Top 5 Reads of 2018

Top5

Top Thing of the Year lists are the hot thing in December, and I am a weak willed person, so I’m making a list of my own. Welcome to the first ever Writerly Kind Top 5 Reads of the Year, where I look back at all the books I finished and highlight my absolute favorites and summarize what I liked the most about them. Links to my full reviews are included with each!

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Bookish Recommendation: Reading Glasses Podcast

Happy weekend! I’ve got another Bookish Recommendation for you, and today I’m pitching another podcast, this time one that aims to “solve all your bookish problems:” Reading Glasses. One of the many shows on the MaximumFun.org network of podcasts, Reading Glasses is what rekindled my love of reading (and, coincidentally, my love for talking about books).

Here’s the summary from Maximum Fun’s website:

Do you love books? Want to learn how to make the most of your reading life? Join hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara every week as they discuss tips and tricks for reading better on Reading Glasses, a podcast designed to help you get more out of your literary experiences.

As professional creatives and mega-readers, Mallory and Brea are experts on integrating a love of reading into a busy lifestyle. Listeners will get help for bookish problems, like how to vanquish that To-Be-Read pile and organize those bookshelves. Brea and Mallory also offer advice on reader dilemmas. How do you climb out of a reading slump? How do you support authors while still getting books on the cheap? Where do you hide the bodies of the people who won’t stop talking while you’re trying to read? No matter what you read or how you read it, Reading Glasses will help you do it better.

Each episode follows a standard format: first, Mallory and Brea talk about the books they’re currently reading, then they discuss a major topic. They follow that with an interview of someone relevant to the bookish community before wrapping things up with a bit where they solve a listener’s bookish problems.

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It’s an incredibly fun show. The topics range from serious to silly and the interviews bring some interesting insights into the range of book podcasts that I hadn’t stumbled upon before. There’s an episode where they interview a librarian who discusses how they cataloged books in reverse alphabetical order and it’s possibly one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever heard.

You don’t have to listen to the show in order, but I recommend it, because each episode is great in its own way. You’ll get book rec’s, hear some bookish advice, and maybe learn something new from their interviews. If going through a podcast backlog isn’t your cup of tea, here’s some of my favorites you can start with:

Reading Glasses Episode 1: Book Slumps with Sara Benincasa

Ep 6 – Wipe Your Hands and Other Book Event Advice with IDW’s Chris Ryall

Ep. 14 – Book Shame and How to Deal with It plus Confessions from Daniel H. Wilson

What kinds of podcasts are you listening to? Got any good book-centric ones I should check out? Let me know, and until next time, read on~

Throwback Thursday: The Masked City

This week’s Throwback Thursday is kind of more a F… Forgotten Friday? In that I forgot to post this post on Thursday, so here it is on Friday.

Okay, so that doesn’t work as well, but you get what I’m going for here. ANYWAY.

I’m all hyped up on Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series right now as I work my way through book #4, The Lost Plot, so I think we’ll take a look at The Masked City. Two weeks ago I talked about The Invisible Library and you can check out my thoughts on the beginning of the series here.

The Masked City (The Invisible Library, #2)The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I left a lot of books unfinished in 2017, so with 2018 and a new challenge upon me, I’m trying to knock some of those out. This was one of those books. It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying it, I don’t think, but I sat it down one day, got distracted the next, and found I didn’t have much interest in picking it back up again. My interest in reading in general comes and goes in spurts, and I think this book was an unfortunate casualty to that indifference.

The Masked City is, like the first book, a fun, entertaining romp through a fantasy world that I really adore. It’s quick and snappy, and Cogman’s writing does a great job backing up that general tone. This time around, however, I was finding it hard to keep pushing through when it felt Irene wasn’t making much progress. I wasn’t as interested with the other Fae from the Train as I could’ve been, and by the time Irene had gone to Silver and stumbled into her plan of attack, I’d already fallen off. Picking it back up, it rushed through to the end after that point, so perhaps I just needed to stick it through for another 20 or so pages to get back into the groove.

Vale’s bit made me raise an eyebrow because of how convenient it all was, but this isn’t the sort of book that takes its plot very seriously, I don’t think, so I’m okay with letting it slide. Overall it’s still a fun and thrilling read, so I’ll be picking up the next two sometime this year.

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Unlike the first novel, I wasn’t really into The Masked City. The premise was fine, but Irene doesn’t work as well as a lone agent, and her time away from both Vale and Kai really worked against this book’s favor. Silver’s an interesting character with a lot more complexities than we’re initially led to expect, but even he gets little page-time in the grand scheme of things. It’s not that Irene is a bad character, per se, but she really shines when she’s being bounced off the characters around her. Flying solo, she’s a little flatter than usual, and I struggled to stay focused during the center of this one as a result.

On the plus side, this book introduces us to the intricacies of both Fae and Dragon politics and lifestyle, which I was all about. We get introduced to an interesting Fae character we’ll see again later in the series and we get to see Irene taking matters into her own hands and kicking some butt while she’s at it, which I’m always a fan of.

It was a good read, but it was undeniably weaker than The Invisible Library. Don’t worry, though, because things pick back up with The Burning Page, and so far, The Lost Plot is shaping up to be just as engaging.

To top off the Library excitement, book #5 has a lovely cover and release date announcement up on Amazon:

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Isn’t that gorgeous? The colors, the little black cat, the somewhat ominous title… I’m super, duper excited to see where Cogman takes us next.

That’s it for this week’s post! Thanks for stopping by and, as always, read on~

Reading Wheelhouse

One of the first things that drew me to the Reading Glasses podcast was their conversation about their “reading wheelhouse” in the first episode. I loved the concept of sitting down and putting into words what really clicks for you when it comes to books. It’s a nifty, visual way of answering the question of what themes, tropes, or plot points will guarantee that you read a book.

I’ve been wanting to do it forever, so here we go, my wheelhouse.

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Fantasy
– urban setting but way weirder – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
– dragons — dragons disguised as humans – The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
– unique magic systems – Uprooted by Naomi Novik
– Weres – Moon Called by Thompson

Sci-fi
– set today but way weirder – The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
– AI gaining sentience – Diaspora by Greg Egan
– dystopian (but no zombies) – Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
– time travel — time paradox – Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Horror
– set in a normal place but way weirder – House of Leaves by Mark
– ghosts – Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
– atmospheric horror/subtle horror – The Shining by Stephen King
– body horror/transformation – A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau

Bookish Recommendation: Overdue Podcast

The rise in podcasts over the last few years has brought us some real gems, offering listeners anything from recorded Dungeons and Dragons sessions to strange trivia about medical history. I’m a huge fan of podcasts all around; of course, with a grand total of 2.5 hours spent in the car each day, I pretty much /have/ to be, or I’ll end up going nuts somewhere about 30 minutes into my daily commute. Although I’ve listened to a wide variety of podcasts, this is a book blog, so I want to take this Bookish Recommendation post to talk about one of my newly discovered (and fast fave) podcasts, Overdue.

Overdue is a podcast hosted by Andrew Cunningham (@AndrewWrites) and Craig Getting (@MCGetting), two friends and book lovers from Philadelphia who take one book per week and spend roughly an hour talking about it. For a little more history about each host, you can read their About page on their website here. Their one sentence pitch for the show is that it’s “the podcast about all the books you’ve been meaning to read,” and by that token, they’re generally reading and discussing books that have crossed most reader’s paths.

They kick off each episode with some author history and trivia, giving the listener a bit of background to set the stage for the book, before diving into the chronological plot points and themes. They take turns in this endeavor, something that, in my opinion, works extremely well. Each episode is thorough and well-spoken, showing that their tag-team approach allows each host a chance to really focus on their book before its their turn to lead the conversation.

The presentation of this podcast is what solidifies it at my go-to of the moment. They do their research to bring in more than just the basic “I read this book and here’s what it was” and the author history might just be my favorite way to start a book podcast. Their analysis of the books themselves are thoughtful but with a dash of humor, and I find myself laughing as much as I do nodding in agreement with their interpretations.

Overall, I recommend Overdue as an easy to pick up podcast with lots of choices for episodes to listen to. With over 200 episodes to choose from, you can easily scroll through their backlog to find a book you’re interested in as a starting point. However, if you want some more specific direction, they have a recommendation list for new listeners here. As for me, I really loved their episodes on Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.

Let me know if you have a podcast, book-centric or otherwise, that you love listening to! Thanks for reading!

Bookish Recommendation: Kindle Case

It’s time for the weekend, where book lovers everywhere rejoice and plan out how much reading they can cram into their two-day reprieve from the busier weekdays. It’s also a good time to talk about any bookish stuff I’ve stumbled across that I am just totally in love with right now, because why not, let’s start the weekend off with some positivity.

So for this one, here’s a little background: I’ve had the same Kindle and case for somewhere around 7 years now, and the poor thing was starting to look pretty sad. The leather may or may not have been… sort of rotting, I think? Every part of it was flaking and shedding bits of purple, fake leather across every surface it touched. It sorta just flopped open pathetically, hanging limply until I clasped it together with the magnet, as if asking me to put it out of its misery.

You can see a little bit of what I’m talking about here, but I think I must’ve done a good job hiding my shame, because that’s the best picture I’ve got. You’ll have to take my word for it: the poor case was done for.

With a sigh of annoyance at having to buy something new, I set out to find a new one. I’d never really liked the standard case – my SO has it, and it’s just not enough for me. No bulk, doesn’t fold conveniently, just not a good hand feel. I also had this idea in my head that somewhere, someone had created the perfect case that would prop my Kindle up so I could read while I sit and eat, or read while I sit and browse the internet, or read while I sew. Plus, it had to be pretty. Cause my books gotta travel in ~style.~

Our criteria, to recap, is looking like this:
– Enough bulk it feels good and sturdy to hold
– Folds nicely for easy holding
– Props itself up so I can read with no hands
– Pretty

Believe it or not, I found exactly that in about 5 minutes of searching.

MoKo’s case is sturdy. It’s padded, folds up neatly for holding, has three different degree tilts for propped-up, hands-free reading, and comes in a wide range of pretty colors and patterns. It fit the bill so perfectly I was convinced it must’ve been crap, but I was willing to take my chances, so I ordered one in my fav purple and hoped for the best.

This case does not disappoint. It’s exactly what I envisioned in my Kindle case wish list. Sturdy, convenient, and nice to hold. I’m so in love with this thing that I WANT to read ebooks over my backlog of physical books, which is a change for me, since normally I reserve ebooks for travel. That’ll be the last big test for this case, of course, but if it can last as long as the first one did, I think I’ve found my go-to.

You can buy MoKo’s Kindle case for Paperwhite here. It’s about $25, though prices vary, so keep an eye out for a sale.

What other Kindle accessories do you love? Show me those cute and effective Kindle cases! Until next time – have a good, book-filled weekend.