Travel Reads: Book Suggestions and the Overdrive App

Hey, everyone!

This is a bit of a last minute post, but honestly, everything that has happened in the past couple of days has turned every decision into a last minute one. With the snow storms, the spontaneous work projects, and the sudden request to pick my brother up from the airport (welcome back broheem!), my schedule essentially fell apart.

And, to top it all off, my very own travel plans have gone unaddressed until the very last minute. I stayed up last night trying to figure out what to pack for my morning flight and was busy grabbing books to bring to my mom (some choices are the Lightbringer trilogy by Brent Weeks and the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray), when I realized: I hadn’t packed any books for myself!

What time is more fortuitous to a reader than the (hopefully) quiet hours spent as a passenger on a plane? What more of an excuse do you need to sit and devour your favorite book?

I didn’t have any time to go to a book store, I couldn’t make it to the library in the morning, and my bookshelves are surprisingly void of new material. I don’t have anything wrong with rereading a book (in fact, I’m considering grabbing a Harry Potter book for nostalgia’s sake), but the opportunity to spend an afternoon reading without a new story was quite tormenting.

And, so!

I present to you my foolproof, last minute method of actually getting a new story to your fingertips! I do not have an eReader, but I do have an iPad! I downloaded the Overdrive app and connected that to my library’s eBook and audiobook selection. All you need is your library card number and possibly a PIN number (just give your library a call if this is the case… usually it’s as simple as your phone number). Voila! It’s like having an eReader without having to actually buy a whole new device and subscription! You do “check-out” books, and they have to be returned after a set amount of days. However, you are free to read without internet access once you have the book downloaded. This is so perfect for traveling and is so efficient. I love that libraries are doing this and have offered this to the public!

So, with the method chosen, I still have yet to choose a book. I have a couple of ideas bouncing around, however. Generally, when I travel I like something gripping and fun, because there can be numerous distractions around you onboard a flight (crying babies and drunk people… woot…). In this same vein of thinking, I was thinking about checking out one of these books:

  1. You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
  2. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

What do you think? Do you have favorite books you bring with you while you travel? Do you always read certain types of books to keep you happy in the stress getting through an airport? Have eReaders served you well on flights/car rides?

Can’t wait to hear what you think!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Reading Challenge 2016

Year-Long Reading Challenge

Hey all! This is a short post, but I just wanted to make sure to begin the month with a Year Long Reading Challenge to go along with our monthly challenges!

It may seem daunting, but I actually managed to reach my goal this year- so, naturally, I want to challenge us further! I aimed for 25 new books last year and made it in JUST the nick of time (12/30 I finished The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson and capped off the sweet, sweet challenge). It’s not about pages read or following trends, in my opinion (“Read just Young Adult novels! Whee!”… no thank you). To me, setting a reading challenge is supposed to keep your brain active and open-minded. When I am constantly filling my time with books, I find myself happier, more productive, and more creative.

So, why don’t we give this a shot!

I figured I would raise my number to 30 books this year. I’m not going to set any limits on how big a book should be or if audiobooks count or not (they totally do, by the way). As long as I get through a story by a published author, I will count it. You can all participate with me, too!

I’ll be posting my progress and to-be-read books on Goodreads. I’ll write posts once I’ve reached the completion of a novel, give honest reviews, and chat up whoever feels like joining/ whoever has read what’s on my shelf. Goodreads is such a convenient website/app, you can go ahead and download it for your phone/tablet/whatever and send me a friend request.

Click the link below if you want to join me, and let me know how many books you plan on reading this year! It’ll be easier with a good support system, especially when you’re reading a book you particularly don’t like or need help finding something to start next. And don’t limit yourself! Choose different genres you never would’ve chosen, authors you’ve never heard of, and mediums you’ve never tried. Audiobooks, graphic novels, anthologies, all of them are your friend in any reading challenge.

My Goodreads Profile

Until next time, friends!

Live,

Morgan Paige

A Collection of Thought Bubbles: Audiobooks

A Collection of Thought Bubbles: Audiobooks

 

In honor of this month’s book review, this thought bubble is a little more of a discussion I’d like to have with you.

I’ve never been an audiobook lover. I hated listening to them in the car as a kid; it just never felt like actual “reading,” which, for me at that age, meant it was a COMPLETE waste of time. I was a purist, plain and simple. Books should be read to you as a child and only as a child, and you can’t count audiobooks as books that you’ve “read.”

To this day, I am confronted with the fact that my mindset is totally at odds with the rest of the world. The audiobook phenomenon has become a booming industry and people are clamoring at book stores to order newly released copies. Audible, the audiobook download service you can get for your phone/tablet/computer, is becoming a staple amongst all generations- most of my friends from college have audible downloaded on their phones as well as their parents.

Audiobooks always felt like cheating to me. You can’t go and watch a movie and say you’ve “read” that book it was based on or read its screenplay, so why does an audiobook count?

I’ve come to realize that this is still a hot button issue within the literary crowds. I’ve seen numerous online discussions about how “audible has me reading 30 books a year instead of 3” followed by the quick retorts, of, “that’s not reading!” It’s not literally reading, that’s true, but because of audiobooks, people are becoming more and more interested in stories/novels in general. It perpetuates movie production, novel production, and author successes. It may not be traditional, but should audiobooks be given the credit they deserve in their contributions towards the reading community?

And, in such a growing industry, there are very few standards in what rates a “good” audiobook and a “poor” one. I realized just this year that a lot of what had turned me off towards audiobooks when I was younger was the boredom that the voice actors instilled in me. I could fall asleep to the sound of their droning… they absolutely killed the excitement of the story for me.

What’s even worse is that when a book is read out loud, you can pinpoint all of the problems in sentence structure, character voice, and the author’s inability to actually tell a story (I know, I’m probably the only one here who strangely pays attention to these things). I mean, the audiobooks ruined the magic of the story for me in such a complete way that I hated and blamed them. It was a mixture of voice actor and author inconsistency that really turned me off to audiobooks.

I realized all of this when I stumbled across the best audiobook I had ever listened to (irony is the best, isn’t it…). It was of course a magical mix of masterful storytelling and skilled voice acting- Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling’s story The Cuckoo’s Calling was the audiobook that gave me hope in the future of audiobooks. It was so beautifully written and orated that I had a hard time keeping my head out of the clouds as I listened to it. I’ve listened to Harry Potter on audiobook and even then I wasn’t as enchanted as I was with this mystery novel. I’ve listened to Gillian Flynn, Lev Grossman, Dan Brown, Haruki Murakami, etc… and everything pales in comparison to Rowling’s and Robert Glenister’s expertise. Glenister has a perfect approach to voice acting for a mystery novel… not too contrived, not too peppy, he brings the entire series to life.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other well produced audiobooks. I’ve seen the lists, forums, and references that other avid readers have suggested and I have yet to delve into them. I’ve seen exultations of praise for Stephen King’s 11-22-63, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files all over the place. Audiobooks vary based on voice actor(s), production quality, sound effects, etc., and can be produced multiple times. For example, Harry Potter was first produced with Stephen Fry as the voice actor and was redone with Jim Dale.

The world of audiobooks is growing exponentially, and I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to grow my own story repertoire. Whether it actually does mean that I’ve “read” the book instead of listened to it doesn’t mean much to me as I have already put a lot of time into physical books, and I feel like I learn a lot when I listen to the composition of a sentence or paragraph. I do not seem to get the same enjoyment out of audiobooks, however, unless there is a perfect trifecta of author/voice actor/production goodness. Am I being too picky? Most likely… but in a growing industry, I think it’s okay to keep your eyes open for improvements.

I’m curious how everyone else feels about audiobooks. Do you have a favorite that I didn’t mention or don’t know about? Or do you have an even more traditional viewpoint on the literary gap between novels and audiobooks?

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Book Review: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Book Review: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Stephen King is a master of suspense. The first book of his that I ever read, was The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. My best friend in middle school suggested it to me, which I immediately borrowed from the library, because I thought: it MUST be good if my friend, who knew me so well, referred it. I fell in love with writing, thanks to Stephen King, and developed a passion for psychological horror. His books were the first the made me cry, and the first that made me curious if I could be a writer.

The fact that Stephen King has continued this magic throughout the years and still writes powerful, thrilling novels is the kind of inspiration the general public needs. He loves what he does, and it shows in his stories. I love being able to pick up a book of his and just feeling his creative voice in the pages.

I was lucMrmercedesky enough to be gifted Finders Keepers for my birthday, and have absolutely devoured it. The book is the second in a series called Bill Hodges Trilogy, but one of the great things about this book is that you don’t have to have read the first book, Mr. Mercedes, to understand what is happening in this storyline.

Finders Keepers is about a man named Morris Bellamy and a boy named Pete Saubers.

In his youth, Bellamy came to adore a classic author named John Rothstein. In a fit of rage and personal affront, however, he ends up murdering the author and stealing a safe full of cash and personal notebooks. Within these notebooks are the last two stories that detail Bellamy’s beloved characters life. He is thrown into jail shortly before he can attempt to read these stories, however, and lives through his days in prison.

Saubers, a young boy from a struggling family, finds Bellamy’s stolen treasure one day, and tries to use the new-found wealth to do well by his family. He discovers the truth of Rothstein’s stories in the notebook, and realizes their worth, which eventually brings him down a path of hiding and hunting for safety.

King1-1
King is an absolute miracle worker when it comes to suspense- I don’t remember the last time I was involved in such a thrilling book that made me genuinely fearful and made me feel unsafe. The last half of the book really picked up for me, the first half was quite slow to build up. But it then made the closing much more anticipatory and really keeps the readers’ attention. It’s definitely a compelling story, and I am now eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series. I know this is somewhat at odds with the common opinion that King doesn’t know how to write endings, but this book ended incredibly. It even includes some tied up ends from Mr. Mercedes, for those of you who follow the series.

The next book, End of Watch, has not been released yet, but is currently on track for publication on June 7th 2016. I very much recommend thdownloadis book, 4/5 in terms of entertainment and style. I listened to the audiobook for this particular book, and absolutely recommend it. I’m very picky when it comes to audiobooks, and the voiceactor, Will Patton, is spot on. There were even a few parallels between this book and
his son, Joe Hill’s, book NOS4A2 that I feel are a couple of fun easter eggs for the avid reader. It’s quite fitting that I’m reading that, too, isn’t it? The Rolls Royce Wraith gets a shout out and there a few other small reference that thrilled me when I heard them.

Have fun reading if you end up seeking this novel out, I definitely recommend it!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Book Review: Cormac McCarthy,another Challenge Completed!

Monthly Challenge: November

November is over and so is another Monthly Challenge!

About three weeks ago, I posted a challenge for myself and all of you readers to pick up a new book that included twisted versions/themes of this month’s most popular holiday: Thanksgiving! I decided to focus on the “food” aspect of Thanksgiving, and read two out of the three stories I had listed in the post.

I focused on books on cannibalism: The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl.

I wasn’t sure what I was really getting into with either of these books, I just knew that McCarthy was famous for his writing and Dahl was famous for his children’s books. After jumping into them, I think I finished these stories faster than anything else I had read in the past six months. I devoured The Road in two days… I seriously couldn’t put it down, and it stunted my200px-The-road NaNoWriMo goal during those days. I absolutely love McCarthy’s style of writing. The book is about a dystopian world in which the audience is left to speculate how the world and society was destroyed, while they watch a young boy and his father travel across a desolated, empty United States. The sheer descriptions of the environments weren’t too heavy-handed and the strange punctuation (no quotation marks… would be off-putting if there weren’t literally five speaking characters in the whole book) really lent substance to the story. It gave a juicy, real feel to the story that otherwise could have come off as boring or contrived. I was so happy to come across this book- McCarthy quickly became a favorite author of mine, and I’m lucky to have Blood Meridian sitting on my bookshelf to pick up next. And just as a side note, there wasn’t really cannibalism in this story. It was mentioned, I think cannibalism and dystopias go hand-in-hand, but there wasn’t anything gruesome.

Lamb to the Slaughter was also a delight to read, because Dahl turned such a short, simple story into something tense and suspenseful. He wrote 44513from a first person POV of a pregnant woman who receives life-changing news from her husband. She beats the man in the head with a frozen piece of lamb, and her cunning, psychopathic mind holds the audience from the first sentence to the chilling last. It really was an incredible read- I had rented this book from my library as it was included in an anthology, and this short story led me to read more of Dahl’s more adult stories. I would absolutely recommend this anthology to any other adult readers out there who enjoy chilling fiction.

I hope you all enjoyed this month’s challenge- did any of you read something similar or anything special this past month? I am really happy to have stumbled upon an author that I absolutely adored. When was the last time something like that happened to you?

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

November Challenge: Eat to Your Heart’s Content

Hey, everybody!

With NaNoWriMo trucking along swimmingly, I’ve found it a little tough to post as often as I’d like. I have a few Dare to Pairs in the planning, because, come on, NaNoWriMo definitely calls for some alcohol and indulgence, and I also came up with a fun November Challenge! This obviously extends to the rest of you if you’re interested, or, at least, not of the faint of heart…

Clearly, the most popular and beloved holiday in November is Thanksgiving. Usually (unless you’re in New Hampshire like I am and it’s still 70 degrees out), it’s chilly and feels like fall outside. The leaves are changing and wood stoves make the air smell like home no matter where you are. It’s a wonderful, happy time full of good food, family, and friends, and I thought: why not put all these themes together?

Food and family/friends… a somewhat distorted take on consumerism and sustenance… and relationships…

By now, you should all realize I’m a glutton for horror and thriller stories. So I wanted to challenge myself and yourself, of course, to try to find books that can take the traditional themes of Thanksgiving and make it, well, horrifying. This months goal isn’t to analyze thanksgiving/traditions, I just find the human relationship with food to be quite fascinating as well as the difference between what kind of food is considered socially acceptable to eat and what isn’t (based on your culture, beliefs, religion, etc.). That’s why, I think it would be terrifyingly fitting to read the following books:

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

These are all books that are psychologically stimulating and have the running theme of cannibalism. I have seen the movie The Silence of the Lambs, and I just bought my brother The Road, but I think it’s about time I caught up to society and educated myself on these acclaimed novels. It’ll be a nice twist to the otherwise light-hearted holiday, and maybe you’ll find yourself as entertained as I know I will be.

I’m especially excited to read Lamb to the Slaughter, specifically because it was written by acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl. I feel like some authors can tackle multiple genres so beautifully, kind of like the author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. She got her start writing for the TV show Little Bear on Nick Jr., and I honestly would suggest her series as well for this Thanksgiving themed monthly challenge. It’s dark and entertaining, and paints a heartbreaking picture of how society has a very twisted relationship with food.

Let me know what you all think, maybe you have some suggestions that I may not have thought of? I am open to any genre, I love learning about different suggestions/themes. Or are you reading something totally different this month? I’d love to hear!

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Participating in NaNoWriMo: Advice and Techniques.

Does anyone else feel like torturing themselves? Why not NaNoWriMo? 😀

NaNoWriMo is right around the corner… and this is the second year I’ve committed to it (the first year I’ve actually signed up on the website, though!).NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is an event in which writers are tasked with the FUN goal of writing a whole novel (or 50,000 words) during the month of November. It’s a daunting task for anyone who isn’t Stephen King (who writes 2,000-3,000 words a day as it is), but has been successfully set up by its creators as a community with a VERY strong support system. I’ve received a fair amount of emails designed to bolster my confidence and build a strong foundation of literary and communal expectations, which is honestly one of reasons why I think this event has gotten to popular.

A good amount of authors who have finished NaNoWriMo have actually gone ahead and published their feverishly written stories. Goodreads has a list of these stories, some of the more famous being Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. I don’t think NaNoWriMo should be tackled from an author who expects to be published, though. I feel like the sheer goal of writing 50,000 words in one month should be the focus, after the commitment to the story itself. That is what’s important here: the story you’re trying to get out. And so, in all my preparation and my small amount of experience, I’ve found and received some advice that I’d thought I’d share with you all in case you are also considering taking part this year.

  1. Plan it out! You don’t want to write the first chapter and then sit there wondering why you have writer’s block… A general outline of the story/ what the characters can expect/ themes to be discussed would be a good foundation to build (and this is honestly where I failed last time I tried to write a story in November- so much writers block!).
  2. Draw a map. No matter what genre you’re writing, a map would be a fantastic visual starting point for your story. It gives you a general sense of where you’re taking your characters and how involved you will need to get in describing your scenery. Whether your detective character suddenly has to visit a farm outside of his usual city abode or your main character gets kicked out of his house and has to wander the street for a night, the map will help your own brain prepare for whatever kind of senses your characters will be experiencing.
  3. Write an unused scene. This is actually one of my favorite pieces of advice. If you’re writing a new story with a new character (and you should be), you don’t really know how your character is going to react in certain situations or how they are going to deal with the obstacles you throw them. Take your main character and put him/her in a situation that will help add substance to his/her back story. This way, not only do you know what to expect in your story-writing, you will also have a solid foundation on how your character will act.
  4. Keep writing. Up until November 1st, make sure you keep your mind sharp. Whether you’re writing short poems or responding to writing prompts, just keep those creative juices flowing. You won’t burn out, I promise you. If anything, you’ll be warmed up and ready to jump into those crazy days in the month ahead!
  5. Don’t fret over word count. Sure, the word count is the thing that makes NaNoWriMo what it is. But if you fall 500 words short one day or miss a day completely, don’t give up. Every day is different and you’ll find that some days you will overdo your goal and some days will be a total bust. If word count is what’s so important to you, work on something else. You’ll still get the number, and you might even find inspiration where you never expected it.
  6. Keep reading! If there’s anything that keeps my creativity in the right frame of mind, it’s other stories. I don’t have to even read something that’s in my genre, just as long as it’s captivating (I’ve been on a horror kick, lately, and my story definitely isn’t scary).

I hope these thoughts are helpful, I will be posting more throughout the next couple of weeks to keep in touch and chat with you all about NaNoWriMo progress. Is it anyone else’s first time? Or are most of you seasoned veterans and find this pieces of advice to be laughable? I’d love to hear more ideas and perspectives!

Classics for a Green Reader

Classics for a Green Reader

I’m pretty sure most of you know this feeling; you’re a reader, a minority in a television-watching, video-game playing world. Most of the adults in your life have found you sitting in the same place for hours on end and tell you to “make sure you do something productive today.” You’ve been looked at strangely for your peculiar vocabulary, have lost track of time and missed meals because of gripping cliffhangers, and been one of the first in line at a book store on a premier day instead of at a social gathering.

tumblr_m5iqvyRwSd1qm6oc3o1_250

You see, this feeling is balanced (in my opinion) by the few times your reading actually catches someone’s attention for the right reasons. They ask you why you like that author, that book, that genre, because they happen to catch you reading in passing. You can share your knowledge and your passion with someone who understands, and in turn maybe learn something about a book you’d never think to pick up.

I actually had been given this exact opportunity just recently, which is the reason why I thought I’d reach out to you all. I was asked by my out-doorsy, music-loving, anti-reader of a brother to suggest some American Classics for his trip abroad. How fantastic, I thought, he wants to bring with him a literary piece of our country while he’s away from home.

Following that gleam of insight, however, came a well of thoughts and emotions that was hard to grasp in a single moment. Firstly, I was filled with bubbly excitement (he’s been making fun of me for YEARS for choosing to spend my free time with my nose in a book. FINALLY he understands!) mixed with unsurmountable terror (American Classics… for someone who hates reading…).

I’ve honestly put this project off for about a week, because the sheer scope of literature that spans American history is enormous, but the amount that my little brother would actually enjoy? Gulp.

So he gave me some parameters: it had to be a classic, and it couldn’t be someone who wrote like Henry David Thoreau (my brother equated Walden to one giant run-on sentence, and I don’t really blame him). At least he told me which genre he wanted and he sort of trusted me with my selections… but it didn’t stop me from spending the better part of a day at Barnes and Noble. Personally, I haven’t spent too much time reading American Classics. I did read a few in high school and I got a good crash course in my post-graduate classes, but that doesn’t make me an expert in the LEAST.

For those of you who have read a few classics, which authors do you think would be the most fitting in this sort of situation? Some of the most popular authors are:

  1. Mark Twain
  2. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Harper Lee
  4. D. Salinger
  5. John Steinbeck
  6. Ernest Hemingway
  7. Edgar Allen Poe
  8. Margaret Mitchell
  9. Walt Whitman
  10. Robert Frost

classics

To be honest, I knew I wanted to get him something gritty and edgy. I thought about some of his favorite TV shows (Band of Brothers, Trailer Park Boys), movies (Into the Wild, Pulp Fiction, Grandma’s Boy), and music (he loves The Band more than anything), and knew that if anything was going to catch his attention, it would be something just as humorous, natural, and intelligent as his own interests.

images 41YdviAtVFL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_ 7187YBRN5nL._SL1500_ slaughterhouse5

I decided on a bunch of books, and still can’t decide if I want to lend him more or not. He’s getting one of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut books, Slaughter-House Five, and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. I also ended up picking up a Charles Bukowski anthology and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Such a STRANGE mix I’m sure you’re thinking, but I think there’s a good mixture of entertainment and education, sensitivity and humor in these books. Each author is so different from the other, and so is each book. I’m hoping to send him off with a good mixture of styles and stories.

What do you think? Do these authors fail to live up to other classic novelists/poets or maybe do you think there’s one that would appeal to a newbie more? I’d love to hear any suggestions!

Until next time, wish me luck 🙂

Live,

Morgan Paige