2020 Currently Reading

Okay here’s another new thing. Instead of having my TBR page (like I did in 2019) telling you what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read this year, I’m going to have this post “sticky”. Here, always found at the top of my blog, you’ll see what I’m currently reading and/or listening to and what I just read. If I know for sure I’ll tell you what’s next. There might also be some notes about how I’m feeling while reading/listening. Feel free to comment.

Recently Finished:

  • What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – hardcover
    • I’ll have to get back to you on how I heard of this book because I’m certain I heard it from a blogger or podcaster. I went right ahead and bought a copy and I’m really happy I did. My jaunt into long, long books, audio and one paperback, has been great (I am still listening to The Name of the Wind, epic fantasy), has left me satisfied, dissatisfied and longing for a shorter more fast-paced story. And I found it here. I’m about 60 some odd pages in and really really enjoying it.
    • I like the little insert pages that seem to imitate copies of letters, notes, and articles. They add to the story and are unique. There’s a lot of mystery here both to the reader and the main character. I don’t see this being a disappointment. I’ll bet it’s a 4-5 star reader, not ready to commit to 5 yet. 😉
    • And I finished it in just over a week (I think that’s good, at least for me). Yeah! I am going ahead with a 5-star rating. There’s not currently a sequel but from the sounds of it it’s not out of the question.
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  • Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare – Paperback
    • This has been on my list since March of 2019. Ms. Victorious over at Victorious Pages is how I came across The Dark Artifices but I know I’ve also seen it elsewhere. I happened to see it for sale at Barnes & Noble, knew it was on my list and well I had to take a good deal. 😉
    • I’m about halfway through. It’s interesting. Cassandra Clare is a talented writer however this isn’t really my speed. So much time is spent on the day to day of the characters it just feels too drawn out. In my opinion this book would not have suffered from being shaved down. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m reading this and listening to Strange, the Dreamer, both books that…are…d.r.a.g.g.i.n.g. Maybe I should put ellipses in between each of those letters…
    • Upon finishing: I will not be continuing this series at this time. There are some sample chapters at the end of the book for the next in this series, the first in the ShadowHunters series, and the first book about the characters Tessa & Jem. Of those samples I almost like the first in the whole series but for now I’m moving on.
    • I give this book a 3 because I do not like the pacing. There’s a lot of repetitive thinking going on in terms of character relationships. By this a mean, a lot of talking about how much one character cares for another though we already know this. This is a character driven book, even then I think it would be better served with a little bit more weight put on the overall plot, the thing that keeps it moving. The reason it doesn’t really feel like it moves enough for me.
  • The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons, Audible Audio edition narrated by Feodor Chin, Vikas Adam, Soneela Nankani
    • So I went back through my notes to see how I found this book. It does not appear I learned of it through any book bloggers. Honestly I don’t know how I found this book! I think she was on a podcast but I can’t find the one. It could have also been NPR but I don’t think so. Maybe it was a fellow blogger and I didn’t write it down…? Ugh…notes are great…
    • This is an epic fantasy, which means it’s a really big book. Which is also part of the reason I chose to listen to it: not a heavy book and much cheaper because I used the book “credit” I get from audible for the month. I’m in Chapter 26 and still have 19 hours to go. So if you need a big long story, here you go.
    • It is a long drawn out storytelling that’s for sure. But I don’t say drawn out in a bad way. It’s getting more and more interesting. I won’t be surprised if in the end I say it could have done without being this long but we’ll see. So far I like it, not super in love with it, but it’s cool. 😀
    • Upon finishing: What I said above came to be, I really liked this book. However, I don’t feel that it would necessarily be served by cutting it down. This is a journey and taking the journey makes for a complete story. Could some sections have been shorter and the story still great? Sure thing. But it’s still an excellent book. I’m giving it 4 stars. I do recommend it and I will continue with the series THAT I DIDN’T KNOW WAS A THING! 🙂
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Some of What I’ve Read this Year

  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor , narrated by Steve West- Audible audio book
    • [Here’s what I said before:] I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking so long to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.
    • You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.
    • This book I found thanks to SilverWolfReads after her trip to NYC and her giant book haul. Please do visit her blog (click the link above) and read my review of this book. I most recently finished this book & after what I’ve said above you’ll be surprised to know I’m rating this 5/5 stars.

Currently Reading/Listening to:

  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – Audible audio book, narrated by Nick Podehl
    • I won’t get into how this was an accidental purchase, because I do somewhere else. But here we have another epic fantasy. It reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings. My patience for long long long stories is just not there. This is a good and interesting story, for sure, well-written and all that. But it’s really super long and probably, again I say this, wouldn’t be hurt if a lot of scenes were cut out or cut down.
    • All in all it’s no where near DNF, but when I think about how everyone complains that the third book in this series (this first book published in 2007!) has not yet even been ANNOUNCED, I get nervous. What if I love these first two and have to just sit empty handed? Okay maybe not empty-handed because I have so many books to read. Stay tuned…
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  • Thick: and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – Hardcover
    • This find is thanks to the podcast Reading Women. Do check out my page about the podcasts I listen to, mostly about reading and/or writing. Those lovely women raved about this book. There have been others talking about it as well and then I saw it on display at a local bookstore. I said okay, let’s go, you’re coming with me. It’s been looking at me ever since and well, today I figured what the heck, they’re essays so I can read them as I please. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing the life of a person so different than me through their lens.
  • Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – paperback
    • I don’t typically read contemporary fiction but this sounded interesting to me in part because of the mental health aspect. One of the main characters, one of the sisters, has a mental illness. One hundred pages in I’m intrigued even if it’s not my usual fare. So I’ll be mulling this over with a different set of eyes.
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That’s what I’ve most recently read and am currently reading. I desperately need to finish Voyage of the Basilisk – The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3 by Marie Brennan (started, oh, forever ago last year). So I’m kind of also currently still reading that though admittedly I keep forgetting about it…hm…what does that say about this series that I’ve liked but…ugh…

We’re just getting into February but I don’t have any idea what’s going to come after I finish these. I’m predicting it could be another two weeks before I pick up a new book. I’m thinking I need to pick something awesome and intriguing and not a million pages long.

Thoughts?

Audio Book Talk Part 2

After listening to Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – which was my first foray back to audiobooks in years – I was back in love with audiobooks. And yet, as I’ve mentioned before – if you haven’t already read my Part 1 to this CLICK HERE – I’m not wholly decided on when, how, and why to go with the audiobook. It just feels so conflicting! Physical book to have and to hold or audio book to listen and be told!?

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For starters, when I read a book I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Maybe that’s a lingering result of school but it’s there. Since I wrote that first post I have listened to over a dozen audiobooks in half as many months. They’re kind of my new best friends. And while I feel some completion in having heard that story it’s not the same.

To hold a book and turn its pages, reading the words the author strung together to tell their story, is to form something of a relationship with the story. Sure I feel emotions while listening to and reading stories. I formulate new ideas and thoughts about the material. Or I hash out old ones. Whatever the case I interact with the story. But holding it I also interact with the words. That is not something I can say for audiobooks. Well, it’ s just not the same!

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Listening to a story has its own benefits. I interact with language, with voice, with speaking. You get to hear a person’s voice, experience them acting (because that is what narrators do after all), and test your own listening skills. Something I love is hearing pronunciation of words I do not know which there are a lot of in fantasy novels especially. Listening to a story is beautiful. However, you do not see the words and their structure. You do not see how they are set up on the page. I’m sure this can be true for all people but I believe it especially true for a writer.

Not only do I study books when I read them – what worked and why, what didn’t and why not – but I admire them. With a physical book you see the typeset, the style, the font, the color of the paper, the smell of the paper, the margins, and so much more. You experience not only the story, but the book. While authors don’t always, or perhaps often, get to choose all these things for themselves in the world of traditional publishing, these days we’re seeing a lot more independent authors and presses. Which means we might also be experiencing more personal decisions with respect to the actual production of the book.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting anyone down who prefers audiobooks or can not read for one reason or many others. Audiobooks are amazing opportunities. I am a slow reader so the fact that I can finish a story in a couple of days listening to an audiobook is fantastic. If they were cheaper I’d listen to even more! So this isn’t even so much a which one is better type of post, rather I’m just reflecting on how my mind approaches the matter. I don’t find it a light decision to pick to listen to audio over read the story myself. I just don’t. Words are one of my passions and I’m trying to build a better relationship with them. Choosing to listen rather than give one-on-one reading attention is a tricky choice.

It’s helpful to see how different authors structure dialogue and even how they arrange their chapters. I like seeing the length of paragraphs because I don’t have a great attention span for long chapters when reading. Another advantage to listening, long chapters don’t bother me. You can still pick up on a lot of things listening, after all it’s still a book, it’s just someone else who’s reading it. You don’t get to dog-ear a page or highlight or sticky note. I know, I know these apps and whatever have all kinds of fun features but pushing “bookmark” is not the same for me as making one in a book. Besides, I’m not very good at coming back to book notes! Lol.

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So, summary is I love audio books but I miss the connection to the actual words. I don’t have a method for when to read and when to listen if I don’t already have the book in one form or another. I think it will come to depend on the individual books and authors. Also at this point I think I want to stay consistent with regard to the edition I pick for a series. If I start a series in audio then I want to keep that up. So if I’ve already started the series with a physical book, I’m going to read the book. I’ll also be paying more attention to people’s thoughts on specific audio books.

But ok! This has been long enough. I’m sitting debating listing the other books I’ve listened to since Audio Book Talk Part 1 or making that its own post. Hm…

How’s about I go ahead and end this here and encourage you all to share your thoughts! Do you have any trouble deciding when to go with audio or maybe you’ve not even thought about it that much? Are you a reader and a writer or just a reader?

I know I keep saying I’m going to post more and then I don’t so maybe you are losing faith in me. But that’s actually a really good reason to follow me, because then you’ll just know that I actually did post! You’ll be like oh it’s magic there’s a post from the Elpy Dimension! 😉

Check back Sunday, tomorrow, I’m going to share the audio books I’ve been listening to and am. Also this coming week expect a post from me yammering on about figuring things out for this new year, how I want to do things differently, and maybe a new review in my new format!

Cheers guys, thanks so much for your time!

Away we go into the 2020 New Year…

It feels like, and is true, that I’ve been preparing this 2020 New Year post for a couple days at least. I want so badly to get some new stuff out to you, whoever you are. Every time I turn around to do something else I come back and discover my plate is magically full again. Or was it ever empty…?

Here’s the thing, I’m not complaining. No, I’m not. It’s really awesome to have a full plate, literally and figuratively. I am still as excited about bookstores and the idea of books as I was for elementary school bookfairs. I love just being in bookstores. I love having spent hours cataloguing books in a storage unit. All those thoughts and ideas… And here I am, doing the writing. Here I am studying books as I read and escape in them. Here I am, writing a novel, and neglecting my eternal backlog of to-be-read books. 😀 And I. Am. THRILLED! (Never mind that there are other things on my plate than reading and writing. Or the fact that I will not stop at one novel. Or…)

But all this thrill needs a lot more organization and planning. Heck yeah! Heck yeah you ask? Heck yeah I say. Sure New Year’s Resolutions are kind of cliche. Saying I’m making them makes me a little red in the face. I rethink even talking about them here. I think that maybe I shouldn’t talk about them at all because talking about them will probably destroy the magic. Why? Because don’t they always fizzle?

Maybe. Often. Eventually.

Why? Probably because I try to just be so new and so different instead of incorporating different and new into me. Does that make sense? I hope so.

It feels really exciting to put a list together of all the books I plan to read. I adjusted my 2019 TBR to bring it up to date and laughed at my ambition. It’s beautiful, ambition, but it was a little much. Impractical. After all, I am writing a novel that is suggesting to me that it might be at least a duology. Just saying… Does that mean I shouldn’t shoot for the stars? Of course not. It means I should maybe start small and manageable. Rebuild how I do things.

This year, as I mentioned in my post about audio books, I started an Audible subscription and I love it. It might not feel the same or be the same as reading books but it’s fabulous. On the simplest level it’s fun to have a book read to you, reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad would read to us at night before bed. On the adult level it means you can do all kinds of stuff and “read” a book at the same time! Woo hoo! On the downside you don’t get to visit a bookstore to get your next book. 😉

So where was I? Right, audible, rebuilding, restructuring, being ambitious and realistic. With Audible I can listen to a book a month, if you don’t include the free originals (which aren’t always worth the…tape…lol), that’s minimum 12 books a year! Super doable. 😀 Heck yeah! Maybe somewhere in there I pick up a daily deal (discounted offer) or treat myself for an accomplishment. A book instead of an ice cream or french fry or… Now I could in theory tell you right now what those 12 books are going to be but I have a feeling I will deviate from the plan. But I can give you a couple of titles to count on or at least the one I’m going to read the next month.

What else? Well it wouldn’t be too much to ask myself to read one physical book a month. I can do that easily just by limiting screen time, without disrupting my writing time. 24 books in 2020? Okay, let’s make it 30 because why not? That might not be a lot of books but it’s awesome. And I can meet that challenge, no problem.

I don’t know, I might actually have some time in there to pursue and accomplish other projects I’ve long promised to pursue and accomplish. I don’t want to spread myself too thin over one area of my life. Let me cover the bread but remember I’ve got a loaf yet.

I’m thinking, set my goals high enough I have to reach and work for them but know my limits enough to avoid setting myself up for failure.

Here’s to 2020 folks, and a saying I read on Facebook that said something like may the tears you shed in 2019 water the seeds you’re planting in/for 2020.

And here’s to all of you, may this too be true. 😉

Away we go into the 2020 New Year, may it not be better in hindsight! Heck Yeah! (Oh I like that, that was a good one. I should write more…;))

Audio Book Talk Part 1

For starters, this week since I’ve been absent for so long I’m going to post daily, however that happens I’m going to have a post for you. Short, long, whatever. Let’s get started. (This one’s long, but worth it should you want to hear about some audio books and how I picked them.)

Yesterday I told you I want to talk about audio books and how I’ve recently gotten back into them. Back in the day I listened to quite a few audio versions (on CD) of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I LOVED them. I read the books as well (not for all did I have audio and physical) and was really a fan. It’s not that I don’t like them anymore but I fell off of reading fiction many years ago for about five years. When I came back to reading my tastes and goals had changed and I didn’t go back to the series. Plus, let me be honest, I didn’t love the whole love triangle/struggle/whatever you want to call it thing going on with Ranger and Joe Morrelli. I really liked both characters but was frustrated with the direction it was going. I am proud to say that I turned at least a few people on to the series and they’re still reading them. 😉 And NO, vehement NO, I did NOT like the movie One for the Money.

There were some non-fiction books I listened to as well as planned to listen to (I know because I recently found the CDs). But then I just stopped. It happens. Now I’m back to audio books and I don’t have to buy and lug around CDs. Yeah! I came back to them because Audible offers two free books with a free trial… and I figured I do a lot of work that I can do while listening, thus checking off my TBR.

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But how do I claim to have read a book when I actually listened to it? That just doesn’t mesh with my weird brain! I read people’s blogs about them “reading” audio books and I’m like no, no you did not read them! Of course we all know what they mean like we all know when I say LOL my head is not lolling around. I think it’s the fact that there’s no work involved. To me reading a book is a feat. Listening to someone tell me a story is not. The fact that I’m not doing the work weighs on me. But should it?

Absolutely not! I will get through so many stories…except there’s the fact that they aren’t free…even with an audible membership I’m committing to buy a $15 (somewhere around there) book a month. Yes they say oh and you get two free originals but let’s be honest the originals are SUPER LIMITED and now you’ve downloaded books because you basically HAD to take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong I’ve downloaded a few that I am interested in listening to, eventually, but I never seem to be in the mood.

Here’s the thing, now I’m spoiled. Now I’m getting used to someone reading a story to me and when I finish the book (quickly) I don’t know what to do! I feel lost without my story in my ears or my external speaker. AHHHH!

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I can’t “read” and do other stuff at the same time! Impossible! And now I can! OMG! Drama folks, drama. Then this VOID leaves you vulnerable to audio book deals. Which makes me wonder if I put books on my wish list will they miraculously pop up as a deal? Because then it might be even more worth making a list. 😉

But how do I pick? I get one audio book a month. How do I pick? The obvious answer is what’s available. What the heck Elpy, you have to get to that part first? Right… so I go to my TBR… and I look at it… I scroll down it… I see books and pretty covers… I think about picking one… I don’t know, I just don’t know.

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This is something I have to figure out. I’ve gotten lucky so far. My first pick was Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, narrated by Natasha Soudek & Tristan Morris. Great book, great narrators, can’t wait for the second to come out. This was a lovely introduction back into the world of audio books. It kind of takes me a second to get into it but that’s the same for books. I picked this book by going to my list and scrolled for something that stuck out. This was a book I added in the last several months and was one I was looking forward to reading. So I reread the blurb, found it to be available on Audible and BAM. Great pick. Thank you Sofi @ A Book. A Thought. for introducing me. Thank you Destiny @ Howling Libraries for selling me on this book further.

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***Disclaimer: As I link to Destiny’s review above it appears maybe she’s updated it since I first read her review…? She’s less than happy with the author and that has changed her view of this book and her writing. So I’m conflicted as to whether or not I find something where she’s raving about it or post to the updated review. And I think I should stick to her current take for posterity’s sake. She brings up some interesting points, most of which I did not know. But check back soon because I want to touch on her mention of “post-read high”.***

How did I pick A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, narrated by Emily Ellet, then? This one wasn’t and was as difficult because I struggled to decide on the audio version. First there was the urge to hurry up and pick something because I had to get to the work I had to do. Next there was looking at my Goodreads’ TBR. Then there was my remembering how much Destiny @ Howling Libraries gushed about this. Finally I had a good long think about whether I’d want this as an audio or read the actual words and writing if it’s really that good. I went with hurry up and get to it, listen to it.

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I’m a big fan of Destiny and her book blog. She really really really loved this book, like really really really really. 😉 That made me really interested even as we don’t read a lot of the same stuff. Let me say this woman READS A LOT, heck yeah kick ass Destiny, fist bump! This was a really good story (I say story not book because I listened to it). Definitely worth the audible credit but I didn’t LOVE it as much as she did. I will probably no doubt give it 4/5 stars whenever I review and maybe even 5 but for me it’s not an all time favorite. See that makes it sound like there’s something wrong with this story but right now I can’t think of anything. It really was a great original story just not an OMG for me. I certainly recommend it, I just don’t scream about it like Destiny.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater was my next Audible pick. The first two were read by women and men so when I heard a man’s voice and only a man I was a little curious. The voice stuck out to me but I couldn’t place it. After listening, and loving, I had to look him up. Will Patton. Omg I know who he is, he’s a rather well-known actor! He does an excellent job. I’m not singling him out because he’s better than the others just that I was surprised to find it was him (look up his photo if you don’t already know) and pleased with his reading as women. I heard of this book when Ellyn at Allonsythornraxx recommended Call Down the Hawk by Stiefvater. I also heard of that book at Inside my Library Mind. In case you don’t already know I love birds so bird references draw my attention, regardless of their content (that comes later). I heard from one or both of them that I might want to check out The Raven Cycle series first. Low and behold I already had the first, The Raven Boys, on my TBR! (Can’t remember how I heard of or added that one, sorry.)

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Sorry Destiny but I liked this one A LOT and I liked it more than I liked A Sorcery of Thorns. When I went to my list for this month’s pick I decided I should scroll down further instead of picking something I recently added. It’s really easy to forget books you added months or years ago. You keep adding books and something is bound to capture your attention and make you read it right now, pushing the last dozen down the list. I keep seeing Call Down the Hawk because it’s near the top and that made me think about how I wanted to start here. So you’ve got some reference to birds, fantasy, lots of books by this author and great recommendations, and of course a cool blurb. I went for it and I am so happy. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series though that means I have to wait for my next month’s Audible credit. But do I want any physical copies? Oh lord…

Stay tuned for my review of these books.

Lastly, I’m currently listening to The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (just saw I’ve got a newer book of hers on my list as well), narrated by Liyah Summers. In my notes I have that I read a review of this on Books Tea Bee’s blog and she pushed me over the edge to add this to my TBR, meaning I’d heard of this elsewhere but after reading her review I finally decided to add. After adding it I think I saw Destiny @ Howling Libraries had DNF’d it, not sure I ever found out why but that stuck with me. Listening to it now – enjoying the narrator, she does a lot of different accents very well – I am a little less than attached to it. I’m trying to pay more attention for the sake of my writing to be honest. I want to pinpoint what it is that isn’t working for me because I don’t want to make the same mistake in my own writing. It’s not bad writing and it’s not a bad story but 5 hours in (out of 25!) it feels disjointed. When I make note that it’s 25 hours long (holy moly, the other three are around 12-16 hours) I’m thinking things really pick up and I hope they do. It’s not a DNF for me at all but if I had to rate it this early on I’d give 3 stars.

How’d I pick this? Daily deal. $5.95 and I needed a new audio book to listen to while I work. And it was on my list so why not? Simple as that. AND 25 hours means I won’t be craving a new audio book as soon. 😉

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The next question is, what book will I pick for September? Probably I’ll go with The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater but we’ll see. 😉

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What about you, do you listen to audio books? How do you pick them? Any you recommend? And that’s it for Audio Book Talk Part 1, stay tuned for Audio Book Talk Part 2, in which I talk about why audio books do and don’t work for me as a writer.

Hit the Follow Me button somewhere on this page and stay tuned. Maybe you want to hear about me being a writer or maybe you want to hear about me being a reader. I can be long-winded but what the hey, there’s a lot to say. 😉