Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2017

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2017

1. Resistance, Rebellion, Life 50 Poems Now ed. Amit Majmudar

2. The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

3. Fledgling by Octavia Butler

4. Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

5. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
6. Victims and Neighbors by Frances Henry

7. Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

8. The Magician King and The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

9. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

10. Small Changes by Marge Piercy

11. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Reading Life

State of the Book-Buying Ban

My pre-NaNoWriMo  book-buying ban remains intact. I've bought no books for myself since late October, and plan to continue the ban at least through New Year's. As a result, I've been hitting my TBR shelf and the library...

State of the TBR shelf

I've made some progress since I took this picture in August 2016. Recently, I read and enjoyed Wizard of the Crow, and I finished the two Oz books not too long after this picture was taken. However, some of these books and others not pictured have remained unsullied on the shelf.

Just Finished

I finished Warp by Lev Grossman, which deserves its status as a little-known forerunner of The Magicians trilogy (to be clear, it's not a prequel, but I can see where its talents and influences bloomed into The Magicians).

I finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, a library audiobook, and now I see what the fuss is about. It's a clever mash-up of fantasy, contemporary, and romance set in a college environment. I especially loved how Rowell explored the world of fanfiction, and it read so real to me that I didn't realize she didn't grow up with fanfiction the way the protagonist, Cath, does, which makes it even more impressive.

I also DNF-ed The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym. The writing style was delicious, like a twentieth-century Jane Austen, but I didn't care for the characters and couldn't find anything redeeming in them or particularly interesting in their actions.

Currently Reading

Currently, I'm listening to another library audiobook, Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first in the Dresden Files series. So far, it's okay, although I'm not loving the narrator/protagonist Harry Dresden's "old-fashioned guy" persona (he goes on a rant about how opening doors for the 'fairer sex' can't possibly be wrong) in this day and age.

I'm also currently reading a translation of The Elder Edda, an ancient compilation of Nordic myths. So far, I'm enjoying it!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Top Ten Books I'd Like for Hanukkah

Hanukkah starts Tues. Dec. 12 this year, so I'm jumping ahead from this week's Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books I'd Like for Hanukkah

1. Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme Ed. Paige Daniels and Mary Fan

I found the first Brave New Girls book at Shore Leave con, where I met Mary Fan. I loved every. single. story. They were strong, adventurous scifi tales with female protagonists and next to zero romance. I hope the second anthology is just as strong!

2. Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

I need to finally finish this trilogy!

3. L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz

The Sweet Life in Paris makes me laugh so hard, and I've reread it so many times. I hope this is more of the same!

4. Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

I enjoy watching my husband play the Witcher game that's based on this novel, so I imagine I would enjoy it!

5. The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster (or anything by Jen Lancaster)

I've enjoyed three of Lancaster's memoirs (Bitter is the New Black, The Tao of Martha, Jeneration X), so I'm willing to give her novel a shot. I've had mixed luck with crossing genres with authors, for example, I love Alison Weir's histories, but her novels fall flat for me. Still, if Lancaster can make me laugh as much with a novel as with a memoir, I'll be sold.

6. The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

I've read some intriguing reviews and excerpts!

7.  Best American Poetry 2017

Does poetry quality increase in correspondence to political terribleness? Or do I just need it more?

8. The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

This seems like a cute fantasy novel meets heist movie, and I could use some escapism.

9.  Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska

I read and enjoyed an excerpt on Tor.com from this novel about mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, and it fits with a push I'm planning to read more Jewish fiction  in 2018.

10. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

It's been described as Pride and Prejudice meets dragons. Enough said.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017

This year, I hit not quite 29k. Better than last year, but no 50,000 word win.

I'm not feeling as disappointed as last year, however. As opposed to last year, I didn't restrict myself only to the novel, and so I've written a number of shorter pieces that I could edit and publish. Plus, I've learned that I need more research, and have a better idea of the details I need to finish. 

NaNoWriMo has been helpful in getting me to just write, and I realize that, even if 1, 667 words a day is unrealistic for my life right now, 500 or so daily words are achievable. 

I'm looking forward to writing more for the rest of this month and in 2018. The adventure continues. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

NaNoWriMo Update

It's Day 24 (secret Day 26), and I'm over 26k, already better than I did last year. However, I don't think I will hit the 50k goal.

This writing process has been messier and less productive, but it's taught me that I can write in a "pants" as well as "plan" style, although my hypothesis that planning works better for me remains supported.

After this month is over, I plan to see if my hypothesis that I needed more research for this project is accurate. I'm not sure how much I will need, but one month of research was clearly not enough. Three months? Perhaps.

I've found that updating my word count is extremely motivating for me. Competing for my personal best compels me. When the word counter ends on Nov. 30, I'll try tracking number of research hours, since hour-tracking is a new option on the WriMo dashboard.

As all the motivational messages sent to my inbox remind me, at the end of the month, I'll have more words written than I did on Nov. 1.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NaNoWriMo and Research Books Pic

Day 6 of NaNoWriMo (really, Day 8, for me), and I'm up to 11, 112 words. I'm writing in bits and pieces, and I don't know what's coming each day, so it's a much more nerve-wracking process than the first time around, but it's working so far.

Below is a picture of my research books, all nonfiction from my novel's time period, with the exception of The Book Thief, which I've meant to read for years, and now turned out to be the perfect moment. My favorite of the nonfiction so far is Victims and Neighbors, a study of the surviving Germans and Jews from one small town in Germany: the author's grandparents' hometown. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the subject.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

It's Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

(I tried to think mostly of characters who are/were not actually leaders...yet)

1. Jo March

2. Harriet the Spy

3. Hermione Granger

4. Felicity Merriman

5. Kestrel

6. Faramir

7. Eowyn

8. Lauren Olamina