Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Wishlist

 toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the fine folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. They totally rock, so check them out!

This week’s theme is Top Ten Items on my Reading Wishlist – essentially meaning what are the top ten things I want to see more of in books. I am trying to figure out the difference between this topic and the one done a few weeks ago, about things that will make me pick up a book instantly. I guess it is a subtle thing… because this is more what I want to see more of and the other is what is already there that makes me happy?

Oh well, without further babbling from me, and as always in no particular order.

  • Representation of chronically ill people. Especially people with chronic pain. I find the accurate and non-harmful representation of people in my situation is very lacking, and it hurts.
  • Interracial couples. My husband is Filipino and I am white, and I really need to see our relationship represented more in literature.
  • Strong, amazing, lasting friendships. Too often in literature, friends aren’t the focus. Especially in YA, there is so much of girls against girls instead of being supportive. For our girls, we need to show them that other girls aren’t the competition.
  • Mental illness stories that aren’t focused on therapy. Therapy is a great tool for dealing with mental illness, and it is important to normalize going to therapy – but so many stories focus on it. I would love to see more books where therapy isn’t the focus.
  • Happy fat girls. Fat girls don’t need to change. Fat girls don’t need a relationship to be happy. Fat is not an ugly word. Give me all the happy fat girls!
  • Complex characters. Give me your grey morality. Give me your complicated backstories. Give me your heroes turned villain. Give me your antiheroes. Seriously, the more complex a character, the more likely I am to love them.
  • More standalone novels. Or duologies. I am so over trilogies and larger series. Even though some of my favorite series are massive or trilogies… I want more standalone novels! (Duologies at most)
  • 30 year old + protagonists. I am turning 30 in June. I would really like to see more of myself in books that have a YA feel (but obviously not YA). Why does it always have to be a teenager who saves the world?
  • No more patriarchy! Especially in fantasy books. Why, when you can create a whole new world, are you sticking to the same limitations and prejudices of this one?
  • More consistent pricing for books. Before the era of the e-book, the hardcover was grossly overpriced, and that was the cost you paid for getting it on release day. As such, we as consumers are very uneducated on the actual cost of producing a book. I would really like to see the pricing to be more consistent, because an e-book costing more than a physical copy seems wrong to me.
    • As an addition to this, I would like to see an end to DRM.

What would you like to see more of in books? Or in the industry in general? Comment below, or link me up to your TTT!

Stay bookish, lovelies!

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Reading, 3 comments

#Readathon Mini Challenge: The Meetup

This challenge is hosted here

The challenge parameters:

Write a short story/paragraph describing a meet-up between your current read’s main character and your last read’s main character. It’s gonna be either chaos or awesomeness, right?

The last book I finished was Creation in Death by J.D. Robb. I am currently reading The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emilie Skrutskie. So the characters in question are Eve Dallas and Cas Leung. Interesting.


Eve didn’t understand what she was seeing rising from the New York city harbour. When she first got the call out for the smell of death and an apparent monster sighting, she had chalked it up to some chemi-head trying to waste her time. Now she was seeing some sort of giant reptile thing poke its face out of the water. The smell was bang on, though. It wasn’t something she had smelled since some of her worst cases. The harbour was filled with pleasure craft, as all of the shipping companies had opted to move to air travel some time ago. Was it her, or was this thing eyeing the boats almost hungrily?

“Um, you can’t park that thing here,” she called to the girl who seemed to be coaxing the monster around with some sort of light box strapped to her body. She couldn’t be much more than twenty, Eve decided. What was she doing with that thing? The girl whirled around to face her, her shortly cut black hair sticking to her face.

“Can you tell me where I am?”

“Sure, but first can you tell me what that is?” Eve stayed well back from the edge of the water and beckoned to the thing.

“He is my Reckoner, of course!” the girl answered, as if the word should mean something to Eve.

Eve flashed her badge to the girl. “I am Lieutenant Eve Dallas with the NYPSD. Why don’t we have a conversation about what exactly a Reckoner is, and what it is doing in my harbour?”

The girl looked from the monster to the cop before nodding to herself. She unstrapped the box from her body and set it on the shore before flipping a switch so it emitted a different pattern of light and sound. She walked away from the monster like turning her back on such a thing was no big deal, and approached Eve with her hand outstretched and a tentative smile on her face.

“Hi, I’m Cas.”


That was kind of fun. I wanted to take the story to all sorts of places, but I figured first meeting would be short and sweet.

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Books I've Read, Currently Reading, Reading, 0 comments

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Hour 6

In which I fell asleep for a bit and woke feeling VERY refreshed, and am still working on my first read of the day.

I will be posting a few mini-challenges here throughout the day, but I just wanted to say that my first read, The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emilie Skrutskie is SO GOOD and I recommend it if you like sea monsters, grey areas of morality, girls who like girls, or just awesome stories. I am DEVOURING it.

The post on the Official Readathon Site has us setting goals for the rest of the day.

  • Number of pages you want to read in the second quarter. Approximately that many.
  • Number of cheers you’ll send out to fellow Readathoners on Twitter or social media. A whole bunch!
  • Amount of caffiene you’ll consume to stay alert. A large kiddie pool full.
  • Number of mini-challenges you aim to enter. ALL OF THEM, PRECIOUS!
  • How much fun you’ll have. One metric ton.

I am approaching this readathon in a way that makes it more fun and less stressful. And that is without pressuring myself. I don’t want to set unattainable goals. Instead I am taking the day away from the computer (updates aside) and just letting myself bask in the beauty that is a full day of reading.

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Currently Reading, Reading, 0 comments

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon : Hour 0 Survey

I am a little behind this morning, thanks largely to ye olde cold of doom. I am up and about now, though, and ready to tackle some challenges and some books!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Canada!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I am not sure. Probably anything by Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant because she is my fave.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Peanut butter on apples. It is very delicious!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I am completely drawing a blank right now. I like cookies. There, that is a little something.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

No laying in bed to read! I fall asleep that way…

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Currently Reading, Reading, 0 comments

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Pre-Readathon Madness

So, tomorrow is the readathon. It starts at 7:00am CST (my local time) and goes through until Sunday. Today is a day to prep, plan, and freak out because WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!

I am fairly certain I did the last round of Dewey’s Readathon. I was pretty stoked, and I decided fairly on-the-spot that time, too. But I learned a lot from it, and I hope in learning that I can do even BETTER this year. I mean, I am only competing with myself, but that is the best competition!

My Readathon TBR

I am fairly certain one of the posts tomorrow will be about my TBR, but I wanted to nail it down a bit here, first. A lot of what I am aiming to read this time around is novellas, and I happen to have a lot of novellas for review. This may be a Very Bad Idea, but only time will tell!

  • Down Among The Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (176 pages)
  • Final Girls by Seanan McGuire (112 pages)
  • Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan (112 pages)
  • In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle (176 pages)
  • The Asylum of Dr. Caligari by James K. Morrow (192 pages)
  • Rise by Mira Grant (644 pages)

Potential Rereads:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (320 pages)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (404 pages)
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman (262 pages)
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (498 pages)

My Readathon Obstacles

The dog — Mr. Blue is working tomorrow, so it will be up to me to take care of little miss. She is usually content to hang out with me, but she does demand attention and playtime a fair bit.

The cold of doom — My entire family is sick right now, all with this same awful cold. I have been spending a lot of time sleeping and feeling like absolute yuck, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out tomorrow.

Video games — One of my favourite video games just updated this week, so I have been enjoying some time on that. As well, if I ever get bored with my book, I tend to grab my phone and play solitaire or something, and then it is an hour later and I am wondering why I am dreaming of solitaire games…

Food

What do you even eat during a readathon? I am going to need snacks, STAT!


Have you ever participated in a readathon, either Dewey’s or another one? Any tips, tricks, or advice to offer?

Stay bookish, lovelies!

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Currently Reading, Personal, Reading, 0 comments

An Update!

Hello, bookish lovelies!

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you all what has been going on with me and the blog lately.

Personal/Health

Throughout 2016, I was struggling really badly with my fibromyalgia. I was seeing a pain clinic locally, and we tried a number of different medicines. Some gave me bad reactions, like making my vision super blurry (I couldn’t read!), and others did nothing for my symptoms. It was discussed on if I had bipolar disorder, and we tried meds for that. After seeing a psychiatrist in January of this year, we determined that no, I didn’t have bipolar, but I do have ADD. So I started some medicine for that. And it is helping a lot.

In March, I was informed that I would be losing my health insurance. So I went back to the pain clinic and made a last ditch plea. A medicine they had been wanting to try me on for a while was finally available again, so I started taking it. And finally, everything isn’t such a struggle any longer. I still don’t have health insurance, but I have a medicine that works.

Because I am now facing paying my medical bills every month again, I have set up a Ko-fi account. If you like my content and are wanting to support me, every little bit helps!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

Taking place this weekend (April 29th), I have signed up for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon again! I will be posting here, and over on my Twitter about my escapades, so feel free to check in on Saturday while I read my way through 24 hours.

Keycon 34

I was asked to be a panelist at Keycon, a Winnipeg Science Fiction and Fantasy literary convention. I am super excited to be providing two panels and a round table discussion! The convention takes place on the May long weekend (May 19 – 21) and what I am providing is a panel on Book Blogging 101, Advanced Book Blogging, and a round table discussion with local authors about how to interact with book bloggers. I will be posting details when my times are announced, and after the actual panels, I will be posting the information I shared in the panels.

New Blogging Series

In posting about why I am still reading problematic books, I started thinking about a new series of blog posts I want to start. The series will be called Great Debates. I will be posting about issues currently facing the bookish community, and aiming to do so in a neutral way before providing my personal opinion. Some topics I have planned are Intent vs Impact and Objective Reviews.

Reviews

Spoiler alert: I am very behind on reviews. I have been reading the books, but not writing the reviews. I am working on getting reviews back on track, though. With my health struggles and stuff, I got so far behind that I didn’t know where to start, but now that I am feeling better, I am really wanting to do more with the blog.

Used Book Sale

Thursday is the big used book sale at the mall, and I am SUPER EXCITED. Anyone want to see my haul when I am done? I might also go live on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook while I shop.

So, that is it, bookish lovelies! That is your update post for today. Are you as excited for some of this stuff as I am??

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Personal, Random Thoughts, Reading, 0 comments

Top Ten Bookish Turn Offs

 toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the fine folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. They totally rock, so check them out!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Things That Will Make Me NOT Want To Read Your Book – which I shortened to Top Ten Bookish Turnoffs. I think this topic is really interesting, because the things that make people want to read or avoid a book are so personal and varied. As always, in no particular order!

  • If the book has been called out as problematic. As per my last post, I do still read problematic books for educational purposes. But if the book has been brought to my attention as being problematic, it is not going to be on my pleasure reading TBR pile. Ever.
  • If the book is being toted as “The next [Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, whatever]” I am going to be less inclined to pick it up. A book should be able to stand on its own two feet, please and thank you. Now, if it says “For fans of [other book series]” that is a little different.
  • “Strong female character” anywhere in the description – especially if the author is male. I love a lot of male authors, and some of them even manage to write not-cringeworthy female characters. But so many male authors think that a “strong” female character is an indication of physical strength, and they miss the nuance involved.
  • Insta-love. I am sorry but it is not a thing that happens. Infatuation? Yes. Lust? Yes. But you can’t love someone without knowing them, and it is so tired and I am so tired of it.
  • A bad cover. Yes, I am that person. I judge books by their covers. So do a lot of people. If the cover is no good, I am going to be less inclined to pick it up.
  • I don’t like the author’s other work. I mean, this one kind of goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyways.
  • If there is no blurb on the book. I am sorry, but if I am picking up a random book at the book store and I can’t actually figure out the general premise because the back is all GLOWING PRAISE, I am putting the book back down. When I do my massive hauls from the used book sale, I am a little more forgiving of this, because I am not paying $10+ per book.
  • Love triangles. I am so very done with love triangles.
  • Sports themed books. I don’t play sports. I don’t watch sports. I have never played sports. I have never watched sports. I am not going to read a book about sports. Ever.
  • Copying other popular books. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and everyone takes inspiration from everything they consume. BUT, if your work is an obvious knockoff, I am going to DNF it.

That was tougher than I thought it would be. I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like. But putting it into words??? SO HARD.

What are your bookish turnoffs? Comment below or link me up to your TTT.

Stay bookish, lovelies!

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Books I've Read, Reading, 1 comment

Why I am Still Reading Problematic Books

I have been blogging about books since about 2010 under various handles. I have seen the evolution of the blogging community, and myself along with it. The latest level of evolution is that book bloggers are becoming more aware of problematic books. Which is awesome. It is very important to be aware of problematic books and practices. All you have to do is look, and you will find reviews of books by POC reviewers, LGBTQ+ reviewers, and reviewers from other marginalized groups that will highlight why a book is problematic.

But, I personally feel that just because a book is problematic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. As such, I am going to continue to read problematic books. I can hear some of you getting angry with me from behind your screens, so let me explain.

For those of you who don’t know me from social media, or who have never seen a picture of me, I am white. As such, racism is something that I am constantly trying to educate myself about. When I feel like a book is racist, I know it has to be super blatant. I want to be better educated about microaggressions and the more subtle signs of a racist book.

Currently, I have armed myself with critical reviews of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, and I am reading it. Until recently (the last year or so), I wasn’t aware of tropes like the dark skinned aggressor and the white savior. And now that I know they are a real and harmful thing, I want to know how to recognize them for myself, without having to have someone else point it out.

This isn’t about disbelieving marginalized people when they say a book is problematic, it is about not having to rely on marginalized people putting themselves in danger to educate everyone else.

So, while I am no expert in the field, these are the steps I am taking to be a good ally, while striving to educate myself.

  • Find, read, and keep handy critical reviews of identified problematic books. Prioritize reviews by marginalized people.
  • Do not support the problematic book financially. I will never recommend pirating a book. This is not an excuse for piracy. There are a lot of ways to get a book without supporting the author. You can buy it second-hand. You can borrow it from someone who has it. Worst case scenario, borrow it from the library. (Yes, authors still get benefits from a book being borrowed from the library, but nowhere near those they get for high opening week sales.)
  • Review the book. Especially if it is coming from a place like NetGalley. It is important to add voices to the fight against problematic books.
  • Read objectively. This isn’t reading for pleasure, but reading for education.
  • Find a replacement. Find a book to take the place of the problematic book. Promote that book. Review that book. Support that book. Blast that book forever. If possible, make sure that book is by a marginalized author.
  • Be sure to support the emotional labor already put into calling these books out.

If you don’t feel like you can learn from problematic books, don’t read them. If you think this is me giving “permission” to read problematic books and disregard the feelings of marginalized people, you need to reread my post. A few times, for good measure. We, as allies, need to step up and do our part, and I think this is a part of that task.

So, in 2017, while I aim to read more underrepresented authors, I am also going to still read problematic books.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on problematic books. Comment below, but note that if things aren’t kept civil, I will be closing comments.

Stay bookish, lovelies!

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Books I've Read, Currently Reading, Personal, Random Thoughts, Reading, 3 comments

Top Ten Most Unique Books I Have Read

 toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the fine folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. They totally rock, so check them out!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Most Unique Books I Have Read. Now, some of these are unique only because they were the first of their kind that I read… and then the market got saturated with similar books. Others are unique for specific reasons, and still others have remained unique since I read them. As always, in no particular order…

Dreadnought by April Daniels
Why it is unique: This book features a transgender superhero. Not only is it the first book I have read with a transgender main character, but it is also the first superhero book I have read. I really liked this book, but I do want to warn my readers that this book may be triggering, as the main character does encounter a lot of transphobia.

Broken Dolls by Tyrolin Puxty
Why it is unique: Sentient dolls. I can’t say much more than that without giving away the entire plot line. If you have any sort of doll phobia, maybe skip this one — it is a little creepy at times.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Why it is unique: This book deals with what happens to children who come back from fairy worlds. The best thing about this book, and what makes it unique is that the main character is asexual.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Why it is unique: This book is the first one I ever read that talked about video games in a non-derogatory way. Most of the time, video games are viewed as a waste of time, and the people who play them are losers. As someone who uses video games as a coping mechanism, this distresses me a lot.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Why it is unique: The magic system! Using metals and ingesting them to “burn” for different effects… I love it. I really need to re-read this book soon, and finish out the series.

Lost Gods by Brom
Why it is unique: Lost Gods combines a lot of different belief systems in one great underworld romp. I really liked that there were so many different religions represented.

Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
Why it is unique: Imagine your new job involves catering for the supernatural. That is what Envy of Angels is about. This irreverent novella, and the follow ups, are some of my favorites.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Why it is unique: Written in Red provides a fresh take on the shapeshifter genre.

Spellwright by Blake Charlton
Why it is unique: Another nod to a unique magic system. This time, spells are prepared and written in the muscles and then cast into the world. And our main character is dyslexic.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Why it is unique: Books about isolation aren’t new, but this is the first one I loved. I loved how intense the main character’s isolation is, and that it isn’t too far into the fiction part of science fiction.


What unique books have you read? Do you agree or disagree with anything on my list? Link me up to your TTT or comment below!

Stay bookish, lovelies!

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Books I've Read, Reading, 4 comments

Canada Reads – Day 3

Haven’t watched Day 3 of Canada Reads yet? You can watch it online here.

Here there be spoilers.

I have finally put my finger on what it is about Jody Mitic that doesn’t sit right with me. I feel like in these debates, we see his politician coming through. And I just really inherently dislike people who act like politicians.

Once upon a time, when I started this work on the 2017 Canada Reads contestants, I had a pipe dream that I would one day be a panelist. I mean, how cool would that be?  But after watching the debates, I don’t feel like I could handle it. In this episode, we see Ali Hassan trying to keep things focused on the book instead of the person defending. I don’t do well when I feel attacked. Yay for social anxiety.

Change My Mind

I think what everyone is trying to say about Company Town is not that it is a soap opera-ish book, but that it is a melodrama. Which I agree with. It is very melodramatic. It focuses more on the things that are happening rather than who they are happening to. But that is also pretty typical of science fiction in general. Also, “soap opera” isn’t a misogynistic term in and of itself. The term was coined at a time when the world at large was a misogynistic place, and women were the cleaners in the home etc.

However, what Measha says about the romance double standard is very true. I take it back to one of the writing “tests” for feminine representation. A woman who has a romantic interest is definitely OK. It is when a woman exists in a story only as a romantic interest, or if her world views are changed drastically by the romance that it becomes a feminist issue. And that is one place where I feel like Company Town fell short for me. Everyone wants to write these “tough” woman characters who don’t need no man, but when they find the “right” man, they give in and all is well with the world. This is how it always ends up, and this is where I struggle to enjoy romance in books.

I find it really interesting that Jody voted based on winning and trying to eliminate his biggest competition.

Intent of the Authors

If there is one thing that the book community will agree on, it is that the intent of the author doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how the readers receive it.

“Is it more effective for a story to challenge the reader’s world view, or reflect it?”

I agree with Candy in that it really depends on the book. I also agree with Chantal that the most effective authors do both.

When Andre Alexis talks about people being more concerned about violence against dogs than they are about violence against humans, it does make me stop and think a minute. I don’t think it is universally true, and I don’t think it is actually true either. I think the biggest thing facing our society today is that it is safer to be outraged when an animal is hurt than it is when another human is involved. A human lying in the street may be an attack waiting to happen, it may be someone trying to take advantage of our caring nature. A hurt animal is a being with power and choice and thought harming something essentially defenseless. A hurt animal is what it is, and yes, a hurt dog may bite because he is hurt… but he won’t pretend to be hurt just to bite you.

My problems with Fifteen Dogs are not based on the violence against the animals. Why did the dogs only get the “bad” parts of humanity? Where is their compassion and their empathy? Are those not part of the human condition? Where is their desire to learn and to better themselves? Combine that with the fact that it is a very misogynistic book, and I really hope it doesn’t win.

We are swept into a conversation about violence in storytelling. I think I can write an entire post about this, so I am not going to go into too much detail here, but my opinion is that violence can be a very effective tool in storytelling, save that it has to be used appropriately. I don’t feel it was used appropriately in Company Town or in Fifteen Dogs. Again, I still don’t know the extent of violence in The Right to be Cold, but I feel it would be different anyways, as it is a nonfiction account.

Measha says she has some issues with violence, and yet I can’t see how she would be supporting Company Town with those issues. She says that Madeline Ashby uses violence to make people care… but in a book dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, women who are sex workers are brutally murdered… We don’t need more mirrors to the current issues, we need fiction that shows us that change is possible.

“Can a story include you in an experience that you are excluded from in life?”

My first instinct was to answer no. And I think that I am going to stick with it as far as “not really”. Because I feel like a story can try to bring you face to face with an issue or experience, but they can’t make you feel it.

To use a personal example – I, as a white person, am never going to know what racism feels like. So a story that is trying to “include” me in that experience is going to fail. But, it may educate me on what other people go through so I can show more empathy, and be a better ally.

Mean Tweets – Canada Reads Edition

I really loved this section, and I don’t have aything to add.

Wrap up and Vote

Measha voted for The Right to be Cold
Jody voted for The Right to be Cold
Chantal voted for Company Town
Candy voted for Company Town, because she feels it isn’t what all Canadians need.
Humble voted for The Right to be Cold, because he wanted to light a fire, instead of filling a mind with information.

And The Right to be Cold is eliminated. I think a few things worked against it here… one being that Chantal was excluded from a lot of the discussion being that she wasn’t actually in studio. And two is that it was a nonfiction book going against fiction books.


Once again, I am skipping on the Q&A tonight. I would really like to get Day 4’s post up more quickly following the broadcast.

My final thought is that both remaining books have a lot of problems with them, but I feel like if Fifteen Dogs wins, I will be really upset. It is misogynistic to its core, and for all Humble wants to tote it as being a signpost of the human condition, it only highlights the “bad” parts. And after The Break, the book I really wanted to win, was eliminated because of “lack of positive male representation”, if a book that so clearly lacks good female representation is chosen… I think that says more about the state of the nation than anything else.

Again, Company Town is far from perfect, and it is not a book I would recommend willy-nilly. But at least we have some nuggets of good and non-problematic content in it.

How do you feel about the results of Day 3?

Stay bookish, lovelies.

Posted by The Bluestocking Bookworm in Books, Books I've Read, Random Thoughts, Reading, 0 comments
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