Comforting your sick, lazy self + Twitter

What a fancy seeing me here! I’ve kept quiet for almost the entirety of July, I am well aware. Blogging sat in the back of mind for a couple of weeks, and then it invaded my conscience and found a voice. It said things like, “Post!” and “Review!” and I said, “No.” After leaving one of the more stressful school years behind this spring, I felt I deserved a break. I was done. Kaput. Out of energy. I wanted a vacation from cramped schedules and due dates and ARC reading. Well, I cannot do anything about the books I’ve received for review, but I did–clearly–go away for a short while. It wasn’t all fun: I first came down with a two-week bug followed by a bout of laziness, or you might say my two-week bug was laziness followed by more laziness.

medical conditional called laziness

During this great period of Doing Nothing, I read a bit of this book and that book, watched a show here and there… Which made me think: I love comfort books. But not only that. I also love TV shows and movies for comfort, especially ones I can watch on repeat a hundred times. In every sense of the word, I am a book nerd, though I’d be lying if I said I don’t love sitting in front of the screen for hours just a bit more than reading.

comfort reading

If I feel flu-ish or like a couch potato, I become drawn to certain books that meet certain criteria. When sick, there is no chance I’ll seek a book weighted in politics, intricate plots, and complex storylines. All of these qualities, when brought to life by good writing, can make an excellent piece of literature, but who wants that with a fogged brain? I demand light and simple yet interesting. I don’t want a book whose plot flies ten feet above my ability to grasp it, but I don’t want a book that puts me to sleep either. To name some personal favorites, I compiled a few lists…

1. I love a book that can wow me. A book that’s unique, emotionally compelling, and intelligent. My reading, however, should never be restricted to “smart” or “impressive” novels–reading should be fun, and that entails rehashed plots or predictability equally as much as it entails originality. So long as the reader enjoys the book, who cares?  Straight-forward books that offer non-complex world-building often become some of my favorite comfort material, and here are only a select number of preferred light reading:

anna

*Anna & The French Kiss and I didn’t get off on good footing the first time around, but now–well, yes. I understand the book’s appeal. I understood it the first time I read it, but that understanding is now on par with zealous fans. I’m not a zealous fan–just to be clear–but I like this novel for how simple and light it proves to be. It’s predictable with the perfect about of fluff and drama, and once you accept Anna & the French Kiss for it is, you just might like it, too

2. One word: manga!

Ladies & Gentlemen: Mikasa Ackerman of Shingeki no Kyojin & why she's top BAMF. You are welcome.

Ladies & Gentlemen: Mikasa Ackerman of Shingeki no Kyojin & why she’s top BAMF. You are welcome.

I stand before you at the cusp of entering a manga obsession. I’ve never been a manga person, as I can count on one hand the number of manga I’ve read before this week (two). Having finished EVERYTHING that is currently available of Shingeki no Kyojin (SNK/Attack on Titan), I died. Then, upon realizing that SNK is not the only manga out there, I undied and began my search. I’m brand new at this–a beginner. I can’t provide a decent recommendation list, but I will say that–just like any novel–manga storylines are either complex or simple.  Not all are mind-blowing or likable, but the added bonus of a good manga artist and writer (not to forget: a good translator) make even the sophisticated plots fairly comprehensible. I appreciate this.

e7: blue mondaySo on that note:

*The Eureka 7 manga is an adaption of the original anime show of the same name. Between the two, I highly recommend the anime.

3. Those books I will re-read and re-read and… re-read…

When it comes to reading, my biggest problem is allowing myself to get swept up in one book only to be distracted by three more. I don’t accomplish too many re-reads for this reason, but the aforementioned titles are books I will re-read in an instant. They remain as some of my personal favorites, and I give high praise to each. Whenever I’m down with a cold, this is a handful of what I reach for on my shelf.

Fact: Something Strange & Deadly is my favorite comfort book to re-read. At four read-throughs, it’s my second-most read book (only topped by A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness).

film preview

Maybe it’s because I’m a nostalgic person–or perhaps it’s because I loved my mother’s pampering when I was little–but when I’m sick or avoiding chores, I seek things which define my childhood: Spice Girls, Harry Potter, Disney, and well…

1. “Family-fun movies”

2. Shows that know a good time…

Unless you’re my grandmother who solely lives for Lifetime movies, there is a high chance you will enjoy these shows. I will watch every single episode back-to-back–recycle and repeat; no rinse.

*Now, bumping into people who refuse to watch ATLA is almost as frustrating as discovering people who deny watching it. If you think you’re too old for ATLA and LOK, if you think you’re too old for anything animated, then get out of my face or prepare to be agni kai’d off this planet. I will burn you into ashes of shame and humiliation from which you will never rise. Insulting these shows is outrageous. It’s blasphemous. You don’t stomp over a sacred creation without consequence. Thank and bless Michael Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, amen.

atla water tribe

Speaking of, Korra’s second season is coming this September! Who else feels excited?

3. Re-visiting a few more childhood favorites…

I am sorry? You don’t like Pokémon or Sailor Moon? We cannot be friends.

twitterYes, I am now on Twitter. Maybe? I am here! But, uh, not tweeting. I am intelligent enough to create a Twitter account, but I am not intelligent enough to tweet. Standby as I finish Twitter for Dummies. In the meantime, drop me a comment, because feed is superbly boring when there’s no one to spam it.

Tell me: What are your favorite shows and books to revisit?

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Top Ten Tuesday #12

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish. Click  here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s TTT is: 10 books at the top of my Summer TBR list, and frankly, it’s a bit impossible for me to give anyone a straight answer. I have more books I want to read than books that are coming out this summer, and I often choose what I read on whim — I’m more of a mood-reader than anything else. This list is mostly comprised of older books with just a few ones set to release in these upcoming months. I look forward to all, however! Several weeks ago I wanted nothing but light chick-lit before moving on to “gritty” contemporaries, and now all I care about are fantasy and steampunk titles. I guarantee that this list will change–just give me another week or two and I’ll find a different genre to obsess over.

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Wildwood Dancing

1. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing was recently recommended to me, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since. Caught in a web of ARCs and other books to review, though, I am grudgingly holding off. In the mean time, I steal as many glances as I can at its beautiful cover and enticing summmary.

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Airman

2. Airman by Eoin Colfer
This is one book I recently stumbled across on my own, and its steampunk aspect is only half of the appeal. When Conor, the main character, attempts to intervene in a conspiracy against the king, he is branded a traitor and locked away. The only hope to escape imprisonment and off the island lies in flight, and Conor must put his designs in luck’s hands as he tests his designs. The Artemis Fowl series never grabbed my interest, but Airman certainly has my intrigue.

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Crown Duel

3. Crown Duel (Omnibus) by Sherwood Smith
I first discovered Crown Duel on one of my many book-hunts on Goodreads, and I fell for the summary. Not only that, but as a devout fan of Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina (watch out, because I will push and push this book on you, and then I will push some more even after you’ve read it), this book has come recommended to me by other readers of Seraphina. I attempted Crown Duel once before, but I was sidetracked into sitting it down. Hopefully that will no be the case the second time around.

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Image courtesy of Scholastic Canada

Image courtesy of Scholastic Canada

4. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING by Tamora Pierce
No one will gasp in horror and shock anymore. I will read Tamora Pierce. I will. I’m due to pick up her Song of the Lioness series at the library, even–and yes, that is the entire series I’m picking up.

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The Ghost Bride

5. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
I am particularly excited to read Yangsze Choo’s book, and for reasons that I can’t pin-point. Plots that handle the afterlife and incorporate folklore or fairy tales, and introduce creatures that spook you in the night–spirits, demons, and even dragons–are irresistible to me. Choo’s novel is not a purely unique story, as you can find several like it, but I’m curious to see Choo’s own twist on this tale.

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Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

6. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
The less I know about this series the more I will enjoy it–that’s what I gather from Jemisin’s trilogy. Sometimes, when I let the criticism and insight of other readers sink in, I feel like my curiosity and interest becomes clouded. From what I do know, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sounds wonderfully different and fresh, and I look forward to getting lost in its pages.

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The Bone Season

7. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
For someone who’s been dubbed “the next J.K. Rowling,” I think Shannon’s The Bone Season has pressure bearing down on it. Although why Samantha Shannon and her work have been compared to Rowling, I can’t say, because the only similarity between these two writers seems to be a seven-part series. Some hype is rumbling, however, and I’m catching it. You can say I’m eager to read The Bone Season for myself, but the excitement bubbling in parts of the book blogging community hasn’t prevented my skepticism. I’m excited all right, but wary, although I do hope to enjoy Shannon’s book when it’s released.

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A Darkness Strange & Lovely

8. A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard
Us SS&D readers are still waiting on this! And I want it this instant. A Darkness Strange & Lovely is the sequel to Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly, and while it took several months for the first book to grow on me after completing it, I am eager to see where Eleanor Fitt’s journey to Paris takes her. (I will not deny that I am also hoping for a spectacular steampunk gadget-hand! Those who read the first book know what I’m talking about. Cue for all-knowing wink: wink.)

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Image courtesy of Brain Foggles

Image courtesy of Brain Foggles

9. Harry Potter Books # 2 – 4 by J.K. Rowling (re-reads)
I finally went through on my promise to at least re-start Harry Potter when I read and reviewed the first book. Back when Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows was first released, I made it through about half of the book. A friend spoiled me silly, school started, and horror of horrors: I couldn’t recall what a horcrux was. I didn’t think it was possible for to forget something so vital, but it is. In an effort to reach and finish the last book, I’m venturing through all the HP books again. Because I want to read hoards of books, I hope to read up to the fourth book this summer.

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The Orphanage of Miracles

10. The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger
I won a free copy of Neftzger’s book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers’ May giveaway batch, and I was delighted to open my mailbox this week to find it. I was hoping The Orphanage of Miracles would arrive while I’m still on a fantasy-high, and it did — I can’t wait to start reading this!

>>Notable Mentions:

Which books do you want to read this summer?

Book Review: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

My rating: ★★★★☆

I remember the first time I picked up a Harry Potter book, and how quickly it sucked me into Harry’s world. I recall the late nights I spent reading about The Boy Who Lived and traveling on all of his escapades, how fun and exciting I found it. The text on each page enchanted me, as I vividly envisioned everything — from the pig’s tail sprouting out of Dudley’s backside to Fred and George pummeling Voldemort in the face with snowballs, and—of course—Dumbledore and his wisdom, the lurking danger of Death Eaters, and friendships that last lifetimes.

The one word that best describes this experience is magical, because if it were not for J.K. Rowling, I shudder to think how long it would have taken me—if at all—to become the book-obsessed nerd I am today. It was J.K. Rowling who first showed me that incredible window of escape and gently nudged my arm as if to say, “All you need to get lost are the pages of a good book.” I imagine she added a wink, too.

Life can be great sometimes, it really can, but how marvelous it is to discover the wonders in a million lives that, if you dared not to read them, would otherwise never experience. The instant I opened the pages to that first Harry Potter book—which, believe it or not, was not Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone—marked the beginnings of a new relationship.

Unbeknownst to ten-year-old me, the Harry Potter franchise would consume the next ten to eleven years of my life. Everything from my pre-awkward pre-teen years through my high school experience, Harry Potter remained a significant part of my world. Harry Potter was my childhood, and I couldn’t have felt more crushed when I realized the adventure was finally over.

“This is the end. This story is kaput. Goodbye,” it said.

My theatrical self equated this as “what was one a perfect marriage just erupted into a one-sided divorce.” Mentally I shouted at Rowling, and at Harry. “I picked you up. I chose you, and now you are dumping me?” Life was never going to be the same, I could tell.

To this day, I still obsess over Rowling’s creation, for the Harry Potter universe populated my childhood with enough fond memories to last a hundred lifetimes. Harry and I were the same age when the first film was released, and from thereon it was like growing up with a best friend. The hours I spent daydreaming that somewhere on this planet was a gateway into a magical realm seems endless. How many of us have sat back after reading a Harry Potter book and inserted ourselves into Harry’s world? I have walked the grounds of Hogwarts, drank tea with Hagrid, jinxed Crabbe and Goyle (I like Draco too much to cause him any harm), and chased Ron around with a love potion. I’ll be one of the first to admit to how occupied I can become with these books, and if you tell me you’ve done no such a thing, you’re a filthy liar.

After all I have said, however, comes the part where I drop a bomb and everything erupts into chaos. I have a secret to tell you. It’s not a dark secret full of juicy detail you can spend hours gossiping about, however. All the same, I feel downright ashamed, because—and here it is—I don’t like the Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone!

Okay, no, that came out wrong. I like year one, I do, but not nearly as much as I wish I did. Why is that?

To start, I admit to harboring a greater love for the film adaption. It is my honest, desperate wish that Chris Columbus had directed all eight Harry Potter films. I feel that Columbus’ movies stayed the truest to the books out of all the films in the series. His adaptions catch a beautiful sense of excitement and adventure that feels just as magical as they are cinematically engaging. I can speak every character line before the characters say the lines themselves. Like a memorized play, I have committed the movie to heart from beginning to end. But can I say the same is true for this book? I can’t, as much as I hate to admit it. In a way, the film does for what the book doesn’t: it breathes life into the story, and in vivid, sparkling detail.

This doesn’t mean I find the book dull in comparison, but there are contributing factors that feed my dissatisfaction. As I said, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone is not the first book I read. In fact, it was closer to one of the last books I covered in the series, and you can bet I watched the movie before exploring year one in text. Back then in 2001, finally reading the first book post-film, I didn’t have any quarrels. I sped through it more quickly than I had with any other Potter book, and by the time I finished I was a ball of tears and frustration because who wants to wait on the next installment of your favorite series?! No one, that’s who.

Now that the series is officially done, here I am once again—more than ten years later—re-visiting a childhood favorite. Unlike my younger self, I didn’t read through Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone with instant love. I had to work through the first several chapters, because not only did I bump into a slow start, it felt less than exciting. I felt… bored! I want to clarify here and now that J.K. Rowling spends time familiarizing her magical world to the reader. Year one in the Harry Potter series is an introduction for most of what will occur in this book as well as the others, and this was my problem.

By nature and to a point of fault, I am an impatient person. When I read books, especially series, there is nothing I skim faster than recaps. Although Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book, and therefore doesn’t recap anything, I am already familiar with the setting. What I felt most anxious to read pertained to adventure, and danger loiters and waits to show up. By the time readers approach the halfway mark, Harry is merely getting settled into Hogwarts. Well, it’s about time! Now can we please find the creepy Unicorn blood-sucker in the Forbidden Forest? Please?

You see, I told you I’m impatient.

The “slow start,” as I call it, serves its job well: acquainting readers with these strange wizards and witches, with Harry, and more importantly, Harry’s past. I fell in love with these characters—and loathed a few—all over again, which is a thrilling event of its own. If I had to choose, I might say one of the main reasons I adore the film adaption is because I get to see Harry find his place. The same holds true for the book as well. From the Little Boy Who Lives Under the Cupboard to Wizard-In-Training, I couldn’t ask for a better hero. Although we see his prejudices form in later books, Harry is a kind, loyal friend and brave to a point of detriment.

In the end, impatience and all, I must correct my theatric self, because that girl equated wrong. Harry didn’t toss her to the curb; she abandoned him. Back then it felt like the end-all of everything, but just because the story ends doesn’t mean I can’t revisit it. And so that is what I’ll do, again and again and again, no matter how many pages I must read through before I end up in the Forbidden Forest.