Tagged: literature

Discussion: Your Reading Influences

Yes, it’s the second discussion in a row this week!  I had a brainwave the other night while thinking up a post and decided that this was actually the perfect topic for a bonus discussion.

A lot of people influenced my love of reading but the main credit would have to go to my parents, who read to me every day before I began going to school.  Even after I started going to school, my mother would still read me bedtime stories up until grade three.  By then I just enjoyed listening to her read rather than actually needing her to read to me.  Even though the school reading program and the teachers did their best to suck all of the joy of reading out of me, I persevered and became the avid reader I am today.

Most of you reading this blog are readers of varying degrees.  So what I want to know now is this: Who influenced your love of reading the most?  Was school a positive influence on your reading or a negative influence, as it was on mine?

Reader Request Week #1: Finding Time to Read and Review

Megan S. of Life’s Unfiltered Ramblings submitted this question for my first reader request week:

Hey Carrie, my question to you is how you are able to not only read and review as many books as you do, but how you obtain all your books and ebooks. Do you have a partnership with someone? Do you get free copies from the authors? Also, how do you find the time? Do you have another job that may get in the way?

I have a full-time job and find it hard to accomplish all that I want with my blog, and seeing yours so successful has had me reevaluate my time and break down everything to reach my goals. Thanks for the inspiration and support you’ve provided me in the past.

There are a lot of pretty good questions in here so I’ll do my best to address them all in two parts.

Part #1: Finding books.

Well, the answer is dependent on when you’re talking about in the history of my blog.  Prior to starting a book reviewing blog I actually had quite a fair collection of books, which made up something around 200 of my first reviews.  But what happened when those were exhausted?  Well obviously I continued buying books but I also tapped other sources for books: authors and publishers.

Authors and publishers are a great source of free books and all you have to do in return is provide an honest review.  When I had my review requests open I got several free books this way, but after I closed my requests I joined NetGalley.  NetGalley is an online book catalog that’s perfect for bloggers like me to have a somewhat sustainable book habit because all you do for a free book is give it an honest review (if you’re approved).  I also request specific titles from authors and publishers (mainly authors) through email.  To someone not in the book blogging community you’d be surprised at how willing people are to give things away for free at the promise of an honest review.

Basically most of my books now come from either NetGalley or publishers/authors that I request books from personally.

Part #2: Finding Time.

(Just so we’re clear: I don’t work full time in the winter because our little tourist town decreases in population by at least 50%.  Working in a lumber yard/hardware store/building company does have its downsides.  But since we’re talking about blogging while holding a full time job I’ll talk about how I manage things for the other half of the year.)

The question I encounter frequently on the blogosphere is how do bloggers find time to blog?  Well, the answer is simple: The 168 Principle.

The 168 Principle was taught to me by a very wise man and it basically goes like this: there are 168 hours in a week.  Ideally you spend about 56 of those sleeping, leaving you with 112 hours.  In the peak season I work about 48 hours a week (6 days a week, 8 hours a day).  That’s a fair bit but that still leaves me with 64 hours to do whatever I want.  You can get a lot done in 64 hours a week, believe me.

Not all of those spare 64 hours are devoted to reading or blogging but the main idea behind this principle is that if you want to find time for something, you can.  If you want to blog, blog.  If you want to read, read.  It’s all a matter of scheduling.  Almost everyone can find a spare hour every day to set aside for themselves if they really try.  For example, if you’re a writer there are plenty of writers that find they have no time to themselves during normal hours so they write late at night or get up extra early to write.  The same thing goes for bloggers.  If I know my week is going to be tight scheduling-wise, then I just stay up a little later and read.


If this post raises a new question or you have another topic you’d like to see me cover for the 2014 Reader Request Week, head on over to this post and comment!

My question for you guys is: How do you manage your time?  Are some times of the year busier for you than others?  If you’re a book blogger, where do you get the majority of your books from?

Discussion: Reading Dealbreakers

Pretty much everyone reading this here on my blog is an avid reader.  You guys love books, I love books.  I’ll personally read most anything.  But what happens when something is just so bad in a book you can’t stand it any longer?  Why, you put it down of course.  That’s not the point here, though.  The point is: what is that one thing that will always make you put down a book?

Personally it’s racism/sexism/homophobia, etc.  I’m not talking about when authors tackle these issues in their books—that’s something mainstream authors need to do more!  I’m talking about when an author’s views leak into their narrative and ruin the entire book.  If I’m reading a book and the author seems to want to write a manifesto about why white people are superior, LGBT people are evil and/or women are inferior rather than actually telling a story, I’m probably going to throw the book at the wall.  As much as I hate book vandalism, sometimes it’s justified.

There are actually a lot of things that make me want to put down a book, but it’s blatant discrimination on the author’s part that is the one thing that will make me put down a book immediately.  Sometimes books are ‘meh’ but I’ll keep reading because I’m curious to see if it gets better, but any preaching on the author’s part will make me close a book without a second thought.

But enough about me: what are your reading dealbreakers?  Why?  Do you have lots or just one?

The Day an Author Suggested I Kill Myself

I’ve been book reviewing for one year and seven months now.  Comparatively I haven’t been around for very long in the blogging world, but I have been around long enough.  What’s ‘long enough’?  Well, I’ve been blogging long enough to have trolls try to start flame wars and authors attack me for having an opinion and expressing said opinion.  I’ve learned to deal with it because, hey, most authors and commenters are awesome people.  I was also blessed with a thick skin as well as an iron-clad commenting policy that I’ve always followed.

Compared to the experiences of some book bloggers I’ve had it pretty good.  Some book reviewers have faced far worse than I have, others have faced far less.  For the most part I’ve put up with it and have not called out authors publicly because I didn’t think their behaviour constituted public humiliation.

Until now.

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Discussion: Villains

For me, a good villain is practically a necessity in most books.  I really do love great villains but I realize that not everyone’s definition of a ‘great villain’ is the same.  So here’s a brief explanation of mine:

Villains have to have believable backstories to explain why they’re so terrible.  It could be that they’re more morally ambiguous than most people and fought their way to the top, losing their morals all the way.  Or it could be that they thought the world had done an injustice to them and wanted to strike back.  But what I hate the most is villains that are evil for no reason other than they’re crazy or just want to watch the world burn.

Even with the best authors, villains are hard to pull off because it’s so easy to stray into the realm of cliché with them.  They should have doubts about what they’re doing but not too many doubts or they risk becoming a hero.  They should commit atrocities, but too many and it just looks like the author is aiming for senseless violence.

Some of my personal favourite villains (from all sorts of mediums) include: Baron Scarpia from Puccini’s Tosca, The Governor from The Walking Dead, Tbubui from Scroll of Saqqara, Niccoló Machiavelli from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel and Satan from Paradise Lost.

But what I want to know is: who are your favourite villains?  What makes a ‘good’ villain?  What villain clichés do you absolutely hate?

Look What Just Arrived! (#11)

Carrie Pictures 2013 008No, I did not just go on yet another book buying spree.  In fact, exactly half of these books were given to me by either publishers or authors.

  • The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy
  • The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan
  • Red Dragon White Dragon by Gary Dolman
  • The Devil Incarnate by Jill Braden
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough

The Color of Rain is an unusual book that I found through Grace’s blog, Books Without Any Pictures.  Her description of it intrigued me so much that I went ahead and ordered it from my bookstore, read it in a day and will be writing my review for it shortly.  For those of you that are curious, it’s the book that spurned me to write my ‘The Beauty of Fiction‘ article.

The Transhumanist Wager is something that I’m both excited for and reluctant about because while it’s something I might normally pick up on my own, I know it will be a controversial book to read and review here on my blog.  Red Dragon White Dragon was sent to me by Gary Dolman’s publisher ages ago (2-3 months!) and only got here a few days ago.  Hooray for Canada Post.

The Devil Incarnate was sent to me by Jill Braden’s publisher because they saw how much I loved The Devil’s Concubine (the first book) after I reviewed it through NetGalley.  This second book is not necessarily better than the first, but it is different and I love the cover art even more.

The Kite Runner was a book recommended to me by a fellow book lover in real life and when I saw it at the library’s “fill a bag of books for $1” I knew I had to get it.  It may be a while before I actually get around to reading it, but I’m definitely anxious to see what all of the hype is about.  And of course the last book I bought for myself was The Grass Crown, the second book in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series.  It’ll take me a while to read, being over a thousand pages, but it will be great in that since I’m so far ahead in my book challenge I’m going to skew my results by only counting books with larger page counts.  That, and Colleen McCullough is a great author.

So what are you guys reading lately?  See anything you like here?

The Beauty of Fiction

Beautiful Fiction

As I learned years ago, fiction is a beautiful thing for so many different reasons.  It can teach you about the real world, provide an escape and bring history to life.  Of course it can do so much more than that, but those are the main reasons why I love fiction.

Literature has been a driving force in pop culture for hundreds of years from Charles’ Dickens Oliver Twist to Harry Potter.  So many different books have left their marks on world history, but more importantly on the lives of many individuals.  When you find that one book that really changes your outlook on life it’s a hard feeling to put into words.

When you find that book that changes your life, it leaves you quite literally breathless when you finish it.  You close the book, maybe stare at it for a few seconds and then slowly release your breath as you’re sucked back into reality.  You get that odd feeling in your chest that’s a mixture of sadness, amazement and sheer awe. Continue reading