It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

monday-300x300

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.

dww gbu ewwbd afoc 489454

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/.

ea

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.

aff

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.

0001_double

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.

raylan

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.

bd

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.

sevend

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.

bb

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.

gyc

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.

4476999

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.

Write What You Know, But Enjoy What You Can’t…

“The process of writing has something infinite about it. Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” -Elias Canett

As a writer, I am also an obsessive compulsive reader. When I started out writing, despite excelling in my Creative Writing courses, I was not drawn to fiction. The first half of my career was devoted to sports, life, death, & women’s issues. As a former athlete, sports was an extremely natural fit for me and initially, I did intend to pursue sports journalism as my career choice. What changed? The sport I was involved in, which shall remain nameless. It is no longer a part of my life, and the fact that I ever devoted so much of my time to it nauseates me. I’m proud of the work I did, because I was a ground-breaker and I’m not oblivious to the accomplishments there, but when I walked away, it was for a reason. All I have to do is remember the faces of dead friends, people I loved for their unique individuality and acceptance of me, and I know in my heart that walking away was, and will always be, one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.

I made the switch to fiction a couple of years ago. I wasn’t inspired by anything in particular, I simply had an idea brewing inside my head and felt I was qualified enough to give it a go. I have only shared parts of the completed material with one person. I did get plenty of constructive criticism initially and I went back to the drawing board and made changes. When I presented the material again, this person loved what I’d done with it, and was mad that I wasn’t finished because she wanted to buy the book NOW. Because this material is incomplete, and due to copyright laws, I will not be posting any of it here. Right now, to do so would be of no consequence. It would be forgotten in an instant because the logical question following an introduction is “When is this coming out? Can I pre-order it?” I don’t have answers to those questions right now, and until I do, I cannot, in good faith, share that work. But I can share the genre I am writing in and recommend some things you may or may not have read just yet.

I think the first book that I truly loved was Island of The Blue Dolphins. I recall reading it over and over again, to the point where the book fell apart. I still love that story and I actually remember most of it even though it’s probably been more than 20 years since I’ve read it.

For many moons after that book inspired me, it was a movie that reminded me why I write. The film was shown to my Writing for Television class and I’ll be honest, I slept through the first viewing. The professor was a burned out, petty man and no matter what I wrote or how good it was, he’d tell me I had no talent and should seek out another profession. I would not be the first writer to experience a professor thinking my writing style would sully the rest of the class. I’d write, he’d insult my work and give me a failing grade. This went on for a while. I was determined that he’d break first, and he did. The entire time he was insulting me and saying I had no talent, my work was being published by people who thought I was fantastic and refreshing. Lisa 1 – Professor 0. And that movie? It eventually become one of my absolute faves. Every time I watch it, I smile.

When I initially walked away from the sports portion of writing, I took a break to really breathe. I had just lost my Grandmother and soon after losing her, friends & people I knew through my work started dropping like flies. It was a lot to take, and I’d had it. I decided I needed a calm, relaxing hobby, so I went the path of all creative people who still need to create, but after a while, I found no joy in that either. There was no way it would ever pay the bills.

I had a breakthrough just prior to 9/11 and went back to school, even though the timing sucked as my father was battling cancer again. Somehow I managed to push through it in bits and pieces and eventually I did get a degree that pertains to absolutely nothing I am doing now. That’s true for a lot of people, and honestly, I didn’t want a piece of paper telling me I could write. I know I can, and I’ve proven that I can. No one can take that away from me. A person can disagree with me or dislike something I’ve said, but that doesn’t take the talent out of the equation. I’m not concerned with people liking me personally, as long as I produce enjoyable, entertaining work. If it’s fact based, then I only care that it is well-written and thought-provoking.

The books that inspire me most are the ones that I am positive I cannot write. I cannot write the next Harry Potter, and I’m not going to even attempt to touch that. I cannot write Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, no matter how much I love them, and I do. I cannot write Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, it’s not the direction in which I shine, but I enjoy her work tremendously. I can’t do The Vampire Academy or Bloodlines series’ by Richelle Mead, but I love her work and it’s enjoyable to visit with these characters. Melissa de la Cruz’ Blue Bloods series is off the charts brilliant. It’s a little Gossip Girl meets vampires with real historical facts thrown in, and I LOVE IT. Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series is something I wish I’d thought of. The Infernal Devices, also her work, is an era I wouldn’t ever touch. Make sure you check out City of Bones this summer in theaters!!

Vicki Pettersson deserves honorable mention for the Signs of The Zodiac series. These are very enjoyable, somewhat relatable books for pretty much anyone. The House of Night series by P.C. & Kristin Cast & J.F. Lewis’ Void City novels also deserve honorable mention. But the series I most know I cannot touch is The Black Sun’s Daughter series by M.L.N. Hanover. It’s brilliant, snarky, and as serious as it is entertaining.

I encourage you to read what I cannot write, just as much as I will encourage you to read what I can write. There’s enough room on Nooks and Kindles, as well as real-life bookshelves, for every single one of us who can produce something thought-provoking, hilarious, and just plain entertaining.