Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week the amazing bloggers over there post a new Top Ten list on a different topic. The hosts are on a well-deserved break until August, and so in the meantime, I’ll be recycling some older themes. This week I’m going with the most intimidating books. Books I’m really interested in, but scared to pick up!

1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I LOVED Norweigan Wood, so I’m pretty sure I’ll like this one. And I like the idea of magical realism. But I also like clear answers. And one of my friends who has read it, keeps recommending other Murakami books before I start Kafka on the Shore. So it’s unclear when I’ll finally suck it up and start this one.

2. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. So technically this is more than one book. It’s seven books. (Plus The Wind Through the Keyhole which is apparently considered #4.5.) And while each book seems very manageable on its own, Stephen King considers the series one piece of fiction. And I feel like it would be a disservice to King’s masterpiece to read only part of The Dark Tower Series. So I’m not just committing to the 340 pages in The Gunslinger. And I would do the addition to tell you exactly how many pages I’m committing to, but the page count varies by edition, so it’s depends on the exact copy. But however you slice it, it’s still easily over FOUR THOUSAND pages.

3. Ulysses by James Joyce. I really enjoyed Joyce’s writing when I was forced to read some of his work back in high school. While it’s inarguably a little pretentious, I loved the evolving vocabulary and style in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I want to read more of Joyce, read more of his experiments with the stream-of-consciousness technique (which I also loved in Faulkner). But man. Ulysses is really intimidating. It is one of the most important works of fiction ever, representing an entire literary movement. It is long. It is full of allusions that I will almost certainly not get. And it’s maybe a bit more experimental than I can handle.

4. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. Speaking of.

5. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I got this book back in June. As I mentioned in my Stacking the Shelves post, it’s SO LONG. I thought it was going to be quick and fun! The summary makes me think this book would be four hundred pages tops. But nope, it’s a THOUSAND PAGES. It’s really unclear to me why any book ever necessities a thousand pages. It’s just so extra. The only book I’ve ever read that long was Gone with the Wind and I think I only got through it because I had already seen the movie. I guess I would watch the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell miniseries.

6. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski . One of my best friends highly recommended this book and loaned his copy to me. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for about four years now. (I know, I’m the worst.) And in my defense, I started reading it. But man, it’s creepy! I do most of my reading at night and I got scared! I know, I’m a wimp.

7. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. So the same best friend who loaned me House of Leaves LOVES this book. Infinite Jest is his favorite book of all time. He rereads it every other year. He quotes it. He thinks it’s beautiful. Will we still be friends if I don’t like it? Would I even be able to finish it? It’s so long! (You might notice a theme here around what types of books I find intimidating. I’m a slow reader. Long books are not my favorite.)

8. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. I really want to read this book. It looks adorable and touching, but man, it’s about a middle aged man who loves his elderly dog and you just KNOW what’s going to happen, and I’m scared my heart won’t be able to take it.

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. This book isn’t long, at least compared to some of the other books on this list so far. But it’s expansive. It covers a lot of time. Several generations of a family. And that combined with the magical realism which I always want to like but don’t always understand is what makes this book intimidating to me.

10. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I think I’ve mentioned this book once before on this blog. It’s supposed be amazing. And I know I’m being a little crazy. But Yaa Gyasi and I were freshmen in college together and I sat next to her in my seminar class on literary homages and I can’t believe someone I went to college with has already published an award winning novel. And I still haven’t finished the book I started writing in high school. I know I shouldn’t let that intimidate me but it does. It’s really intimidating.

But it’s okay. Nothing to do about it but write more 🙂

Have you read any of the books on this list? Let me know! Would love to hear success stories to help me tackle any of these behemoths.


Stacking the Shelves – July 2017

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. STS is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks.

I know, I know. It’s not July anymore. Think of this as a recap. Here are all the books I got in July. And all with Amazon gift cards!

The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr. My motivations for buying this book are almost the same as when I bought My Cousin Rachel last month. (Which was amazing btws.) USA Network is adapting The Sinner into a limited series starting Jessica Biel. I saw the trailer a few weeks ago and I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. (Or rather why it happens as the case may be.) But this time when I went googling for the ending, I couldn’t find it. Not on wikipedia, not in any goodreads reviews. I wanted to spoil myself but I couldn’t! And since I don’t have the patience for the tv series to finish, I bought the book. So here we are.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I am SO skeptical about this book. I’m just really not sure I’m going to like it. Which is probably not the best attitude to go into a book with and why would I get this book anyway if I’m convinced I’m going to hate it. Well, to be honest, I’m struggling a bit to get through The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, even though I adore the characters. It’s just a little long. And unexpectedly heavy? So I was looking for something fast and frivolous. Maybe it’ll be a hate read, or maybe I’ll fall in love with the characters. As long as it’s fast.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. This one recently appeared on a Buzzfeed list of YA books which I scored dismally on. Also I remember one of my friends read it a year ago and really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d pick it up. It is also short.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. Technically, not going on my shelf. This one is a gift 🙂 One of my coworkers and mentors is expecting a baby girl, and so I gifted this book to her before she started her maternity leave. I am a fall baby, and so was often the youngest in my class at school. I’ve always felt like a late bloomer. And this book taught me that it is okay to be a late bloomer. It was my favorite picture book as a child.

And that’s it for July! Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments! Also I would LOVE other recommendations for children’s picture books! I have a lot of pregnant friends right now.

Top Ten Books I Wish Had Prequels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week the amazing bloggers over there post a new Top Ten list on a different topic. The hosts are on a well-deserved break until August, and so in the meantime, I’ll be recycling some older themes. Playing off my chosen theme for last week, this week we’re going with the top ten books I wish had prequels! Would love to get backstory on some of these characters or worlds.

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. We should just accept that this is going to appear on every list I make, ever.  I love it so. The book already touches on a lot of the character backstories, but I would love to see more of Kaz’s climb to power in the Dregs and his initial friendship with Inej.

2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Most of my favorite characters start this book as teenagers, so there isn’t a ton of backstory available for them. But the series does repeatedly reference the Octavia au Lune’s rise to power and the first Moon Lord Rebellion and that could be interesting. Or the Dark Revolt from the Obsidians?

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I really enjoyed The Assassin’s Blade which focuses on Celaena’s earlier days as an assassin and chronicles all the events immediately preceding Throne of Glass to explain how Celaena was captured and sent to Endovier. But I’d like to go further back. This series has such a rich mythology. It would be fascinating to read more about the witches or Maeve or Brannon or Elena or the gods. So many options!

4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Technically, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series serves as a prequel. There are so many characters and histories in the Harry Potter universe, Rowling could write a thousand prequels. But I really want is the Marauders and all their hijinks at Hogwarts. Give me young Sirius Black!

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Also features a huge cast. Would be really interesting to see Haymitch or Finnick or Joanna in their original games.

6. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Also technically has a prequel, Lemony Snicket’s recent series, All The Wrong Questions. But man. I’m still SO CONFUSED. I know this will never happen because it would ruin all the mystery, but I would really like a prequel that covers the events leading up to the death of the Baudelaire parents.

7. Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce. I love me some George Cooper, King of Thieves, and would love to read more about him and his rise to the Rogue. I imagine it’d be kinda like the Han Solo prequel that’s in the works.

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Forget Alina, I want to hear more about The Darkling!

9. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. Also has a lot of good characters for prequel material. Helen’s mother is deceased when the story begins, but we do get to learn a bit about her through letters. She seems awesome and I would love to hear more of her story. Or I’m also down for more backstory of our dark and mysterious Lord Carlston.

10. Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Okay, I haven’t actually read any books in this series yet, but I love the tv series and clicking through the wikis. SO MUCH HISTORY. I’m personally really interested in the Doom of Valyria or Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros.

And that’s my list. What do you think? Any prequels you want to see?

Man, July has been a rough month

Otherwise known as, no, I didn’t hit my word count goals for Camp NaNoWriMo. Unless I do something crazy and write 20,000 words in the next 16 hours. Which is unlikely, though I have pulled 10,000 word days before.

Ugh, this was a difficult month for me. I started the month with good weekly routines for my writing and reading and blogging and drawing and working out and all those things that I care about and keep me feeling happy and in control. And I lost almost all of them. The only habit I managed to hang on to was my “Art or Friends” rule, but as I was struggling with in my last update, my friends dominated my schedule and became an excuse not to read or draw or practice any of my other habits. I even lost my routine for cleaning my house!

Some big changes at work and some busy weekends got me down. My favorite manager left our company this month, and I’ve been panicking about work ever since. I let myself fall off the horse, oversleeping, spending my time sitting on the couch and on my phone, and then hating myself for it. It’s hard when you get stuck. When I get stuck.

But I have to remember that these routines and the feelings that come with them are all in my control. It can be overwhelming staring down a list of a million things I want to do and accomplish, but all I have to do is start. Start one. And then another. And if one isn’t working, move on to something else without beating myself up.

So I’m not going to hit my NaNoWriMo goal today. But this weekend I cleaned my house. And today I’m blogging. And this evening I’m going to the gym. And tomorrow I’m blogging. And I’m going to read a chapter before bed. Just one. Or maybe more. But at least one. And I’m going to the gym again. And reading again. And drawing. And hopefully later this week, I’ll start writing again 🙂

Top Ten Books I Wish Had Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week the amazing bloggers over there post a new Top Ten list on a different topic. The hosts are on a well-deserved break until August, and so in the meantime, I’ll be recycling some older themes. This week we’re going with the top ten books I wish had sequels. This one is a little trickier than I expected. Turns out a lot of the books I like do have sequels. (Or are part of a series.) But even then, sometimes I want more.

1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. By now we’ve thoroughly established how much I adore the Six of Crows duology. Crooked Kingdom was perfect conclusion to the series, but man, I just want more! I LOVE these characters and I would read basically anything about them. A daring trip to the grocery store with Kaz and the crew? Sign me up, man.

2. Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones. So technically, there are two sequels to Howl’s Moving Castle. Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. And while these two sequels are both cute and charming, they do not at all satisfy my need for a sequel. Because Howl and Sophie are barely in them! I want more of my favorite couple!

3. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. UGHHH. Such a bittersweet ending, and I just want a sweet sequel where everyone is happy and everyone is friends.

4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. You know, this book also technically has two sequels. Niether were written by Mitchell and while they were officially authorized by her estate, that doesn’t quite count in my book.

5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I think this book has a lovely ending and it takes us through the rest of the characters’ lives. But I just loved this world and would love to see more adventures.

6. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Can I just get a spinoff sequel about Nikolai? Okay, thanks!

7. Morning Star by Pierce Brown. I think this series concludes in a very smart place, but it would be fascinating to read a story about how to rebuild a society. Maybe boring, but still fascinating.

8. Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace. I’m not sure what the plot of a sequel would be, but I finished Archivist Wasp with a lot of open questions and would love to dive deeper into some of the concepts. Kornher-Stace created a really interesting world and Archivist Wasp was a fairly short book. Would love to spend some more time in this post-apolocylptic future.

9. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Similar thoughts here. I’m very happy with where Milo’s journey ends, but I just love this world and would love to revisit it!

And I am really struggling to come up with a tenth book. Hmmmm. 10. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova? I’m pretty sure one is in the works, but man, did the first book end on a cliffhanger.

What books do you want to see sequels of? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Favorite Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week the amazing bloggers over there post a new Top Ten list on a different topic. The hosts are on a well-deserved break until August, and so in the meantime, I’ll be recycling some older themes. This week we’re going with my favorite book titles. I wrote a tiny bit about this in the Mystery Blogger Award, now it’s time to make a full list! Less commentary on this one.

1. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I love all her titles, but that would take half this list, so we’ll just stick with the first book in the Fairyland series, which is also my favorite.

2. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Ruin is such a good word. I really like the alliteration here.

3. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Also here. Fury is also a very good word.

4. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez.

5. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. I haven’t read this book yet, but the title is such a good contrast of sounds!

6. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

7. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

8. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I’m actually scared to read this book, but the title is simple and lovely.

9. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I really like this phrase “small things”. It’s simple, but evocative. You start imagining what would fall in that category.

10. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

Looking at this list, I seem to have two types of titles I like. The first type is two words strung together with an “and” or an “of”.  (Might have something to do with my obsession for The Old Man and the Sea, though that particular title didn’t make this list.) And the other type is long specific titles that make you ask questions. I HATE titles that are only one word. One word and an adjective is also difficult for me. (Sorry, Norton Juster, you know I still love The Phantom Tollbooth.)

What are some of your favorite titles? Do you notice any patterns in your favorites or least favorites?

The second return of Fanart Fridays! And some thoughts on balance

Well, so I totally missed my big scheduled return to Fanart Friday.

Whoops. I feel pretty embarrassed that I didn’t follow through on my big commitment. I even finished the picture! It’s sitting patiently on my desk, pretty and ready to scan. My plan was to upload it on Thursday night after work. That was my plan, since I knew I was going to be busy all day Friday. And then literally one of my best friends who lives in Chicago decided to visit SF and I know that sounds ridiculous, like do people really make surprise visits across the country, but yes! They do. Sort of. She was in the area visiting her father and had a free evening to drive into SF, and so I went straight from work to meet her and ended up going on a tour of all the tiki bars in the city, and you can probably guess how that went.

I think it’s even more embarrassing that the reason I missed my scheduled post is because I was out partying. But it’s the truth. And more importantly, I was out with a friend who I hadn’t seen in nine months.

I have a rule that I’ve lived by for the last year. My rule is every single day, I need to either spend time with friends or with art. Art or friends. (Sometimes both.)

I LOVE this rule. It means I never spend all day working and go straight to sleep. It means, every day I feel like I did something for myself.

But the balance between art or friends is hard. Because making plans with friends is only half in my control and sometimes all my friends are free in one week and when I spend a week straight with friends and don’t have time for art, I start to go a little crazy.

(There are a lot of good Disney gif options for this one.)

But sometimes it can’t be helped when people are free. I think part of the solution is setting boundaries. And keeping a schedule. If I KNOW that I need to go home and upload my fanart, then I can still see my friends, but can’t stay out until 3AM.

So sometime I’m working on. Setting boundaries and protecting my time and my blog. And in the meantime, as I’m still working on this, I’m also going to do a bit more planning ahead. So this week’s Fanart Friday is already uploaded and scheduled to post 🙂

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear if anyone else has any rules like “art or friends”. What do you do to maintain balance in your life between your blog and other activities?

Top Ten Fictional Crushes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week the amazing bloggers over there post a new Top Ten list on a different topic. The hosts are on a well-deserved break until August, and so in the meantime, I’ll be recycling some older themes. This week we’re going with my top ten fictional crushes. Keeping this to literary fictional characters, because if we included video game characters, I would be ruined.

In no particular order . . .

1. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Whenever Peeta talks about his feelings for Katniss, I can’t stop smiling. Peeta is a sweetheart, but he’s also charismatic, and artsy. Also he bakes bread. And he is ripped from hauling bags of flour all day. (Don’t we all wish baking would keep us in shape?) But more importantly, he bakes bread, and Gale ain’t got nothing on that.

2. Wolf from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. He’s got that tall, dark, and mysterious on lock. But when he’s not beating enemies into a pulp, he’s just kinda sweet and shy. His devotion to Scarlet is just adorable. Like with Peeta, whenever Wolf talks about Scarlet, my heart just melts. Very sweet, but occasionally under mind control. No one’s perfect. And angst can be sexy.

3. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. A classic. I know the whole pride thing is supposed to be bad, but I find a little bit of arrogance really attractive. Plus he’s rich and has a huge estate! Sometimes when I read the book, it feels like that was the turning point where Lizzie starts to fall for him. When she sees his beautiful house. Hey, I get it. (But also, he does a lot of very sweet things for Lizzie’s sisters and really tries to atone for his pride, so those are all points in his favor too.)

4. Nikolai Lantsov from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Nikolai is definitely the most underrated part of The Grisha Trilogy. Probably because he doesn’t show up until Siege and Storm and then spends most of Ruin and Rising as . . . well, I’ll let you read it. But Nikolai is cocky and fun and charming and really deserves more screen time.

5. Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Ahh, the good old fixer-upper. Clearly Kaz has some stuff that he needs to work through, but who doesn’t love a project? Especially one who is smart and sarcastic and ambitious. Ambition is a very attractive quality in a man. Also, Kaz really rocks the tailored look.

6. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Another classic. Every scene with Rhett makes me swoon like an old aunt. He’s like the original bad boy.

7. Sam Cortland from Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas. When I first read the series, I was rooting for Chaol, and I guess I can’t really root for Sam because he’s dead when the series begins, but man, what a shame. Reading The Assassin’s Blade made me fall for Sam. He’s so sincere and devoted. Also, I don’t know, but as Maas introduces more and more super-powered Fae and magic wielders, I really appreciate the human characters.

8. Manon Blackbeak from Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas. And on maybe the opposite end of the spectrum from Sam, we have Manon. She’s hot and fierce and will bite your head off. But also she is a big old softie for her wyvern Abraxos. So maybe not that different from Sam after all. I really love the characters who act tough but are not-so-secretly giant softies.

9. Howl Jenkins Pendragon from Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones. He could eat my heart any day. (He doesn’t really eat hearts, he’s actually very goofy and charming. The student in the back of class who’s good at everything without trying or caring. He’s also very pretty.)

10. Sirius Black from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. I’m pretty sure everyone has a crush on Sirius. Bad boy with a motorcycle. A flying motorcycle.

The return of Fanart Fridays!

(Is fanart one word or two words? Fanfiction is usually treated as one word, so I’m going to apply the same logic here.)

Anyway! Now that I seem to be back in the groove of posting weekly updates and reviews, I want to bring back Fanart Friday! Remember? That weekly meme I created and then only did three times before dropping? Of course you remember!

Yeah, I didn’t do such a good job maintaining it when I first started Fanart Friday. But I love drawing. And I want to do more. I remembered that last weekend when I decided to watercolor for the first time in years. Ever since then, I’ve been in a big drawing kick, and I want to put some of that energy to my blog!

Are there any particular book characters or scenes you’d like to see me draw? Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview for the art I’ll be posting this Friday. A certain gentlemen and his best friend/crush from a lovely book I’m reading by Mackenzi Lee.

(Obviously, I still need to improve photo quality. Working on it.)