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So I posted my story so far…

Hey all,

I’ve talked before about the novel I’m writing about university students going through their first year and all the relationships and shenanigans they get into. I’m halfway through writing it and have posted the first 36 chapters on Wattpad. If you’re interested in taking a look, you can find it at https://www.wattpad.com/story/95813865-the-heights-year-one

I’d be eternally grateful for feedback and criticisms and hope you’ll enjoy it.

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Running Santas

I thought I was crazy for signing up to do a 5K in the summer but I’ve signed up for another one. This Saturday morning I’ll be running with a bunch of like-minded people, including my girlfriend and two of my best friends, who thought it would be fun to run while in a full Santa costume. The rules say you have to run whilst wearing the pants, belt, jacket, beard, and hat, or else you’re disqualified. The medals last year were shaped like Christmas trees, so festive!

My girlfriend and I have been trying to get in better shape now that we have a vacation in February to look forward to. We’ve been doing some running on treadmills so hopefully that’ll help!

 

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Reading Shouldn’t Feel Like Work

Reading should not feel like work. Unfortunately, the book I’m currently reading, feels exactly like work. It might be because it’s a translation, or its historical fiction which requires some previous knowledge, or it might be neither of these things. Either way, I’m not enjoying this book very much and I feel that this is stalling my blog posts.

I could force myself to get through it for a review but then I feel like it’s doing the book a disservice and I should come back to it when I’m in the mood. I think what I’m going to do in the meantime is read another book and slowly get through Look Who’s Back.

What would you do in this circumstance?

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TBR: How Do You Decide?

My most common complaint in regards to books is that I own so many books that I haven’t read yet. My TBR list keeps growing and then I forget about books that I was dying to read. Typically when I finish a book, I just grab one that catches my attention at the time. I’ve seen people who pull book names out of a hat or use other methods of randomly picking a book.

My question here is how do you decide what to read next? Let me know in the comments. I think I might try the random selection thing once I’m done Cress. I don’t own Winter and I’m on a book buying ban right now so I might not get it until it’s available at the library.

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The Ever-Growing TBR List

So….recently I had to put myself on a book-buying ban (before HP & The Cursed Child came out so I don’t own it yet) and it’s the absolute worst! My list of books I own but haven’t read yet keeps growing so I feel the need to make a dent in it before I buy more. There are tons of books I own and am really excited to read, a few that are just “meh”, and some series where I don’t want to start reading because they’re still being written and I don’t want to wait in real time.

How do you deal with a TBR list that is always growing? I feel like bookstagram recommendations keep coming and are probably what makes the ban even harder.

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The 8th Annual After Hours @ The Library: Dewey Divas Book Talk

I went to an event at my local library to learn about new and upcoming books. I went last year as well and besides Thrillers, I found last year’s books to be more interesting but I figured I’d still share some of the ones I thought were interesting. All information written here comes from the representatives who spoke (I believe they were both from Penguin Random House)

The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsey – September 2016

Autobiographical. The author was talked into leading a prison book club. This book follows 6 members of the book club as they transfer to other prisons and start new book clubs or even get released and continue to attend book clubs. You might think a biker, a gunman, two drug dealers, and a robber duo might all react the same way to the books they read but I’m told they don’t. Sounds like an interesting read if you like non-fiction or books about men in prison reading books.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman – June 2016

Fiction/Fantasy. This is to be the first of at least three books. It follows an undercover Librarian, a spy for a mysterious organization known as the Library, who travels through time and to different realities to recover important books with her assistant Kai. Their latest mission takes them to an alternative version of London to retrieve a particularly dangerous book. However, when they get there, it’s already been stolen. The speaker referred to this as a “book nerd’s book” and described it as “Shadow of the Wind” but lighter

The House of Wives by Simon Choa-Johnston – May 2016

Fiction. From my understanding, this novel is based on the ancestry of the author. It is about a man who wants to become an opium merchant in colonial Hong Kong. His father will not give him the funds to support this so he marries a one-legged woman for the large dowry. He then goes to Hong Kong where he becomes quite successful and builds a grand new home for him and his new wife and everything goes pretty well…until the first wife shows up on his doorstep. The story focuses on two very strong women competing for the affections of their husband.

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango – May 2016

Thriller. Henry Hayden is a bestselling author, a loving husband, and a generous friend. When his wife suddenly passes away, he has no idea what to do because secretly, she was actually the author behind all of his novels. His editor is pregnant with his child, and many of his other truths turn out to be lies. Henry goes about trying to tie up all his loose ends in the wrong ways. Lie after lie, his life begins to crumble around him. Henry Hayden is simply a constructed identity.

Under the Harrow by Flynn Barry – June 2016

Thriller. Nora is taking a train from London to visit her sister, Rachel. She’s expected to be waiting at the train station but upon arrival, does not find her there. When she walks into Rachel’s house, she finds a murder scene with her beloved Rachel as the victim. As Nora tries to solve her sister’s murder, she becomes unrecognizable  and learns new truths about her sister. She becomes obsessed and falls into danger.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Thriller. Jean has always kept quiet about the crimes her husband was suspected of committing while she pretended to be the perfect wife. Now with her husband dead, only Jean knows whether he was a loving husband or a heartless killer. People want to hear her thoughts on the man and it’s up to her what to tell them. She can tell them their marriage contained secrets. Every marriage does.

Not Working by Lisa Owens – May 2016

Fiction. Claire is a twenty-something who recently quit her job and has no idea what she wants to do. She begins looking for “the one”, her dream job. However, her search yields few results as she spends more time going with coffee for old friends than actually looking for a job.

We’re All In This Together by Amy Jones – June 2016

Fiction. The Parkers of Thunder Bay are like any other family, except one day they all seem to have crazy things happen to them. For example, Kate, the mom of the family, survives plummeting over a waterfall in a barrel and is now in a coma. In all the events that happen, the Parkers endure together. But when a video of the waterfall debacle goes viral, their lives are thrust into chaos.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – August 2015

Fiction. Sara, 28, from Sweden, and Amy, 65, from Broken Wheel, Iowa, have corresponded for years, exchanging books and letters. Sara eventually accepts Amy’s invitation for a visit and makes it to Broken Wheel…just as Amy’s funeral has ended. Instead of heading back to Sweden, Sara opens up shop and begins providing the readers of Broken Wheel with books from Amy’s collection. Her character is similar to the Book Apothecary from The Little Paris Bookshop

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – August 2016

Thriller. The central couple in this novel, Anne and Marco Conti, look like they have it all. They seem to have a great relationship, a wonderful home, and a beautiful baby, Cora. One night, their neighbour invites them over for a dinner party. The neighbour, however, detests children, and so asks that Anne and Marco leave Cora at home. Instead of getting a babysitter, they leave Cora with a baby monitor, insisting that they’ll regularly go check on her. As the party progresses and drinks are drunken, the couple may forget to check on Cora. When they return to their home, Cora is missing and the suspicion falls on Anne and Marco. Everything may not be as it seems.

I’m most excited for The Couple Next Door but as it’s not out yet, I picked up The Truth and Other Lies as well as The Widow to hopefully read on my vacation next week.

Have you read any of the books that have already been released? Which ones are you looking forward to?

 

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A Beginner’s Guide to Bookstagram

Maybe you’re new to Bookstagram, our little corner of instagram, and maybe not, but here’s my beginners guide. I can’t claim to be an expert at Bookstagramming, but I figured that I know enough to help others out. When I started my account, I would have appreciated having somewhere to look for guidance. This beginner’s guide will give you some tips and explain some tags.

Some tips:

When starting a bookstagram account, pick a name that you can stick with. It’ll get confusing to your followers if you switch names often. I changed my name once but I informed my followers and promised it would be a permanent name change.

Talk to others! Comment on posts, interact with your own followers. Follow other bookstagram accounts and start conversations. Join a monthly post challenge and talk to other participants. Make a goodreads account and talk to people about the books they’re reading. Tag people in bookstagram tags and when you get tagged, put up a post. There is so much you can do.

Quality over quantity! Make sure you’re posting pictures you actually like. Bookstagrammers are smart people and they’ll know when a picture was just thrown up to meet a quota. Personally, I feel that there is such a thing as posting too much or too often so I try to limit myself to 3 posts per day.

Participate in some Shoutouts-for-shoutouts. Give other accounts a shoutout and they might be inclined to do the same. Some users will post actual “S4S” posts in which you promote them and leave a comment and then they’ll promote some of those people. This is a great way to gain some followers.However, don’t be in it for the followers. The whole point is to share your love of reading with others, talk about books, discover new reads, etc…

Use some hashtags such as #bookstagram, #bibliophile #book #books #reading #lovereading #booklover …but don’t go overboard. Pick one or two per post.

Tags:

Most tags are pretty self-explanatory but I’ll include them here in case you want some ideas for posts.

  • Bookstagram Buy – A book or some books you bought because of Bookstagram
  • Bookish Rainbow – A collection of books stacked together to form a rainbow
  • Photogenic Books – Books that look great in pictures. You might also see this as Beautiful Covers or Beautiful Spines
  • Creepy Reads – Exactly what it sounds like. A creepy book or two
  • Bookish Letter – The person tagging you will give you a letter such as “C”. You post a picture of your books beginning with a “C” and then tag other people and give them a different letter
  • Became a Movie – A book or two that was adapted into a movie
  • Mapped Books – Books with maps in them. Fantasy novels are usually great for this
  • (Colour) Books – Like Bookish Rainbow except if it was “Red Books” your stack would just be your red books
  • Book and Music – This one is up for interpretation. I like to post a book with a record that might relate to it. You could also have the soundtrack to the film adaptation, maybe just an instrument and a book. The joy of bookstagram is that really there are no set rules. Mostly it’s all up to you
  • Books and Nature – Take your book into the great outdoors and snap a picture. This can be somewhere like a gorge or waterfall or simply the walking trail you frequent.
  • More Than One –  Do you have more than one copy of a book? Let’s see them!
  • Book in the Sky – This can be hard to do but the most common way I’ve seen it done is to throw your book in the air and snap a picture. Just make sure not to damage your book. They’re precious, you know?
  • Late Night Reads – Something you want to read late at night. Maybe it’s erotica, maybe it’s a horror or thriller. Either way, nobody’s judging.
  • Book and Necklace – A book and a necklace. Sometimes they match and sometimes not. I posted an illustrated Harry Potter book with a Deathly Hallows necklace (to give you an idea)
  • Must Read Book – What book struck a cord with you? What are you recommending to everybody? This is your must read book. Now share it with all of bookstagram!
  • Book and Bag – Like book and necklace, maybe you have a bookish tote bag. Put them together and you’ve got a post
  • One Word Title – Carrie. Eragon. Room. There are plenty of books with one word titles. Pick one or two and share them with the world
  • Books and Flowers – Like Books and Nature but more specific. Bonus points if the book has flowers on the cover
  • Book and Mug – Sometimes you’ll see “Book and Beverage” and you can use this for that too. Just a book and a mug. Though if you fill the mug with tea and find a good hashtag, you can read the tea people too.
  • Where I Read – What’s your favourite place to read? Show us
  • Just Started – Did you just crack the spine on a new book? Guess what, you can post with this tag
  • Longest Book Title – What book of yours has the longest title? I count anything hyphenated as two words but that’s up to you
  • Latest Book Purchase – What was the last thing you bought? Did you receive #bookmail or maybe it was your most recent #bookhaul. Either way, let the world see all the books you just added to your collection
  • Books with Faces – Books with faces on the covers, sometimes they’re attached to heads, sometimes not
  • Intimidating Book Tag – What book are you scared to read? It can be scary because of length, content, high hopes.
  • Unread Books – What books are sitting in your TBR (To Be Read) pile ?
  • Over The Ocean – If you’re in the eastern hemisphere, what books do you own by authors in the West? If you’re in the western hemisphere, what books do you own by authors in the East?

Remember, some people don’t like to be tagged in posts. If you notice people keep untagging themselves from you posts, it might be a good idea not to tag them anymore

That’s all I’ve got. I hope this guide is helpful and maybe you’ll have a better time at bookstagram

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The Ol’ Reading Slump

For the last two or three weeks, I’ve maybe read a total of 100 pages. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying the book I’m currently reading, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, but I’ve had such little time to do it. My job does not have a set schedule and this month we’ve been on 12 hour shifts. Half of them from 7 Am – 7 PM and half from 7 PM – 7 AM. It messes with my sleep schedule and when I’m not working, I’d rather do something that doesn’t require my brain, such as watching TV or leveling up my digimon in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth for PS4. I haven’t even had much time for either of those things either though.

My girlfriend is currently between jobs and we’ve started a cupcake business from home so we’ve spent many hours together when I’m not at work, both hanging out and baking. I don’t read when I’m with her (often) because I like to immerse myself in the books and for that I need to be in solitude with no noise. However, the good news is that hopefully next week we’ll have more staff on our management team and can go back to our 9-hour shifts which will give me more reading time.

The other problem with this 12-hour schedule is that I’m so tired all the time, which is also why I haven’t posted any chapters of the novel I want to write either. I posted that I will likely start posting a chapter every Friday or something like that and while I have it all planned out in detail, no actual writing has happened yet. Such is life, I guess.

Anyway, I just wanted to post this because it’s been a week since I last posted a blog post and I didn’t want anybody to think I’d stopped with the blog. Even my instagram has slowed down quite a bit. Fingers crossed for a more regular schedule next month and more reading time so I can finish Scarlet and post a review for y’all.

 

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Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate’s Daughter: A Review of Shakespeare in Love, the Play

While I normally try to stick to book reviews, I thought I’d try my hand at reviewing a play. After all, it’s main focus is Shakespeare’s attempt to write a play.

I want to start by saying this adaptation of Shakespeare in Love was fantastic. I only had one complaint about the play and it was a very minor one. The acting was great, the music was well done, and the set and costume design really took you back to London in 1593.

I thought the two leads were perfect. Luke Humphrey and Shannon Taylor really nailed William Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps, respectively. Andrew Robinson really nailed Wabash. After taking a course in Stuttering during my undergrad, it was nice to see the actor not just throw on a stutter, but also play the character with facial ticks and tremors while stuttering. Tal Schulman was great as John Webster, playing the role with a comedic creepiness that could’ve easily been overdone but here, was just right.The whole cast really looked like they were having fun. While I’ve picked out some of my particular favourites here, they all did a wonderful job.

Another very important shoutout the Trevor Patt and George Meanwell who were wonderfully talented and played a multitude of instruments. I especially enjoyed the Hurdy-gurdy, the melodeon, and the recorders. The other musicians were great too and I wish I knew their names to give them some proper recognition.

There were plenty of references to Shakespeare’s plays, probably the same ones from the movie, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, so I can’t be sure.  Some were clever, such as saying “Out, damned Spot” when yelling at Spot, the dog (perfectly played by Cole, the dog), some were situational, like Shakespeare and Marlow not having an invite to the ball and having to sneak in, and some references were just throwaway lines like Christopher Marlow telling Will that Ethel will marry a black moor and get strangled with a handkerchief.

As a comedy, the play really surpasses expectations. The comedic elements were turned up for the play, which means you can skip the gym because you’ll find your ab workout here. Some repetition worked, such as “I don’t know, it’s a mystery” where others kind of got annoying, like the Nurse repeating “My lady!” in a high pitched voice. Still, it was funny for most of the play.

My one complaint has to do with props. Actually one prop in particular. Since the entire play took place in front of one set and everything else was done with props, I thought that a bit more care could’ve been put into the rowboat/gondolla that Will and Viola sit in. It was just a few seats and a bench. It didn’t need to be anything too fancy but even having the side of a boat facing the audience would’ve helped. This was the only point of the play where I felt disconnected.

Still, the play was highly entertaining and well-performed, -written, -directed, and -produced. The carpentry, costumes, and wigs were elaborate and fitting for the setting.

4.5/5 Stars

I plan to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Matilda, and Anne of Green Gables this year too. I’ll likely post reviews of those when that happens.