September 24, 2017

My recommended required reading | AKA Books that I Read for School and Didn't Hate

Summer has finally come to an end. For many people this means going back to school, either as a school or a teacher, and facing another year of studying, learning, and stressing.

School is made up of many facets; horrifying geometry pop quizzes, a list of extracurriculars longer than your TBR, and late nights trying to catch up on what you should have done yesterday. But all of these struggles pale in comparison to the beast of required reading.

The nature of required reading is a double-edged sword, which is perhaps the topic of another blog post. For now, let's just recognize that while being forced to read may not be the most pleasurable literary experience, it doesn't have to be the worst either. As with any book that you read, the reader has power with the story. Even with required reading, you have the choice to make the most of the book, or to dismiss it as another worthless assignment that you are determined to hate.

Teachers too often get hate about their required reading choices, but the students' displeasure is misplaced. The teacher is not the author of the book, or even the person who decided it was popular. As a society, we collectively put value on certain books that survived throughout time. So, let me say it one more time for the people in the back, IT IS NOT A TEACHER'S FAULT THAT YOU HATED A BOOK.

It took me a while to figure this out, since unfortunately, it is easier to blame a teacher than to blame yourself. But once you start at least trying to appreciate the required books, they will start to appreciate you as well. An open minds leads to understanding, connection, and eventually enjoyment while a closed mind only leads to disappointment.

I am not going to lie, I have read a fair amount of books throughout my education career that I did not like or downright hated. But I have read a ton of books for leisure that I hated too. So, in the spirit of trying to see required reading in a new light, I am going to share some of my favorite books that I was assigned to read.

September 3, 2017

When video games meet Spartacus | Arena by Holly Jennings

Arena (Arena, #1)By Holly Jennings
Arena #1
Published on April 5, 2016
336 Pages
Science Fiction, New Adult, Diverse

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV. She's died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
The RAGE tournaments the Virtual Gaming League's elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a fight to the digital death. Every kill is broadcast to millions. Every player leads a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses. 
And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.
Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world until one of her teammates overdoses. Now she s stuck trying to work with a hostile new teammate who's far more distracting than he should be. 
Between internal tensions and external pressures, Kali is on the brink of breaking. To change her life, she ll need to change the game. And the only way to revolutionize an industry as shadowy as the VGL is to fight from the inside.

August 29, 2017

TMST: Long-running series I need to find and read

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Rainy Days Ramblings. The topics are diverse and span from books and authors to blogging and the meaning of life (at least in regards to literature). This is my first time participating in the discussion, but I am super excited to do more. If you want to share your thoughts on the prompt, feel free to make your own post too!

As a child, the only thing that could stop me from reading was running out of books. I would read anything and everything, as long as it was words on a page. Thankfully, the middle grade genre has a lot of long-running series with the number of books in a series reaching over 20! I used to read long-running series all of the time, like 39 Clues, The Magic Treehouse, even some of the Rainbow Magic fairy books. 

In retrospect, many of the most popular MG books are a part of long-running (and seemingly endless) series. Unfortunately, that form of series is not common within the YA genre. Generally, YA books are longer and more complicated, so mass-producing them at the same rate as the long-running MG series is pretty much inconceivable. But then I get confused again because there are a lot of long-running adult series (especially mysteries) that also seem to be never-ending (@ James Patterson and Kathy Reichs). 

For my purposes, I am going to define a "long-running series" as any series with more than four novels, including spin-offs and revivals. Even though four books may not seem long to some readers, it is harder than you would think to find long-running series in the YA genre. Most of the popular, and longest, series I have already started (like Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, the Percy Jackson books, and Cassandra Clare's novels). 

I would love to see more long-running YA series that extend past the standard trilogy. The trend is so popular with MG, adult, and even picture books, yet almost non-existent in YA.

With my mini-rant over, here a few long-running series that I would like to read.

August 16, 2017

The dangerous difference between unlikeable and intolerable

There is a fine line between annoying and intolerable. Personally, I have danced across this line so often that I am very familiar with the difference. Unfortunately, there are some characters who are completely unaware that there even is a line. 

All readers have met unlikeable characters sometime in their book adventures. These are the characters who make your blood boil and your veins bulge in frustration. For some reason or another, they get on your nerves. In fact, they are a common literary tool used to stir up emotion within the reader. Think about all of the romances that are hate-to-love. In the beginning, we all hated Rhys from A Court of Thorns and Roses (and even though some of us still hate him, you get the point), Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, the Darkling from The Grisha series, even Haymitch from The Hunger Games. When I think about it, there are a lot of characters who started pretty high on my "I'd-love-to-watch-you-burn" list, but ended up on my list of favorite characters. I classify these characters as "unlikeable" since they rub me the wrong way sometimes, but have not completely lost their chance for my respect

But, there is another kind of annoying character. The kind that crosses the line between decent indecency and hateful scumbag. These characters are definitely unbearable, but sometimes it can be hard to discern when they changed from merely unlikeable to full-blown intolerable.

August 1, 2017

The month of coming back (again) | July 2017

Even though summer is on its way out for the year, things are just heating up on the blog. I am finally feeling back into the groove of reading and blogging, even if I am still a tad behind.

I detailed all of the nitty gritty detail about my three-month absence in my earlier post, which you can feel free to read if you want. But, the point is that I am focused on the future of my blog, and I hope you are too. 

What's Up Next?

In the upcoming months, I have quite a few things planned, one of them being actually posting on the blog. I want to revive my book memes of Classic Conversations and Book Battles in the near future. And of course, post more reviews and discussions. Secondly, I want to diversify (literally and metaphorically) the content on my blog. Essentially, I want to start writing about more things (like TV shows, the occasional movie, and some discussions that lean outside of the book universe). I would love to hear any suggestions for non-book related topics you want to see here!

I am also painstakingly attempting to fine-tune my blogging style. The first one you probably did not notice, but it makes a HUGE difference to me. I am trying to make my blog graphics more cohesive and recognizable. 

I am also adding a new feature to the bottom of most of my posts called "Takeaways" as sort of a highlights reel of the post. For me, reading is important not only for the occasional laugh and OTP romance, but also to widen my perspective and learn something new. The true value of literature is not how it makes you feel while reading it, but how the words leave an impression after the book is closed. So, at the bottom of every review, I will recap what impact the book actually ended up having on me, if any.