To Read or Not to Read?

Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount

Bibliophile is, as the title suggests, a book for book lovers. It features illustrations of all sorts of book spines along with fun little facts about authors, books, bookshops, and libraries. There would be an image featuring a stack of books in a certain genre, followed by a page with some facts about the titles or authors of those titles. And that was fun at first when the genres were ones I was interested in.

There were also sections of book recommendations that were made by various members of the bookish community, either bookshop owners or bloggers, etc. And while it was kind of neat to see what other books bookish people like, I really didn’t find more than one book that I ended up adding to my TBR list because of the recommendation I found in Bibliophile.

And while I enjoyed flipping through the pages and learning some of the facts, especially the sections about writers and their personal writing spaces, by the end of it I was starting to fade a bit. (And it’s not like I was reading it all at once, I took my time.) All of the fun facts about fiction were more or less towards the beginning which kept me interested because I’m a big fiction fan. But then all the back passages were about different types of non-fiction and I’m not a huge non-fiction fan so most of the titles or authors were ones I either had never heard of or ones that I’d heard of and just was not interested in knowing more about.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad read. It was fun to look through and learn new things about my favorite books and authors, I’m just not sure that it needed to be turned into a book.

Literary Musings

Organize Your Shelf

Blog post idea taken from “Lit Chat: Conversations Starters About Books & Life,” a book/game/ice breaker box produced by Book Riot. The question was: “How do you organize your bookshelves? (Ebook shelves count too!)”

In a dream world (or maybe just someday when I have a house instead of an 800 square foot apartment) I would have a room with more than enough bookshelf space to hold all of my books, as well as some of my bookish merchandise. (Such as the awesome, beautiful mugs that I keep getting in book related subscription boxes. I love them and I use them but I’d also like to be able to display them. Plus, I’m running out of room in my cupboards for all of them.)

In my ideal world I would have my books arranged alphabetically by author. (But I would keep series together even if it’s the kind of series where different authors write books for the same series because otherwise it just gets confusing.)

In reality, I have far too many books to fit on my shelves properly. The Harry Potter series and companion books are mostly in order, pretty much taking up a whole shelf by themselves, but then I have other books stacked on top of and in front of those books. All of the other shelves are the same, with stacks and piles all stacked and piled pretty haphazardly. Which I find unfortunate, I really would like it if my books were organized, I just don’t have the space for it!

My ebook collection is pretty haphazard as well. I started out with genre folders then I struggled to classify some titles and next thing I knew it was out of control and I gave up there as well.

One of the only drawbacks to owning so many books!

To Read or Not to Read?

Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down by Gina McIntyre

When I really like a TV show or a book series I like to really immerse myself into the world. I’ll often read fanfiction and author interviews and I also like to look up trivia for TV shows on IMDB and other sites. And since I really, really like to read it made sense to look into the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the Scenes-Companion, all about the Netflix original show Stranger Things which I’ve been obsessed with since season one came out in 2016. (Since then I have binged season one in 2016, season two in 2018 and then waited just a few months and rewatched all of both seasons back to back.)

It was a fun and cleverly crafted look at the series so far. There were exclusive interviews with all of the stars, the younger cast and the older ones. And even better they were themed to fit in with the show! There were Dungeons and Dragons character sheets for the younger cast, yearbook entries for the slightly older teens, and then classified laboratory write-ups for Eleven, Joyce, and Hopper.

I also enjoyed the sections about set design and how they decided to style the houses, etc. to fit not only the time period but each family within the story, matching things up based on implied family income and so on. It was neat so see how much thought went into the entire process.

Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a lot and would recommend it to anyone else who fangirls over the series.


Short Stories

Mistletoe Chimes Fanfiction Preview

I actually managed to post a Christmas themed fanfiction in time for Christmas! I typed it all up and it went live on Christmas Eve and I’m super proud of myself for that. I figured I should share a little preview of Mistletoe Chimes, a one-shot featuring my favorite guilty pleasure pairing of Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy getting caught under the mistletoe. I hope you enjoy it! And feel free to request a link to my fanfiction accounts if you’d like to read more!

Hermione was halfway up the stairs when she heard the now all too familiar sound of jingle bells cut through the silence and she closed her eyes in defeat. She’d been the last person left in the Common Room she shared with the Head Boy and the rest of the Prefects which meant that she had to be the victim of the Magical Mistletoe, a recent Weasley Wizard Wheezes invention that had been plaguing the school for weeks.

A quick look over her head confirmed her suspicions. There was the little green plant with the white berries, looking far more innocent than it actually was.

“Damn it, George,” she muttered under her breath before whipping off her robe, Transfiguring it into a nice cushion, and then promptly tossing it on the stair at her feet. At least the enchantment holding the mistletoe, and now her, in place would let her sit down. It just wouldn’t let her go anywhere else until someone kissed her or until four hours passed, whichever happened first. And with the late hour and with all the other Prefects already tucked in their beds it wasn’t likely that she’d be released before the enchantment timed out.

Honestly she was more mad at herself than anything. She’d been meaning to get ahold of George and demand a reversal spell ever since the WWW product had started popping up around the castle after the Hogsmeade trip the weekend before. A trip which had been planned to coincide with the opening of the new WWW branch which had seemed like a good idea at the time. But she hadn’t found a good time to get in touch with the older Weasley and most of her classmates didn’t seem to mind the little plants popping up all over the place.

Hermione had studied the charms a bit but wasn’t completely sure how they worked. She knew that it took four hours or until the person received a kiss from another person (pecks from pets and House-Elves didn’t count.) The mistletoe couldn’t ben planted in a particular place or sent to target a particular student. It just disappeared from your hand and reappeared somewhere else in the castle when it was activated.

The mistletoe also seemed to be sentient in other ways too, with the chatter from the student body saying that it had never appeared anywhere inappropriate or which left the “victim” too stranded. No dorm room, supply closet, or bathroom appearances, at least none that she’d heard of. And the plant had also never popped up over a Professor.

So maybe she did know quite a bit about the enchanted plant. She just didn’t know how to Vanish it.

Hermione sighed and settled down on the cushion she’d created. Resigned to a long night, she yanked open her schoolbag and pulled out a few books, making a mental note to find out how to create a Howler and send it to George as soon as she was released.

She was just glad she didn’t have an early class the next morning because as comfortable as her conjured cushion was, the stairs still wouldn’t be a good place to sleep and she’d barely even get time for a short nap one the spell wore off.

George should be counting his lucky stars because if she’d had an early class or, Merlin forbid, an exam the next morning, he’d be facing far worse than a Howler.

Literary Musings

A New Year: 2019

Another year has ended and a new year has begun. 2018 was full of excitement with fun programs at my library, new board games that I played with friends and family, and ended with my reaching my reading goal for the year just 72 hours before the end of the year. There were also issues of course. Anxiety and stress and worries, mostly over things that I can’t really control. I also didn’t reach as many of my writing related goals as I had hoped, barely keeping up with the maintenance of this blog and publishing fewer fanfiction updates than the previous five years.

So I’m hoping that 2019 will be even better. I’m getting married in May, after having been dating my fiance for a decade and being engaged for about half of those years. My future brother-in-law is also getting married this year so it’ll be a whirlwind of stressful planning but hopefully also super fun.

I also hope to continue checking off books on my TBR and catching up on some series that I’ve started but haven’t yet finished. I also hope to write and post more fanfiction and get one of my novels edited and maybe even start the process of self-publishing or finding an agent.

Another thing I’d like to keep at is using Instagram for book related posts. I just love seeing all sorts of posts about books and people who love reading and I enjoy posting those types of pictures as well. In December I completed an Instagram challenge, posting a picture answering certain prompts every day and I’d like to continue that as best as I can.

Overall, I have tons of goals for 2019 and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep up the momentum I had coming out of last year. I also hope for happiness and health for my friends and family.

Literary Musings

Bad Mood Reviews

I apologize because this post is more of a rant than anything else.

Yesterday I opened up my email and to my surprise I had a review of a fanfiction I wrote and posted online more than two years ago. And it’s not one that I left dangling and unfinished. No, it’s something that I had meticulously updated over the course of a few months, until said story was complete. So it was a little surprising that someone had just recently run across it and decided to leave a review.

Then I read the damn thing and was put into a funk for the rest of the of the day because it was not a good review.

Now I understand the importance of constructive criticism in regards to my writing, I do. And I welcome that. Definitely tell me if I have an established canon fact wrong or if my characterization of someone is off and doesn’t fit. Let me know if my spelling is wrong or my piece witches PoV with no warning.

But this review was not constructive. Honestly, it was a little bit all over the place and it didn’t make all that much sense.

Let me set the scene here.

A long, long time ago I was inspired to write a fanfiction which was a crossover between Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’d read a couple over the years and the two worlds work surprisingly well together, though you kind of have to mess with the timelines to make it work.

My idea was that, when Willow made it so that all of the Potentials became Slayers, one of the Slayers that was activated happened to be Hermione Granger. And I set it up so that Draco Malfoy was conveniently around Hermione when she was activated and he also conveniently knew about Slayers because he’d stumbled upon a Watcher’s Handbook in Malfoy Manor.

So began a twisted web of Slayer Hermione and Watcher Draco and how they felt like they had to hide when Buffy and the Scooby gang came to teach at Hogwarts.

Now, my negative reviewer took issue more than halfway through my story because they could tell I was leading up to a Hermione and Draco romance. And I get that. Hermione and Draco are not everyone’s cup of tea. But said reviewer seemed to suggest that I was shipping them because I thought Hermione had a kink for redeemed characters (while they said she wasn’t into redeemed characters, she was into “heroes”) and they said that didn’t make any sense or else she would have been into Snape or Sirius as well. This shocked me.

Yes, in my story I worked to redeem Draco. I made him sympathetic and helpful and a partner who saves Hermione’s life on multiple occasions. I put thought and time into developing their relationship and yet this reviewer suggested that I had no clue how sexual attraction works and that she would in no way be attracted to Malfoy, apparently not even with the character growth I wrote. Which is a little strange since I know so many other Hermione and Draco shippers and that it’s a big thing because of the whole good girl/bad boy trope that definitely happens in real life. I had many crushes on boys in high school that were just downright assholes and very rude to myself and my friends. Yes, I know it didn’t make sense and wasn’t a good thing but the attraction was definitely there.

They also said that Hermione and Draco is just as unlikely and unhealthy as a Hermione/Ron pairing. Which I kind of agree with, I don’t necessarily like Hermione with Ron either and think the relationship wouldn’t work all that well in the long run but clearly this reviewer didn’t even like the story as J.K. Rowling herself had written it. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they weren’t enjoying my take on things either.

But their questioning of Rowling’s pairings as well honestly makes me question a lot of things in regard to my mysterious bad reviewer. And I’m trying not to worry about it.

Rant over.

To Read or Not to Read?

Disappointing Christmas Reads

As I do every year, and as I think I’ve mentioned on this blog countless times, I like to partake in holiday themed and seasonal reading. So horror books in October and lovey dovey romances in February and what-not. That means I’ve been making my way through winter/Christmassy books for the last few weeks. And so far it has been particularly disappointing.

Let’s look a bit more closely at my December reads thus far.

  • Icefall by Matthew Kirby:
    • Not necessarily a holiday read but it was set in winter which is I way I chose it for my teen book club.
    • ┬áIt was a story of Vikings and storytelling and being trapped in a hidden fortress while surrounded by ice and mountains. And while the children of the Viking king are stuck they realized that there is also a traitor stuck in the fortress with them.
    • The story was somewhat interesting and well-written but it was kind of slow? There were short backstory entries that were supposed to show the main character’s past and her ability to tell stories and talk about the possible traitors but it just didn’t add much to the story and felt out of place.
    • Overall I liked it but I felt like there could have been much more to the book.
  • The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
    • I really, really liked Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which was a book lover’s homage to books so I was pretty excited to read this sequel. Until I started it and realized what was going on.
    • I understand that the holidays can be depressing for people, especially if there have been a lot of changes in the family and health scares in the family but I really don’t want my holiday reads to be books about depressed, selfish, annoying teenagers and that’s all this book was.
    • This was the type of book where we see inside the characters heads and so we know their thoughts but they don’t say them out loud and the miscommunication leads to upset and anger and fighting that could be avoided if they’d just said what was on their damn minds. So frustrating.
    • I’m glad it was just over 100 pages. If it had been longer I would have tossed it out the window.
  • The Trouble With Christmas by Debbie Mason
    • This was a book that was turned into a Hallmark movie and it read like it. A businesswomen gets called grinchy because of a business deal she doesn’t want to make and then has to go to the quaint little town to fix the problem.
    • Very unrealistic and silly and tons of adults not acting their ages.
    • So many tropes! And of course there was a ridiculous twist at the end!
  • Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale
    • Another Hallmark style book with a poor girl getting a job where she has to work for a rich man around the holidays and of course feelings start to develop.
    • It did end up being very cute and I liked how the rich guy was kind of clueless but he wasn’t all that bad. I see a lot of stories like this where the wealthy guy is actually an ass but he still ends up with the poor girl.

I have a few more Christmassy reads on my list and am hoping something gets better because these books have been pretty disappointing.