Top Ten Tuesday 11/19 – All I know is these times are changing

You know the drill: TTT is a weekly themed post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is “Changes In My Reading Life (Maybe you like different genres or topics, maybe you read faster than you used to, maybe you only like standalones now).” At first I thought this would be difficult, but once I started writing, I realized there have actually been a lot of changes for me, both recently and from childhood to now. I tried to link in a few more of my past reviews and posts for this, so…take a look at them, maybe? 😊

1. Indian authors

This is weirdly specific, but the past several years, I’ve been reading a lot of Indian authors, especially ones who write about India or the Indian-American experience. Some of that is because I took a class on post-colonial Indian literature in college, but I guess it sparked more interest for me as well! Quichotte, for example, was one of the best books I read this year.

2. Less mystery

As a kid, I absolutely loved all mysteries. My favorites included the A to Z Mysteries, all of the Boxcar Children books, the American Girl History Mysteries, and (please don’t laugh) the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen Mysteries series. I still like a healthy dose of mystery in the books I read, but I can’t even remember the last time I read a book that was straight-up mystery. If you include mystery-thrillers, then I guess The Last Time I Lied would count. That was several months ago, and it was on audiobook.

3. Audiobooks

I will admit, I used to be kind of a snob about audiobooks. I thought they were “fine, but not for me.” A literary purist, or whatever. Now, they make up probably about a third of my reading, because they let me absorb books while commuting and doing mundane tasks! They’re a tad harder to review, but I like writing mini-reviews for them!

4. Graphic novels

Similarly, I didn’t really “do” graphic novels as a kid, with the exception of Captain Underpants (which is, was, and always will be an iconic series). After elementary school, I don’t think I read one until my senior year of college, when I was assigned one for a class on Asian-American literature. I still haven’t read a ton, but I have picked up a few that have become absolute favorites, including On a Sunbeam (which is beautiful and imaginative and sapphic and adorable) and Watchmen (which is smart and dark and mind-boggling).

5. Nonfiction

There is a narrative to this one. See, in kindergarten, one of the most exciting days for me was the day we were finally allowed into the Nonfiction section of our school library. Every day I would check out a new book. For some reason, though, my topics of choice were usually either insects or natural disasters. Finally, my mom told me that I needed to read something “happier,” so I tried some Doctor Seuss, and then some fantasy and mystery books, and from there, all hope was lost. But lately, I’ve been creeping back into the world of nonfiction, from sociology to history to humorous memoirs.

6. Diverse authors

Some of this is because there are simply more diverse authors getting picked up by major publishing houses, but I have also become more aware of the importance of reading books about characters who aren’t necessarily like you. As a kid, I would read books about characters who were like me (read: white girls) who I could pretend to be, or could aspire to be like as I got older (I desperately wanted magic powers…). Now, I try to make an effort to expand my horizons, with authors of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, abilities…and I am making a point of finding more #OwnVoices rep, like Spin the Dawn, which I adored, and Pet, which has been up for several awards this year.

7. DNF

Up until last year, I was really reluctant to give up on books I didn’t love, because I still wanted to finish them. In my mind, the only “acceptable” reason to DNF was having to return the book to the library before I was done. Then I realized that there are so many good books out there, it isn’t worth it to spend time on ones you’re not really feeling, especially if it is keeping you from reading something you’ll love more. It has been a really healthy shift of mentality for me.

8. Buying books

I don’t have a great reason as to why. I don’t exactly have the space or the money, but here we are. All of you folks in the book blogging community are a bad influence 😂

9. Reviews

I started really taking reviews more seriously earlier this year, and I love it. Sometimes it is stressful, but I love being able to put my thoughts on books into a more lasting form, and knowing that somebody, somewhere, might be reading and appreciating my thoughts.

10. ARCs

To wrap up on a related note, I hadn’t heard of ARCs until I started getting into the online book community, mostly on Facebook at first. Once I knew what they were, I decided I wanted them, especially because I was trying to review more. Now my NetGalley account is thriving, I’m entering (and, shockingly, winning) giveaways, especially on Goodreads, and I’m getting super jazzed about books even before their official releases.

Bonus #11: Blogging

I think this one is self-explanatory. I started seriously blogging here in August, and it has been one of the biggest (and best) changes to my reading life yet, thanks in no small part to all the lovely people here. Thanks, y’all 💜

So what about you?

Have you done any of these? Got any major shifts in your reading life? Let’s chat in the comments (emoji)

As always,
Kathryn (“K-Specks”)

P.S. Is anyone else here a fan of The Struts? The title of this post was a reference to one of their songs, but I realized like 95% of people wouldn’t recognize it…

Again, But Better – review

Author: Christine Riccio
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Genre: young adult, contemporary, speculative fiction (?)
My rating: 1.5/5 stars

Note: I first published a version of this review on my Goodreads account in June 2019. I figured, with the fact that this dumpster fire is up for a Goodreads Choice Award now, I should clean it up a little and get my (very strong) opinions up here as well.

That was…disappointing. There were some promising elements (some of the details hit way too close to home…), and the premise was cool, but the execution was lacking, and it was a little painful to get through. For some context, I read this because the new Barnes and Noble YA Book Club chose it as their first monthly pick, and I was going to go to that discussion. But when I finished the book, I was not a huge fan–didn’t despise it, so I wasn’t going to rant about it or anything, but didn’t have any desire to spend even another minute on it. So when my mom and brother decided they were going to get Dairy Queen shortly before when I would have had to leave for that meeting, I opted to go get ice cream and skip the discussion altogether. That’s the kind of apathy I felt.

In retrospect, I actually did hate it a lot more than I initially thought, to the point that I decided to sell this book–which I had actually paid just about full price for, in hardcover–to Half-Price Books for about $3 (yeah, they’re kind of cheapskates…) because I didn’t want it on my shelf, nor did I want to give it to my friend who is a high school English teacher for her classroom library, because, again, it was garbage.

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Watchmen – review

Author: Alan Moore (writer), Dave Gibbons (illustrator)
Genre: graphic novel, drama, superhero
My rating: 5/5 stars
Publication date: September 8, 1987

There is so much to unpack in this book. So much happens, and so masterfully executed, that I really don’t know if I can do it justice with a simple review on this blog. I’ll do my best to keep this from turning into straight-up raving, but I have a lot to say. Sorry in advance for the length.

But first, storytime!

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Where did all my comment sections go?

Two posts in a day? Insanity, I know, but this one isn’t about books. There is a picture of a puppy at the end, though. See, last week, when I posted my responses to the Sunshine Blogger Award, one of my followers sent me a message through my site’s Questions page, letting me know that the comments on the post were turned off for some reason. I figured it was a quirk or a glitch of some sort, but I manually went into the post’s details and fixed it. No problem, right?

Well, today, I became aware that this problem is continuing to happen, now on the majority of my posts, including the one from earlier today. I have no idea why WordPress is disabling comments, especially since:
a) In my site settings, I have it set so that all posts will automatically allow comments, and
b) They aren’t even disabled on every post, just most of them–it’s totally random.

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When the Stars Lead to You – launch party!

Way back in May or June, I went to an event hosted by Epic Reads, with a couple authors talking about their recently-released books. At the event, I also met an author who was just there to observe and support some friends, an author with a book coming out later this year. I added it to my Goodreads TBR and made a mental note to keep my eyes peeled for it.

Well, folks, that author was Ronni Davis, that book was When the Stars Lead to You, and that release date was yesterday.

And, because Ronni lives in Chicago, my fantastic local bookstore, Anderson’s Bookshop, hosted a release party for her.

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Top Ten Tuesday 11/12 – Bookmark Bonanza!

Damn, K-Specks! Back at it again with the Top Ten Tuesday! (Sorry for resurrecting that old meme for the sake of an interesting intro…) TTT is a weekly themed post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is very straightforward: “Favorite Bookmarks.”

Now, given the “Don’t have a bookmark?” meme that was trending a couple months ago that started with Chex Mix and just got worse, I considered just making this post a compilation of my favorite responses to it (The Strand bookstore had some especially good riffs on it). However, I figured I also have plenty of my own bookmarks and bookmark substitutes that would make an equally entertaining post, and probably not one you’ve seen before.

I need to stop with these long intros. Just go on to the list already.

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This Is Going to Hurt – ARC review

Author: Adam Kay
Publication date: December 3, 2019
Genre: nonfiction, humor
My rating: 4.5/5 stars

This book was…laugh-out-loud hilarious? Painfully sad? Excellent validation that I made the right choice in not becoming a doctor? Honestly, all of the above. With candor and a never-ending stream of (often dark) humor, this collection of journal entries by a former medical resident paints a vivid picture of all parts of the medical profession: the funny, the bizarre, the awful, the heartwarming, the disgusting, the personal.

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