Literary Musings

My Favorite Bookish Quotes

I’ve been trying to come up with interesting topics for blog posts and decided that I should do a post about my favorite quotes about books and reading. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had done a similar posting before and I’m frankly too lazy to double check and make sure I haven’t written this exact same post sometime over the years so I apologize if I have.

So without further ado…my favorite bookish quotes.

  • ‘”One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”‘ – Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel)
    • I read Clockwork Angel by Clare years ago and yet this quote has always stuck with me because I just think it’s so true. Reading, and words, can have such a powerful effect on us. They can be meaningful in an enlightening way or just in a personal way and I think that’s amazing.
  • “When trouble strikes, head to the library. You will either be able to solve the problem, or simply have something to read as the world crashes down around you.”- Lemony Snicket
    • I love the combination of book love and library love in this quote. As a librarian I, of course, love the library so it’s nice to see a quote that speaks of the importance of the library like this one does. In a library, and in books, you can find solutions to problems or just enjoyment. I know that I can sometimes get so lost in a book that I can picture the world falling down around me without my notice.
  • ‘”A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R.Martin (A Dance With Dragons)
    • I just love how this quote really puts an emphasis on how important reading can be to an individual. When you really get into a book you aren’t just reading it, you’re “living” it. And to me, that’s just beautiful. Plus, it shows non-readers that they are really missing out.
Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Inflammatory Reviews

I read book reviews for a lot of different reasons. Of course there are the reasons you’d expect…to get an idea from other readers as to whether or not I should actually bother buying or checking out a particular book from the library. I usually start by checking Goodreads to see whether any of my “friends” on their have the title and have a few reviewers that seem to have pretty similar tastes to mine and so I usually end up trusting their judgement. I also utilize reviews in regards to my job because I know I need to buy books for the library that will be universally appealing and may not be necessarily up my alley taste wise.

Then, after I read the reviews of my trusted sources, I generally check the most negative reviews even though that occasionally leads to my being spoiled about some plot point (though most Goodreads reviewers are actually good about tagging spoilers so I can avoid them) . Sometimes people point out things that I know would irk me and other times a person’s gripe makes me laugh out loud and immediately go to pick up said book.

And then there’s the aftermath of my reading a book that I either particularly liked or didn’t like. After I finish a book I feel strongly about I start looking through reviews of readers who thought the complete opposite and, sometimes, I end up seething in anger. Now, I never give into that anger. I never reply and start a heated debate with someone who has differing views than I do but boy do I compose retorts in my head. And there’s mental name calling because, usually when someone gives a negative review to something I love, I can tell that they just don’t “get it” like I did.

Yeah I know it’s silly but here’s the thing…I may let it get me riled up for awhile but, in the end, I’m just glad that people are reading things and are obviously willing to get riled up as well. Plus, when it comes to reviewers that I know in real life I don’t let our differing book opinions get into the way of our friendships.

To Read or Not to Read?

The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood

The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood was a bit of a hard one for me to rate because it was an odd combination of haunted house horror and typical teen angst. If I had to give it a comparison I’d call it a Breakfast Club meets Stephen King’s Rose Red.

So the main setting is the infamous Boulder House in Wisconsin, a house that is said to have been cursed during it’s construction by owner Maxwell Cartwright Jr. He created the House and filled it with his collection of oddities: lots of dolls, odd sculptures, and instruments that play on their own. And, in little clips from a history book of Maxwell, it becomes clear that unusual “things” aren’t the only type of items Maxwell collects. He also collects people that don’t quite fit into society either.

And it just so happens that it’s time for the annual River Red High School field trip to Boulder House and five very different seniors with secrets of their own end up on the trip. We have:

Violet: The good girl who on the first couple of pages shows that her secret has to do with a mysterious male on the other end of her text messages. She also has a crush on fellow student Paul and wants to get out from under her clingy boyfriend.

Paul: He’s new to Wisconsin and is popular, partially due to his athletic prowess and the fact that he’s one of the few black kids in the school. He has a secret crush on Violet and also is seen keeping a firm hold on a hidden Shakespeare text that he seems ashamed of carrying.

Gretchen: The outcast with all the attitude. Even though her mother tries, sometimes Gretchen is the one that has to take care of her.

Dylan: All into his girlfriend Gretchen. Likes to wear black eyeliner and black nail polish but has to take it off before he can go home after school.

Ashley: The mean girl with a father in politics. She spews her father’s beliefs and is judgmental of everyone, especially Gretchen.

Once the group of five get into the house they are forced to participate in Maxwell’s games with one goal, to get out of the house alive or be forced to join the collection. Only the house isn’t going to make it easy for them. Everything from the dolls to the puppets to the carousel creatures to the taxidermy animals on the wall comes to life and chases after them, brandishing weapons. Not only that, Maxwell reveals each of their secrets and tries to turn the five protagonists against each other. And once the secrets are revealed we learn that the five main characters are even more diverse than they might appear at first glance.

Spoilers for the secrets below!

Violet: Her clingy boyfriend isn’t another students, it’s a married teacher.

Paul: After school he spends his time dressing up and sword fighting in Shakespearean garb with his mother and he loves it.

Gretchen: She’s on food stamps and most of her clothes come from Goodwill.

Dylan: His real name is John Luke and he’s the son of an Evangelical Christian family.

Ashley: She’s a lesbian who has been meeting and hooking up with girls via a phone app but she’s actually in love with Gretchen.

So of course the secrets being revealed changes the group dynamic but it’s what they take from it, and how they get through the House, that’s the real point of the story.

And then…the ending was one of those almost but not quite resolutions. Like when the killer is killed off but then the last scene shows his hand twitching and you have a sneaking suspicion it’s not over.

Basically the book was a little angsty, a little cheesy but the characters and their secrets and how they interacted made it all worthwhile.

Literary Musings

Don’t Toss That!

I’m not sure where exactly I heard a certain piece of advice, maybe in one of my many literature/writing classes in college or maybe in a collection of tips from published authors, but many moons ago I was told that a writer should never throw away a piece of writing because it may prove useful later. I usually follow this advice very carefully, to the point that I have about six versions of a novel I started in middle school floating around my apartment. (Don’t tell my fiance though…I don’t think he’d appreciate that there are about a thousand pages just sitting on our shelves, likely to never see the light of day unless I make it big one day and someone wants to know my writing process for said first novel.)

Then last year something happened. I got swept up in a TV series based on a book series, binge watching the first seasons over the course of a couple of days. And, like what happens a lot when I latch onto something, I was inspired to write some related fanfiction. But since I finished watching the show so quickly I didn’t have time to finish said fanfiction before I moved onto something else. It was a good show but after reading some reviews I decided I didn’t want to read the books the show was based on so I had very little to work with for inspiration. So since I had nothing else to work with I didn’t have the desire to finish the fanfiction and, instead of just leaving the pages in a notebook or at least typing it up for posterity, I’m pretty sure I just ripped the pages out and threw them away.

And then this weekend season two of the show appeared on Netflix and after just one episode I started thinking of that fanfiction I started writing up last year and I had sudden desire to continue it. But I threw it away. It doesn’t exist anymore. And now I’m back to the beginning. Do I write it up again and risk losing the mojo before I’m done watching season two or do I just ignore the urge to write in this fandom? As of right now I haven’t decided but I do know one thing…to make sure I don’t just dispose of things I start but don’t finish because I may want/need them a year or two from now!

Library Life

Teen Reading Challenge 2018

During the course of this February and through March I will once again be partaking in what is known as the SWON Teen Reading Challenge. It’s a challenge where groups of librarians, their friends, and their library patrons band together to read as many teen/young adult novels as possible. The aim is two fold. The top three groups who read the most pages per team member win prizes which will be useful in library programming. The second benefit is that, by reading all the teen books, more librarians and staff will be able to recommend those types of books when needed. A a Youth Services Librarian who primarily focuses on teen programming this challenge is right up my alley.

Over the course of the last month I’ve been hoarding YA books and I’ve been making plans to make sure I have a wide availability of genres, both to help keep myself sane (I love teen fiction but there’s only so many contemporary romances/fantasy/horror books that one can read in a row) and because we want to be able to give advice on a broad range of books as well. Not everyone has the same idea for what they find interesting to read. I know I don’t. 

Today is day one and I’m switching back and forth between a horror novel and a science fiction. And I also have some more adult themed graphic novels waiting in the wings for when I just can’t handle the teen protagonists and antagonists anymore. I did start to get burnt out last year. I don’t want that to happen this year. 

And here’s to hoping that maybe we will win something this year!

Short Stories

Fanfiction Preview: The Joke?

I’ve been toying with a Hermione/Fred fanfiction idea for awhile and though I’m not completely set on the title I think I’ve got some good ideas running.

Here’s a sample from about page two of the story…

It was like the aftermath of the Yule Ball all over again, Hermione idly thought as she sat on the steps of the Grand Staircase. She was sad, alone, and felt so unsure of herself but at least this time she had a mixed drink in hand (courtesy of George who had been spiking anything and everything his family and friends consumed.)

It was Graduation Night at Hogwarts and Hermione Granger, once called the “brightest witch of her age”, didn’t have a single legitimate job offer, not one that would lead to a lengthy career like she’d been hoping would happen. If something didn’t happen soon she’d have to take the sales position at Flourish and Blotts. Not that she looked down at people in sales, she’d just presumed she’d be getting into something bigger, something where she would be making a difference.

She heaved a sigh and downed the rest of her drink, nearly choking on the last drop when she heard a “tsk, tsk” from behind her.

Hermione jumped to her feet and spun around to look behind her, surprised as to why someone would have been on the upper floors of the castle while there was a party going on in the Great Hall.

“George?” she asked once her eyes had focused on the figure. “What were you doing upstairs?”

George peered around as though making there there was no one to eavesdrop on them and then he pulled a little bag out of his pocket. “I was just checking some of the old Weasley hiding spots and lo and behold, I found one that hadn’t been damaged in the war or discovered during the clean up! I can’t wait to show Fred!”

Hermione leaned against the stair railing, glad that George hadn’t turned the conversation to why she was on the stairs instead of at the party. “How is Fred? He hasn’t been at the last couple of family events.”

“Yeah, he’s still not good with large, noisy crowds and with a family our size…” George gave a half-hearted shrug. “But I really can’t complain, can I? It could have turned out far worse.”

Hermione sadly smiled her agreement. Back during the Final Battle they’d though they had lost Fred only to find out that the spell he’d been hit with, combined with a head injury, had resulted in a magically induced coma that had taken five medi-witches and wizards nearly six weeks to bring him out of. There were side effects of course but every time Hermione had seen him since he’d been more or less like his old self though, perhaps, just a bit subdued.

To Read or Not to Read?

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian Vaughan

I’ve been hearing great things about the Saga graphic novel series for years and even though it’s been on my radar and I think I even had it on my “to be read” list on Goodreads I didn’t actually know what it was about. So I opened up the first volume with no idea what I was getting myself into.

It was violent and dark and disturbing and just plain weird and yet the story was also lovely and heartwarming and interesting.

Saga starts out with a birthing scene and we find out that the couple has that star crossed thing going on. Literally. They are from different planets who are at war with one another and pretty much everyone thinks that their relationship, and their child, is an aberration. But it’s obvious that the pair love another and the new baby. So begins a game of cat and mouse between the couple, some bounty hunters, a royal family of robot/alien creature things. Oh, and there’s some mutilated ghosts with manipulative mind powers floating around. Like I said, weird.

But it’s also awesome. The characters really come alive and the illustrations are colorful and interesting. Yes there’s nudity and sex and it can be all sorts of naughty and violent but then you get some really beautiful panels.

Honestly, it was kind of confusing because we were more or less thrown into the middle of the conflict but the characters pull it all together. I can’t wait to catch up on the series!