Death of the Browserlust

I’ve always loved bookstores. I’ve always loved the simple act of being in bookstores, browsing the shelves, smelling paper and ink and often coffee. It is my zen place. Walking through a good bookstore, surrounded by thousands of ideas and dreams made reality, it makes me feel like anything is possible. Naturally, being so enamored of bookstores, I have given into their temptation regularly for years. Especially since I became a self-sufficient adult, I have indulged myself heavily with new books over the last three years and enjoyed every minute of it. However, as with a lot of things lately, my perspective is changing.

I think my browserlust has died a quiet little death. It’s been in recent months, since I’ve been pregnant and my husband works third shift, that whenever I have the opportunity to go to the bookstore and just browse, I would just as soon pass it up. As my TBR pile has gotten larger and larger, I’ve begun to think that I would rather focus my purchases on authors I already know I love, including two extensive series that I’ve lost touch with over the years but absolutely adore. The TBR pile monstrosity isn’t the only reason I think my browserlust has died either.

The house we bought last year is more than decently sized, but when you have seven bookshelves of various sizes, all of which are filled to the brim, it eventually becomes a question of where to put them, and how to store books you purchase in the future. We have three bedrooms, one of them is our master and the other is slowly being morphed into a baby room. That leaves a single room left to store bookshelves filled with books, movies, and geek paraphernalia. As of now, there is only one bookshelf in that room, but our living room currently holds four bookshelves. No, wait, five. We actually have nine bookshelves altogether, the last two narrow and short, and I cleaned one of them off to put in the baby’s room to start its book collection on.

I’ve been having conversations and debates with myself lately about which books deserve to be kept, and how materialism plays a part in our day to day lives. I like having stuff, but with a baby on the way and plans to not stop at just one child, I am beginning to wonder where do we draw the line. Where do I draw the line of how much stuff I keep? Our kids will want to have their own stuff as well, and they will need somewhere to put it. I want them to have stuff.

I have no objection to materialism, but I’m beginning to think the idea of moderation applies here as well, especially when you’re going to start a family.

This is probably the main factor in my sudden lack of browserlust. The only thing that really makes me sad about it is right now, a trip to Barnes & Noble doesn’t have the same zen feel to it that it did before I got pregnant. When I’m constantly thinking about our finances and how to best be prepared for this baby and all the worries that come with those two things, I miss that feeling. I may find it again, but it may or may not be in the bookstore. It is kind of funny though that I have no desire to go hang out in the bookstore right now, but I’ve been on a strange reading kick here lately. I have already read eight books this ear, which is a lot for me in recent years.

I wonder if the two have any real correlation…

Until next time, Kelswitch over and out.

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The Serpent King

The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner. It’s a book I would have never bought on my own from Barnes & Noble, or even for a few bucks at Ed McKay’s. It came into my possession as the first book I received as an OwlCrate subscriber, last March. The theme that month was Writer’s Block.

This book takes place in rural Tennessee, and follows three friends entering their senior year of high school, with all that that entails. One of them, Lydia, is headstrong and sure of where she will be after graduation. Her two friends, Dill and Travis, are not so sure. Dill’s father is a zealous preacher with a penchant for snakes and watered down battery acid, and is currently in prison for possession of child pornography. Travis comes from a broken home, where his father constantly laments his lack of football accolades, comparing him to his brother, who was killed in action overseas.Lydia is the only one of the three with a good home life, though Travis and Dill’s mothers both try, in their own ways.

I did not expect to like this book. When I first started reading it, it made me feel a little melancholy, remembering what it was like to feel left behind by my friends and lonely in the world. Also, living in rural North Carolina, a VERY watered down version of Forrestville, I can still see shards of southern life that are familiar to me in this story, good and bad. I really liked Lydia, and the way she thinks is very reminiscent of how I thought at that age. I felt empathy for how trapped Dill felt, stuck between family obligation and what Lydia tries to convince him he can be. I adored Travis, a gentle giant who immersed himself in fictional worlds full of honor and glory, wearing a dragon necklace and carrying a staff around. I saw a little of myself in all three of these characters, lame as that might sound, and I cared what happened to them.

This is a contemporary novel, a lot of small town bite and coming of age elements. If you’re looking for a quick read that’s just about people, about being human, I recommend this book.

 

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Daughter of the Blood – Fangirl Gushing

The dragons spiraled into ebony, catching stars with their tails. Everything has a price. Blood shall sing to Blood. 

When I was fourteen years old, I read a three in one collection of novels called The Black Jewels Trilogy, and it changed my world. Everything about it spoke to me, sang to my reader’s heart in a way few stories do. I joined my first forum online to discuss and dissect the books at length, and had a fantastic time doing it. I can still recall with sharp clarity various quotes from all three books, and through the various sequels and additions to the series over the last few years, it has always held a special place in my heart.

I was fourteen when I read the original trilogy for the first time. When my husband and a friend of ours engaged in a friendly competition on Goodreads to meet a goal of 50 books read for 2016, I knew what I wanted my winner’s prize to be should I come out having read the most books. I bought the friend a brand new copy of Daughter of the Blood and plan to force my husband to read one of my copies sometime soon.

Here. Read this book that made me what I am today. Read this story that shaped so much of my experience as a reader. But I haven’t read the original trilogy in eleven years. Curious and somewhat nervous what an adult’s perspective would do to my love of the original trilogy, I too began reading Daughter of the Blood at the onset of 2017.

I just finished it, and I want to steal a phrase from Harry Potter to BEGIN explaining how I feel: ” ‘After all this time?’ ‘Always.’ ”

I see the brutality in this first novel of The Black Jewels Trilogy, that I will henceforth refer to as BJT, and honestly, if trigger warnings had existed ten years ago, I’m not sure if my parents would have let me read it. I will not say anything past that, but when I was fourteen, I went in already knowing that it was coming. I had read a collection of short stories first that take place in the middle of the trilogy and after. Even so, reading it now was almost shocking. I’m not sure if I was just less sensitive at fourteen or if the descriptions went over my head, because they were pretty vivid.

Still, something about this entire story still…sings to me. The way the sentences are phrased, the descriptions of the magic, the characters I wouldn’t mind sharing a glass of wine with myself and exchanging book recommendations around a roaring fire. I love these characters, and my favorite two weren’t even primarily featured in this first installment.

Some things made more sense reading as an adult, things I had either glossed over or forgotten from my first reading, and some things hit me harder now than they did when I was fourteen, especially with our first baby on the way. All I could think today as I rushed towards the end of this first book was the qualities I wanted to take away from these characters as I become a mother.

Fierce like Titian. Loyal like Daemon. Wise like Tersa. A teacher like Saetan. Mischievous like Lucivar. And most of all, loving like they all were to Jaenelle, intent with their desire to love, nurture, and protect.

If you’re thinking about reading this trilogy, all I can say is you will either love it or you won’t. But if you’re the type of person who hates a cliffhanger ending, do yourself a favor. Either get all three at once or buy the three in one. I have the three in one and the ending of the first one would have been maddening otherwise.

Until the next time, probably when I finish Heir to the Shadows, may the Darkness embrace you.

Have some fan art!

http://ichan-desu.deviantart.com/art/Commission-oshirigaitai-166255621

 

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Final Tally – 2016 in Review

2015’s totals for all the writing: 95,786 words, 952 pages of handwritten stuff.

2016’s totals for all the writing: 21,372 words, 423 pages of handwritten stuff.

I didn’t meet any of my writing goals this year, but it was still a major priority in my life when I wasn’t distracted by the stressful process of buying a house, and that’s important to me. I did meet my goal of 50 books read in 2016 but just barely, finishing Sandman Vol. 7 right before midnight on December 31st. 2016 was the year of the Sandman, a series of graphic novels I was introduced to by Bear’s cousin and that I fell in love with. I can’t wait to continue with them in the new year, but even so, they did not make my list of top five books for the year. It was tough to choose, honestly.

5. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – The funny thing about this one is this is where I originally STOPPED reading the series. The beginning with the tournament just seemed so boring to me, but the second time around, as an adult, I loved it.

4. The Beast by J.R. Ward – RHAAAAAGE! This book had me laughing and almost crying in turns as we revisited Hollywood’s relationship with his Mary. It was everything I’ve come to expect in Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, continuing their hold as one of my favorite series.

3. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas – The third book in the Throne of Glass series, and to date my favorite, though Empire of Storms comes pretty close. I loved everything about this book, most of all that it was where we were introduced to Manon Blackbeak, who has become my favorite character in the series. I absolutely adore her.

2. Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg – Finally! The reading of this book was overdue and at the same time, read at the right time. I have always loved the movie and having finally got to read the original novel the movie was based on, I was not disappointed. I loved the insight into southern women’s minds and lives across time. Fantastic read all around.

1. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – This novel made it to number 1 largely because of how much it surprised me. It came in one of my Owlcrates and I took it on vacation with me, only to be blown away by it. I devoured it like I was starving and it was the last piece of food in the house. I loved all three of the queens and the ending had me squealing, jumping up and down out on the balcony of the hotel we stayed in at the beach. Fantastic read, I highly recommend!

In 2017, I am going to lower my reading goal to 40 books. I want to write at least one to three pages a day, with an ultimate goal to just finish what I start as a writer. I want to catch up on Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series and Yasmine Galenorn’s Otherworld series. I also want to keep up my calendar journal I started back in July.

As big as last year was for us, this year promises to be even more so. One way or another, it will be an adventure for my household.

 

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Friday Reader Rambles – Harry Potter Edition

Harry Potter is arguably a staple of my generation. I remember being in 3rd grade the first time I heard his name. Over the years, as the movies continued to come out and the final book was released, my friends and peers all knew the story. We all knew the Boy Who Lived, and when the final movie was released, statuses were posted nearly in unison after the midnight premiere, simply saying  “Mischief Managed.” One of the most commonly shared quotes from the series goes as follows “‘After all this time?’ ‘Always.'” Harry Potter taught many of my generation about courage and wisdom and self-sacrifice and what it means to be a good person, and I have finally joined them in reading the entire series.

My wizarding journey began back in 4th grade, when we were read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban on my own, but stopped less than one hundred pages into Goblet of Fire. All through middle school, high school, college, I shrugged off the Harry Potter fandom, having lost interest. Through friends I heard details of the story over the years, and even saw a few of the movies, but it never stuck. Never caught my interest. In the back of my mind, I knew that I would likely eventually read the books, if for no other reason than it means so much to people my age who literally grew up with Harry Potter.

Near the end of October, 2016, I finally began the Harry Potter series anew. I read books 1 through 7, finishing the last one on December 8, 2016. What’s funny about it is now Goblet of Fire, the one I could not get through years ago, stands out as personal favorite of the series. Through this read-through, I fell in love with Hermione, I adored Professor McGonagall, I laughed at the Weasley twins’ antics, I cried when Cedric’s body was returned to his father, I got angry with Harry, and I finally began to understand why this universe has held my peers enraptured for so many years.

I feel my perspective of these novels is altered because I read most of them for the very first time as an adult, and I’m glad of it. I’m glad I got to read them all for the first time back to back, and watch the movies as I finished the books. However, part of me does wish I had been engaged with them as they came out, as certain events in the books were unavoidably spoiled over the years. Dumbledore’s death at the end of The Half-Blood Prince was not nearly as impacting on me as it could have been if I had not known it was coming. It’s just things like that, that I wish I could have discovered for the first time on my own, and that I cannot wait for my children to discover someday.

I won’t say I’m a diehard Potterhead now. I have no plans to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It just holds no interest for me, especially since I’ve heard it reads like fanfiction. Maybe someday, I’ll venture there, but for now, I’m content with the original seven books. I will say this though.

I am a proud Ravenclaw now. I am glad to have undertaken this journey with Harry from the tender age of eleven, all the way up until he was an adult. I marvel at how intricately woven the details were, how J.K. Rowling manages to make nearly all them have some significance to the story.

There’s not much I can say that likely hasn’t been said over the years since the series ended and the final movie was released, so I’ll just end this Reader Rambles with “All was well.”

Until next time, Kelswitch over and out.

 

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Black Jewels to a Glass Throne – Friday Reader Rambles

Welcome back to a long overdue edition of Friday Reader Rambles, where I ramble nonsense about books. Enjoy.

A long while back, I bought Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas to surprise my husband with. I cannot remember how long ago it was, it might have even been last year. I cannot remember exactly what made me decide to purchase it, if the cover intrigued him or if he had read the concept and was interested. I had personally heard good things about the series and all the hype all over BookTube when Queen of Shadows came out last summer. Deciding to surprise him, as we sometimes do for each other, I picked it up, no particular occasion in mind.

It sat on the shelf in our living room for a while, until I was beginning to wonder if he would ever read it. Then he got put on one of those jobs at his work where he has a lot of downtime and can read. He absolutely devoured the book, and when we finally picked up Crown of Midnight, he had to have Heir of Fire immediately after. Queen of Shadows was a gift for his birthday.

As we often do, when one of us really loves a book series, we pester the other that they should read it too. I finally picked up Throne of Glass sometime last month. I really enjoyed it, but I didn’t fly through it. Last week I began Crown of Midnight and finished it in two days. Being a working girl with an attention span of the social media era, that’s unusual for me these days. Heir of Fire took a little longer, but I finished it within a week and just began Queen of Shadows a couple of days ago.

Guys. This series is amazing. One thing that really put the author high on my list was in the back of Throne of Glass, there was a Q&A where she listed Anne Bishop as one of her influences, and I can see pieces of that mingled in with the series. In case you were unaware, I love Anne Bishop. I worshiped her Black Jewels Trilogy when I read it in 9th grade and even now, it’s still among my favorites. I think the Throne of Glass novels have that same staying power. The main character is strong and sassy and her journey from who she was to who she is meant to be is just the best roller-coaster ride. The other characters you are introduced to along the way are colorful and you can’t help but feel something for them, for better or worse. *ahem* Chaol in Queen of Shadows, I’m looking at you.

I won’t go into details, but Manon, who you meet in Heir of Fire, is also one of my favorite characters. I absolutely adore her for her fierceness and utter badassery. I am still in the beginning of Queen of Shadows and once I get more time to read, I anticipate finishing the book rather quickly. Or, at least in time so Bear and I can argue over who gets to read Empire of Storms first when it comes out at the beginning of next month.

Being married to a fellow bookworm is fun. I highly recommend. If you would like to learn more about this series so you can pester your loved ones to read it too, here is the link to the author’s site and Goodread’s page.

“She was the sovereign of a strong people and a mighty kingdom. She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”
– Heir to Fire

For your listening pleasure to close out this blog… Seemed appropriate given the series I was rambling about.

 

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State of My Head

– Seeking bliss

– People expecting you to stay the same forever, when the truth of being human is that we change all the time

– School trained us to expect someone to tell us where we should go and what we should do next at all times, when really, adulthood means that is all up to us

– Making peace and positivity a priority and letting go of the negative things in life

– Being true to the things in life that bring you happiness/speak to your soul

– Taking ownership and recognizing your own power and control in your life

– Avoiding mistakes of your forbears

– Find beauty in the world around you

– Knowing when to walk away and let it be, because it is beyond your control

– There’s a dark side in us all, it just can be stronger in some rather than others

– Accept all the voices in your head, learn to control the ones that only want to destroy you

– How we talk to our children becomes their inner voice, something to remember

– Becoming comfortable in my skin and my place in life, confident with my position

– Wanting people to SEE the real you, but having to accept they may never see it

 

These are just some thoughts that have been going through my head lately. A lot of it too personal to go into detail here, but I wanted to share something. This is just the state of my head right now.

Oh, and I’ve been going hardcore on a Shinedown binge lately, which influenced the wording above. Thus, have a video.

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