Book Courtship Tag

I was tagged once again by MageChild – this is the Book Courtship Tag! This one required some thinking on my part, as I wanted to limit my responses to books I’ve read in the past two years.


1.) Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover?

tbs-aussie-coverThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner – I bought this a couple years ago, and have finally started reading it this month. It’s REALLY good, ya’ll. The writing is superb, especially for YA (not saying anything against YA, but those books are harder for me to get into). It’s just a really engaging, beautifully done book with good characters – which matches the stunning cover perfectly. For those who don’t know, the premise is basically “Titanic in space,” and leads to a sci-fi romance between an underdog soldier and the richest girl in the galaxy.

2.) First Impressions: A  book that you got because of the summary?

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski– When I discovered the niche of postmodernism, House of Leaves was title that kept cropping up. The premise – a house that’s bigger on the inside and the family that it torments, all written in a topsy-turvy experiment of typography – intrigued me incredibly. Thank goodness it did not disappoint. House of Leaves was about everything I expected it to be and everything I wanted.

3.) Sweet Talk: A book with great writing?

Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov – This book is so complex and confusing that I can barely tell what’s going on in it. But I don’t care, because Nabokov’s beautiful, unusual, synesthetic prose is so lovely to read. He describes people in a particularly interesting way, always focusing on the most obscure and sometimes unflattering aspects of their physical appearance, while still making them charming. I have a few works of Nabokov on my shelf, not because I really care about the Russian chronicles he writes about, but because maybe immersing myself in his talent will rub off on me. Whenever I feel like my style is suffering, I open one of his  anthologies and work through a few short stories. It’s just a nice reminder of this is how it’s done.

4.) First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

Divergent by Veronica Roth – I haven’t actually read Insurgent or Allegiant yet, but I think Divergent did a good job of introducing an interesting world with enough questions to keep the reader moving through the series. Honestly though, I found out that some of the questions were just there as bait and ended up with rather unsatisfying answers, so that’s put me off finishing the series. I….tend not to support books that do this to their readers. There are better ways to build suspense.

63345.) Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – This book had a lot of intrigue. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t stop. Unfortunately, the ending was a bit of a let down after all that build-up.

6.) Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn– Rarely does a book hit me in the face with some real-life observations and cause me to reevaluate my life, but man. Gone Girl called me out on so many problematic things I did on a daily basis, from trying to please everyone to judging other women for being “bitchy”. Amy pulled me in with her first 100 pages with that likeable persona of hers, and when she proceeded to call me out for going along with it…man. Gillian Flynn is brilliant. That is all.

7.) Getting Physical: A book which you lolovecraftleatherve the way it feels/looks?

H.P LoveCraft – The Complete Fiction– Any of these Barnes and Noble collectors editions are beautiful, with their gold-leafed pages and leather bound covers. The H.P Lovecraft one is especially pretty, as the nebula on the front is foiled and sparkly. The pages have a nice weight to them too. These anthologies are the best looking things I have on my shelf.

8.) Meeting the parents: A book which you would recommend to your family and friends?

Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin – I had to think hard about a book that is “for everyone”, and really, there’s no such thing. But I think this book has a message that everyone ought to hear, and does a good job of offering multiple perspectives on a very sensitive issue. Plus, if I’m asked to recommend something, I like offering indie/small-press books over mainstream novels, as word of mouth is so much more important to those without a PR team and NYT bestseller buzz.

9.) Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – This series was my first fandom, sparked my first fanfic, and I am still stoked about the (potential) movie that’s stuck in perpetual pre-production. Colfer is an amazing writer and the entire cast of characters in Artemis Fowl will stick with me forever. Especially Holly – one of the best female characters ever put to page.

10.) Share the love:

Any takers can leave their responses in the comments or do it on their own blog ;) Read any of the books on this list? Agree or disagree?

My Year In Books: 2015 Book Reviews

Last week I talked about the best movies of 2015. But my followers will likely take more interest in today’s post: the best BOOKS!

Most of these did not come out in 2015, but this is simply a reflection on what I read this year.

Best Humor – The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero

I am endlessly fascinated with the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau – writer, director, and star of the worst movie ever made, The Room. This memoir/semi-biography is told by Tommy’s hapless best friend, and other star of The Room, Greg Sestero. His stories about Tommy’s endless determination and baffling creation of this disasterpiece made it hard to put the book down. This was probably my quickest read of the entire year, because I couldn’t stop reading it. It was like watching a trainwreck….a funny, funny trainwreck.

Best NonfictionPrimal Myths by Barbara C. Sproul

I read a lot of nonfiction, especially about mythology. There are quite a few myth books I could put on this list, but the best one I’ve encountered so far is Primal Myths. It is a massive summary of all the creation myths of the world, and best of all, it includes context. I read a book on Hindu myth earlier this year which was a very poor effort on the author’s part, because she spat out myths at random with no context or deeper analysis than the myth’s literal translation. Primal Myths always offers a few words about the peoples whose myth we’re discussing, and giving some speculation about the symbology and deeper meaning behind them. Which really helps the reader understand what the myth is actually about. Plus, it’s great to have all these creation stories in one place so I can mine them for ideas later.

Biggest Disappointment – The Martian by Andy Weir

I say “disappointment” somewhat lightly, because I did enjoy the film and Andy Weir is an awesome guy. I don’t aim to hurt his feelings or dismiss the fact that he got the public excited about science and space, because that is awesome. But this book was not really a novel. It was a guide for how to survive Mars. Due to all the hype and the fabulous premise, I expected this book to read like a gripping novel. Rather, it was quite obviously a series of self-published blog posts that had been assembled into a book and gained traction enough to become a bestseller…not unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, but at least this was a positive book about science and not badly written erotica! Does this make it a bad book? No. And I try not to diss things simply because they weren’t what I thought they would be. But I can’t deny I was disappointed by the execution of this one.

Book That Lived Up To The HypeHouse of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

Some people claim that this book is pretentious. Some think it’s gimmicky. Some complain that you don’t really get “answers.” I went in knowing that the bizarre nature of Navidson’s house would never be explained, so I didn’t expect an explanation. And really, the book never makes that its primary question. I always got the feeling that what I really should be focusing on is the people, not the house. So it ended rather satisfactorily, for me. I also did not find it pretentious – and I’m very quick to claim that books are so – because every creative choice Danielewski made had meaning behind it. It didn’t strike me as gimmicky. Unfortunately, I’ve heard his other works are more gimmick, less substance, but this book had a lot of genius.

Best Writing StyleCity of Saints and Madmen by Jeff Vandermeer

I only finished one novella in this semi-anthology – Dradin, In Love. Without a doubt, Vandermeer has one of the most beautiful writing styles of any author I’ve read. I don’t even really care what’s happening in the book – I just let his wonderful language wash over me and maybe some of it will stick. Maybe I can absorb his talent just by reading him! Or at least his imagination, because this guy is one of the most imaginative authors since H.P. Lovecraft.

Best Indie BookEating Bull by Carrie Rubin

I didn’t read many indie works this year, but I felt this book deserved recognition. I promise it’s not nepotism :P Eating Bull really was a great book, with one of the best villains I’ve read in years. It’s a thriller, it’s social commentary, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sympathetic. It’s also a pretty quick read, and I found myself scrolling through the ebook on my Kindle app in every waiting room or lunch break.

Best Classic Book – A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick

So far, this is the only Dick book I’ve finished in my Dick anthology. Undoubtedly, many of them are better. However, for my first foray into Dick’s work, I found him to be an excellent author who has certainly earned his status as a science fiction national treasure. His writing is crisp and accessible, creating an immersive sci-fi world without getting bogged down in technical details. He created intrigue and tension from the first chapter. And in this book, published in 1970, he basically predicted 3D printing. This book also reminded me of The Maze Runner in some of its plot elements, so check it out if you’re a fan of that series. Next up, I’m reading his The Man In The High Castle, which was recently adapted for Amazon Prime TV.

Best Book On WritingBird By Bird by Anne Lamott and The Well Fed Self Publisher by Peter Bowerman

I’ve tied these, because they offered great advice in two different tiers. If you’re at all interested in self-publishing, The Well Fed Self Publisher is a MUST READ. Peter Bowerman packs so much information into this book that my notes took up half a journal. I basically rewrote the book, because almost all his advice is important. He gets deep into details I never even knew existed before. This book does not tell you much about writing, but should be mandatory reading for anyone trying to be their own publisher. Because it’s obvious how many indie authors out there have not taken similar advice, and they make simple mistakes that cost them an entire career.

Bird By Bird’s advice on the craft of writing was stuff I already knew. But it resonated with my soul as a writer. It came just at the right time, as I was buckling beneath a pile of self-doubt and uncertainty. Anne Lamott and I have a lot in common, in both our anxieties and our worldview, and it’s inspirational to see how she coped with it. How she pushed past her walls and put herself out there, how surprised she was to see someone actually like her work. It reminds me that all great authors were once nobodies with a dream. And they’re just as surprised as anyone when they make it. In the same vein, I’ve finally snagged a copy of On Writing by Stephen King, and that is next on my writing books roster. :) I know, I’m late to the party!

I am currently reading Secrets of The Sands by Leona Wisoker, who is a super cool lady I know from AtomaCon. 36 pages in, and I’m really enjoying it! It has a Prince of Persia vibe that I’m digging.

After that, I hope to read 50 BOOKS in 2016! :O We’ll see how that goes. I’ll try to update my sidebar reading list before January 1st, so you can anticipate what I’m reading.

What did you read in 2015? Love or hate anything on this list? Let me know!