Top 5 Resolutions to Shape Up my Reading for 2018

 

This week’s top 5 Wednesday is all about resolutions. In other words, folks all over the blog-o-sphere will be discussing their bookish resolutions. For me, I am going to discuss my top 5 resolutions that (I hope) will shape up my reading for 2018. Let’s do this.

1. read at least two hours a day

My biggest problem is how much time I spend online. It took me a while to recognize this as an issue. The more I focus on other people’s lives, I get more anxious and slip into this arena of comparison. It’s like, “Oh wow, so and so read this many books so far. I am a failure,” and so on.

While I understand that the Internet helps me a lot, I also am trying to minimize my reliance on it because, you know, it is slowing me down in terms of reading (and getting things done, in general).

So, I am trying to get off the Internet earlier, and read at least two hours or more before bed time.

2. read more diversely and more critically

I know there is a surge to be reading from different diverse groups, and I like this movement. However, I think sometimes I don’t notice certain things when it comes to representation. Like, is it authentic? Is it catering to an “other” audience? What do some # ownvoices folks think of this representation?

In doing so, I would be exercising my critical thinking muscles, which have been mostly dormant because of my confidence issues. I worry that I am offending someone now that I have a blog. And, I admit that I get anxiety just thinking of any kind of backlash.

But, I am trying to get comfortable with the idea of conflict being part of life.

3. remembering that all things are problematic

I have to be mindful of this idea: anyone can find a work problematic based on their experiences. Getting comfortable with acknowledging the ways a work fails to incorporate a certain perspective doesn’t diminish my own appreciation of it.

As someone who has been trained in analysis of literature, I used to be more emotional in how I reacted to books, then I became too afraid to stray from the norm to avoid confrontation.

 

An open mind can guide my reading life to be less driven by fear, and more driven by thought and growth.

4. read more widely

Kind of different to number 2, I promise. I understand that reading diversely from popular literature’s growing batch is always going to be a thing for me, because…I like some of these stories. However, I would like to venture into classics again.

5. keep statistics on my reading

Emily was sharing her statistics of 2017, and I was so intrigued by it that I am going to give this a try in 2018. I want to keep track of what I read and how it relates to the world. Hopefully it will guide me to develop reading habits that reflect how I want to participate in the reading realm.

 

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Books I’m Wishing For in 2018

This week marks the final days of December, 2017. As such, Top 5 Wednesday is all about our top 5 books we wish for. Here are some of the themes I want more of.

5. Minority groups in historical settings

Right now, I am reading A Madness so Discreet, and all I am thinking about is how rare it is to discuss mental health in a historical setting. Not only is it a shunned topic, it is also not often discussed in a complicated manner in young adult literature. I am not sure why this is the case. Why do some people assume that all those who read YA are not capable of complex discussions. It just needs to change.

I want it to go beyond just mental illness. Intersectional identities existed throughout history. Talk about queen people with mental illness in a historical setting. And, as much as I love steam punk, I want authentic narratives. My favorite discussion was definitely in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Definitely want more well-researched historical fiction in 2018.

4. magical realism

Your home girl here loves a lot of magical realism. Basically, it feels like a good stepping stone between fantasy and contemporary fiction. There’s this je ne sais quoi factor to it. It’s like being in Neverland but not being totally sure of what is happening. Anna Marie McLemore is basically the leader on my boards of magical realism tallies. I adored her work (read all of it this year and the year past). So, here’s what I’d like: queer identities, minorities, disabled people in magical realism tales. Write about how awesome these characters are. Make them varied and complex, and messy. The messier, the better.

3. raw discussions of society as it stands

Part of the charm of stories lies in their potential social commentaries. The Hate U Give offered so much nuance and direct correlations from the text to the news.  It shed light on what it is like to live in such a disadvantaged position in the social structure of American communities.

While it felt rushed, a similar discussion was in The Sun is Also a Star. Yoon discussed the multi-faceted nature of being an American. She explores the dimensions of first love, heartbreak, hope, and loss.

Sometimes, I feel like we want social justice to be discussed in contemporaries, but we don’t see the power of symbolism. This Savage Song and its sequel had such an impact on myself as a person, because I was shaken by the way Schwab examined cruelty and humanity. What if your acts had a physical manifestation as a result? Something bold and strong, and it tracks you down?

2. genre mash up

The beauty of stories also is in the way they can be presented. I think that we need to start freshening things up. Try different ways of telling a story. Like Illuminae comes to mind. I enjoyed the way its authors included such a vast exploration of genre and story telling methods. They worked well for me, and I am looking forward to continue with stories like this.

Another mash up I really enjoyed is in Rebel Belle. It is the clash between a contemporary and a fight/action tale that really made the story memorable. Sometimes, you just need to read something amusing and different. What I am trying to say is that authors could perhaps try meshing various commonly used genres to get something completely different and unique.

 1. open ended conclusions

My favorite ending was the one in The Raven King, and I just want stories with inconclusive conclusions. You don’t have to spoon-feed me an ending. I can come up with my own assumptions about what happened to the characters after the main conflict is resolved–if it is resolved at all.

In other words, I want authors to treat readers as the intelligent people that they are. Nobody needs all stories to have a nicely wrapped up bow atop the ending. Totally fine with vagueness, too. Like, “Did this person live or no?” I think, in doing so, the stories become more about us and less about a dictated spelled-out series of actions. The coolest thing is when you read a story, and your understanding of what happened changes completely over time.

Just a thought.

 

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Characters on the Naughty List

Look at me going back a week just to use this Top 5 Wednesday topic. Before I get into the discussion and list, let me tell you that the link to this Goodreads group is right here. Once you click on the link, you’ll be able to see the topics and the moderators of Top 5 Wednesday.

5.dr. heedson from a madness so discreet by mindy mcginnis

I understand that medicine wasn’t as good as it is now (and even now, horrible things happen to mentally ill patients). However, this doctor was an absolute abomination to all medical professionals in all the lands, across time periods. He was just a horrific person, and I am not even done with the book yet, but goodness…he lacks understanding, compassion, and kindness that I find to be necessary for a physician to understand those who experience mental illness.

4. maura from born wicked by jessica spotswood

Now, granted, their society would deem the whole family to be on the naughty list (I mean, that would be the least of their worries, but okay). Maura, though, trusts Elena readily and actively seeks approval from her while breaking the rule Cate has set for their family. Sounds like Santa would not be pleased by either sister. Tess would be on the good list for sure, though.

3. Jessamyn Lovelace from the infernal devices by cassandra clare

Nope. I try to think of her as a complicated person. Even then, I still dislike her and would put her on the naught list. Please,Santa, do not send her any parasols or whatever it is she likes, because she gives Will and the gang such a hard time.

2. hailey from the hate u give by angie thomas

Oh, she makes me so angry. Santa doesn’t like racist people.

 1. micah bayar from the demon king by cinda williams chima

The things he does in this book are upsetting, okay? I don’t like what he and his father end up doing to the Queen and to her Heir. Heck no. Whatever, Raisa, I don’t care how “cute” he may be. To me, he will always be a creepy and frightening fellow. Do not like him. So, please, Santa, put him on the bad list for me.

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Literary and Stylistic Choices that Upset Me

 

 

For this week’s Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt mentions things that irk us as readers. I decided to discuss things that bothered me enough to conside unhauling a book (I tend to just pass them on to my siblings, in case I regret the choice). Here are some of my pet peeves in terms of literary and stylistic choices. Some spoilers ahead.  PS: I hope no one is offended by my opinions. My goal is not to bash anything, but simply to express my annoyance.

5. monster’s point of view

Examples: Our Dark Duet, A Conjuring of Light* (didn’t think of unhauling the books, but I was really irritated by both of them in these “monologues”) 

Often used as a way to hype up the conflict between good and evil, showing a “mysterious monster’s” point of view is often italicized. It is also frequently fragmented and hard to follow. In some ways, it reminds me of Harry hearing Nagini and Voldemort talking to each other. I don’t like that. Just narrate the story the way you always have. Unless the villain/monstrous thing is actually a three-dimensional nuanced character, I don’t really care for the “pure evil” narrative. I could go on and on about this, but in short: I don’t believe anything is “pure evil.”

4. mental illness as a spoiler

Example: Every Last Word 

This one, I definitely unhauled it, because it was like, “Surprise! Another mental illness was at hand here.” We have enough stories about how confusing mental illness can be for a person. What I want is people who already know their diagnosis navigating their paths through life. A good example of this is Turtles All the Way Down. 

3. pretty girl shaming

Example: The School for Good and Evil 

Nope. Stop assuming that girls who care about their appearance are shallow and silly. You can be a multi-faceted person with different interests. Besides, caring about one’s appearance is not a reflection on one’s morality or intelligence. Stop pitting women against each other.

2. unnecessary and surprise flashbacks

Example: The Lies of Locke Lamora 

Don’t jump around the text for no reason. Oh, it makes me so mad that this way of establishing characters’ back-story was used. Ugh, no. I barely could keep up with the main plot, and then all these flashbacks were used to help add dimension to the characters. Let me tell you, there are much clearer ways to narrate such aspects of a character. I felt like I was listening to a drunk man while reading this story, to be quite honest. Hint: not a good thing.

 1. characters who use inappropriate nicknames

Example: The Girl in the Steel Corset 

They just met, and a day or two later, he’s calling her “sweetheart.” And, it’s not like Han Solo, where it is used sarcastically.  Heck, even Lea did not act amused by his nicknames. I just wish stories did not skip important boundaries being established. Look, I am sure people can fall in love while respecting each others’ space. Don’t call people things that are not appropriate for how close you really are. Stop making it okay for people to use terms of endearment without consent.

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Wishful Thinking about TBR Authors I’d Like To Emulate

 

 

As we bid November adieu, I am following the prompt for Top 5 Wednesday’s last one for the month. The topic is the authors I wish I could write like (or be like). Because I talk a lot about books I am reading or have already read, I want to share some of the authors I have not read anything from yet. Surprise! Also, for whatever reason, this list is only featuring women. Whoops.

5. morgan rhodes

I am stupidly pumped for Falling Kingdoms. Perhaps this is a foolish feeling, but I have a good feeling about it. Part of my reasons for liking Morgan Rhodes is because of how she approaches fans. From what I hear, she doesn’t treat her readers as though they’re immature. Her characters sound complex, the relationships slow building and real, and I am here for this.

Besides, I am noticing a lot of trends with fantasy writers, and Rhodes doesn’t seem to be copying anyone. I genuinely think all that “Young Adult Game of Thrones” is just marketing oversimplification.  I want to be like her just for the gutsy take on a complicated story format while still making it accessible to readers. I mean, the chances of me ever reading a George R.R. Martin are nonexistent, because of the content. Rhodes’ text seems more approachable.

4. gail carriger

My experience with a popular steampunk novel (The Girl in the Steel Corset) was ill-fated. Now, my approach to this genre is tinged with wariness. But, I have a really good feeling about Gail Carriger, just by looking at her interviews on YouTube. Her books’ covers are gorgeous, too. And, I want to be like her: creative, charming, and committed to a genre that feels authentic to who I am as a person.

3. Cathrynne m. valente

All I read about her books is how inventive and strange they are. In particular, I am thinking of Deathless, which baffled many people. I have heard of her newest book, one involving the Bronte sisters, and even that one garnered much confusion. And, listen, that is awesome, because I think complex texts like hers allow for personal soul-searching with the book. You start to see yourself in the story, rather than follow the “right” interpretation. What a cool thing to elicit in a reader’s mind.

2. sabaa tahir

Being a woman of color in the writing world sounds intimidating. Sabaa Tahir carries herself with such grace and confidence. I don’t follow writers on Twitter (or social media in general), but, from what I’ve seen, her tweets are hilarious and poignant. Furthermore, her books take on an manifesting an uncommon inspiration (Ancient Rome!).

 1. angie thomas

As of the time of writing this post, I have not officially started reading Thomas’ The Hate You Give. So, she obviously makes the cut. I am in awe of how necessary and brave the story itself is. It’s hard to speak out and share experiences; naturally, I admire Angie Thomas for doing so with grace and kindness. Besides, she really calls people out on their crap, which is amazing.

 

Honorable mentions

Roshani Chokshi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Marie Lu.

 

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Books I am Grateful that I Read This Year

 

 

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday, a meme based on a Goodreads group. In this group, there are topics generated for the book community to list their top 5. This week, I will be listing the top 5 books I am grateful that I read this year.

5. the sun is also a star by nicola yoon

It was not a perfect book, but it highlighted things that I worried about as an immigrant coming to the states. Concerns about identity, stereotypes, and belonging all sprang up in this book in a sensitive and yet honest way.

4. Not a drop to drink by mindy mcginnis

This book posits really difficult moral questions in an intense yet simple way. I am grateful for Lynn and her mother, Lucy, and Mr. Stebbs. They brought forth a tough discussion on compassion in trying times. In no way was this story idealistic in its approach to these choices we have to make. And, yes, we aren’t in a post-apocalyptic world (debatable honestly). But, I will say that we still have to make a choice about the kind of people we want to be in the face of adversity and difficulty.

3. A Monster calls by patrick ness

Call me entirely too romantic, but I find myself thinking of this story often. It’s about letting go of people, releasing connections we once thought were necessary. It’s about the loss of innocence in the face of death. Most importantly, it about speaking your truth and facing yourself. Being honest with yourself in terms of troubles, pain, and frustrations. I love this book. So grateful that I have read it this year.

2. more happy than not by adam silvera

This book made me see my complicated relationship with my past. Like, I sometimes assume that things were much better before I sought help. Erasure of the past, if it ever is an option, is something I wish for often as well. And, this book showed me that time and events have a complicated relationship with the development of a person. Also: consequences of radical actions (like erasing a past) are beyond the scheme of what one assumes to be possible and predictable.

 

 1.  turtles all the way down by john green 

Ah, jeez. I am so in love with this story. It really spoke to me about relationships (friendships) and mental illness, particularly anxiety and depersonalization (both of which I have officially been diagnosed with). The story is moving and funny, sad and hopeful all at once. There are references to spirals, which is something my mom always points out to me in my behaviors.

And, I just keep thinking of this quote from this book, a book written by my favorite author:

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

This is an accurate description of these spirals I get into. I’m thankful for finding representation in this book, and for feeling understood.

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Problematic Favorite Characters

 

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday. Here’s a link to the Goodreads group so you can follow along with topics and such. This week, the topic is about problematic favorite characters.

5. Looking for alaska by john green

I will always love Alaska Young, even though I do acknowledge that she is a bit of a manic pixie dream girl. Often, I find myself thinking of her, more than Pudge and the gang. Incidentally, I read this book at least six or seven years ago, and haven’t reread it since. That is a testament to how memorable Alaska is. “The only way out is through.”

4. Eleanor and park by rainbow rowell

A lot of people dislike how Park is portrayed in this book. I do think this, though: he and Eleanor broke my heart on such an epic level. Like Alaska, I find myself really drawn to them because of their social awkwardness. Also, I felt like Eleanor’s family situation was borderline triggering at times. She reminds me of my own experience with abusive family dynamics and, for that I connected with her a lot.

3. the falconer by elizabeth may

Gavin, the dude who stole my heart even more than Kiaran, did something horrible in book 2. Yet, I found myself still sympathetic towards him. Maybe it is because he was such a close friend to the main character? I am not sure. I just love him, even after the end of the final book, I still love him so much.

2. anna and the french kiss by stephanie perkins

I read this trilogy of companion novels a long time ago, and I noticed recently that people have problems with it. Mainly, the issue is that the endgame couple starts their relationship based on cheating. So, at first, I put the books away in shame because, oh my god, I didn’t even remember this fact. But, I put them back on my shelves, because I love them and I recognize that they are problematic.

 1. poison study by maria v. snyder

Look, this person is mentioned as a part of the LGBT+ community, but it’s not explored or explained. And, it makes me mad that this person was not given enough exposition. I love these books, but this is something I want more of.

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books with Paranormal Creatures

It’s Top 5 Wednesday time! This week, the topic is to discuss paranormal creatures and list the top 5 books with a certain creature. Because I’m indecisive, I will be talking about all kinds of memorable creatures I have encountered in literature.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The mutts in this trilogy are haunting, straight out of a scary novel. One of the most terrifying images was when Katniss could hear other contestants projected through the mutts. In that sense, the guilt of having killed them intensifies. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the mutts.

4. The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Fairies never seemed so dangerous to me, until I have read this trilogy. Good God, they are bewildering and taunting in their kills. The scene where Aileana meets Sorcha for the first time still gives me shivers. Iconic. Plus, this is a more complicated take on the mythology behind fairies and their relationship with humans.

3. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

While this is not a literal paranormal novel, I say it’s certainly offering commentary on humanity and the need for survival. How far is too far for us to carry on living? Mother and Lynn are a great team, because they’re so driven to shooting everyone down (except for Stebbs).

2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Yep, I’m still talking about this book, because it blew my mind. While I have mixed feelings about the monster’s “villainy” in here, he was still rather profound and moving. Like, really moving. I’m not sure if the thought of Liam Neeson voicing this monster sways me. I never read the monster as a “bad” influence. To me, he was a guide, a therapist almost. Sometimes, we don’t like the lessons we have to learn. Letting go is the hardest lesson of all. Conor may have disliked the monster for a long time, but it is because he represented a scary notion on loss and courage. I totally understand how monstrous loss can be. So, yes, it’s up there.

 1. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

In the vein of Not a Drop To Drink, I have to say the most terrifying creatures I had encountered have to be humans. Cruel, impulsive, and sometimes calculating, impassive at times, there are too many people who are very much like Kate Harker and her father. The monsters are not always the most physically intimidating creatures. It’s the ones who choose to be monstrous with metal nails installed.

 

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Eerie Books

Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday! Here is a link to the Goodreads group for topics and more information. Let me start off this post with a warning: I don’t do scary. At all. So, for this Top 5 Wednesday, I’m talking about eerie things.

5. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I don’t have a copy of this story anymore, but man, I was so fascinated by it when I did read it. Um, young Goodman Brown was a good man and he was very faithful to his religion. Then, things go awry. Dude, Nathaniel Hawthorne doesn’t like it when people deviate from their faith. I mean, it’s admirable and all, but something about the lengths to which he goes that gets a little overboard. Still. I remember how eerie this one was. Even now.

4. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The first time I was reading this poem, I’d found out about the Simpsons’ performance of this piece. I have loved it ever since. Edgar Allan Poe is kind of very medicated, so his horror pieces always felt extra strange to me. But, the ones about love and loss are always not scary because of supernatural things, and more because of the emotional impact.

3. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

In my head, I always imagine the dark, vast opera where this story is set. Much like The Raven, this story troubled me with the setting and the loss featured throughout the tale. No, I am not too keen on watching musicals, though. Nor do I have a copy of this story. It’s too sad for me to actually reread again.

2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

My heart will always remember this story. Quentin is one of my favorite names of all time. Sometimes, I miss the images these siblings share in their respective chapters. But, there is a certain brother that I hate(d).

 1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

There are moments where I feel rage toward this book, because of the whole “Byronic hero” thing. To me, it always felt like a literal racial implied message hidden in there. But, maybe I am just being overly critical. It’s still one of the most eerie stories I had ever read. And, I love it so much.

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Witches in My Read Pile

Hello! As we are in the spirit of Halloween, the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads group‘s topic for this week is WITCHES. I’m not as excited as you think. On the contrary, I am way more thrilled by this topic.

5. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

So, when I read this play, I was maybe fourteen and in high school. While most people had some chill, I didn’t. I remember being so ANGRY at these girls in the play. But, the funny thing is: we read it and analyzed it for class in high school, and I still remember that rage. What’s fascinating to me is that there is no exact “witch” here, but it’s like, “Are you sure? For real, for real?” Because, for me? I’m not sure who really is a witch and who isn’t in this play.

I love that blurred distinction.

4. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

The way those three witches showed up in the beginning of the play is one of the most memorable entrances ever. To me, they drove a nice haunting tone home to audiences–no mater the medium. Pun somewhat intended. Macbeth is like one of my most dear reading experiences ever. Witches play a role in that fact.

3. Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

They’re called “Castors” here, but my goodness, they are so freaking cool. And, also, there is a witch (like for real witch) and she is capable and central to the story.

2. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Uh. It’s obviously a spoiler for me to reveal who becomes a witch and/or who is already a witch in this series. But, just so you know, this person is AWESOME. I’ll never fully recover from the surprise of seeing said character transforming throughout the series into a powerful witch.

 

 1.  When the Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore

Kind of a major throw-back to Shakespearean witches, coupled with the uncertainty of their nature from The Crucible, I adore how mysterious these sisters were. I’m in love with how complicated they were up close.

In honor of Father's Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
  For this week's Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters