January 23, 2018

January 23, 2018

Ta-da! It's finally here. I had to totally refilm it because I was not doing another video with my January TBR's horror story lighting. (I'm still not entirely sure how that happened.)

Books mentioned in order of discussion:
1. The Raven Boys/The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
2. Roses of May by Dot Hutchison
3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
4. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
5. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
6. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
7. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
8. King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
10. The War of Jokes & Riddles by Tom King

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January 17, 2018

January 17, 2018

procrastiwrite- verb, "the act of working on everything but what you are actually supposed to be writing."

Today, I want to talk to you about a very particular skill you must cultivate if you want to be a proper writer. Procrastiwriting. Just as singers do vocal warm-ups before singing, the writer procrastiwrites before writing. It's part of the natural process. There are some writers that claim a robust mental state that allows them to dive into their work the minute they sit down, but most writers' brains need minutes or hours before they are able to take on the emotionally daunting task of writing.

The amateur writer may have dabbled in procrastiwriting, but if you want to take your writing routine to the next level, it's time to become a professional procrastiwriter. This is by no means an exhaustive list and you're more than welcome to add your own suggestions in the comments.

6 Ways to Up Your Procrastiwriting Game:
  1. Proper environment is key. It's up to you to decide what the best situation for your writing practice is. For those who prefer their home, take the time to clean off your desk. Really clean. Go ahead, get the Lysol out and wipe that sucker down. Make sure your desk is as organized as you want your mind to be. Feel free to take the time to pick a candle that matches your writing mood. For those who write outside their home, make sure you've gotten into the perfect spot. Some writers claim productivity from any seat at their coffee shop or library, but a true procrastiwriter knows that the third seat down on the south side of the table is the best one. (Actual positioning of your "perfect" seat may vary.)
  2. Finish up any other work that might distract you. This is the perfect time to remember the laundry in the wash or the clogged shower you noticed yesterday. Some writers ignore chores like this or even use writing as a way to avoid them. A proper procrastiwriter resists the temptation to jot down a note for later, though. The true pros have entire lists of chores that are only important right before they're about to start working. There is no more productive cleaning time than when you should be writing a book. Those who leave the house to write will obviously need to tackle this first, you could even throw in a few errands if you want to go the extra mile. 
  3. Make sure you have a proper writing beverage. Here is where those who write at home will have an advantage over those who write at the coffee shop. Coffee shops, while convenient places to write (the louder and more dramatic, the better, of course) have the disadvantage of your beverage being prepared for you. The lovely baristas have all kinds of shortcuts that to make sure that you spend the least amount of time waiting. At home, the procrastiwriter can truly flourish. Take time choosing your blend of tea or coffee. Heat the water. Brew the drink. Add your preferred amounts of cream and sweetener. Wait as it cools to a drinkable temperature. Waiting in line adds a mere five minutes, while a hand-on beverage approach can double, even triple that time.
  4. Don't forget to review your notes. I keep most of my notes in a little notebook and I always try to review them before I start writing. I find my procrastiwriting habits derive the most benefit from short, cryptic notes. For example, "Fix This" always adds at least six minutes of confusion to my procrastiwriting routine. Now is also the prime time to reread what you wrote during your last writing session. I know, I know, many writers swear this is the way to get caught up perfecting the same chapter over and over again, but you need to perfect it sometime. Now is as good a time as any.
  5. Choose your music carefully. The amateur procrastiwriter may have a specific playlist for the project they're working on, but I'm here to say that if you are serious about procrastiwriting, those days are behind you. A true procrastiwriter knows that each writing mood requires its own playlist. And if the muse if being particularly finicky, you might need a specific song. On repeat. Resist the urge to click around randomly until you settle for a good enough song, instead methodically search your music library until you've found THE writing song. After all, you can't be sure until you've gone through them all.
  6. Social media is the procrastiwriter's best friend. How else will everyone know what a productive writer you are? People find it inspiring if you tweet or snap your pre-writing routine, so make sure to keep them updated. Look up your favorite authors' feeds and look at how much procrastiwriting they are (or aren't) getting done. Find inspiring quotes about writing and character development. And don't forget to take an "#amwriting" photo. You've got your drink and your notes and your computer, fiddle around with them until you've got a cute set-up and voila, you're an Instagram star. Make sure you keep at least one social media up while writing, you may need it to complain about how hard writing is.
And now that you've gotten so much quality procrastiwriting done, it's time to work on your actual project. Although, your drink is probably cold by now. And lunch was an awfully long time ago. And was that the dryer I just heard? Better fold those clothes before you get to writing.

Disclaimer: This is all in good fun. I have done every single one of these things (or variations thereof) as I avoided the work that really needed doing. (Of course, sometimes the shower really DOES need unclogging.) I am mocking only myself and any resemblance to other persons is PURELY coincidental.

Writer Wednesday #5

Writer- noun, a peculiar organism capable of transforming caffeine into books. -Unknown

Here's to all those writing beverages consumed, whether there is caffeine involved or not. May your writing day be a productive one.

January 13, 2018

Reading Goals & January 2018 TBR - Starting the year off with a lot of books

Happy New Year everyone. I know it's a little late, but hey, better late than never. I am super excited about my reading goals for this year and also more than a little stoked about all the books I'm planning to read in January.

The key word there is "planning". Hopefully, I'm starting the year off with a bang, but it could just as easily be a massive flop.

I'm curious to hear some of your reading goals. Drop down in the comments and let me know something bookish you'd like to accomplish in 2018. It doesn't have to be as ambitious as reading 100 books (keep in mind I get through a LOT of audiobooks and comic books every year). Maybe you want to read all of Jane Austen's books. Maybe you're trying to read one book a week. I don't know, but I'd love to have you tell me.

Books discussed:

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Injustice: Year Four Vol. 1 by Brian Buccellato
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Orange Vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano
Orange Vol. 2 by Ichigo Takano
See How They Run by Ally Carter
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1 by Chuck Dixon

January 10, 2018

Writer Wednesday #4

"The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday." - David Scholosser

Happy Writer Wednesday, everyone. May we all recognize how far we've come in our journeys as writers.

Originally posted on my Instagram.

January 9, 2018

Reading Round-Up #3

Another successful reading month. Mainly due to the number of graphic novels I read during my 24-hour read-a-thon at the end of the month. All in all, I got through fourteen books, but keep in mind nine of those were comics. As always, the titles link back to Goodreads if you want more details

The Gate Thief (Mither Mages #2) by Orson Scott Card
2 stars
Finished on 12/6, Audiobook
This book picks up right after Danny's confrontation with his family in book one. It follows him as he struggles to figure out how to use his powers and pieces together why the last Loki closed his world off from Earth. Card creates a fascinating interpretation of mythology, weaving strands together from various cultures. However, in this book more than the last, I was bugged by how he treated his female characters. It's a coin toss as to whether I'll finish this series. Which is a bummer since I really liked the first book.

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray
4 stars
Finished on 12/18, Audiobook
Marguerite Caine's parents are brilliant scientists. Brilliant enough to figure out a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Just as her mother is on the verge of success though, Marguerite's father ends up dead and his murderer, one of her parent's assistants, disappears to a parallel Earth with the device. In pursuit of Paul, Marguerite teams up with Theo, who has carefully guarded the remaining prototypes. They begin a journey to get to the truth...and avenge her father. I really liked this book. The parallel worlds were all intriguing, you never knew how it was going to end up or how different each version of Marguerite would be. It also had a really compelling star-crossed love story, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Otherworld (Otherworld #1) by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
3 stars
Finished on 12/21, Hardcopy book
Simon saw the VR game, Otherworld, as a way to reconnect with Kat, the best friend who has been avoiding him since he returned from boarding school. Instead, it ends up plunging both of them into deep trouble. After a terrible accident, Kat ends up at a special facility for patients with something called locked up syndrome. Simon feels uneasy. But how far is he willing to go to find answers? Is he willing to risk his life? This book wasn't bad. l liked the storyline, though I had issues connecting with the main character. I'm always intrigued by stories that make use of virtual worlds and I think Segel and Miller handled going back and forth between the real world and the game really well. I think I would have liked it better if Warcross hadn't been so fresh in my mind. At this point, I want to read the next book, but I don't think it will be a high priority.

Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali
4 stars
Finished on 12/24, Audiobook
Janna Yusuf is a Muslim teenager who finds herself in the unenviable position of crushing on a boy that doesn't share her faith. Among all this confusion, she is confronted with the fact that someone who is outwardly pious can internally be a monster. As she decides whether or not to reveal what almost happened to her, she struggles with her faith and how she fits into a world that doesn't share it. We may be from different faiths, but I immediately connected with Janna. Just like her, I was a teenager with far more conservative beliefs than the world around me. She asks herself questions that I asked myself. Just like she asks herself whether she is Muslim enough, I asked myself whether I was Christian enough. This book ended too soon for me and I wish there were a sequel.

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab
5 Stars
Finished on 12/25, Hardcopy
I can't say anything about the plot without giving away MAJOR spoilers for A Gathering of Shadows, but suffice it to say I found this book riveting. The place we left our characters at the end of AGoS seemed like the worst place they could be. It felt like the plot had nowhere to go in this book, but oh man, did Schwab take it places. Every time you think the characters have hit rock bottom, she starts digging deeper. It all culminated in epic final battle and a bittersweet ending that left me longing for more adventures with all my faves. Definitely a series I'll be chucking at all my friends.

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year Three, Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor
4 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic novel
With several of Superman's key allies now incapacitated, Bruce and his band of rebels turn their sights on the Man of Steel himself. I'm not going to lie, the main reason I keep going in the Injustice series is that I love Bruce. The longer it takes for Clark and company to come to their senses, the more out of character their actions feel. It's starting to bug me. But I can put up with an awful lot as long as Bruce is in character.

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year Three, Vol. 2 by Brian Buccellato
3 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic Novel
Bruce continues working with Constantine and then things go to hell, literally. My review for volume two is literally the same as for volume one, so I'm not going to repeat myself. (P.S. I really did like Barry in this issue, even if he went back to being a stupid, stupid-head.)

Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb
5 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic novel
A new villain is on the scene, taking advantage of Batman's old enemies, helping them step up their game and sending them after the Caped Crusader. At the same time, an old romance rekindles and Bruce begins to wonder if there isn't a way to balance his personal life with his nighttime quest. By far, one of my favorite Batman arcs. I loved all the cameos by established rogues. The build to reveal at the end is still one of my favorites. As many times as I've read, so many of the little details still blow me away. Plus, there's plenty of Selina, so you know I'm happy. Also, did I mention that Jim Lee's artwork is divine? Seriously. He is one of my all-time fave comic book artists. He strikes a perfect balance between stylized and realistic in his art. I could stare at these pages all day.

Streets of Gotham, Vol. 2: Leviathan by Paul Dini
4 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic novel
Kids have been disappearing from Gotham's streets and turning back up at the river's edge. Dead. Robin takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of it, but he's not quite ready to operate solo. Streets of Gotham is one of the titles where, usually, you have Dick Grayson operating as Batman. And I always love seeing him filling those boots. Also, we get a little bit of growth from Damian--he's slowly starting to figure out how normal kids act. Very slowly.

Streets of Gotham, Vol. 3: House of Hush by Paul Dini
5 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic novel
Someone has been infecting the denizens of Gotham with literal sleepwalking bugs. In all that chaos, Hush, still bearing an unfortunate resemblance to Bruce Wayne, makes his escape. A newly-revived Bruce has to track down his doppelganger and he turns to a very familiar feline for help. Three words, y'all: Re. U. Nion. Almost the entire arc focuses on my two faves, so you know I am happy. Also, petty Bruce Wayne taking embarrassing photos of his enemies made my day.

Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka
4 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic novel
Confronted with multiple versions of her past and unsure which one is the truth, Diana must turn to an old enemy for help. There might also be an old friend or two in need of a butt-saving. I'm not going to get into my mixed feelings about previous Wonder Woman comics, but suffice to say, this reboot has made me a fan. This is the Diana that I read as a girl, with no need for big-name male costars and a story all her own. Granted, I may not have been reading the right comics way back when, but I'm more invested in her than I ever was before.

Wonder Woman, Vol. 2: Year One by Greg Rucka
5 stars
Finished on 12/30, Graphic novel
The reimagined beginnings of Diana of Themiscira, with a more modern setting and an updated cast. So I won't lie, I'm super into this newer version of Diana's backstory. Namely, because it places her firmly in the modern era. While it's always interesting to see superheroes with a presence in history, I am not a fan of the lone immortal storyline and I'm very glad they thoroughly crushed that in this volume. There is also an awesome focus on Diana's cleverness as she picks up on an entirely foreign culture and language in a matter of days. This Wonder Woman is fresher and brighter than she ever was in my childhood and I like that.

Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: The Truth by Greg Rucka
4 stars
Finished on 12/31, Graphic novel
Following the truth of her past, Diana must piece her reality back together. And she's on a ticking clock because two Greek gods are on the warpath and Diana may be the only one who knows how to stop them. I understand why some people have issues with this arc and there were a few things that rubbed me a little wrong, but nothing that hindered my enjoyment of the story.

Green Arrow, Vol. 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen by Benjamin Percy
3 stars
Finished on 12/31, Graphic novel
Philanthropic, new age billionaire by day. Crime fighting vigilante at night. Only while Ollie has been fighting crime, some things at Queen industries have slipped his notice. An investigation into corruption at his own company quickly lands Ollie in hot water. While I loved the character work and the fact that they brought Dinah in almost from issue one, I felt like the story was a little scattered for me, it felt the most unfamiliar and there was a lot that came at you all at once. Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy all of the characters and I like how they made Oliver a different kind of crime-fighting billionaire than Batman, but I definitely had to just forget about everything I knew about Green Arrow previously and let my brain catch-up as I went.