Why I Reread Books

I’ll admit it: I reread books. A lot. Chances are, if I really like a book, I’ll read it more than once. If I love it, I’ll read it more than twice. There are a couple reasons for this. The first is simple: I have a horrible memory. Because I have epilepsy, both my medications and seizures I’ve had have caused me to have lapses in memory. Add in depression and bipolar, as well as being the mom of a toddler, and my memory doesn’t stand a chance.

The main reason that I reread, though, is because a good book is like a friend. Over time, friendships change. I grow. Maybe a book won’t stand the test of time. There are others, though, that still stick with me. They’ve become more than just words on a page. They’re memories and comfort.

Often, when I reread, I pick up on things that I didn’t notice or appreciate the first time through. When I read a book the first time, I pay attention to the story as a whole. Tiny nuances, or subtle foreshadowing might escape me. However, reading through again, I’ll pick up on those things. It brings a new level of appreciation, both for the book and the author.

Sometimes after finishing a book that was harsh, or where I felt the narrative got away from the author a bit, I’ll reread an old favorite. I like the comfort of knowing that I’m “safe” in the author’s ability to weave the tale. I can relax, already knowing that I like the ending.

I tend to reread more in the fall and early winter. I’m not sure why that is. It could be that the warm fuzzies from the different family celebrations carry over to my reading preferences. This is the time of year when I most find myself reaching for old favorites. Books like The Hobbit, Harry Potter (of course), the Dragonlance Chronicles, and the Amelia Peabody books are greeted like the old friends they are.

I talk a lot on my blog about the magic of books, how a good book transcends the written words, and takes on a life all its own. I guess that’s the real reason I reread so much: why experience the magic of an amazing book only once?

What about you? Do you reread books? What are some of your favorites to pull out?

Quick Fire Fantasy Book Tag

Irresponsiblereader had this awesome tag on his blog today. You know I never miss a chance to talk about fantasy books, so I’m taking part.

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
  • Link to the creator’s blog (thebookwormdreamer.wordpress.com) in your post
  • Answer the prompts below – all fantasy books!
  • Tag 5 others to take part

Enjoy!

5 Star Read: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

See, here’s the weird thing: I really, really don’t like the sequel to this book. The first book is so amazing, though, that it doesn’t matter. I fell in love with The Name of the Wind from the very beginning, when I read about the silence of three parts. Read it below, and you’ll see why:

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“The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind, it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign swinging on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of the night. If there had been music…but no, of course there was no music. In fact, there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.

Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. They drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing these they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. it made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.

The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone hearth that held the heat of a long-dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.

The man had true-red hair, red as flame. his eyes was dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things.

The Waystone was His, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the other inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”

Always going to recommend: The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

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Yup, these books keep showing up on my blog. I’m sure I’m annoying the gravy out of everyone who reads my posts, but I’ll unapologetically tout them as often as I can squeeze them in. They’re my favorite fantasy books, after all. If you want to read my loving rant about them, you can find it here.

Own it but haven’t read it yet: The Shadow of What Was Lost by (The Licanius Trilogy #1) by James Islington

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I’m really looking forward to this one. Here’s the Amazon description:

As destiny calls, a journey begins.
It has been twenty years since the godlike Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them — the Gifted — are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.
As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he and his friends Wirr and Asha set into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. (taken from Amazon)

Would read again:  Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read this series. It’s dark, gritty, and absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it.

In another world: Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman

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This excellent book is about a priest and an evil sorcerer who must work together to defeat an evil that threatens everyone on their world. That’s a bare bones description: there’s much more to this fascinating book that I think that every fantasy lover should read.

Back on earth: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

This book is kind of odd, but in a fantastic way. Put healers, vampires, shape-shifters, magicians all in one place, and it gets a little frenetic. It’s great!

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So, there you have it. I might tag a few people via Twitter, but if you want to take part, please do so! I love reading more fantasy suggestions.

Middle-Grade Gems: Interview with a Sixth Grader

About six months ago, I interviewed my oldest about books he was loving at the time. He devours books (not literally; that would be cause for concern) and I love hearing his opinions. I figure the time is ripe for round two. So, here are his current favorites:

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

Why he liked it: “It’s a very good adventure and fantasy book with good characters. There’s a ton of books in the series so it doesn’t end super fast. There’s a lot of awesome action and it’s just a really good series.”

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Why he liked it: “It’s awesome that it’s Egyptian: it’s got a good mythology behind it. It’s got some good comedy, but a lot of good action too.”

Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

Why he liked it: “This book is full of great action, great characters, and a great story! My favorite character was Wyl Lark, a determined pilot with a knack for flying.”

Star Wars: Blackspire Outpost by Dlilah S. Dawson

Why he liked it: “This book is full of action, importance, and great, engaging characters that really drew me in. Ten out of ten.”

Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstong and M.A. Marr

Why he liked it: The book is about Matt, who is a descendant of Thor; Fen, a descendant of Loki; and Laurie, another descendant of Loki. Together, they must stop Ragnarok! My favorite character is probably Fen. He’s not like the other characters. He’s a bit more wild than the others, but he’s also a good brother, and I like that.”

Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger

Why he liked it: “One of my favorite things about this book was how believable the characters are. I haven’t read any other books like this. It’s really nice to see such a unique book. I really liked it.”

My One Year Blogging Anniversary

Fair warning: this post might well veer from nostalgic straight into saccharine. I’ll try very hard to avoid that, but brace yourself.

One year. Wow! When I started up my book blog, I honestly didn’t think that it would become such a big part of my life. My husband suggested that I try blogging since I talk about books so often. Also, I’m pretty decent at recommending books to people that they end up enjoying.

With trepidation, I thought I’d give it a try. And, guess what? I love it (I’m sure my husband is about to say “I told you so”). I’m still learning and there was so much that I didn’t know starting out. For example, I had no idea that bloggers were able to read ARCS in the first place. I figured that was a magazine reviewer only thing. I also had never heard of blogging tours, book tags, and had put zero thought into having a reviewer policy. All of these things have been explained to me by an amazing group of bloggers and blog-promoters. Which leads me to my next big surprise: friends.

I was pretty sure that I’d be shouting into the void, so to speak. I still can’t believe that so many people read my blog and comment. I love getting comments! I’ve also suddenly found myself with several awesome new friends. Friends that won’t roll their eyes when I get a little too excited about ye random new release? Priceless! Although, to be fair, you might all be rolling your eyes, but of course I can’t tell. Well, I’m going to keep believing that you aren’t. Ha!

There are so many incredible-sounding books that I’ve added to my insurmountable “to be read” list thanks to bookbloggers. I like to think I’ve added a few new ones to others’ lists. It’s a great feeling, knowing that there’s a whole community of book-lovers that I now get to count myself a part of.

Of course, I still give way too many unasked-for book suggestions to my friends in person, but having the ability to be overexcited online and have people read my ramblings is pretty stinking amazing.

So, happy blogging birthday to me, and THANK YOU to everyone who has encouraged me, answered my asinine questions, and who reads my blog posts. You’re all fantastic!

Fantasy: A Plethora of Choices

Every now and again, I’ll hear someone say “I don’t like fantasy,” even though they’ve never read any. Of course, everyone has their own preferences in literature, which is totally fine, but I sometimes think that what people mean is that they don’t like a certain type of fantasy. There’s much more than just swords and magic when it comes to fantasy (although I happen to love books that have swords and magic).

Here are a few sub-genres, with explanations, as well as examples of books that fit into each category. Of course, I’m in no way an expert, and some of these books can fit quite comfortably in multiple sub-genres. Talk to me! Tell me what I got right, what I messed up, and what I missed completely. Here goes nothing!

High Fantasy: High fantasy is probably what comes to mind first when people hear “fantasy.” There are some characteristics that separate high fantasy from other kinds of fantasy. First of all, it’s very character-focused. The choices made by a single character, or a few, are most important. High fantasy is set in its own world with its own defined rules of magic. A common theme is good vs. evil.

Examples: The Swans’ War trilogy by Sean Russell; The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman; The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Epic Fantasy: Epic fantasy is, well…epic. It usually consists of a threat to the entire world and has a large cast of characters, as opposed to the few that characterize high fantasy. While The Hobbit, for example, is high fantasy, The Lord of the Rings is what I would classify as epic fantasy. There’s a larger cast of characters, and a danger to the entire world.
Examples: Game of Thrones; Wheel of Time; Lord of the Rings

Low Fantasy: Low fantasy is characterized by magical events that intrude on daily life in a normal world.
Examples: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; American Gods by Neil Gaiman; Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Sword and Sorcery: Well, aside from the obvious (swords and magic), think romance, and adventure. Sword and Sorcery is a bit on the pulpy side (nothing wrong with that). I always picture 80’s era Sylvester Stallone as the movie equivalent of a Sword and Sorcery hero.
Examples: Conan the Barbarian; Legend by David Gemmell. Honestly, I’m on the fence about including Legend here, as it doesn’t seem as pulpy as other Sword and Sorcery books, but I’m drawing a blank on other examples. What would you add to this category?

Military Fantasy: This is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s basically military life in a fantasy setting, often following one solider, or a small company.
Examples: The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher; The Black Company by Glen Cook

Grimdark Fantasy: Don’t expect happily ever after’s or the archetypal heroes. Grimdark is marked with violence, morally gray as well as completely amoral characters. It also doesn’t shy away from violence.
Examples: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff; The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Dark Fantasy/ Gothic Fantasy: This sub-genre incorporates themes of death, fear, and romance. It has a darker tone, and elements of horror. Think Edgar Allen Poe- goes fantasy, and you’ve got the general idea.
Examples: Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman; Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Urban Fantasy: This is interesting in that there are a few different routes urban fantasy is known to take: either a separate fantasy world with rules that are similar to ours or, conversely, our world with fantasy elements mixed in. Go figure.
Examples: Jackaby by William Ritter; City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Arthurian Fantasy: This is fantasy based directly on the myths and legends of King Arthur.
Examples: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart; The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Superhero Fantasy: This is fantasy based on the character of a superhero. Easily defined.
Examples: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson; Vicious by V.E. Schwab

RPG Lit: Combining fantasy with role playing games, the main character is generally aware that they are in a game-type world. Stats. are very much a part of the book, and the characters interact and progress through the book as they would an rpg.
Examples: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini; Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (at least part of the book follows the rules of rpglit.)

Fairy Tales: Starting as children’s stories, lately there have been many re-imaginings of these books that are marked by fantastical elements and magic.
Examples of fairy tale retellings: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer; Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik; House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Portal Fantasy: I argue that this is a sub-genre in its own right! This would be books in which the characters leave their own world through a portal/door/etc, and travel to a world with different rules than their own. Often, fantasy elements such as magic are present.
Examples: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Well, there you have it. There are so many different types of fantasy that I beg readers to at least give some a go before writing off the entire genre. However, to each their own. This list is in no way comprehensive. I’ll be adding to it over time, and possibly editing based on comments made by you all. So…what do you think? Did I get it right? Or completely mess it up?

Celebrate the Little Things book tag

In our hectic day-to-day rushing, it’s easy to pass over all the little things. You know: the random compliment; an afternoon rain shower; that extra half hour to read. Beth at Before We Go tagged me in this wonderful challenge to celebrate the little things. Because really, the little things add up to the big things.

Who was your very first follower? My first follower was my amazingly supportive husband. He’s my biggest supporter and the reason I gave blogging a go in the first place.

What was the last milestone you reached? I passed my record of most blog likes in a day: now the number to beat is fifty. I didn’t really expect that many people to even read my blog, so that’s pretty stinking awesome.

What was the very first post on your blog? Share it with us! If I’m not counting my “featured post” (which is this one) that is always at the top of my blog, that means my first post was my rave of the amazing The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. If you haven’t read that book yet, you really should get on that. It’s incredible.

Who was your most recent follower? My newest follower is Stephanie from bookfrolic. She reviews books and participates in the coolest blog tours. Go check her blog out!

What was the last post you posted and who was the very first person who took the time to click the ‘like’ button? My most recent post is Iliad: The Reboot, which was an excellent book. I think the first person to hit the ‘like’ button was Gabbi at Devouring Literature. That’s an awesome blog, and if you aren’t following it, I suggest that you do.

How many months have you been blogging for? My one year blogging anniversary (Blogiversary? Blog Birthday? Birthblogday? Bliorgthday?) is actually coming up on October twenty fifth. So, look for an incredibly gushy post from me on that day. You’ve been warned.

Do you have any bloggers that you’re friends with? Give them a shout-out! Indeed I do! I’m so fortunate to have several awesome blogging buddies to talk about books, weird blogging acronyms, and just life in general with. Beth at Before We Go is my BBFF (Bookish Best Friend Forever). That’s a thing, right? If not, let’s just all pretend I’m young and hip, and using the most up-to-date lingo. We have a blast talking about all things bookish (and not). She’s stinking amazing. Irresponsible Reader has gone out of his way to tell me about cool book tours and knows all the best mysteries and detective thrillers. Both Jason from Off the TBR and Paul from Paul’s Picks are nice, supportive people. Lisa from Way Too Fantasy is another blogger who adds smiles and good opinions. I could keep going, but I’ll limit myself to these right now.

Who created the last meme or tag you participated in? Not counting this one, that I’ve credited above, the last tag I participated in was the Coffee Book Tag originally done by Stephen Writes. He has the best book tags! Give his blog a follow.

-Give thanks to all your followers! Book blogging has become my relaxation thing. Talking books, getting new suggestions, and hearing new opinions from all of you is so wonderful. My book obsession has somehow led to some amazing friendships and I’m so appreciative of that.

Live and Let Read: My Thoughts on Banned and Censored Books

This week is Banned Books Week, so I’m taking this opportunity to talk about something that I have a strong opinion about: banning and censoring books.

“We must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” (Cassandra Clare)

Let me start with a little backstory here. The banning of books is nothing new. In fact, it’s believed that the first widely banned book in the U.S. was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, banned for having a “pro-abolitionist agenda” (via lithub). While there are several varied reasons for banning or censoring books, sexual issues, age appropriateness, and the inclusion of witchcraft are pretty common. At one point, the poetry collection Howl (which is brilliant, by the way) was actually put on trial. The defendants had to prove that it had “literary merit.”

You’d think that, in this day and age, book banning or censoring is over and done with. Nope. The face of book banning may have changed, but there are always books being pulled from shelves or school libraries for all kinds of reasons.

Now, where do I stand on book banning and censorship? I am unequivocally against it. If you don’t agree with an idea a book is presenting, you absolutely have the right to choose not to read it. But denying others the right to make that decision for themselves is a slippery slope. Who should get to decide what content is appropriate for everyone?

The wonderful and-yes, sometimes scary- thing about books is how incredibly powerful they can be. They can comfort, educate, and challenge us. Books have the magical ability to both show us how vast this world is, while at the same time reminding us, that maybe we’re not so different or alone after all.

The list of banned and challenged books (a challenged book being one that a group has attempted to have access of removed or restricted) is huge. It includes ‘classics’ such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Catch 22. Children’s books as ubiquitous as Where’s Waldo and A Light in the Attic have also made the list. Unsurprisingly, Harry Potter is one of the most commonly challenged book series to date. Of course, don’t forget to add the Bible to the list: often challenged for violent content.

In fact, speaking of Harry Potter, I was told at one point that I needed to meet with someone to discuss my “unhealthy obsession with witchcraft” simply for reading those books. I was twenty eight years old at the time. See what I’m talking about when I say that book banning or censoring could become a dangerous slope?

I proudly say that I read banned and challenged books. My kids read them (I was so excited when they were introduced to Where the Wild Things Are). In fact, if you’re a reader, chances are you’ve enjoyed a book that’s been challenged or banned- whether you were aware of it or not.

There are many experiences that I haven’t had, shoes that I haven’t walked in, or situations that I haven’t dealt with…but books can help me understand and empathize with those who have. They teach us compassion and broaden our horizons. So, are they dangerous? I should hope so. After all, growth and change generally are.

What about you, Reader? Do you think books should be banned or censored? What “questionable” books have you read and loved? What books have changed you or caused you to see things differently?

Now, go live dangerously. READ.

*For more information about commonly challenged books over the years, check out http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10).


(credit: Grand Snider)

How to Become a Hipster Reader (books to read before they’re on TV)


Admission: whenever possible, I read a book before I watch the show or movie it’s based on. It doesn’t always happen nowadays, what with homeschooling, toddler chasing, and taking college classes, but I do my level best.

In order to join the Book Hipster Collective, read the book first (unless you’re capable of growing a man bun. Then…go for it, I guess). Here are some book suggestions for a jumping off point.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: If you haven’t seen the wonderfully done show, you need to get on that. If you haven’t read the book: what on earth, in heaven, or in hell, are you waiting for?

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According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .(taken from Amazon)

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice: According to imdb, a Vampire Chronicles series is in the works. If or when this will actually come to fruition, I really can’t say. However, it’s absolutely worth reading the first few books in the Vampire Chronicles anyway, since they’re bloody (pun intended) brilliant.

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Follows the three-century life of Lestat, from his boyhood in eighteenth-century France to 1992 Miami where the immortal vampire finds himself alone, yearning to regain his soul and to once again experience the joys and anguish of being human. (taken from Amazon)

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (the last few were continued by Brandon Sanderson) : You’ve got some time before the series releases (sometime in 2021), which is great because this is quite the undertaking. However, if you’re a fantasy fan at all, these books need to be on your “to read asap” pile.

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The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light. (taken from Amazon)

The Stand by Stephen King: With a new star studded mini-series in the works, make sure to read the book before watching. I think I’ve read this book before but, since I’m not entirely positive, I think I need to read it again before watching the show.

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A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity. (taken from Amazon)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The first book in an epic fantasy series (only the first two books in the chronicles are out right now), the show actually doesn’t follow the novel, instead focusing on the world. I’m hesitant to watch the show because of that, but The Name of the Wind is excellent. The first paragraph of the book alone is incredible.

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My name is Kvothe.
 
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
 
You may have heard of me.
 
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.  (taken from Amazon)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie: Agatha Christie is the preeminent voice in mystery literature. If you haven’t read this book, you definitely need to. The fact that a movie adaptation will be released next year, well…it gives you a bit of a deadline.

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Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile.

The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.

Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems. (taken from Amazon)

Are you excited for any of these adaptations? What am I missing? Are you a book hipster like me, or does it depend on the book?

 

Blogger Influences: Books I’ve Read Thanks to Blogger Recommendations

I know that lately there have been many bookbloggers who feel like they aren’t being read, or that their voice doesn’t matter. I think it’s easy to look at follower stats, or compare the number of comments on a post vs. what is on someone else’s . I wanted to add my two cents’ worth, in the only way I know how: by listing just a few of the books I’ve picked up and enjoyed, all thanks to the recommendation of a wonderful bookblogger.

Take heart, friends! Your opinions are needed!

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I credit The Irresponsible Reader for this one. I picked it up based on his fantastic review (I did read them out of order, though: sorry).

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I picked this up thanks to an awesome review by Paul at Pauls Picks. It’s one of my absolute favorites of this year.

Image result for two like me and you This is another book that I read thanks to Paul.

Image result for middlegame   Middlgame is a direct result of an excellent review by Beth at Before We Go.

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I saw reviews for this one floating around on several different blogs, prompting me to pick it up. I loved it.


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Last, but most certainly not least, I’m currently tearing through this book. I’m well aware that I’m going to be incredibly emotional at the end of this one (there have already been a few sniffly moments). Jeez, guys!

These are just a few of the books that I’ve read thanks to you awesome bookbloggers. I’ve got many, many more on my to be read list that I’m excited to dive into. I hope this post encourages you to keep on doing what you love: reading and writing!

**There are so many other book blogs that I love reading. I can’t include all of you in this post because it would turn into a novel, but a few that come to mind at this particular moment are:
Off The Tbr
Devouring Books
Hooked On Bookz
The Tattooed Book Geek
Way Too Fantasy
Fiction No Chaser
The Orangutan Librarian
First Book Love
Like Herding Cats
Grimdark Dad

Conversations with Authors- Suzie Plakson

The absolutely wonderful book, The Return of King Lillian, is being released on July 9th. When reading it, this lovely story found a place in my heart.

Imagine my happiness, then, when I was fortunate enough to be able to interview author Suzie Plakson.

How did this world, these characters, and this book come about? **

“Decades ago, when I was in a place of frustration and despair, I first saw Lillian in a flash of a dream, galloping uphill on a big chestnut horse, disappearing into an archway of giant trees. And from that moment on, over a period of many years, the story and the world grew through dreams, trials, errors, and, finally, collaboration.”

You mentioned being in a state of frustration and despair when Lillian was conceived. Was writing this book a therapeutic process?

“Perhaps it was, in a subconscious, soul-level, decades-long sort of way! I had a series of flash-dreams about it over a span of years, all along trying and failing and failing and trying to find the form. And then, once the form was found, it’s been processes within processes within processes. So, therapeutic? Likely yes, in countless untraceable ways, I imagine- kinda like Life!”

Can you talk about the importance of having a strong female protagonist? **

“Ever since The Epic of Gilgamesh- which was the first hero’s journey in Western mythology-the star of the show was always a fella, usually with a lot of “I am the conqueror” kind of energy going on. So, with respect to balance, I’m hoping it’s an auspicious time to tell the tale of a seeking soul from the other side of the psyche.”

Lillian has so many positive personality traits- determination, self-confidence, and honesty. Did you have positive role models that embodied those things in your life growing up?

“Well, in parts and pieces, I suppose, in certain people, and in certain fictional and historical characters. And I was always so inspired by the women in old movies, like Kate Hepburn and Rosalind Russell and Judy Garland.  I loved their moxie, and their innocent hearts, and their grace and their humor.”

I love that Lillian is mainly recounting her adventures to her Book, instead of having ongoing conversations. What made you decide to tell the story that way?

“One of the dreams prompted me to try writing the story in diary form. Amidst all the odd bits of material that I was accumulating, there was one file in which I played with Lillian speaking in direct address, very conversationally. Her voice came through fully formed, as if she’d always been there.”

I always want to ask authors: do you have favorite books that have helped shape you as a person?

“Wow. So many, and yet, in this moment, what leaps to mind is “Alice In Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” (I’m more of a fan of “Through the Looking Glass,” actually). I suppose it’s the travelling through a world that feels fascinating but foreign and encountering seemingly mad creatures and belief systems and yet being unafraid to question any of it. Alice trusted the verdict of her own mind over anybody else’s. She was a powerful, polite, independent heroine.”

Finally, do you have another another book in the works (I ask hopefully)?

“Ahhh, well, thank you kindly for being hopeful, but after decades of getting this thing born, for the moment, the only thing in the works is a celebration and a nice, long nap. There is a character that wasn’t in the world of the book, who may well have a story to tell, but first…champagne.”

**Questions with asterisks taken, with permission, from the author’s press kit.