Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Book Jar

Inline images 1
Where are the little
slips of paper?
I've seen a lot of posts and pictures in the last year or so about Book Jars. Recently, I saw one on Book Riot and I've seen them around Pinterest. Book Riot and many of the pins on Pinterest refer to The Book Jar Page from Alex In Leeds.

I really like the idea of making a book jar. It's one I've started to consider.  I would not make one divided by genre, as part of the fun for me would be not knowing anything at all.  However, I don't know if I could stick to the slip of paper I pulled out. I've mentioned before that I can be a moody reader. If I didn't feel like reading that particular book, how many pulls would I give myself? Should I put a limit on myself? 

One Book Riot commenter mentioned the Goodreads feature of randomizing your "to-read" shelf (which isn't an option for the apps).  I thought that was a good idea; you just click on the to-read shelf and you have a book.  The problem I have is that I don't own everything on my "to-read" shelf, plus some of the books I have listed there are not even published yet, so going out to buy or borrow isn't an option. What do you do then?  Do you move down the list until you reach a book you own? Do you keep hitting refresh until a book you own pops up?  Plus, I also like the tactile sense of paper in a jar.  

If I make one, I wouldn't use it all the time. I'd likely only use it of I were in a slump or having a book hangover or for when I simply can't decide. I'd let myself have at least 2 (probably 3 or 4) pulls in case I wasn't feeling the first book. Having a hundred (or more...) unread books on your shelves can be pretty daunting. Maybe this would make my decisions easier. I wouldn't do it of it made it more difficult. Maybe I'll be putting another Book Jar post up here soon. Anyone out there have a book jar?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I Don't "Panic" About How Much I Have To Read - Though Sometimes I Get A Little Lost

I've noticed during my time blogging, but especially the last couples months (end of the year, beginning of new year), bloggers apologizing for "falling behind" with their tbr piles or panicking because they haven't read as much as they wanted or promised.  I understand this panic/worried feeling.  I've felt it too.  When did I start feeling it? Honestly, I don't think until after I started blogging. I felt the need to keep up with other bloggers.  I was setting goals and I had to stick to them. Last year was the second time I used the Goodreads reading goal gadget and I admit to feeling happy with myself as I watched the bar move to completion, then increasing my goal and then surpassing my increased goal. It can be very exciting.

In 2013, I had less time to read.  That's partly because of the job I had. There was no lunch room, so I ate at my desk, with plenty to distract me.  I would get work related phone calls, that couldn't be ignored like I could with an email or fax.  I suppose I could have chosen to ignore the phone calls, but I didn't think my employers would be happy about that.  So, there were many lunch breaks that I didn't read at all.

The other main reason is that I have small children that like to take all my attention.  There are no lazy afternoons spent with a book, there is play, go, eat, change clothes, brush hair, diaper, etc. ad infinitum. By the time I get to bed, I'm exhausted.  Reading before sleeping is one of my favourite things, but lately, I can only manage 15 mins before my eyes unfocus and I have to put the book down before I fall asleep with it in my hands.  Sometimes I can't even manage that and pass out before I even crack the book open.  Then I had my employment issues keeping me down (thankfully not any more).

Are these excuses?  Yes and no.  Does it really matter?  No.  I'd like to read more, but if my head and heart aren't it in, if I'm too exhausted, if real life does what it does and gets in the way, that's okay.  It's okay if I didn't read as much as last year.  It's okay if I missed two or ten books I meant to read.  It's okay to pick sleep over reading.  I can't panic or worry about that.  I love books, they are a huge part of my life. However, if they become something I "worry" about, if they cause me stress instead of relaxation, then I'm doing something wrong.  The books I read are my escape, not my responsibility.

I admit to getting lost.  I get the blues or I fall into a slump.  I read a string of depressing stories and I don't know how to pick a happy book.  It happens.  I don't know what to read next and suddenly I've started three or four books when I typically only read one (maybe two) at a time.  Do I let it stress me out? No. Because when it is time for me to pull out of the slump, I will.  I'll grab an old favourite or I'll just take a break.  More likely than not, it's real life affecting my reading life anyway. 

I guess what I want to say is that I don't have to read a certain number of books or write a certain number of posts or whatever, in a year.  If I don't, maybe you don't either.  Reading, blogging, etc. shouldn't be work (unless it actually is your job).  It should be fun.  Yay, fun!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

UR, by Stephen King

Stephen King's Ur was fantastic. It had a bit of a slow beginning, but after Wesley gets the Kindle, the story is amazing. I really enjoyed Wesley's journey over the 60+ pages of Ur. He goes throughout some highs and lows and emotional extremes. I also really enjoyed Robbie. He was more than what he appeared to be and those are often my favourite kind of characters.

King published this novella in 2009. It revolves around a Kindle, back when Kindles only came in white. Was that really only 5 years ago?  Kindles and ereaders in general have come such a long way. Plus, all the apps to read on phones and tablets... the cloud readers for desktop and laptop computers... Five years doesn't seem like a long time to me, but I guess it is when it comes to technology.

Wes and Robbie did the right thing, even though they were going against the Paradox Laws.  I thought the concept of Paradox Laws was really interesting, something I hope King explores in other stories.  I also thought the "people" who enforced the Paradox Laws were interesting.  The Tower, the King, it was all very exciting for me when I got to that part.  Anything that touches on The Dark Tower series seems to make me happy.  It was a great surprise.  Ur was created for e-reading.  A 60 page story wouldn't be published on paper, but it's great as an ebook.  Reading it on a Kindle might actually add to the creep factor, especially if you could get a pink skin or cover (do they have those?)

Ur is a great read for any Stephen King fan.  I think it would also be a good story to jump in with.  It's short(ish) and creepy.  It revolves around a relevant topic and has relatable characters.  King is one of my favourite authors and Ur was a great representation of his style and sensibilities.  I wonder what story of King's I'll read next.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sleepy Hollow

I'm slightly obsessed with the new television show, Sleepy Hollow.  I never intended to watch it.  I thought a time travelling Ichabod Crane sounded ridiculous.  I was wrong.  I was flicking though the channels when John Cho caught my eye.  You might know him from Harold and Kumar and Star Trek.  I stopped to see what he was doing.  The answer: Sleepy Hollow.  He is not the star of the show.  His character, however, is quite interesting.  The stars are Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane) and Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills); they are lovely.  It also starts Orlando Jones, who is simply fantastic in his role as Captain Frank Irving.

I've had to wait a month for a new episode.  Now I'm getting one tomorrow, but from what I hear, there are only three more episodes in the season, with the show ending this month.  Really?  Why isn't the show going until the spring?  These shows with short seasons drive me crazy.  One of the things I really like is the blend between "monster of the week" and an over-arching story for the season.  Every monsters gets us towards the final goal, but many of the episodes can stand alone.  Sleepy Hollow has good mystery, a cast that's not bad to look at and great stories.  I hope the next three episodes are as great as I expect them to be and next season comes along quickly.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Champion was an absolutely fantastic conclusion to Marie Lu's Legend series.  I couldn't put it down. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about reading it.  I had to finish it, so I wouldn't have to wonder about June and Day anymore.  I'm going to try to be vague about the details, but spoilers might ensue...  

The ending was fantastic.  I would never have guessed what Lu chose to happen with June and Day.  It was unique and I think it was special.  SPOILERS!!  I'm so glad we got to see them as adults.  I loved June's brief history of what happened after the final battle with the Colonies.  It was probably one of the best "Epilogues" I've ever read.  Though, I was sad when they didn't sail off into the proverbial sunset. Honestly, I almost cried, with Day lying there and June holding him. Spoilers contained.

I think I mentioned this when I read Prodigy, but I really enjoyed the two "versions" of future America.  The Colonies are very different from the Republic.  I'd be really interested in reading a story (novel, short story, whatever) from the perspective of someone living in the Colonies.  What do they think of the Republic? What are their daily lives like?  How do they struggle?  Would they rebel like the Patriots?  I would have loved to read a story about Kaede's life.  She was an amazing character.

I can't believe it's over.  I wish I could know more.  The world of Legend was rich and interesting and grew so much in Champion.  I loved Antarctica.  I would have loved to spend more time there.  The technology seemed fascinating.  The internet searching is something I can see one day happening.  The glasses and points systems were intriguing.  I'd also like to know more about Africa and Canada.  Though mentioned, they don't get visited like Antarctica.  I liked that June was able to see how the outside world views her little country.  She's raised thinking she is a part of a superpower, but it is not true.  I think the history lesson was important for her and us.

Legend is now one of my favourite series.  I enjoyed the world and the characters.  What they go through, the decisions they make and the situations that are thrust upon them are heartbreaking, dangerous and surprising.  Marie Lu might be a favourite author now.  I'm excited to see what she comes up with next.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Batman: The Killing Joke

I didn't mean to read Batman: The Killing Joke in one sitting, but I couldn't put it down.  It wasn't long anyway, just over 60 pages, which is quite short for a graphic novel.  This graphic novel is also different from others in the Superhero genre. Typically, the work starts out as comic books and then is collected into a volume. That isn't what happened here.  The Alan Moore and Brian Bolland came together and produced one work. The Killing Joke is one of the most popular Batman comics.  I was excited when I received it as a gift and I was excited when I started to read it.

I don't know what I expected.  Maybe I still had a book hangover from The Promise.  I found The Killing Joke dark.  It was brutal and violent and we can attribute most of that to The Joker.  I audibly gasped at one point.  It was a great story, reflecting the dark dichotomy of Batman and The Joker.  I had never read a Batman comic before The Killing Joke, though I'm a fan of superheroes.  If you only read one Batman comic in your whole life, this is the one to read.  I might be recommending The Killing Joke a lot in 2014.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise

I bought Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise as a gift to myself this year. I'm so glad that I did. The Promise was exactly what I wanted it to be. I loved Avatar when it was on TV and I'm really enjoying The Legend of Korra now. The Promise continues the story (with a bit of overlap) of Aang and his friends, as the journey to peace is not as simple as defeating the Fire Lord. The art is beautiful. The dialogue is fun, witty and entertaining, evoking the tone of the show. I can hear the voices of the characters as I read each page. 

I'm really glad I bought the library edition of The Promise, the authors have included thoughts and insights into the creation of this graphic novel. I enjoyed reading each one and it really comes across how much they loved the show and working on the graphic novel. I'm excited to read the next installment, The Search as the only thing missing from this exciting story was what happened to Zuko's mother. Any fan of the show would thoroughly enjoy The Promise and those who haven't watched the show would still enjoy a great story. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Gingerale and Orange Juice

Wow.... this post has been sitting in my draft folder for MONTHS!  I totally forgot about it.  I considered deleting it but decided against it. Why?  Because I love Gingerale and Orange Juice.  Mmm.... So refreshing...

A while ago, I read a post from Wandering the Stacks.  It was about the book, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I've never read and honestly never heard of until I popped by that blog.  The book itself sounds interesting, but that's not why we're here.

We are here because of Gingerale and Orange Juice. It was a drink mentioned in the book, so Stack Wanderer (don't know real name) decided to try it.  She had never drank that particular combination of beverages before.  It happens to be one of my favourites. I can't believe more people haven't had it. I don't like fruity drinks.  But Gingerale and Orange Juice isn't too sweet.  It's just right. I know many people have drank Champagne and Orange Juice, as I have also.  It's like a non-alcoholic version. Am I explaining it right?  All I really want to say is that if you haven't tried it yet, I think you should.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

He Giveth His Beloved Sleep

He Giveth His Beloved Sleep is a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She is better know for Sonnets from the Portuguese and specifically the poem, How Do I Love Thee?. Browning is a poet who seems focused on death and the end of her life. I found death running through some of the Sonnets and I find it here as well. The poem was interesting and engaging. I liked it and will likely re-read it (it is not very long). It was just a bit depressing for this time of year and I could use something for uplifting.  I really liked the edition I read. It was an ebook, but it seems like it was scanned from an edition published in 1880.  The illustrations were quite interesting.  It was published in the style of a storybook, with plenty of illustrations.  For anyone interested in Browning's work, I recommend reading He Giveth His Beloved Sleep in this type of edition.  The more I read from Browning, the more I want to read from her.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

A Note About My Winter Break

I was sick.  I AM sick.  Since about the 19th or 20th of December.  I thought I had a really bad cold and I tried to push through it.  That made all the Holiday dinners a little rough.  I went through the last couple weeks with a filter on between me and the world (I still have it on).  I'm exhausted from not sleeping properly.  It all makes me a little sad, because I didn't get to fully enjoy all the Holiday craziness like I normally do.  I did eventually go to the doctor.  I always take my children to the doctor when they're sick, but me...  I got some antibiotics and other things to make this go away.  But it's still here.  It'll probably be a week before I'm back.  

Not only was I unable to fully partake in the Holiday fun, but I also didn't read.  I didn't blog.  I didn't play any of the awesome games I now have in my house.  I barely moved.  There was me, the couch and a fuzzy blanket.  I can't believe I came to work today.  At least I'm not busy.  I miss the couch, though.  I'm not even sure what I'm typing here makes sense.  It's taking a lot of effort.  There's so much I want to do, but the urge to lay down and sleep is taking over.  The end of the work day can't some soon enough.

Did you get any time off?  How was it?