Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Workshops about Writing: Training to get on my own nerves?

A couple of weeks ago, I started a workshop about creative journaling. It was kind of interesting. It's a small group of women (shocking). We did a couple of those "make a poem about yourself using the following prompt" kind of exercises. A little lame, but what can you expect. They're meant to EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE, or whatever.

On some level though, I'm a little worried about learning too much about the "techniques" of writing, because I don't want it to ruin the free- for- all of my reading. I mean, Hubbo colors comic books for a living and he is all the time ruining things by talking about the usage of colors and shadowing and blah blah blah. I'm crazy enough without getting too stuck the the technical aspects of writing.... so why sign up for a workshop, you might ask..

Actually, it's mostly because I like getting together with people and talking about stuff that I like, like books and writing and what not. But also, I'm trying to make a larger space for writing in my life... hence this blog... hence this workshop.

I missed the second week, by the way. Because my kid was sick and "needed" me. Cute, right? She's 18.

Some notes about: starting a journal and the workshop to come back and pick up later:

  1. sticking with it - yet another journal with two completed pages
  2. getting in touch - feelings, time, a craft
  3. collecting ideas -
  4. the use of paper over a device - mixed feelings
  5. making fun of people - can be done in all formats!
  6. In every group of women there is always that one lady that should use the time for therapy

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Faves So Far (April 2015)

It's World Book Day! I swear I didn't even know that was a thing. Now, it's like, my Favorite thing! Until Rochester Teen Book Festival, which I can't stop babbling about. If you live in the area, go to the website and

In honor of this highest holidays, meant to promote reading, publishing, and copyright I have been reflecting on my favorite reads so far for 2015.

You should already know about Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore: which basically made me weep with jealousy over not have a bookstore, a job at google, or a rich friend.

Two other books I thoroughly enjoyed were Landline by Rainbow Rowell and The Future of Us by Jay Asher. I group them together because they each have a bit of a time jumping element thing. Great fun! Plus, they give you some grist for the old “what would I do” mill.

Time warp! Pic found at: hsmagazine.net

Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood and it’s sequel (the name escapes me right now) were surprise hits. I’m not sure why I was surprised. I actually have a draft for a post just about them.

And finally, for those who like books for grownups, by grownups and about grownups: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Again, a time ripple book. That must totally be my thing!!

Oopps.... library is closing.... BBYYYYYEE!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Books about Books: Yes, Please! [Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24- hour Bookstore]

First, let me just tell you that I was bamboozled. I think when I downloaded this audiobook, there should have been a warning that I would miss out on the glow-in-the-dark feature on the actual book. Seriously, it’s like no one has heard of informed consent!


 

Ok, anyway. This is probably one of my favorite books of the year so far, but I’m not sure that it’s for everyone. Here’s why it was the right book at the right time for me:


It’s about books and a bookstore and I am a nerd. Do I have to explain this one? No. The characters visit several book stores and warehouses full of amazing tomes and artifacts. Hello! That’s good stuff.


It is about geeks talking about geek stuff and I am a geek. If you don’t like video games, technology, the internet, making things from cardboard and clay, or geeking out, this book will not hit you in the G (eek) spot like it did for me. Hehe… that’s funny. See what I did there?


There is an adventure that geeks go on that relates to stuff they read in fantasy novels as teens and I am, again, a big geeky nerd. What!? The last time my 15yo and I were in a library we imagined that behind the shelves there was doorway to Narnia and Diagon Ally. Even though the shelf was, indeed, a door, it was a secondary entrance to a conference room. No satres, no dragons, no underground book society. So, yeah. This book totally gives you that grown up taste of discovery and adventure.


Spectacular book quote:
"There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care."

Monday, April 20, 2015

I don’t really have trouble complaining in any other situation…

But for some reason I have a hard time complaining about books. Not really in real life, but in writing, like on my Goodreads, for example, or via Twitter. Twitter is especially hard. Everytime I rate another not-very-interesting book I think about this. I’ve come up with a few reasons why I can’t seem to rate books below 3 stars.

1. It seems like it’s a really big deal to write a whole book. I mean, I’ve never done it! So, should an author get at least an average score just for trying. A 3 is like: “Go you! You did it! You put all those words in there!” Now, I know this is ridiculous. I actually frown upon the “We all get a prize” approach to feedback. But, maybe, and don’t tell anyone else I said this, but maybe I also feel bad about hurting THE BOOK’s feelings.  

[Can you believe there's very few images that come up when I google "when books feel sad?" I can't be the only one who thinks this is a thing. Can I? Never mind]

2. I can usually find SOMETHING I like in most books enough to “Like it” which corresponds with a 3 according to GoodRead’s scale. Of the 778 books I have marked as read, only 50 of them are rated with a 2 or lower. That’s 6%. And I assure you, I’ve read way more than 50 crappy books. But, shhhhh, they’ll hear you. 

3. Which brings me to my third problem: What if the author sees my review!? Granted, there is not a single author who cares about my rated stars more than anyone else’s stars. I know that, you know that, even my anthropomorphized books know that. But, especially since I’ve been interacting with authors via Twitter, I hate to think that they went through all that trouble (see point 1, above) to write a book and that I couldn’t even appreciate it enough to like it! This is a particular problem if my Tweet about reading the book was favorited or retweeted by the author! Again, this is counter to almost every other interaction I have in my life, where I tell people straight up what hot messes they are.  

I’ve been making an effort to rate things more candidly about what I do and don’t like about books. I don’t actually think it’s a bad thing to find positive things in the midst of bad books. Plus, thinking about the values placed on the stars (i.e., didn’t like it to Loved it) has actually helped a lot. It’s also helped that none of the books have cried.

How do you use the rating scale for books?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review: The Sense of a WTF just happened?!

In the spirit of getting into the practice of writing a little something a little more often (see also, EVER), I think I will post my initial thoughts about the audiobook I just finished. I'm not totally sure why I checked it out. It was probably on A List or something. I am a fricking sucker for A List.
Plus the cover is really pretty. I've recently started a Goodreads shelf for "cover porn." This was going to go on said shelf but I'm feeling frustrated with the damn book, so I might show my wrath by banning it from the shelf!

The book is about a guy, Tony, in his 60s who is recounting memories in his life. Ya know, some developmentally appropriate reflection for an aging dude. But he's unreliable. He knows he doesn't really remember things. He and his mates actually talk about memory and history and whatnot while still in their teens. So, you basically know that you're going to get all kinds of jacked up by the end. There are plenty of great lines and an excellent exploration of themes, blah blah blah. So, Tony being a bit of a dumbass isn't too bad since the story carries itself along.

And then, a big reveal, or two or three. And then, me going WHHAATTT!?

In an attempt to make sure that I wasn't just too thick or distracted to "get it," I googled the book and learned that it is a "bit frustrating." Right. And it's hard to really know what's what in the story because there may be pieces missing, due to Tony being the aforementioned unreliable dumbass. And the main lady, Veronica, just keeps telling Tony that he "doesn't get it and never will" and then refusing to answer questions. 

Despite all this, overall, I enjoyed the book. Until the end. There were several notes I made while reading it that I wanted to think about later. It was thoughtfully constructed. The characters were a bit hard to connect with and the ending brought me to rage. I gave it 2.5 stars out of 5. I don't regret that I read it, but I wouldn't have chosen to read it with so many other things in my library bag, if I knew then what I know now. I'm sure Tony could appreciate that reflection.