Book Review History

I think that after this wonderful review year I should throw down a little of my book review history. I have only been on WordPress doing book reviews for about 2 years, but I’ve been reviewing books much much longer.

I have always loved books, as long as I can remember I was either asking someone to read to me or reading myself. My Great Grandpa was a big reader and had his own library along with a smaller one of kid’s books that I loved going through. My mom was also a reader, but more on the magazine side (we were wild children that rarely allowed her a chance to sit down a read lol) unless we grabbed a book to ask her to read to us.

When I was in middle school (13 or 14 I think) I’d heard of a program called “Pulse-It” hosted by Simon & Schuster. It was essentially an early online book review platform – before Amazon and Goodreads and all that stuff was a thing. As a teen you could sign up to receive one new free random YA novel a month and all that was expected of you was that you write a review on their site of the book you’d received in that months time frame. If you didn’t the service would be cancelled and you’d not receive any more books. FREE new books and all I had to do was write reviews online? I could definitely do this! I did this for quite a while, maybe 2 years, filling my shelves with wonderful new books and experiencing different genres. I loved feeling like my voice mattered and seeing what other teens thought about the books we’d all read. My sister and I were both signed up and we would compare what we thought about the books we received and if we got different ones we’d always swap and share the reading. When the program changed to eBooks only I had to give it up though (I didn’t have constant access to internet back then), so my review career met it’s first pause. They still have a similar eBook program going. I believe their new program to see teen books and read some for free on their website is called “Riveted” if your interested in looking into their program. I definitely recommend it, because Simon & Schuster have some great teen books out there.

My junior year of high school I joined the school newspaper. I wrote articles about vo-tech classes, sporting events, and most importantly (to me) book reviews! Our paper wasn’t “controlled” by the school which meant that the only approval for the things I read had to come from the paper’s editor and advisor. Since our advisor was also the creative writing teacher and a HUGE book advocate she let me choose which ever books I pleased to write about. I’d write about one or two books in each issue and since they were Opinion pieces I felt free to be honest, but not cruel, about how I felt. This is where I learned how to say nice things about something I didn’t like, because even if I didn’t like the story someone else might and I never want to discourage reading. For two years I write short and sweet book reviews for our school newspaper about anything I could find in the school library or in my own personal growing library. Whether my reviews got read by the school’s population I don’t know, but I enjoyed writing them!

Graduating high school caused the second, and longer, pause in my book review career. College was super busy for me, so busy that I pretty much put off reading for pleasure for the majority of the college career. I didn’t have time, or the space, to read in my college dorm. My junior year I had a 6 month internship where I spent 95% of the time traveling alone across the U.S. to work on projects. My first plane trip I had a long layover and was walking around the Dallas airport and happened into a bookstore… my old familiar stomping grounds! After browsing for a long time (I didn’t recognize any of the new titles!) I settled on buying one book – Matched by Ally Condie. After a three year hiatus I was back into reading and was craving more – instantly. Reading is very addictive for me. I was almost halfway through that book before my time at the airport was over so I went back and bought the second book in the series before I left the airport. I was going to have a 10 hour flight to Brazil where I’s be for over a week and wouldn’t be able to find books in English – so I needed to make sure my bookish needs I were covered. Every night in Brazil I would read before falling asleep and felt that familiar need to finish the series. As soon as I landed back in the states I went to the closest bookstore and bought the final book in the trilogy. My book addiction was back and stronger than before, Every week of my internship I was buying more books no matter where I was located. Some were good, others not so good, but I was left chasing the high that Matched gave me and the need for more books just as good. I never found a book that made me feel the same as the Matched series did, but I didn’t quit looking. When my internship was over and I had to go back to school my reading slowed down, but didn’t stop! I have been reading consistently every since.

After college I moved away to a town where I lived right next to a Barnes & Noble! I bought a Nook to make night reading and reading at work easier and discovered that I could write a review of something I read right on my Nook! I began to look again at the online book review forum and would write one or two lines about any book I could rememeber reading. Then with Blogger I decided I’d try writing full length book reviews again for a more consistent audience. That didn’t last too long, I found the platform difficult to use and the app was NOT what I was looking for as far as usability goes. I gave up that blog adventure and went back to just reviewing shortly on Goodreads, Amazin, and my Nook. When I got my Kindle I enjoyed being able to write notes about what I was reading and highlight parts that I wanted to remember to help make my reviews more meaty. I still wanted to write reviews for an audience though, so here and there on my personal Instagram I’d write a blurb about a book once I’d finished reading it on my Kindle.

Then finally WordPress! I started about 2 years ago writing book reviews when I found the time, and only for books that I felt really strongly about! At the beginning of this year I decided that I’d do book reviews more consistently and on a broader scale, I had been reading free Kindle and Nook books for a while and decided that I’d write about anything I read – whether I liked it or not, and whether it was kindof in the middle of the road for me. This year I also created a Bookstagram to help promote my reviews and do other bookish posts! Through Bookstagram I found that authors, expecially indie authors, are willing to give me books to read in exchange for my reviews! My whole view on the review world changed when I realized how important reviews are for authors, I needed to be honest and fair and make sure I talked candidly about the books I was reading. I still read books that I chose, but I can’t stress how much I’ve loved reading books that the author actually reached out to me about. It’s a special feeling, especially when they come back for more or keep in touch!

I have loved my review career from the beginning alomg with all its changes. Now I have no plans on stopping any time soon. I already have authors lined up to contact next year, a few books chosen to be read, and plans to make my blog and Bookstagram better than before!

Ttyl,

❤ Squared

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November 2018 Wrap Up

November as a whole was a crazy month. NaNoWriMo, work audit, boyfriend’s surgery, Thanksgiving, and my birthday.

I want to state that I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo. Why anyone would try to write a whole novel in a month this crazy is beyond me. I vote that NaNoWriMo be moved to like March or something, because after Halloween trying to get anything this big done is impossible… I think I wrote about 9,000 words total all month. This means I’d give myself like a 3 out of 5 stars. I worked hard for about the first two weeks then fell right on my face and forgot about it all. I still thought about my stories and my characters but I didn’t get much pencil put to paper. Thanksgiving, surgeries, audits at work, and my birthday just unfortunately kept me away from typing.

Other than that I think November wasn’t too bad! I finally got a table, right before Thanksgiving, so now I have a table to eat at, write at, and read at! I definitely love it! As far as the reading goes, I finished World War Z and read more of Red Rising (which I am really loving). Make sure you check out my review of World War Z!!

Now that it’s December I’ll be trying to read Harry Potter! Then in January I have 2 authors already ready for me to contact them once my schedule levels out. I really love this whole book review community, I love being able to share a love of books!

Ttyl,

Squared ❤

World War Z by Max Brooks ~ Book Review!!

World War Z is a fiction novel written by Max Brooks. This story is made up of a series of interviews about before, during, and after the war. This is the first book I’ve read by Max Brooks (I have had a couple of his others on my TBR for a while) and now I am really interested in seeing what his other books are like, because this one was fabulous! I’ve never felt so caught up in a fictitious “history” before. My boyfriend has been trying to get me to read this book for a long time and I’m so glad that I did! I wouldn’t go as far to say it was a horror or thriller, more like a memoir or documentary with emotion and shock value.

**This review may have some very mild spoilers – but I won’t go into too much detail.**

The narrator is a reporter and he’s traveled around the globe gathering stories from many different people to document the humanity side of the war and plague that was dubbed “World War Z”. I’ve never found myself wanting so badly for a story to be real. Not in a “I wish I could go to Hogwarts way” but in a way that these people’s stories felt so real that I found myself often thinking: “Wow! This is amazing!” and “I can’t believe we did that!” and “I wish I could have seen that.” Then I’d catch myself and remember that it was all fiction.

The stories in this book cover the war from outbreak to conclusion and how people are slowly recovering afterwards. People in denial, losing their minds, and helping their loved ones makes way for gruesome survival and shocking encounters then finally finishes with understanding and acceptance of what happened. Soldiers, smugglers, government officials, other reporters, doctors, and every-day civilians make the story whole from all corners of the world. It is very well written and each snip of story is clearly written in the voice of whoever is telling it.

Zombies have been portrayed in many many ways through the decades and while the government in the book never officially dubs them “Zombies” these slow, grinding, moaning, and blood thirsty re-animated dead are very realistic. I never liked the lightning fast or loud zombies, these ones felt much more possible and much more creepy. They way they moved, even in the most extreme of conditions, always felt realistic and I never questioned it.

One of my favorite things about this book is that all of the questions that you could think of or ask are answered. All the hows, whos, whys, and wheres are answered through the stringent interview process that the author took. In the end, the blame is on humanity – we did it to ourselves and had to find a way to recover from it. There was no alien disease, or freak accident causing the deaths and re-animations – it was all our fault. Ignoring warnings, destroying the earth and each other, and losing touch with what matters for one reason or another caused the fall of the regime that the world had grown into. Again, the way it’s portrayed is very believable and this is probably the way, if we ever had a zombie apocalypse, that I would imagine it could happen.

As far as emotion goes, this story never made me cry or laugh out loud, but I definitely had emotions! Shock and disbelief streamed out of the pages as I read first hand accounts of not only the zombies attacking but of humans acting out against each other or making brash decisions. More than once a story left my heart aching “how could they do that?” always resulting in me shutting the book for a moment to remind myself that it wasn’t real. I could go on and on about some of the most heart wrenching stories, these stories alone are a reason to read the book.

A little side note before I finish. When I was about ¾ through the book we watched the World War Z movie (My boyfriend insisted that it contained no spoilers) and it goes on my list of worst movie adaptations ever! I think there were two quotes from the book that made it to the movie and everything else was completely made up. If you’ve put off reading this book because you watched the movie I suggest you just forget it and pick up this book, because not even the monsters or main plot of the book was adapted correctly! I don’t know how they could even say the movie was inspired by the book… it’s just that different. That being said, If I’d never compared it to the book I’d think it was a pretty decent zombie movie (not my favorite, but meh). Don’t put off watching or reading one for fear of spoiling the other because they’re nothing alike.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The vast majority of the stores grasped my soul, but not all of them so I can’t give it the full five stars. I think this is a very very good book, so well written, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves history or zombies! I think this book may have ruined any other zombie fiction novel for me, lol.

❤ Squared

Saying Goodbye to Authors

Monday another American icon passed away, Mr. Stan Lee. I admit that a few years ago I probably wouldn’t have thought a whole lot more than, “Wow, that’s crazy.” but upon seeing this news I was in shock.  I’ve become much more in tune to the comic book scene lately and Marvel movies are always something my boyfriend and I can agree on. One of my favorite things is looking for Stan’s appearance in the movies!

I’m not going to cry, I’ve never had a celebrity death that has brought me to tears – only shock. However, I find it really crazy that he’s gone. How is it that I’ve only just (in the last couple years) started to appreciate the comic and manga universe and now… Lee is gone? Now, aside from a couple teeny-bopping years I’ve never really felt that invested in celebrities or attached to anyone famous. That being said, a few deaths have shocked me – usually because it seems way too early (Paul Walker, Heath Ledger) or it had seemed like it was completely out of the blue (Alan Rickman). I seriously searched for hours to confirm what I was reading about Alan Rickman was true because it just seemed too unbelievable.

I like to believe that authors will live forever thanks to their works. The words that we read (or pictures we see) extends the “life” of the author once they are gone because their stories come back to life every time they are read. Dr. Seuss lives on with every tongue twister in ‘Fox in Socks’, Mark Twain is with each of us as we travel down the Mississippi River with Huck, and Jane Austen is alive in all of our hearts every time we think of that dear Mr. Darcy *swoon*, and C.S Lewis personally lead each of us through the door of the wardrobe. I know Stan Lee has immortalized himself not only in his comics, but with every boy that saved pennies week to week to read the next installment of the stories and then grew-up into men taking their children to see Stan Lee on the big screen. Authors are really something special.

I know in my lifetime I will likely have to say goodbye to Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Christine Feehan, and J.K. Rowling…. hopefully not any time soon, but I find solace in knowing that if I ever need them – their voices will always be just a few feet away in the paper found on my bookshelves.

This is why I read, and this is why I must write.

Squared

 

November half way point!

Hey! We’re almost half way through November which means half way thorough NaNoWriMo!!!!

My progress… I’d give myself a 3 out of 5. The majority of the days so far this month I have reached or surpassed my 500 word goal, and I have been able to post two chapters a week so far. However, there have been three days when I didn’t write at all and two days where I didn’t  even reach 300 words. Life and work have gotten in the way and kept me away from the stories I want to write. That being said, I do not want to lose my progress and do not want to lose my gusto to get through this month successfully!

I haven’t read hardly at all and I still need to finish the one book I read last month (World War Z) soon because December is alllllll about Harry Potter! I don’t want to say I’m in a reading slump, because I really like WWZ but I have had a hard time focusing or feeling like I have time to read at all. Too many distractions and every time I incline myself even a little, in any direction, I fall right to sleep 😦  I could blame the muscle relaxers and work stress for the first half of the month, but now I need to focus!!! Life isn’t going to get any easier the closer to the end of the year I get so I need to plan and work intentionally.

How are you progressing through NaNoWriMo?

Squared

 

November! #NaNoWriMo

Hey! It’s November, my favorite month of the year because it holds not only Thanksgiving but also my birthday! It is also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!!!

I’d heard about it ages ago when I was in my first high school creative writing class, but I never really participated in it. Now that I’m full swing into sharing my two stories on Wattpad I felt like I should participate!

I don’t plan to finish either stories this month, there is a lot more to the stories that  I need to add before either could be finished and I suspect it’d take me months at least to finish them. I don’t just want to throw together some short novel to cram a full one into the month of November so I set some goals for myself instead:

  1. Write 500+ words a day. In anything. One of my stories preferably, but also I’ll probably also count doing character profiles and outlining of a chapter which I have to go back and do sometimes if I feel stuck where I am at the moment.
  2. Post at least 2 chapters per week. One per book! I could definitely just post the 40ish chapters of BFF I already have written, but I like to revise them and look them over because they were written so long ago. My “Colors” chapters are about twice as long as the ones in “BFF” so maybe I could post 2 of those a week. Idk yet, maybe eventually.

What are you doing for NaNoWriMo?? Writing a novel or have you set other goals for yourself?

❤ Squared

Big News – WIP

So, this blog is all things books! Recently, I decided I’d take the leap and start to share my WIP titled Colors. I’d weighed the pros and cons, and decided that I at least wanted to share my work with the world. This story idea has been in my head for a LONG time. I’ve done maps (YES maps!!!), created character profiles, did character designs, and did outline after outline until I was happy with it. I’ve also managed to write a few chapters in the recent months.

With my current work in progress I’m hoping to be motivated enough that I can post another chapter every week or at most every other week! I love seeing the views go up on any platform so that should be a gain for me to see it for my own actual story.

I chose to use Wattpad to share this story for a few reasons.

  1. I know other independent authors who write there or got started there.
  2. I used to read stories on wattpad back when it was mostly shorter fan-fic type stuff.
  3. That big orange W on my home screen will be a huge reminder that I need to write!

And…… it is currently active on WattPad!! Go check it out, it’s a fun YA fantasy about growing up and crayons. Colors go read it and let me know what you think!

Squared

P.S. do you love the cover art I made? I adore it!