Review: Letter 44, Vol. 1: Escape Velocity

20906789 Letter 44, Vol. 1
By: Charles Soule
Release Date: July 30, 2014
Publisher: Oni Press
Series: Letter 44 #1

I often find myself reading manga. It’s a genre I love. Truth be told, I should read more graphic novels and comics than I currently do. I’ve had Letter 44, Vol. 1: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule on my radar for quite some time and, finally, I picked it up. This is a graphic novel promising political intrigue and alien encounters deep in the asteroid belt. With action both on and off planet this is graphic novel sure to please fans of both thriller-esque political intrigue and fans of standard sci-fi.

Throwback Thursday: Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8)

Proven Guilty Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8)
By: Jim Butcher
Release Date: February 6th, 2007
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files

Here’s the thing. If you’re reading a review for book number eight in a series you’re either already hooked (like me) or you’re uncertain about going forward. Either way you’ve made it more than halfway through the series (as it currently stands at 15 books) so, really, are you going to quit on Harry Dresden now? Your choice.

Bookworm Problems: Reading Slumps

Reading Slump
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It’s perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to a bookworm. A reading slump.

For the last month or so I’ve been stuck in a pretty bad slump. I have many books on my to be read pile which, is taller than me, and I want to read them. I really want to. When I sit down to do just that, what happens? Nothing. I can’t focus. I can’t get into the story. Take away the usual challenges us bookworms face (unable to get comfortable, bad lighting, etc) and multiple those things and their frustration by a thousand and you will have entered the frustration of a reading slump.

So, below are some ways I’ve found that help break out of a reading slump. While none of these are fool proof and my slump isn’t over yet let me tell you I’m much more ready to settle in with a good book now than I was this past weekend when I resorted to doing nearly all of these things.

  1. Switch Genres
    This one is simple. If you’ve been reading about witches and wizards but can’t get into the next fantasy series or part of a current series take a break! I know for me this is difficult, especially if happens mid-series (I always feel obligated to read start to finish, no other books in between) but lately this is the trap I’ve fallen into. So, while I liked Leigh Bardugo’s first book in the Grisha Series, Shadow and Bone I had a hard time getting into it. The writing is good, the plot is interesting but I’d been so far into the fantasy realm lately that I didn’t recognize that I needed a break from it.
  2. Read something light
    Sometimes, if switching genres doesn’t work, I find reading a novella (whether from the same genre or different) will metaphorically wet my whistle and get me excited to read more ASAP. I found this particularly effective when reading the Selection Series by Kiera Cass. The novellas in between the books (The Prince, The Guard, The Queen and The Favorite) were exactly what I needed when I was in between the actual books and trying to get into the next one. Not only did they give a bit more about the characters from the main story but it made me even more intrigued by the main story line which, as an author, is exactly what you want readers to feel.
  3. Read reviews
    This is huge for me and sometimes this will make or break a slump. If I see someone raving about a new book my interest is piqued. When I see many people freaking out over the same? Well, the old adage of “How can X number of people be wrong?” stands true here. If I see a high average rating on GoodReads and a lot of in depth, fun reviews, I’m more likely to pick up that book and dive right in.
  4. Re-read an old favorite
    Sometimes you need to remember why you love reading. I mean, we all know it’s amazing and a great way to spend your time. However, when you’re in a slump you’re often discouraged about books and reading in general. In my case I feel guilty that I’m not reading with so many books on my pile (and reviews to write for this blog). So, sometimes you need to reset and go back. For me sometimes it’s Harry Potter. Other times I’ve gone way back and read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because I distinctly remember reading this book twice in one day.
  5. Switch up how you read
    Sometimes holding a physical book is part of the problem. If you can’t get comfortable you might give up. Try an e-reader. Try an audio book. Anyway to get the story in your mind and refocus on the love of storytelling  will sometimes be enough to snap you out of it.
  6. Get some recommendations
    Whether you go on GoodReads, ask a librarian, ask a bookstore associate or turn to a trusted friend (I’m looking at you, Kate) sometimes you just need someone to push a book in your hands and say “this one.” And, most of the time, those people are right.
  7. Watch a book based movie or show
    Whether you watch the 2016 movie Girl on the Train, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, or any number of the books turned cable TV show (Pretty Little Liars, Recovery Road, Shadowhunters, etc) sometimes you just need the visual handed to you. I know plenty of people out there think like me and say “I can’t watch that until I read the book first.” Well, if you’re in a book slump, when exactly do you think you’ll get to the show or movie?
  8. Set the mood
    Mood is important. Have a reading chair or, in my case, nest. Have water, tea, coffee and snacks near by. Make sure the room you’re in is at a comfortable temperature. If you like it cold so you can be under a blanket while you read, open the window or lower the temperature in your home. If you like it warmer, sans blanket, dress warm and cozy or raise the temperature. Make sure the lighting is exactly how you like it.  Most importantly, don’t let other distractions enter your mind. Put your phone aside (or turn it on silent mode). Play soft music. Whatever you need to enjoy your much deserved down time.
  9. Focus on your goal
    If you’ve set a reading goal for the year (like I have) sometimes you need to remind yourself of that. And while you can’t force yourself out of a slump sometimes focusing on the goal can help. For me, despite my reading slump, I have promised myself to read for at least twenty minutes a day. Some days it’s a struggle and some days I’ve found myself reading well beyond those twenty minutes, if only to finish the chapter.
  10. Reorganize your shelves
    For me this is a last resort kind of thing. Generally that’s because I’m very…let’s call it particular, about how my shelves are organized. While I love the color coded shelves or genre specific shelves you see on Instagram and other social media platforms I just can’t bring myself to do it. For me, reorganizing generally means going through and pulling out the books I think I’ll want to read next, dusting off my shelves and enjoying my extremely tall to be read pile. While my friends and family are visibly concerned at such a pile, for me it is a physical representation of a challenge to myself. And I never turn down a reading challenge.

What are your tips for getting over a reading slump? Anything that always works for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Moving As A Bookworm: Packing

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Moving is hard. There’s no way around it. No matter how many times I do it, no matter how far in advance I start, I always wind up stressed and buried in teetering towers of boxes. But moving as a bookworm poses its own problems.

Books awesome! But they’re also heavy and take up a lot of space. One of my shelves had books stacked two layers deep. Another was bowed under the weight. And that doesn’t even count all of the books I’ve left in weird places.

Okay, so here’s the breakdown. As far as shelves go, I have one regular standing shelf, one of those little cubby hole shelves sold at WalMart, and five wall mounted shelves from Home Depot, each one roughly six feet long. Needless to say, these hold a lot of books. But, of course, that wasn’t all the books I needed to pack.
I’m pretty sure books just spawn new books. No matter how tidy I try to keep my shelves books just seem to spill off them and onto anything and everything in the general vicinity. End tables, the bar, the floor, hell, the top of the microwave. I’ve found books pretty much everywhere you could think of.

Under normal circumstances this would be funny, but with no real consequence. But when moving, this is frustrating to say the least. Twice now I’ve thought that I was finally finished packing books only to find more in a very weird place. At fifteen boxes I started packing the glasses beneath the bar where three books (an illustrated copy of Black Beauty, a book on proper gardening techniques, and a coffee table book) were tucked between the side of the bar and a wine decanter. My husband took a couple books he wanted to read (King Lear and The Queue by Basma A., Aziz) and left them on his work bench beneath a box of EL wire. And the nightstand pile. I thought I had a very under control stack of books on my night stand. Turns out there were seven, not counting the book I found beneath the boxes of contact lenses on my dresser.

Have I found all of them? Maybe? At this point I’m not confident anymore. I have an open box beneath my desk half full of books just in case, and fully expect it to be full by the time I move.

But the worst part about moving as a bookworm?

All my books are gone! The shelves are empty, and stacked against one wall. All my books are packed into boxes where I can’t get at them. Every time I look at the wall where all my books used to be I get a little sad. And to add insult to injury, I don’t even have time to read the books I have access to. Between packing up my apartment and fixing up the house my husband and I are moving into, our days are pretty full. I think I’m suffering book withdrawal.

We haven’t actually moved yet, so it will be some time before I get my lovely book collection back. Even then, it’ll be a while before they’re all unpacked. Between my mother in law moving out of the house we’re moving into and a general spring (summer?) cleaning, there just won’t be room to unpack for a while. I’ll have my Kindle, of course, but there really isn’t anything like a physical book. Stay tuned for an account of how I’m coping, or not coping, with minimalistic book living.

What are your experiences of moving as a bookworm? Let us know in the comments below!

Throwback Thursday: Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7)

Dead Beat Dead Beat(The Dresden Files #7)
By: Jim Butcher
Release Date: May 2nd, 2006
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files

There are certain things that Harry Dresden cannot, and will not, abide by. Threatening his friends (in this case, Karrin Murphy) is one of them. Another, is necromancy. But, when his arm is twisted into finding the lost information on an old necromancy spell that could rip the world in half the blackmail on Murphy is too much and Harry must make a deal with what he feels may be the closest thing to the devil, a Black Court vampire named Mavra.