Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weekly Reads and Writing #2

I had a fairly good reading and writing week this week! I managed to finish reading one book, and got through quite a bit of another. Though my writing wasn't as on track as last week, I did start something new, which I'm pumped about!

This week I finished reading Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout in only three days! I quite enjoyed it, despite it's major downfall *coughDaemoncough*. I have my review posted up right here, for your reading pleasure!

I've been making my way through The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murikami. Though I was hoping to finish it before the end of February, I did make great leeway just yesterday, and I'm excited to get through it.

I have soooo many books I want to read, so that is encouraging me to want to finish up this one.

So my writing this week consisted of writing a full outline for a novel! Unfortunately, it's not the fantasy novel I had planned on writing. Since reading Obsidian, and wanting to write a better alien novel, I started forming the ideas for it. I've been so inspired by alien shows. I watched this episode of Monster and Mysteries in America?? about real men in black, which helped inspire my alien story.

This upcoming week I plan on reading a lot more and starting my alien novel!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This book. I wanted to hate it. I should have hated it. But somehow, I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things I did indeed hate about this book, one of them being Daemon, the main character’s love interest. However, despite its several flaws and bad relationship, I enjoyed it. Something about it made me want to keep reading. It was an overall fun book, and each time I put it down I looked forward to picking it back up.

I’ll begin with the elements of this book that I did like. The writing, though simple, was very easy and quick to read. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was pleasant, nonetheless. The main character, Katy, was likable for the most part. She seemed fairly realistic, someone you could easily relate to and be friends with. There is a tiny bit of character growth, but she mostly remained unchanged.

Katy’s character did have her flaws, however. The most obvious one that is focused on throughout the book, is her overwhelming attraction to Daemon, her alien neighbor. I disliked Daemon so much. He is portrayed as a flawlessly attractive guy with perfect abs and piercing eyes. But there is nothing at all attractive or likable about Daemon. He is a straight up asshole. From his first encounter with Katy, he acts ignorant, arrogant and very mean to Katy. Throughout the book he flip-flops from this terrible jerk to a temporarily caring and kind guy. And Katy gets fooled time and time again. She knows what a jerk he is, and yet her intense sexual attraction for him is too overwhelming to ignore. What I don’t understand is how one can be so physically attracted to someone who is such an ass? It isn’t realistic or plausible. Regardless, their relationship is nothing short of being screwed up. Daemon verbally treats Katy like crap and is mentally abusive to her. He blames her for nearly getting potentially raped and killed. And not to spoil anything, but the end of chapter 26 really pissed me off and showed what a true asshole Daemon is.

Aside from Daemon being a terrible person, Obsidian was a somewhat predictable book. It continuously reminded me of Twilight, in more than one aspect. Dee was a pretty nice character, even though she was clearly just a pawn to the main focus of the book- Daemon and Katy’s relationship.

The alien thing was equally disappointing and enjoyable. I wouldn’t call what Daemon and Dee are aliens, as they were far from any definition of the term I can think of. Instead, they were a completely other type of being that I thought was unique and refreshing.

Although the relationship in this book was awful, and its resemblance to Twilight off-putting, I did enjoy reading Obsidian. The well-written main character made it easy to read and enjoy, despite its many downfalls. I likely won’t pick up the next book in the series, as the ending hints toward it being all about Katy and Daemon’s relationship. I’m not sure what all the hype is about for this series, unfortunately.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weekly Reads and Writing! #1

Hello there! So I decided to add a new segment to this blog, a weekly update on what I'm reading and writing! I'll make a post once a week, probably around the end of each week, to share with you what's going on in my writing and reading world! This post kicks off my first Weekly Reads and Writing!

I am currently reading two books, one of which I started today. I am about 15% of the way through with both of them, according to Goodreads.

The first book is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, which I started this past week. It's a pretty large book, and I've been reading it rather slowly. Like the other book I've read by Murakami, it holds the same dreamlike air and attention to seemingly mundane things. I really love that about his writing. It's very real, as if you're not reading, but rather, following around a friend and observing their life. I'm really enjoying it, though I do need to pick it up more often. I typically save reading it until night time, but by them I'm too tired to stay up. Whoops.

Then this morning I started reading Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, on my Kindle. I've heard loads about this book, and was really interested in the alien aspect of it. So far, there is nothing about aliens. Only a ripped douchbag guy that the main character has the hots for, despite her knowing what an ass he it. I can already assume there is going to be a freaking relationship happening between them. So far, I'm not amazed at all with this book, but it is decent, and I'm willing to keep giving it a shot.

This past week I've been working a lot on worldbuilding for a story/stories I plan to write. I have several ideas for novels, so I'm not sure yet which one I'm going to start. However, I do need to do lots of worldbuilding before I can even think about writing one of them.

Previously, I had written out a short, incomplete history, and a bunch of towns, places and a few people. So I had some basis for a country and what I imagined it to look like. It is actually based off of a country I created back in middle school. But now I need to work out the nitty gritty, the details that make the place whole and realistic. 

I plowed through this week with writing and finally have written a completed history for my country! Though it's not completely detailed, and I'll have to edit it later, I'm very relieved to have it done. Over everything, creating a history for your land is the hardest and least fun, in my opinion. It ended up being just shy of 3,000 words, or 6 pages, including a timeline. I am currently working on writing out the main races, secondary races, and then the common creatures found in the land. That's at least a bit more fun! After that, I'll focus on the landmarks, cities and towns, which I find to be a lot of fun and really open creatively.

I'm pretty excited to keep writing and to see how the books I'm reading turn out! Hope you enjoyed my first Weekly Reads and Writing!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Despite the emphasis and importance of words that this book brings, I am at a lack for them right now, as I write this review. A page of notes hovers before me, and the book itself, still warm from my intent gaze, sits beside me. Still I can’t find the correct words to start this review. For me, such a book deserves more than this review can offer. Nonetheless, I want to share my opinion, so I suppose I should start by saying that The Book Thief was a nearly flawless story, one I can only wish I had picked up sooner.

Following a young girl named Liesel during Nazi Germany, this is a book about life, as told by Death. Instantly, this unique narrative captured me. I found the straight forward speech of the narrator fitting for such a story. It gave the writing a slightly broken feeling, which is very similar to the way people’s thoughts flow. With the use of colors, the beginning is able to convey such vivid descriptions in very few words. The writing never loses its potency as the story goes on. It is simply gorgeous, easily invoking an accurate mood and setting. Perfectly crafted metaphors add to this as well. The dialogue, though minimal, was also very potent and important.

Despite the starkness of the narration, despite the blatant foreshadowing told in flashes forward and back, it never takes away from the emotion and shock of what happens. The plot continues on at a constant speed. Even though we are interrupted many times along the way, the book reads quite quickly, while still giving the reader enough time to absorb everything.

The lovely and terrible snippets of Liesel’s childhood were woven together to portray a beautiful story of what is was like for her growing up during Nazi Germany. During this time, she forms strong relationships with several important people, who help sculpt her life. All of the characters were really pleasant to read about, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. One of them is her Papa, Hans Hubermann, who is a smart and gentle man that teaches Liesel how to read. He shows his strength throughout the story by constantly questioning the society he exists in, and taking risks to help others. The biggest risk he takes is by helping a young Jewish man named Max. While staying in the Hubermann’s house, Max and Liesel become close friends due to a common interest in reading and writing. Though Max has been through lots of hardship, an innocence and wisdom remains in him, which is shown through his illustrated stories. Along with her personal growth throughout the book, Liesel’s best friend Rudy also grows. During such a time, he is forced to grow up quickly, going from a carefree and wild boy to a caring and watchful young man. The growth of each character was subtle, shown through small, and large, acts throughout the story. Their choices and actions shaped who they became.

There is another relationship Liesel forms which is one of the most important aspects of the book- her relationship with books. From the start, Liesel’s interest in books gives the novel a warm, cozy feeling, which progresses as she learns how to read and steals more books. It inspires me to want to read more, to push the boundaries with writing, and to learn as much as possible. I also found Liesel’s feelings toward books and words very relatable, a sort of love hate relationship with them that I’m sure every reader has felt.

Though slightly dark at times, The Book Thief was a beautifully written book. The addition of Max’s illustrated stories gave the book a needed childlike quality, among its somber plot. With its unpredictable and emotional ending, this book will leave you yearning to keep reading it for much longer than it lasts. I loved everything about this novel, and will undoubtedly pick it up time and time again.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This book delivered exactly what I expected it to. It is a rather simple story featuring a group of schoolboys whose plane crashes on a deserted island. There, they must survive, first against the struggles of being on the island, and soon against each other. Holding an atmosphere of thick, dripping heat, and untamed jungle, I could easily feel the setting in which the story takes place.

Though this story is caked in symbolism and themes, there is one that stands out above the rest. The decline of the sanity and sensibleness of the characters, as they’re overwhelmed with freedom and lack of order. As children, it is easier for them to revert back to primitive ways, which is shown increasingly throughout the book. The character Piggy, who is a symbol of wisdom and common sense, is just about the only thing allowing some sense of law within the group.

The decline of the group’s order was beautifully shown as this short but potent novel progressed. Just as well, the immense imagery made the setting of the island seem very real. The characters portrayed a variety of mental states, all of which are greatly effected throughout this novel. Though a story simple enough to be read by nearly anyone, its dark undertones and shocking themes made it a hearty and complex read.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Reading, Writing, and Blogging Goals for 2015

Hello there! 
Long time no blog! I feel horrendously sorry for my lack of activity on this blog, but I'm here to announce a change! The post is going to both explain my absence, and discuss what my 2015 reading, writing, and blogging goals are.

To begin, I'd like to explain my lack of posts. Basically, I've been going through a really bad reading slump that started during the summer, due to depression and life stuff. At first, I was able to get through several books, but over time I stopped being able to finish them, and soon couldn't even start new ones. It's been very rough, and I talk more about it in this video:
However! I am actively trying to overcome this slump! In fact, yesterday I started reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It is quite a small book, so I figured it's a good beginner to start getting back into the reading swing of things. I'm on page 86 as of this afternoon, but I plan on reading some more later.
So that's that! Now to discuss this year's goals!

Reading Goals:  Unfortunately, I did not reach my 2014 Goodreads goal of reading 50 books last year. However, I am not at all disappointed, as I did end up reading like 30! I knew when the slump hit, that I wouldn't reach my goal, but I was still very happy with the fact that having such a goal pushed me to read more than I would have otherwise. 

This year, I'm making my goal 40 books. Not sure if I'll accomplish that, depending how my reading (and life) goes, but it's a goal nonetheless. This year I want to truly enjoy reading. I'm not going to review every single book I read, because honestly, sometimes that takes the fun out of reading it.

I'm also going to try to read more of the books I already own, instead of buying new ones. Perhaps I'll do that Read 5 Buy 1 challenge thingy that I've seen some people do. That way, it's almost like a reward for reading! And plus I have like $40 of Barnes and Noble giftcards from Christmas and my birthday, hehe!

Writing Goals:  First of all, I want this blog to not only be a place to talk about reading, but also writing. I write all types of stuff, fiction, poetry (occasionally), non-fiction prose, etc. One of my goals in life is to become a published author. So I want to be able to talk about my writing and how it's going, and be able to communicate with other writers through this blog! Along with my reading slump, I also have been having trouble writing, so my writing goal is simply to write more! It doesn't matter what, just write! I have a notebook for writing little pointless pieces, and I also want to finish more stories. I have so many novel ideas floating around, and eventually this year, I want to get up the guts to actually write one.

Blogging Goals:  Of course, I want to be more present on this blog, as well as my art/lifestyle blog. I don't want this blog to solely be book reviews, which it started becoming. I want to just talk about books and writing on here. I want to join in on book related discussions. I also am going to talk about zines, which I have a whole post about. My overall goal for this blog is for it to be a fun place to discuss books, while remaining (somewhat) professional, with reviews and such. I want it to grow grow grow. I'm going to also become more a part of the book blogging community on here, and on Goodreads.

That's about all I have to say! Now, let me get back to reading. ^w^