Do You Have The…

Do You Have The Energy & Strength?

“The image that comes to mind is a boxing ring. There are times when…you just want that bell to ring, but you’re the one who’s losing. The one who’s winning doesn’t have that feeling. Do you have the energy and strength to face life? Life can ask more of you than you are willing to give. And then you say, ‘Life is not something that should have been. I’m not going to play the game. I’m going to meditate. I’m going to call “out”.’

There are three positions possible. One is the up-to-it, and facing the game and playing through. The second is saying, Absolutely not. I don’t want to stay in this dogfight. That’s the absolute out. The third position is the one that says, This is mixed of good and evil. I’m on the side of the good. I accept the world with corrections. And may, the world, be the way I like it. And it’s good for me and my friends. There are only the three positions.” ―Joseph Campbell

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read my blog and realize that I’m a Bibliophile. I think any good writer is also a good reader, time permitting, but there’s always an exception to the rule. I, however, am probably a bit over the top where my reading is concerned. It’s extremely weird to me to go for any length of time, months for example, without reading.

I’ve got my Kindle Fire attached to my hip and when it’s charging, there’s generally a book in my hand…or I’m writing, cooking, or sleeping. No, it would not be the first time someone suggested I “get a hobby”. However, since my hobbies always turn into a full-time job, it’s probably best I just stick to books.

For the past three years I have challenged myself via Goodreads to read a certain amount of books. For one, it’s a great way to keep track of what you read on a yearly basis. Two, it’s fun. Three, it’s a nice way to challenge yourself. (If you decide to join, please feel free to send me a friend request.)

Last year I reached my 90 book goal, and I was far from trying to meet the deadline at the last minute. In fact, I originally started with a much lower number and slowly had to increase the number each time I passed a goal because I still had plenty left to read.

I read 80 books for the 2011 challenge. That initially seemed difficult, but I do manage to rack up the books pretty quickly. I even manage to squeeze in time to re-read an entire series of books (or three) on a semi-regular basis, which of course, does not count toward the challenge, but is still an awful lot of material to be reading.

This year I didn’t want to attempt to break the 90 book record and aim for 95 or even 100, but there’s a very strong possibility that I’ll go over the 60 I’ve committed myself to read. I am currently at 50, and it’s not even officially the middle of August. I’ve got five books on hold at my library, none of which have been released yet so I’ll be ahead of the pack on that front. I’ve also got several on deck as we speak. It’s rare when I am truly without something to read.

My re-reads over the past two weeks have been: Dead Witch Walking, The Good, The Bad, & The Undead, Every Which Way But Dead, A Fistful of Charms, and For A Few Demons More, by Kim Harrison. I love these books, some more than others. I stumbled upon this series of books one day in search for something new to read. The first three books were in a lovely Barnes & Noble display and the person on the display plugging her books was Jim Butcher, who is without question one of my absolute favorite authors. That was about eight years ago. I have read every single one of Kim’s books in the Hollows series, and clearly I’ve read them all more than once.

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In 2015 the series will come to a close and it will be a sad time for me and for everyone who loves these books. All good things must come to an end, but the Hollows is a must-read series, especially if you love and/or enjoy urban fantasy. It will make you laugh out loud, cry, cheer, and think. It’s been an extremely interesting journey from Dead Witch Walking to the most recent book, Ever After, which was released at the beginning of this year. On a very positive note, Kim has always been amazingly kind to me on Facebook, which I find incredibly sweet and will never forget about her. She doesn’t have to say a word or respond to anything, and yet, she does. That says a lot about her as a person, and it’s something I respect and admire. Her blog, which is also on WordPress, can be found here: http://kimharrison.wordpress.com/.

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I finished reading Affliction a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read the 20+ books that come before it, take a pass. If you have, and you’ve stuck with the series from the very beginning, you won’t want to miss this one. I was expecting to cringe my way through it, but I was nicely surprised to come away feeling good about it. I almost read it a second time, but since I really don’t have the time right now for that, it will have to wait a while. Maybe I’ll do it next year before the next book comes out.

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I recently finished reading Raylan by Elmore Leonard, which is loosely based off of Season 2 of Justified, as well as an episode from Season 4 that was particularly laugh out loud hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried, and I’ve watched it several times for the additional laughs. The rest didn’t follow along with anything in particular and if it did, it was bits and pieces that were changed around, but a great deal of it was based on real people in Harlan County, Kentucky.

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If you’re not a fan of the show or you’ve never heard of it or seen it, you’re probably living under a rock, and thus may only be able to appreciate the book if you’ve read the other two books that feature the Raylan Givens character, which is brilliantly brought to life on screen by the amazingly talented Timothy Olyphant. Tim breathes so much life and humor into the character, and as a fan of his already, I went into the pilot episode of Justified not knowing anything about the character and immediately became hooked. I own each season on DVD, and there’s no higher compliment I can pay a show than that. If I take the time to pre-order it a good year in advance, you know I’m crazy about it.

Justified has received seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations since its inception. That’s not a lot considering how amazing the show is, but I’m still extremely proud of each one. The show has an amazing cast of characters.

The series received its first nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music (I LOVE this song! You will always hear me singing it whenever the show is on.). For the second season, it received four nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards: Timothy Olyphant for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (I’m not sure who I have to kill for him to win, but I am more than willing to do it.), Walton Goggins for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (The same applies here.), Margo Martindale for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and Jeremy Davies for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, with Margo Martindale winning, quite deservedly. I cried when she accepted the award. She is downright incredible. For the third season, it received two nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, with Jeremy Davies winning for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (he’s truly hilarious), and a nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series. I know this show will continue to shine, awards or no awards.

I’d forgotten that I’d read only part of Raylan when it was released in February 2012. I was probably distracted at the time since Season 3 was in full swing. I decided to re-visit it so I wouldn’t miss anything, and got an immense kick out of it. It is brilliant in a way that only Elmore Leonard can deliver.

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What else is on my current reading list? Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, and Graveyard Child by M.L.N. Hanover. These books are all drastically different from one another, which gives me the freedom to jump from one to the other if I find my interest is lagging or I’m too tired to follow anything complex.

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The Beautiful Creatures novels are far better in book format than the film version. Key characters were cut entirely from the movie, which was horribly disappointing seeing as they were the best characters, and the richer characters they kept in the film were incredibly dull on screen, so if you’ve been wanting to see the movie, skip it and read the books.

Yes, it’s a good “young adult” series, but I’m an adult-adult and I’m still following through. I don’t think it’s one of those things where you need to worry about it being “age appropriate” or not. It’s something a 12 year old could read, but they might not get the gist of it or the nuances you get as a reader over age 20.

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The Seven Daughters of Eve is about genetic ancestry. If you’re trying to trace your ancestry or you’re simply interested in how it’s done on a scientific level, this book is for you. I have very rich ancestry that I am deeply connected to on a level most people are not. This book will take me a while to read, but it’s definitely a must-read.

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Beyond Belief is about Jenna Miscavige Hill’s escape from Scientology. I generally roll my eyes when anyone says anything in regard to Scientology, but I have to admit that I am intrigued that so many high-ranking members are leaving “the church” and continue to do so. The level of brain-washing that Jenna talks about in this book is enough to make any free-thinking individual cringe. As an educated woman, I’ve never been one for anything that feels “cult-ish”, and I’ve never been a very good follower. Hell, there are times where I have serious issues with organized religion and the people that blindly follow it, as well as the message it sends all across the board. However, I think anybody willing to walk away from what they know in their heart is wrong deserves credit for it. It could not have been an easy journey. I find it incredibly scary, creepy, and just plain disturbing what “the church” does, all the while claiming not to have any part in it, to those who leave. They do everything within their considerable power to discredit the honesty of those who leave. Clearly they wouldn’t all have the same story to tell if something extremely bizarre wasn’t going on within the organization. I will never be able to call it a religion with a straight face.

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Graveyard Child is the 5th book in the Black Sun’s Daughter series created by M.L.N. Hanover (A pseudonym of fantasy author Daniel Abraham). This series is one of the most original I have ever read, and I read pretty heavily on the dark urban fantasy front. This book is fan-freaking-tastic. It’s a fast read and highly entertaining, but if you’re going to check it out, start from the beginning by picking up a copy of Unclean Spirits. This is a series I happened upon, but it has been a very happy accident. This is a very unique story that I can’t help, but thoroughly enjoy.

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Ok, now it’s your turn. What are you reading? What genres do you enjoy the most and why? Hit the comment button and lets discuss it all.