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I’m heading into the second week of the August TBR Read A Thon and am wondering if I’m encountering some form of karmic payback from the universe. Specifically, the NaNoWriMo part of the universe.

Some background: It is common knowledge among WriMos that while the first week of NaNoWriMo is a breeze with the giddy joy of starting your story with the new characters and all the possibilities lying before you. Your fingers dance across the keyboard and you rocket past the daily word count goals. The second week is a dark, dark place. You’ve written too much to scrap the plot that is suddenly petering out with characters who are refusing to do anything beyond lie on the couch and moan and how did you ever think this was a good story idea? You find yourself sweating twenty minutes  for each sentence, full of loathing for every word you type.

Confession time: Week Two despair…has yet to happen to me. I don’t know why, I just keep my head down as I type,  and knock on wood that I will continue to be so blessed. [knocks on wood]

Well, here I am in the second week of the Readathon and after double checking with Nancy that no, she/the reading gods are not going to smite me, I’m chopping two books off of my list. I say farewell to The Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight and A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King.

The premises are still enticing and I want to read these books at some point in my life but that point is…not now. Reading is a still priority but unfortunately these books haven’t made the cut in my brain for what I want to read. When a book has been sitting on my bookshelf for over two months and I haven’t picked it up yet, I tend to take it as a sign. Sound off: Does this happen to anyone else?

Nancy is running her August TBR Readathon this month and I am pleased to say that by tonight, I will have knocked my first book off the (rapidly growing) list: The Stone Rose by Jaqueline Rayner. I received the book as an interlibrary loan while at work (celebrated with an impromptu victory dance much to the bemusement of my coworkers) this past Saturday and tore through most of it on my breaks and lunch hour at work yesterday.

I want the audiobook because it's narrated by David Tennant

I look forward to reading through all of the books on my list this month but I have two road blocks that threaten to stop my reading in its tracks. The first is something I can’t control: My classes starting on the 19th. My free time will be greatly reduced as I try to (re)establish good study habits. Take notes, plot out when major projects and papers are due, figure out how my duties as a NaNoWriMo ML will fit in…(Eating and sleeping should probably be somewhere on that list too, huh?)

I am all too in control of my other road block:  I have a bad habit of checking up on Twitter or reading fanfiction on my breaks and lunch time at work. I’m one of those Virgos people who has to read through every tweet in her timeline and it’s much easier to catch up on four hours of tweets on a fifteen minute break than eight to twelve hours after getting home. I find fanfiction to be very soothing after dealing with the never-ending row of carts stuffed with books waiting for be shelved or student-patrons scrambling for the classic literature needed for their summer assignments (Spoiler alert: It’s already all been checked out.) Even if I bring a book with me to work, I’ll ignore it in favor of my iPad or phone.

To beat this second, bad habit, I’ve resolved to leave my iPad at home (classes permitting) once a week  and focus on the books on my TBR list when at work.

Technology, you are not the boss of me!

Technology, you are not the boss of me!

This month reading has fallen to the wayside to make time for Camp NaNoWriMo. At the end of the day, I’m worded out enough that picking up a book and trying to give it the proper care and attention it deserves makes me give an exhausted little twitch. I want to give the books I read my best, I don’t want to spend a half-hour reading the same paragraph over and over and over again… I given serious thought to letting Nancy send Weeping Angel pictures if I don’t read the books currently collecting dust on my shelf. Fortunately, come August, there will be another way to motivate me: Nancy is hosting a To Be Read Readthon, complete with sign-ups, prizes, and buttons to place on your blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to let everyone know about it!

The rules and sign up are available here. Join us! It’ll be massive amounts of fun. (Especially since my school year starts on August 19th. Oh gods.)

My August TBR List:

Ruined by Paula Morris
Fated by Benedict Jacka
A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Stone Rose by  Jaqueline Rayner
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey
Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn

Read:

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa: I liked the book a lot even if my long-standing familiarity with mythology/fairy tales/TVtropes allowed me to call a few points ahead of time. The sequel is sitting in my bag now!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: I finished the book in an hour flat and promptly texted Nancy “GODS DAMMIT WHY IS HE SUCH A GENIUS?” I love Neil Gaiman’s work and this shows the best of his talent– taking the boring and the mundane and mixing it together with the fantastical in ways that no one seems to think about. Even with my aforementioned familiarity with mythology et. al, I was still delighted and horrified in turns with the story he wove. When I first saw the book I was surprised at how small it was but it was just further proof of Neil’s skill as a writer– He didn’t need anymore pages. I was just as satisfied with this as I was with American Gods despite the disparate lengths.

The Stone Rose by Jaqueline Rayner: Ok, I liked this book for the blatant Doctor/Rose shipping in the last few pages but overall I wasn’t a fan of the writing. It felt stilted and jerky, moving the POV from the Doctor to Rose and back and I found myself bored at parts where I shouldn’t have been– Like the Doctor escaping the Colosseum. Part of me wonders if this can be improved by listening to the audiobook…I should check. For reading-science! Totally not because it’s narrated by David Tennant. Nope. Definitely not.

I’d Tell You I Love You … by Ally Carter: Well. I tore through this book in about two hours and immediately started placing all the other books in the series on hold when I saw that my library didn’t have them as ebooks (except for the fourth book, what?). I love Ally’s characters and the world she’s building and all of the pop culture references andandand like…everything. I NEED MORE ALLY CARTER BOOKS IN MY LIFE.

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury: Ok, I loved this book. Not as much as ITYILU but it was a photo finish. Proper Regency lady rebelling against Society’s constraints? Translating Jane Austen quotes into how many languages when stressed? Becoming a spy with her utterly fantastic, antagonistic, love interest to beat Napoleon? 😀 Please tell me this will be a series. PLEASE.

A Letter of Mary and Dragon Champion: Sadly removed from the list due to lack of interest in them at the current moment.

The Iron Daughter: I was really disappointed in this book– I kept waiting for something more plot-like to happen but found the book to be bogged down by a horribly cliche love triangle and a main character who seems steadfastly set on not developing. This was especially irritating since I’m a character reader/writer and can’t look past the bad characters to what may be going on with the plot.

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys: Wow. Probably like most people I assumed this book was set in and during the Holocaust and while it’s dealing with the same time period, it focuses on another, completely unknown travesty. Go read it.

Ruined by Paula Morris: I was drawn in by the idea of ghost and New Orleans culture and while the book was well-written, I wasn’t wildly enthused by the characters or plot. Probably going to give the next book a pass.

Fated by Benedict Jacka: I liked this book a lot! There’s some intriguing character and world building (the magic system!!!) and sly references to the Dresden Files (a favorite series of mine) and the plot kept me guessing at every turn. Next one please!

I have three other books but I hope to finish them before the end of July. They are Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Weeping Angel pictures may or may not be involved.

This week, I anticipate having more reading time than usual. Why? Well, I’m getting my wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday and have requested two days off of work to recover. This gives me until next Monday to be back in patron-helping shape. Between the pain pills, copious amounts of milkshakes/smoothies, and my mother’s able nursing skills, I hope to spend most of my recovery time reading*.

Right now, I have six books checked out from the library:

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans
Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

The only work I’ve read involving Terry Pratchett was Good Omens, co-written by the utterly fantastic Neil Gaiman. His Discworld series has been recommended many times by many people and I finally got my hands on the first novel.

I’ve slowly been working my way through the Dresden Files and love Jim Butcher’s worldbuilding and characters– I’m very interested to see what he does with a more “traditional” fantasy.

I stumbled across the first book in Richard Paul Evans‘  The Walk series while shelving at work and I’ve found the first three books to be fast reads with intriguing characters and plot twists. Oh man, the plot twists. I need to take notes on the wringers this author likes to throw at his beleaguered protagonist, Alan.

The other three books and authors are complete unknowns to me and I look forward to the mix of adult fantasy, young adult magical historical fiction, and contemporary fiction. When left to my own devices, I tend to reread the same beloved sci-fi and fantasy series  but I’m making an effort to branch out in my reading tastes.

*Or getting my mother hooked on Doctor Who. Yes, I’m a Whovian. Yes, I’m trying to suck my family into my fandom.

While writing my last post, I was tempted to include some of my favorite fanfiction stories and authors. My first thought was, No, fanfiction doesn’t count as real reading, and that got me thinking: Why doesn’t fanfiction, especially very well-written fanfiction, count as “real” reading? I don’t dare deny that the large part of fan-based material on the internet is living proof of Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. But what about the other ten percent? I can think of at least two “mere” fanfiction authors whose in-depth real-world research, character development, and world-building have left me in awe of what they do — Doubtless you have your own examples.

For Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, I cannot recommend Vathara’s Embers enough. For any Narnians out there, rthstewart’s stories (any of them) are a wonderful exploration of the Pevensies in both their Narnian and English lives. I could easily see Vathara being drafted to write official for Avatar or the Legend of Korra. The same for rthstewart, if the Lewis estate ever allowed it.

I have very strong, very positive beliefs about fanfiction. Still, my iPad was nearly received an impromptu tea-bath when I saw Amazon’s announcement that it was going to solicit and publish Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries fanfiction. 

Having read Chuck Wendig’s blog post and this article I have mixed feelings about Amazon’s move: The thought of fanfiction being published doesn’t thrill me to pieces. As Wired points out, prospective authors are getting the chance to publish their stories but Amazon gets far more out of the bargain. It blurs the lines between concrete canon, generally accepted fanon, and a fan’s personal head-canon further. The line between stories like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey is also blurred. (If it ever existed in the first place for those particular examples.)

I, like most of the fanfiction community, will continue to watch Amazon to see how its latest experiment will turn out. In the meantime, I will return to reading my usual fanfiction — Currently I’m on a Doctor Who and Star Trek 2009 binge.

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