingly "manly ways". This book has set me on the course for reading more on gender norms and the way society shapes how we view people, though this book gave me hope and some happiness in the time after a major change happened to me, and for that I am thankful. Men can be masculine and still show emotional connections, this is the message that I want all to know. This book was just brilliant, something that everyone should read in the new year!
    • Man Up Review
  • HEX 
    • by: Thomas Olde Heuvelt
    • This book was my first ever horror book, and I was hooked from page one! This book creates an atmosphere to rival Sanderson and Oates that suspends the reader in a terrifying limbo of joy and fear. His characters are well rounded and full bodied allowing the reader to enjoy the story with friends and foes written on the page. my favorite thing that this book offered me was the Witch and her lore. Never have I ever seen a book capture the uneasy feeling of witches as I felt when I visited the Salem Witch trial sites many years ago. This book is a modern spin combining The Crucible and a dystopian novel, pure genius! And the icing on the cake for me happened to be that I got to meet Thomas and interview him and Paul Tremblay!
    • HEX Review
  • Swamplandia
    • by: Karen Russell 
    • This book has captivated me since its first page. The setting of this book allows for interesting perspectives on the Florida Everglade swamps and the creatures that live there. Russell has a way of writing that is richly imaginative and detailed yet easy to comprehend and enjoy, this is the sign of a masterful writer! Her characters of Ossie and Ava and the Bird Man will draw you into the depths of the Swamp, but be warned this heart-wrenching novel will not let you out of the swamps unchanged! Magical realism, great characters, and rich writing; what more could a reader want?
    • Swamplandia Review
  • Ghost Talkers
    • by: Mary Robinnette Kowal
    • This book is a mixture of fantasy and historical fiction that the world will never forget! The World War atmosphere that this book has shows the immense amount of tension of the war effort with a wildly imaginative twist, the spirits of the dead still help the war effort! Please pick this book up when you see it in a bookshop, you will not be disappointed. I am purposefully leaving this vague, but know that this book took my breath away and made me tear up with joy in parts.
    • Ghost Talkers Review
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
    • by: Joyce Carol Oates
    • This book, what to say... it broke me and tore every section of my heart, but it also gave me hope for the future and reverence for the past. This is a family saga set in New York on a large farm following the daily happenings of the Mulvaney family with all their struggles and misgivings shown with no topic being too big for Oates to tackle. This book deals with rape, foreclosure, loss and grief, moving away from home, and the importance of family in such a way that gave me solace in my future where I will need to move away from home and start my own life while also showing the importance of family communication. I do not care if you only read one book I ever recommend to you, this MUST be it!
    • We Were the Mulvaneys Review
This reading year has been amazing! I have branched out this year to read literary fiction, horror, and of course my favorite genre Fantasy. Though this year in current world events or even my personal life has been rocked a little I must say that all of you who read my blog give me the hope and joy that got me through it all, thank you! But before I get even more emotional or philosophical I am going to urge you all to pick up one of these books in the new year and let me know your thoughts, they are all true gems! 

Happy Reading!

Check in tomorrow for my January TBR!