My TBR List For the Holidays

I’m lucky enough to have a day job that provides quite a bit of time off, especially around the holidays. So with a rather large break looming, I’ve stacked myself a bit of a reading list, and I simply cannot wait to settle in for some time away from the office with lots of good books. Here’s what I’m reading over the holidays this year!

Name of the Wind

rothfuss

OMG, Kendall you haven’t read this book? Are you serious? You HAVE to read this book! You’ll love it I just know it! Yes. Yes. I know. I need to read this book. Honestly, I want to read this book. I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll love it.

So why haven’t I read it just yet? Honestly, it’s because I’m a snob. I currently only have this book in digital format on my iPad from DAW Books. I’ve said it before, but allow me to reiterate that I hate reading books digitally. A big part of the reading experience for me is getting to hold a book while I fall into a story. Still, I’m really working hard to not buy books so flippantly (space has become a real issue) so I’m not allowing myself to buy a hard copy of this book until I read it once and officially can say that I love it. So I’m carrying on digitally (yes, this is totally and completely a #firstworldproblem), and despite my love of what I’ve read thus far, it’s been a lot of starting and stopping on this book. However, I’ve decided that now is the time to read this book and officially get into the Kingkiller Chroncile series. I also put the book on hold at the library if I prove too pretentious to read the ebook.

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1

jessicajones

I’ve watched and loved the Netflix Jessica Jones series, so I decided that I should probably check out the source material, too. A while back, I picked up Jessica Jones vol. 1 from Marvel for myself, and for one reason or another just never read it. I am absolutely going to remedy that this break.

Especially since we’ve got quite a bit of a wait between now and the release of Iron Fist, Defenders, or season two of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil, I need something to distract me from my Netflix Marvel withdrawal.

One thing I’m especially excited to see is how the characters in the show and the comic are different and alike. I’ve heard that Kilgrave was amped up quite a bit for the Netflix show, so I’m really excited to see how Tennant’s Kilgrave differs from the original Kilgrave from the comics.

Harry Potter A L’Ecole des Sorciers

hp

I absolutely adore the Harry Potter books. I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t grow up reading these books, and first journeyed to Hogwart’s as an adult. Regardless of my age, I found the books completely magical and wonderful.

After my trip to Europe earlier this year, I was really inspired to continue learning and beefing up my French language skills. I was able to successfully get me and my husband around France with the French I remembered from high school and the skills I gained from using Duolingo, but the reality is hearing a language in IRL is a lot more overwhelming than just interacting with isolated sentences with a word bank at the bottom. So one of the things I’m doing to help beef up my French vocabulary (because I absolutely plan to return to France someday) is reading books that I’m familiar with in French. The obvious place to start was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I found the entire series in a French mass market edition from the publisher Assimil. While I’ve only bought the first book (I figure it will take me a while to get through the whole thing), I’m really excited to start expanding my French language learning into the Wizarding World!

What books are you reading over the holidays? Tell me your TBR list for the month in the comments! 

Distracted Blogger 2016 Summer Reading

Even though, where I live, we had snow like literally two weeks ago, I’m officially calling it summer…

…or spring, at least. I just want it to be a season where I’m not always freezing.

ANYWAY since it’s getting warmer, it’s time to start planning out my summer reading! Here’s what I’ve got on the docket:

Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Bloodline

Image credit: Penguin Random House

I bought this book the day it released, and I cannot WAIT to jump in farther (I’m on like chapter two right now). The story centers largely around Leia, as the cover suggests, and it takes place in the space between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens.

Leia is a Senator in the New Republic, and after years of peace she is beginning to sense the breakdown of the era of peace as the New Republic becomes divided between those wanting a galaxy united under one ruler (how could that possibly go wrong) and a galaxy where each world was given sovereign governing rights. Understandably, Leia is super wary of the people wanting to unite under one ruler.

While I love a good story about Leia kicking ass and taking names, I’m also interested to see how much of Han and Ben we get. I’m assuming they’re saving Ben’s Kylo Origin Story for the actual films, but I’m eager to see a bit of their kid prior to becoming the Dark Side’s whiniest soldier.

Aftermath and Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig

Okay, so Aftermath has been out for a bit, but I only got myself a copy a couple weeks ago. Imagine how STOKED I was to hear that because I’m late to the party, I won’t have to wait too long until the second book in the Aftermath trilogy. Aftermath: Life Debt comes out July 12! Of course I’ll have to wait a while for the third book, but that’s Future Kendall’s problem. The Aftermath trilogy, like Bloodline, takes place between Episode VI and Episode VII, and gives us the details of how the galaxy went from chaos under the Emperor to peace to somehow being in chaos again under the First Order. I am so excited about these books, I can’t even.

Lois Lane: Double Down by Gwenda Bond

Double-Down-Final-Cover.jpg

Image credit: Switch Press

This is the second book in Gwenda’s Lois Lane series, the first being Lois Lane: Fallout. I’ve been reading this one for a bit, and I LOVE it. Gwenda is doing something totally awesome with Lois, and I love getting to see her as a teen, chasing down stories, and helping the little guy. Of course it’s also fun to see her interact with SmallvilleGuy, but I really like how Gwenda is portraying Lois. Even though she was occasionally portrayed as nothing more than a damsel in distress in the comics, Gwenda shows Lois as she really is. Lois is a hero in her own right. She might not be from Krypton and she might not be from the House of El, but Lois is a badass and she fights for justice. Since she isn’t bulletproof herself, it kind of makes her that much more of a hero. Lois is human just like the rest of us, but she still never hesitates to put herself in harm’s way. I just love that about her. Plus, she’s hella sarcastic which is the quickest way to get to my heart.

Investigating Lois Lane by Tim Hanley

Investigating Lois Lane

Image credit: Chicago Review Press

I had to toss a non-fiction book into the mix, right? Plus, I feel like this one is a great chaser for Gwenda’s book. Tim Hanley investigates the history behind the Lois character, and discusses her evolution throughout the comics and even into television shows and movies.

Like I said before, Lois wasn’t always portrayed as a strong, capable character, so it will be really cool to see how she’s changed over the years and how different mediums have treated the character. Here’s hoping they mention something about Terri Hatcher’s version of Lois lane and those epic, nineties pantsuits with the shoulder pads.

But in all honesty, I’m really excited to get to read something that takes a critical, almost academic look at comics. Taking a genre studies in comic books and graphic novels in college is what made me fall  in love with them, so I can’t wait to read something about comics that goeses beyond  a basic love for the art form and does some deep dive into character evolution. Plus, I don’t have to write a research paper after reading this, so HUGE bonus!

What is on your summer reading list? Have you read any of the books on my list? If you have, give me your non-spoilery thoughts in the comments! 

Where Futures End Blog Tour

I love stories that have to do with time travel and crazy plotlines, so when I got the chance to take a peek at the new book, Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse, I jumped at the chance. The story is a middle grade/YA book that tells five stories of five teens in five different time periods. Each teen faces a pivotal point where they much choose: live the life they have  or opt for something else. Ultimately, each of the teens–Dylan, Brixney, Epony, Reef, and Quinn–face an intense, unique, impossible, and exciting challenge to save their world. Think ‘choose your own adventure’, only with dire consequences. Basically, each teen lives in a world that is destroying itself, and they must decide if an alternate world will be their salvation or their utter destruction.

You guys, this book is rad. It’s a quick read and loads of fun, but a bit of a mind trip–in a good way. It’s been called a mix of Donnie Darko and Cloud Atlas (seriously!), and is perfect for anyone who loves a book with unique and mind-bending storytelling. So basically, if you’re a fan of this blog, chances are pretty solid that you’ll get a kick out of reading Peevyhouse’s book.

Today I’m taking part in the Where Futures End blog tour, and I get to introduce you to one of the teens, Dylan, in a brief novella. Take a peek, and get to know Dylan:

Where Futures End

Novella feature #1: When We Asked The Impossible (Dylan)

“You will find the Other Place when you look for what is lost.” –page 94

After a series of strange occurrences, Dylan remembers the magical land he visited as a child, a place you can only find when you “look for what is lost.” Was it Narnia? Wonderland? Some fairy realm? Or was it all in his imagination, the result of reading hordes of fantasy novels as a kid?

I loved the Narnia books when I was young, but as I got older I became troubled by what happens to the Pevensie children at the end of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: they come back to the real world after having spent years and years in a magical land. I decided to explore the effect that would have on a character with Where Futures End, in which Dylan thinks he visited another realm as a child.

Now Dylan’s living in Seattle and has recently gotten kicked out of his private school for cheating on a final exam. He’s withering in the shadow of his taller, cooler, older brother, star of the basketball team. The only thing Dylan has going for him is his “vorpal,” a supernatural ability to control what he and others see and hear. He used to be able to use this power to see the lovely land he calls the Other Place. But now he only manages to use it to make people think he’s his older brother so he can enjoy the privileges of being the golden child.

…Or maybe that’s all in his head. Does Dylan really have a vorpal? Only his brother can answer that question—only he can tell Dylan whether they both went to the Other Place when they were kids. But a deep rivalry between the brothers complicates everything. And the rivalry only gets worse when Dylan falls for the president of the science fiction film club and the only person who understands him—his brother’s girlfriend.

What Dylan ultimately discovers about the Other Place will set the stage for the other sections of Where Futures End? What do you think of Where Futures End? Luckily, you don’t have to wait too long to check this book out. Where Futures End hits stores February 9. Head to her website where you can order yourself a copy–even a signed copy!–at your favorite bookseller, and follow Parker Peevyhouse on Twitter

It’s Totally a Real Job: Kathleen Smith, Author

it's totally a real job...

In this week’s installment of It’s Totally a Real Job, I’m chatting with Kathleen Smith, a blogger and the author of the upcoming book, The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal. If you read Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kathleen’s book should be right up your alley! I’m so happy Kathleen took time out of her schedule to talk blogging, books, and all things geek with us. So without further ado, meet Kathleen!

kathleen

What drew you in to writing, both blogging and writing books? Was it a lifelong dream, or did you just sort of stumble into becoming a book author?

I have a history of freelancing and creating blogs on a whim, but I stumbled into becoming an author. A few years ago I made a deal with myself to try and get rejected every day, so that I could become immune to hearing “no.” One day I emailed a few literary agents to reach my “no” quota, and one of them said “YES.” I still can’t believe it. I ran down the street shouting obscenities.

How is writing a book different from writing a blog?

Writing a book is about showing up. You have no idea whether it’s going to sell, whether it’s funny, or whether it’s going to need a ton of overhaul. With a blog you can more instant feedback, which has its pros and cons. Chances are you’re more likely to stress over things like SEO and social media presence with a blog, so in that sense I find it much harder to focus on content. I like the solitude of writing a book and chipping away at something.

When you started blogging, did you do it hoping one day to transition into writing books, or were you just messing around?

I’ve had blogs since before the word “blog” existed. Many lost Geocities pages. I blogged about not wearing pants for year when I was in the Glee fandom (another story). But I created Fangirl Therapy while I was writing my book. I wanted to give fangirls an opportunity to ask questions about their obsessions and their mental health, and their questions helped me tailor the topics in the book. I think I’ve always had that Frasier Crane complex where I wanted to help people with their problems.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

As a therapist I spend a lot of time thinking about what motivates people and how people change. When I looked at what motivated me, I realized that there is a lot about being a fangirling that could be used for self-help and personal growth. I sat down and starting writing about it for NaNoWriMo, and eventually I had a book!

With books like Sam Maggs’ Fangirl‘s Guide to the Galaxy, the rise of
sites like Her Universe and WeLoveFine, there is a lot of great stuff out there for fangirls. What do you hope The Fangirl Life brings into the lives of fangirls?

I’d like for the book to be a welcomed kick in the butt for young women who want to live the kind of stories they admire in fiction. As fangirls we love to joke about our intense nature, but the reality is that there is enormous potential in our passions. We just have to figure out how to harness it and start conquering like the badasses we are.

In addition to your own blog, you’ve written on several different
sites like Salon and HuffPo. What is your advice to other women
wanting to start a freelance writing career?

Send a bazillion emails. Always be friendly when you get a “no.” Make yourself immune to rejection. I got turned down multiple times at Slate, Salon, and other sites before I found a story that was a good fit for them.

What has been the hardest thing about building a platform and a blog?

Sometimes I do stress about traffic and social media currency. I’m a fangirl, so I have that obsessive personality. I’ve learned that when you have a good idea, your number of followers isn’t that important.

Do you have another book in the works?

I have some ideas I’d love to pursue! Right now my focus is on promoting The Fangirl Life. Also finishing my PhD? My poor dissertation has been so neglected.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to write a book and get published?

Success tends to magnify neuroticism and other personality traits we dislike. It’s wonderful, but it’s not going to make you happier or healthier. Never neglect the real things that make you happy, like scratching a dog’s head, playing board games, or imagining fictional people kissing.

Where can we find you online, and when does your book release?

My site is FangirlTherapy.com. Twitter is @fangirltherapy. My Tumblr is fangirltherapist, if you want to witness my current meltdown over Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. My book is out July 5, 2016, and the full title is The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal.

Thanks so much to Kathleen for taking the time to talk with me! I hope you’re inspired to go after ALL THE WRITING DREAMS after reading about her journey. Don’t forget to check out the other amazing women I’ve spoken with (like the Mari of Sent From MarsGeek Girl Brunch founders and Melificent) in the rest of the series, and stay tuned here every week for another women who proved success doesn’t always come in a cubicle. And if you want to continue the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #RealJob. 

Chatting with Gwenda Bond about Lois Lane: Double Down

A few months ago I read–and promptly fell in love with–Gwenda Bond’s first Lois Lane novel, Fallout. So when I heard about Gwenda writing a second Lois Lane novel, Double Down, I got incredibly excited. Check out the amazing working cover:

double down cover

Here’s a bit from the official press release:

DC Comics’ iconic character Lois Lane will be back for more in Lois Lane: Double Down, the second book in a new series from Switch Press, the Young Adult imprint of Capstone.  Following the success of the first book in the series, Lois Lane: Fallout, author Gwenda Bond returns with a new story of the adventures of a teenage Lois Lane, as she begins to discover her passion for journalism and become the character loved by generations of fans.

“Lois Lane is an icon, one of the most well-known and enduring figures in American pop culture–and for good reason,” says Bond. “She’s a hero all of us can relate to. It’s been a tremendous honor and a great pleasure to get to write about her in an all-new way, as a modern teenager, and I’m thrilled to be continuing her story in Double Down.”

Lois Lane has been an integral part of the cultural landscape since her first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938, which also introduced the world to Superman.  A Super Hero without superpowers, the character has been featured in a dizzying number of comic books, films, and television shows.

“Switch Press has been thrilled with the critical and fan response to Lois Lane: Fallout and we are all excited to see the series continue with Double Down,” said Miles Stevens-Hoare, Managing Director of Capstone’s Global Trade business. The Lois Lane series is produced through Capstone’s licensing partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment.

While press releases are great, I knew I had to chat with Gwenda about the book and see what bits of info we could squeeze from her. Luckily, Gwenda is always up for a chat about everyone’s favorite reporter, and we got to talk a bit about what we can expect from Ms. Lane in Double Down. Check it out:

Kendall: How much time has passed between Fallout and Double Down?

Gwenda: I like this – an easy one! About two weeks.

K: What do you think draws Lois to journalism rather than other justice-­focused careers like a cop, lawyer, or spy?

G: She’s a writer at heart, and always on the side of justice, as you say. With journalism, she never has to pick a side she might not be on otherwise, except to get to the bottom of the story and tell the truth that people need to know. As far as being a cop or a lawyer, she has a slight problem with following the rules that might pose more of a problem in either of those lines of work—not to mention a decided lack of patience. And as far as being a spy goes, can we imagine Lois obeying an order if she thought it was shady? Or standing by watching a bad guy get away with something? I don’t think so. ;­)

K: How has Lois’ life changed since Fallout?

G: So a lot of what we’ll see for Lois in Double Down is the complications of her finding her place in the world—namely, hanging onto it. She knows she wants to be a reporter doing big stories, but is having some trouble finding the next one when the book starts. She’s never really had friends before, and so when her new friendships do become tangled up in a story, she has trouble navigating that territory. And she feels like her relationship with her online friend might be evolving, but isn’t sure how to ask.

K: What kind of adventure can we expect in Double Down?

G: I think the last answer gets at this a little, but hopefully one with even higher stakes—both personal and professional—for Lois.

K: Of course this book is all about the AMAZING Lois Lane, but there’s a giant, Krypton­-shaped elephant in the room with SmallvilleGuy. Can we expect to hear more from him­­and maybe learn more about him in Double Down?

G: SmallvilleGuy is definitely a big part of Double Down. There is some developing drama and intrigue related to Strange Skies that poses a threat to him and to Lois, and through that we will learn more about The Inventor too. *twirls fingers*

K: Does Double Down have a release date yet?

G: It’ll be out May 1, 2016.

K: Anything else you want to say about Double Down?

G: Just that I’m so grateful for the enthusiastic reception to Fallout and the excitement for Double Down. I hope everyone loves this book just as much—or more!

Thanks SO MUCH to Gwenda for answering my questions. I am so incredibly excited about Double Down, and you should be, too! If you haven’t had a chance to read Fallout yet, go out and buy yourself a copy now. Lois has one amazing story to tell, and I can’t wait to read about her next adventure in Double Down!

Have you read Fallout? What did you think of it? What do you want to see in Double Down? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Book Review: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

I’ve been excited about Felicia Day’s memoir since the moment it was announced. When it was first available for pre-order, by some magical act of providence, I had recently been given a Barnes & Noble gift card. If you know me, B&N gift cards make it maaayyybeee 1 hour before I buy ALL THE BOOKS with it. So the fact that I had the card–fully loaded–and found a book I wanted available to pre-order was nothing short of fate. I ordered the book immediately, subsequently zapping my gift card of most of its funds–like I said, B&N gift cards don’t last long with me.

Of course the bad thing about pre-orders is you must wait for what seems like ETERNITY for your book to come off-press. If you want an example of how early I pre-ordered Felicia Day’s book, I’ll just tell you that the book was going by nothing beyond #FeliciaDayBook, and the cover looked like this:

FeliciaDayBook

Yeah, I had a while to wait for this sucker to come out. Happily, the wait is over, and I was able to zip through the book in a matter of a couple of days. And let me tell you, the book was FANTASTIC. While I’m sure you’ve now seen the actual book cover for Felicia Day’s now-titled memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), but in case you haven’t here it is again:

never weird

You guys, this book was fantastic. I’m a sucker for a good memoir, but even if I wasn’t a memoir fan I would have eaten this book up. Felicia not only shares stories from her unique childhood (being home-schooled–for, as she says, hippie reasons, not religious–becoming a violin prodigy, and going to college at 16 years old, just to name a few oddities), but she also talks about chasing her dreams and carving out a space for herself online while fighting some pretty intense anxiety–also removing any doubt that Codex from The Guild is essentially Felicia.

felicia-day-rabbit-o

Felicia’s story is an inspiring one, and it’s one that I related to (at least, at the front end of her story–the latter part where she becomes the internet-deemed “queen of the geeks” and launches her super successful web series and website landed more in the “inspirational” rather than “relatable” camp for me). She’s got a crazy drive to succeed, and pushes herself–often to her detriment–to do her very best and reach her goals. Driving yourself literally crazy to do your very best to achieve your goals? Oh yes, the meltdown I had at my kitchen table two nights ago will tell you that I most definitely relate to that.

adult

My meltdown looked startlingly similar to this…

But what I loved about the book was that it wasn’t just the story of one woman disregarding her personal health and social life to achieve her dreams–and you can, too! Instead, Felicia gave us her formula for success, but she also explains how it nearly destroyed her. I really appreciated that honesty of, “Hey, I had a dream, I went after it and I definitely did not take care of myself. It worked, but I put myself through unneeded hell. Don’t do that.”

I’ll be honest, I really struggle with that desire to do everything, having dreams, but not knowing exactly how to achieve them. Most of the time, I either feel completely swamped and overwhelmed with good things happening or I feel completely ill-equipped and like a GIANT impostor. I often convince myself that if I’m not running myself ragged, I’m not doing a good enough job

Success is work, right? So why the heck do you think it’s okay to be going to bed before midnight on a work night? 

Sure, you could spend a little time turning your brain off, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the successful people are working and brainstorming right now!

I realize you haven’t seen your bestie in several months, but if you want to be successful, you’ll stay home and work on your blog today. 

My brain is a mess, you guys. So I really appreciated and resonated with someone talking about chasing their dreams and working to build something for themselves while trying to work against Jerk Brain telling them that success = no sleep, fun, family, self-care, and friends. The book ends with her talking about the healthy place she’s in now, and her excitement for Geek & Sundry and its future–as a Geek & Sundry writer, I was kinda got some warm and fuzzies at that part.

felicia day

I don’t think I can recommend Felicia’s book highly enough. She can spin a good yarn, she makes you laugh (even when she’s talking about some of the darker periods of her life), AND she includes plenty of pictures of baby Felicia in the book. That alone makes it worth the buy, but the amount of inspiration and motivation it left me with to work to make my dreams a reality made it one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s impossible to close her book and not feel a bit like you should do the Xena yell and conquer the world.

girl power

If you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy of Felicia’s book BUY YOUR COPY NOW! It’s a fun, fast, inspiring, and quick read that I couldn’t recommend highly enough.

Have you read Felicia’s memoir? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments! 

Guest Post by April Genevieve Tucholke: Inspiration for “The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh”

I pushed myself last month to read a novel, a collection of short stories, and a novella to break myself out of a months-long reading slump. While finishing the books took a bit over a month, I read each of them, loved them, and have since waved that pesky reading desert wasteland goodbye. Yesterday, I talked about my thoughts on Armada (TL;DR: it was fun, but Ready Player One was soooo much better–if you’ve never read Ernest Cline, go for Ready Player One and just watch The Last Starfighter), and today I’m doing something a bit different to talk about the collection of short stories I read: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. The book is a collection of short stories collected by April Genevieve Tucholke (who writes a short story herself), but each story has a bit of a twist. I’m so excited to get to be a part of the official blog tour for the book, and bring you a guest post from April herself!

Slasher Girls

When I first heard about this book, I saw that the publisher was lauding it as “A powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best thriller and horror writers in YA— for fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead.”  I’ll be honest, that alone hooked me. I didn’t look any further into the book, and I requested a review copy. It wasn’t until after I received my copy of the book and started reading that I noticed that each story had an air of familiarity to it. If this collection was simply an anthology of short, scary stories, that would be great, but not entirely unique. What makes Slasher Girls & Monster Boys not only a great book, but a unique one is that each story was inspired by an existing work of literature, film, television–and the occasional Nirvana song (seriously). Even better, the author’s inspirations are revealed at the end of each story (at the bottom of the page and upside down to discourage cheating), so you can guess the work the author is referencing. Honestly, I loved this book. It was a fun, quick read, and the stories range from unsettling, to creepy, to downright scary. This book is DEFINITELY a must-have for any horror fan. 

But enough of me talking.

I’m so happy to welcome April to my blog today for the official Slasher Girls & Monster Boys Blog Tour. She’s written a post–and peppered it with gifs since we’re all about the gifs up in here–talking about the inspiration behind her AMAZING short story in the collection, “The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh”. Please welcome April to the blog, and be sure to pick up your copy of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys–it hits stores TODAY!

I drew from two inspirations for my Slasher Girls & Monster Boys short story—one iconic, and one not-so-iconic:

Inspiration 1:

carrie

It was inevitable that someone in this anthology would be inspired by Stephen King’s Carrie. I relate to the shy main character of this book/film, and I’ve always had a sympathetic twitch for the underdog, for the girl who is just a little bit different, for the girl who takes revenge.

carrie2

Inspiration 2:

IKWYDLS

It’s not a classic, like Carrie, but I have a soft spot for I Know What You Did Last Summer—I absolutely love the scene with the four kids in the rain, screaming at each other, frantically trying to figure out what the hell they are going to do. I always try to put myself in their shoes–-seriously, what would you do if you were a senior in high school and you crashed into somebody on the side of the road? What if you’d been drinking? What if there was a good chance you could hide the body and get away with it?

Last Summer

I love pondering questions like these, so it was fun to force my characters to go through this kind of experience.

What are some of your favorite horror stories? Have they inspired you to write your own stories, make your own movies, or create your own art? Tell me about it in the comments. And grab yourself a copy of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys today! 

Is Armada Worth All the Hype?

Earlier in the summer, I wrote about how I had found myself in a reading slump. To help myself break out, I picked three books to read in the month of July. Though the books definitely did bleed a bit into August, I read all three books and finally, FINALLY broke out of my reading slump. Victory!

harry-potter-excited

The first book I’m going to talk about from the three I read is Ernest Cline’s highly anticipated second novel after Ready Player One, Armada. I read Ready Player One last summer for my Geeky Summer Reads, and I completely loved it. I knew Armada wasn’t going to be a sequel, but after being so utterly blown away by the story Cline told in RP1, I was positively itching to get my hands on his next book.

So did it live up to the hype?

Well, yes and no. Let me explain–no spoilers ahead.

Let’s start with the negative: this book reminded me an awful lot of the movie The Last Starfightera totally rad movie from the 80s which you need to watch now if you’ve not seen it yet. Seriously. Go watch. I’ll be here.

the last starfighter

Now, before you say, “But, Kendall, apart from the video game aspect, they have two totally different concepts. Plus, Cline mentions the film in his book–he acknowledges the similarities!” I know. The stories are different at their cores, and Armada was in no way a rip-off of Starfighter. Still, the beginning of the movie and ultimate set-up of life behind the video game felt a lot like Starfighter. Once the story really got going, Cline made it clear how his book deviated from the 80s film, but after a book one that felt so very unique and one-of-a-kind, it bummed me out that the book felt “borrowed” in parts. It felt that RP1’s plot was just a lot thicker and had a bit more meat on its bones.

I also didn’t get to know the characters as well as I would have liked. In RP1 we really get to know not only Wade Watts, but Aech, Art3mis, Diato, Shoto, and even Sorrento. Because the major events in Armada happen over the course of a day, we just don’t get to know all of the tertiary characters as well–and from our brief intros to them, they seemed pretty rad.

The plot itself was fine, but it also lacked a bit of the twists, turns, and obstacles that you’d expect in a science fiction adventure. Sure, there are bumps along the road, but it seemed that every time a truly large conflict could arise, Cline took a quick turn and made all of his characters “be cool” and continue to work together well. The story is fine. The action is fine. It’s just a tad shallow where he really could have gone deeper. I mean, Wade Watts goes to debtor’s prison, he falls in love with a girl and loses her, he nearly dies IRL and in-game, he spends a lot of the book very poor, he loses his family…meanwhile, Zack has father issues that are talked about, but not really explored, when those father issues come to a head, it ends up not being a big deal. Zack grows up in a single-parent home, but they live comfortably. He meets a girl, and they pretty much stick together the entire time. When he is presented with situations that could get him in real trouble, he gets off. And did I mention that the major events of the book take place over the course of one day?! The book’s brief timeline showed, especially when the “big twist” ending was anything but. The book was just…oddly simple after a book like RP1.

BUT I did enjoy the read. 

Just like in RP1, Cline does a great job drawing you into a world of sci-fi awesomeness, peppered in with plenty of references to the time period he loves so very much-the eighties. Much like Wade, Armada‘s lead character, Zack, is a nerd who saves the world. Though there are similarities to Last Starfighter, the story ultimately goes in a different direction. I wish the story had dove deeper into the characters, I wish the journey was a more hard-fought one, and I wish there were more twists and turns along the way, but the read was a fun one. I was able to get through it pretty quickly, and even though I didn’t close the book wanting to immediately start it again like I did with RP1, I closed the book smiling. It was fun, it was exciting, and it was that sci-fi/geeky reference type of book that we’ve come to expect from Ernest Cline. Also, I feel pretty confident he set the book up for a sequel, which gave me hope that we could get a more in-depth look at the characters and the rest of the story around Zack Lightman. I felt like he purposefully left us with some questions and loose ends that he could easily start writing towards in a sequel.

Following up a book like Ready Player One had to have been a momentous feat. While I don’t think Armada was as good as RP1, the book is a nice follow-up to his first work. After all, when I finished the book, I was left wanting more–more story, more character development, more everything–so maybe that’s how he wants his readers to feel. Maybe he wanted us to close the book, wanting to learn more about Zack and his friends at the EDA.

So while this wasn’t my favorite book of the year like RP1 was, and while I won’t push the book on all of my friends like I did with RP1, I did enjoy Armada. It’s not worth the hype RP1 received, but if you like Ernie Cline and you like sci-fi, nerdy stuff, and eighties references, you’ll dig the book. Ultimately, it’s a fun ride.

Did you read Armada? What did you think of it? How did you think it compared to Ready Player One? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

DC Super Heroes Origami Review, Or Kendall Sucks at Paper-Folding

When I got the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of DC Super Heroes Origami by John MontrollI was so incredibly excited. I mean, just check out this book trailer:

Looks like a TON of fun, right? I couldn’t wait to get my copy of the book. When it finally arrived, I was thrilled to see that the book itself was not only SUPER thick (meaning LOTS of fun origami stuff to try), but the lovely folks at Capstone had also included a pre-made origami Bat-Signal to get me inspired.

Origami

I couldn’t wait to get my origami on. I flipped through the table of contents and saw that they had designs for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League. Because I had just seen the amazing Gal Gadot in the Dawn of Justice trailer, I felt it only right to give the Wonder Woman designs a shot. Of course, because I’m a moron, I didn’t pay close enough attention to notice that they provide you with colored paper for your origami endeavors. Full disclosure, I just noticed this about three minutes ago…

paper

Just a note, it not only mentions the origami paper in the table of contents, but also on the cover, and in the press release Captstone sent me. Sherlock would have been so ashamed at my lack of observation… Regardless, because of my lack of perception, I ended up doing my origami on printer paper. My first endeavor into the world of super hero paper folding was Wonder Woman’s tiara.

Tiara attempt

Of course, because I was using printer paper, the dimensions were out of whack. So after a few failed attempts at following directions and just general trouble folding, I realized the problem and worked to remedy it. Happily, I cut my paper just right, and was able to work my way through the instructions. The final instruction was my personal favorite:

After you've finished all of your folding, the book helpfully reminds you to make sure your tiara is facing the correct direction...

After you’ve finished all of your folding, the book helpfully reminds you to make sure your tiara is facing the correct direction…

Finally, I finished the tiara, for better or for worse. Behold!

Tiara Collage

So, it wasn’t perfect by a long shot. The front was quite a bit too tall, and I couldn’t master the folding necessary to make the back hold together on its own–so I cheated and taped the back. Regardless, I was pretty stoked about how my first foray into paper folding turned out. I was ready to try another design, and I knew just the one:

star

Yes, I was going to try a paper star. I was certain I could pull it off. However, I didn’t notice this on the bottom of the page of the tiara instructions:

level 1

Which means I also didn’t notice this on the first page of the star project’s instructions:

level 2

For someone who has literally never done any serious origami in her lifetime, that jump from level one two level two is a pretty significant jump. So I did not experience the same level of success that I experienced with the tiara. There was a serious disconnect for me between what the instructions were trying to tell me, and what I was actually doing with the paper. When I finally gave up, my “design” was not even close to a star.

Star Collage

Seriously. Look at all those arrows and dotted lines. How am I supposed to keep that straight?!?

But before I could get too down on myself, I reminded myself quickly of my success with the tiara. For someone who was never able to fully grasp the concept of folding notes in middle school in those cool designs, and someone who couldn’t make one of those paper fortune tellers very efficiently, I was quite proud of my efforts. I had a LOT of fun playing around with the projects, and will most definitely be trying others in the future.

All I could think as I goofed my way through each project was how much I wish I had this book back when I was a nanny. It would have been a hoot to try to work through the origami designs with the kiddos I watched. These projects are a hoot to try, and with the paper in the back of the book, it’s a perfectly portable project for kids or crafty adults.

What I love the most about this book is that it has origami projects for all levels of paper-folders. If you’re an origami n00b like me, there are origami projects just for you, and if you’re an origami superhero, there are plenty of designs in the book to challenge your skills. Because the book covers so many skill levels, it’s also great to give someone who is trying to improve in their origami. Basically, there’s something for everyone in this one.

UPDATE: If you want to get a step-by-step tutorial on how to create the origami Bat-Signal, Capstone has released just such a video! Origami enthusiast Chris Harbo will walk you through the process in the video below. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to work with a person rather than a diagram!

If you want to get your hands on one of these bad boys, you can pre-order yourself a copy of DC Super Heroes Origami by John Montroll, or you can wait until the book officially hits stores on September 1. Have you ever tried origami, or any fandom origami projects? How did you do? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book for my honest review. Capstone Publishers did not influence my review in any way. 

Summer Reading Woes: Breaking Out of a Reading Slump

I love to read. I’ve always loved reading. There’s just something wonderful about losing yourself for hours within the pages of an amazing book.

books are an adventure

Last summer, Hubs and I took a trip to the beach, and I read nearly five books over the course of our beach time. Reading to the sounds of the crashing ocean just a few feet from you? That was pure and epic bliss.

This summer, I haven’t been as successful at reading. I have no idea why. While I am a bit busier than I was last summer, I’m not significantly busier. Besides, I genuinely adore reading, but I just haven’t been able to get into my hardcore reader mode like I normally can. I’ll try to get into a new book, and it just doesn’t seem to work.

britta bored reading

Here’s what makes it worse: I still totally love books. I have tons of book blogger friends who talk about great new books, and I pop that title on my TBR list. When I go to a bookstore or my local library, I still find about ten THOUSAND new books that I want to jump into. I think that if I maybe get a new book from the library, or buy myself a new book, I’ll actually read and get out of my slump.

tangled read a book

But really all that happens is I just stuff my already full-to-bursting bookshelves, and I find myself still stuck in my reading slump–only with less money.

So I have decided that I am officially over this reading slump, and I’m actively working to get out of it. How, you might ask? Well, I have a plan:

Set some reading goals, but keep it light. 

cat reading

If you want to read something super dense, go for it, but then make your book goal a bit smaller. Don’t say you’ll read three books in a month, and decide those three books will be stuff like The Art of War, Infinite Jest, and House of Leaves. Maybe once you’re back to your normal reading form, give yourself a challenge like that. But while you’re trying to break out of your slump, make sure that if the books are more of an intensive read, set a smaller number for your “books read this month” goal. For me, I’m shooting to read a novella, a compilation of short stories, and a full-length novel in the month of July.

Have some sort of accountability. 

disapproving look

It’s a lot easier to blow off goals if you don’t have something out there to keep you accountable. Everybody needs something different when it comes to being held accountable, so do what works best for you. Whether it’s joining a book club, telling a friend you need them to check in on your reading, or publicly stating that you’ll be reading more books on your blog, raising the stakes a bit by going public with your reading goal can help you ensure that you actually do your reading.

Don’t allow yourself to buy new books–unless you actually have to for work or school–until you’ve read a set number of your existing books.

all the books

You decide what your goal is, but telling yourself you can’t buy a new book or grab a new book from the library until you read a certain number of books is great motivation to get you back into the pages of a book. Although, if you’re anything like me, sticking to a “no buy/no library checkout” policy might actually prove to be more challenging than actually breaking out of your reading slump.

Actually do the thing.

read the book

You can set as many shiny goals and incentives as you like, but ultimately, you need to…

shia-labeouf-just-do-it-green-background

Actually set aside some time for reading. Don’t have the TV on, don’t start reading in a room full of people you love chatting with (that’s also kind of rude anyway, regardless of reading goals), don’t say you’ll read after a playing “a bit of Skyrim”. Sit down and read. The best way to get out of a reading slump is to actually, physically read. Chances are, you’ll remember instantly how much you love getting lost in a good book, and you’ll be back to your bookish ways.

Like I said, I’ll be reading a novella, a compilation of short stories, and a full-length novel in the month of July. You can expect to see me talk about them all here on the blog, so stay tuned!

How do you get yourself out of reading slumps? What are you reading right now? What’s next on your TBR list? Let’s talk books in the comments!