Coffee Time: Rereading Catching Fire a decade later

Coffee Time

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)So last week or so I made a post about rereading the Hunger Games for the first time since 2011, and now that I’ve finished Catching Fire, it’s time for post number two! Obligatory spoiler warning.

When I first read this back in 2011, I remember being on a road trip with a friend to go visit another mutual friend of ours. They had this book on their shelf when I got there and I saw it and remember making a beeline for it and asking if I could read it while there. They were courteous enough to allow me to, which I appreciated.

And then the first day of our four day trip there I spent reading this book. Rude? Maybe a tad, but my buddies were also readers so they understood. I literally read this book in a day originally. I remember not being able to put it down at all. I think I read it in two sittings? I stopped for dinner or lunch or something. But it was totally addicting and I remember loving it even more than The Hunger Games.

And this time around, it was the same deal: I zoomed through this. I started with my physical copy but once I decided to re-arrange my books again on my shelves, I switched over to the audio so I could listen while I fiddled with my other books. I didn’t finish it in a day like I did last time, but it was still rather damned quick.

The biggest thing I forgot about this book was how little time was actually spent in the Hunger Games arena – it’s only the last what, maybe third of the book? And the first two thirds are all world building and political strife and whatnot. I seriously forgot all about it, and reading it was like doing so for the first time.

I think I saw the movie for this book maybe three or four years ago – it’s been a while – but I remember now how much the movie left out. There was so much political maneuvering and side character interactions that happened in this book that just weren’t present in the movie. I really, really enjoyed all the build up in this one and feel like the exhibition of it was fantastic.

I mentioned in my previous post that I could see where team Katniss/Nobody was coming from this time around, and with this book that viewpoint only strengthened for me. This book starts the love triangle, the ugh you’re killing me roll my eyes love triangle that’s happening in the middle of an uprising. While I can see now that Katniss is definitely confused when it comes to where her feelings lie, and that she has admitted feelings for Gale and at least potential ones for Peeta, I still feel like she should just deal with the problem at hand, but hey, in the famous words of Mick Jagger, you can’t always get what you want.

But anyways.

I feel like this book set up the last one really well and it culminated with the cliff hanger at the end. I really like how little Katniss is aware of the events going on outside of her own point of reference. She’s being returned to the arena and that’s a big issue yes, but there are also revolts in districts, elaborate plans to break apart the Hunger Games and save the competitors left alive. Katniss knew about some of it, but nowhere near all of it, nor was she involved except for involuntarily. She was a face of a movement before she knew one existed, and I thought it was set up really well – the revealing of information, the pacing, the cliffhangers. It was all great.

So this time around I gave this book a 4.5 stars, while last time I gave it a five. I enjoyed it as much this time as I did last time, but the boy pining kinda ground my gears, so half a star off it is.

One more book left, and then the sequel. If you’ve been rereading these recently or reading them for the first time, do tell me your thoughts.

Coffee Time: Rereading The Hunger Games a decade later

Coffee Time

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

So I know at this point that everyone and their mom has read The Hunger Games, but I reread it recently, for the first time since 2011, and figured I’d do a thing on it since I bought the prequel and relevancy and yada yada. This’ll hopefully be the first out of three posts, one for each book as I read them.

When I originally read this book, I was 21, heading into my senior year of college, and while I had been reading books for years and years at that point, young adult was still a relatively new thing to me. I owned young adult some books but in my mind, ‘young adult’ wasn’t a separate genre from all the other books I had. Honestly I don’t even remember if my bookstore had it separated it out as a separate section or if it was all just mixed in with everything else. I had a Goodreads account, but otherwise I didn’t participate in the online book community whatsoever. So the only reason I knew this book was hot stuff was because the cashiers working at my local Borders kept telling me about it. So I picked it up.

What I remember about reading it the first time was mainly two things: One, that I flew through it. I’m talking read it in a day, maybe two. I remember missing dinner one night because I couldn’t put the thing down. Two, I remember adoring it. 21 year old me gave this book five stars, no question. I loved it.

When the movies came out in the following years, I remember getting a large group of friends to go see it together in theaters. We made a whole event out of it: We went out for dinner first to a pizza buffet place, and then once we were stuffed beyond capacity, we hobbled our way to the theater and basically took over two rows. It was so much fun, and I remember more or less liking the movie adaption.

I’ve since rewatched the movies a few times (never last one though, weirdly. I’ve never seen it) so going into it this time, the overall plot was still pretty fresh in my mind.

This latest read I did as I said in prep for reading the prequel. This time I was (am) 29, and I’ve really defined my reading tastes over the last nine years. This book was still within them, mind you, but I wasn’t so blindsidedly smitten this time around. It got a four star rating from me instead of a five.

One thing I noticed was that I was more aware of Katniss’s lack of romantic interest throughout the book. I mean it’s obvious as she’s faking it for the cameras, but I’m talking that I better got where her inner dialogue was coming from. I know more than one person after reading the books was neither in camp Gale or camp Peeta, but instead in camp Nobody, because Katniss wasn’t in the right mindset to actually fall in love and keep a healthy dynamic going. When I was 21 I was firmly a Peeta fan, but now I’m not saying I don’t like Peeta, but I can also see why Katniss just wants to chill on her own. She admits herself that she doesn’t feel like she can keep up a relationship, real or fake. It’ll be interesting to see if I keep this mindset after the other two books.

The writing this time around too struck me as more simple than I remember it. I don’t mean that as a negative: simple writing often means I’m able to fly through the book, which I was. I think it took me three or four days this time around, which by my reading standards today is pretty speedy. I was really glad that the story kept me hooked just as much as it did in 2011. It was just as captivating. I forgot how much detail that the movies left out, so getting to read it all again was almost like reading it for the first time.

The biggest of those things was really all the inner monologue from Katniss. You really didn’t get any of that whatsoever in the movies, and I honestly forgot what the content of most of it was. It was really nice, and the books felt fuller to me than the plot I remember from the movies as a result.

I guess overall what I’m trying to say is that in my opinion, this book has withstood the test of time, and I’m rather psyched about it. Often I’ll rewatch or reread things from my childhood/teenagerhood/etc and it just doesn’t hold up, but with The Hunger Games, I don’t think it suffers that issue. I think the author did a really good job with it, and it’s still a solidly good book, twelve years after publication.

Maybe I’ll read it again in another ten years, or have my future kiddos read it and see what they think.

DNFing Books: Time Wasted vs. Money Wasted

Coffee Time

Hi, today I wanna talk about DNFing books and the struggle I tend to go through while contemplating it.

Let me preface this by saying that I tend to buy books. I do have a library available to me as well, but this discussion is specifically about after one has spent money on a book and decides it’s not great. So saying ‘just get it from the library’ isn’t a good solution when the dollars are already gone from my wallet.

Late January, a book came out that I was highly anticipating. You can probably guess from my ‘Currently Reading’ post if you saw that, but I’m not going to state which it is specifically because I’m still not sure if I’m going to quit it or finish it.

So, I bought the book new from the bookstore – new release as stated, kinda impossible to get it super cheap. The list price of the thing was $30, but with coupons/etc I got it for $20. Twenty is still a lot for me to pay for a book. I like used books and heavily-couponed/discounted/on sale books. So really, if I pay more than like $13 or so for a book, I really really want that book. I did really want this book, so I forked over the twenty bucks without complaint.

Then, I started reading it. I knew within fifteen pages that I wasn’t going to love it, but I kept reading because ‘You spent twenty bucks on this thing’ popped into my head and I hate wasting five bucks on an unfinished latte because it got cold (pop ice in and boom: iced latte) let alone twenty bucks on a book that I hadn’t even read 10 percent of.

Now, I do not have a problem in general with DNFing books – I have a shelf on goodreads of all the books I’ve put down. But I noticed a trend with them after having difficulty with this current book. All the DNFs were either library books, borrowed from friends, or purchased used or discounted. None of them were.. well, a twenty dollar book. And that made me think…

How much time are we willing to waste on something we don’t enjoy, and does it change with how much money is involved?

Because… if I had spent $5 on this book, I would have put it down by now. I’m absolutely certain. The money-to-time-spent ratio is more… justified, I guess. (For the coffee mentioned above, I get that thing for thirty minutes before it’s cold – you bet your butt I’m finishing it.) If I had spent $10… would I have? I don’t know. Why does the amount of money spent on a book determine how much time I’ll spend not enjoying it?

How much do I feel my time is worth? It’s easy to say ‘I’d rather eat the five bucks and move on to the next book’ but saying ‘I’d rather eat the twenty bucks and move on’, that’s harder. And I don’t feel that it’s tied to my income either – when I was in college I was making minimum wage, and I’d still quit a five dollar book no problem.

And does it change, depending on the person? If you spent $20 on a book, were half way through, and were certain it was going to end up a 1 or 2 star book, would you finish it? What if the book made you angry? What if it made you bored? What if it made you confused?

I think the emotion felt while reading a disliked book also plays into it. 

I definitely tend to finish books that make me angry. Hate-reading is its own source of enjoyment and motivation. I tend to hate-read a lot of bad romance trope-containing books. I go in them hoping to love them by the way, but by the end, my rage gives me life fuel.

Boring books though… it’s much harder. You know, it’s funny, I was thinking about this topic last night while I was reading the book I’m contemplating DNFing, and came across this quote:

A man will suffer misery to get to the bottom of truth, but he will not suffer boredom.

And my brain read that and went ‘Heeeey did you know you’re making me bored? Because that was uncanny.’ But it’s right (and it’s the one line of the book that I have enjoyed so far) I’d rather hate-read than be bored by a book. I’d rather read something that makes me highly uncomfortable than be bored. And because this book is making me bored… right now the twenty dollars doesn’t sound like a terrible price to escape it.

There’s also the ego to consider.

Freudian theories aside, something is keeping me from putting down this book aside from money. Maybe I just wanna show that I can handle something I dislike. Maybe it’s so I can write a damn review on it and give it a fair rating since I would have read it all. All I know is every time I think about quitting it, my brain goes ‘Oh no you don’t, you’ve come this far’.

Reading books I dislike makes me slumpy.

This is another factor that leads towards not wanting to waste time more than not wanting to waste money. When I’m reading a book I dislike, specifically one that bores me, it makes me not want to read period. I don’t want to read it, and I don’t want to read other books I’ll enjoy more because I’ll feel guilty for not focusing on the boring one. I can already feel the slump setting in, so maybe slowing down the pace of this one and reading other books and coming back to it will help.

So. Will I finish the book? I haven’t decided.

As of right now, I’m still unsure. I just hit the 50% mark of the book, so I feel like quitting it now would be silly (it’s my ego telling me that) but at the same time, the remaining 50% is over 300 pages (…and would be the ‘don’t waste time’ bit) and as mentioned multiple times, this damn book was twenty dollars.

I guess what it comes down to is.. I’m disappointed. I shelled out this money, and my time, and my anticipation on a book that I was sure I would love, and it let me down. I feel cheated in a way, and maybe powering through and finishing the book is my way of compensating for the feeling of, well, betrayal?

Who knows. A review will be up of this book either way eventually – we’ll see if it says ‘DNF’ in it or not. Wish me luck.

So, what do you think? Should money play into it? Does it for you? Is it something you’ve noticed a pattern with? Talk to me, peeps.

Coffee Time: Top owned authors

Blogmas 2018

Hello! Today I wanna go over my top-owned authors. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to exclude manga authors, because they would completely take up the list. When I originally thought to write this post, I thought it would be an update of an earlier post I’d made, but when I looked I couldn’t find anything. Maybe it was in a parallel universe. Hmmm..

Anyways, these’ll be the top authors I own, not necessarily have read. I tend to stockpile books by an author if I like that author. A top read authors posts will be out on Thursday.

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson

Books owned: 8. Neal Stephenson is one of those authors that I’ve stockpiled. I’ve read Snow Crash by him and adored it. I’ve been slowly collecting his works since then, but have yet to actually pick another one up.

Sarah J Maas

Sarah J. Maas

Books owned: 8. Considering this author once had two books on my ‘will never read ever’ list, that should just tell me to stop saying such things. While I fully recognize the problematic aspects of her writing, I tend to like Maas’s books overall. They’re just so much fun.

Catherine Fisher

Catherine Fisher

Books owned: 8. The third tied position for fifth place, I have actually read most of these. There are two that I own of Fisher’s that I haven’t read yet, but the other six I’ve really liked. I’ll get to them. Eventually.

Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik

Books owned: 9. Naomi Novik is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read 8 out of the 9 books I’ve read by her, the one I haven’t being the next book in her Temeraire series that I have yet to get to.

Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer

Books owned: 12. This is one of my favorite childhood authors, and most of my collection consists of just the Artemis Fowl series. I used to go on his website and play in the forums too – I was obsessed, man.

Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb

Books owned: 13. Robin Hobb has quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors. I first picked up her books in probably 2015, and I’ve been adoring them since. Ugh she’s so good.

J. K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

Books owned: 14. Does this really surprise anyone? All of the books I own of Rowling’s are Harry Potter books. The original hardback series, three illustrated editions, and four paperback copies. I don’t have anything she’s written under pen names or any supplementary Harry Potter-related books. It’s literally just this series.

And that’s it! Every single one of the authors mentioned writes fantasy or sci-fi. I love it, man.

Until tomorrow!

Coffee Time: Factors in determining five star predictions

Coffee Time

Happy Saturday Morning folksies! Today I want to talk about the books that I feel will be five-star reads for me, and I decided to make it a coffee time post because I want to delve a bit into the factors involved in doing this. At this point in writing the post, I haven’t actually created the list of books yet, and I feel like it’s going to be more challenging than I expect. Well, here goes nothing:

…this is where I go make a list…

Alright! I came up with five books that I think are going to be five stars for me, and let me tell you, I have three hundred-something odd books on my physical TBR, and these were the only ones I’m 95% sure of getting a five stars. It was difficult, and honestly I’m surprised how few I looked at and went ‘Oh I’m going to absolutely love this’.

And while I was able to choose five books, I identified that each one fell into one of three categories.

Category 1: Have heard zero bad things about it

There are two books on the list that I haven’t seen a single negative review about. And I mean none. So, these two are the ones that have the most risk of falling prey to over-hype. Maybe my expectations are too high for these. So I’ll try to quell them before actually picking them up so I can enjoy them for what they are. But man! Both of these sound so damn good!

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – I’ve only ever read one other Sanderson book, Elantris, and gave it a four star rating… and I’ve heard his books only get better from there, and that this one is his best one. So, reason would say that I’ll love this.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths:

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.’

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang – This one I feel like is going to be amazing. It’s the debut novel of this author, and everyone I’ve seen read it has loved it. I’m hoping I’ll love it too.

Goodreads synopsis:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.’

Category 2: Reminds me of other books I loved

The single book in this category is here because it when reading the synopsis, I got tendrils of other book plots I’ve adored.

Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente – This books reminds me of Spinning Silver and Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and even has hints of The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve heard the writing style is a bit different, so I’m going to keep that in mind, but I hope I enjoy this one as much as I think I will.

Goodreads synopsis:

‘Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.’

Category 3: Sequels to books I loved

This last category is the one where I’m most confident in loving the book, especially the second one I will mention. Earlier books in the series mentioned have all gotten five stars from me, so hopefully the trend will just continue. For these, the synopsis I list will be for the first book in the series, to avoid spoilers.

Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey – Sequel to Leviathan Wakes, this book continues the Expanse series. And actually, I’ve already watched this one’s plot in the tv series and adored it, so I’m almost 100% sure I’m going to love this one.

Goodreads synopsis of Leviathian Wakes:

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

Tongues of Serpents by Noami Novik – The sixth book in Novik’s Temeraire series, the first one being His Majesty’s Dragon, I’m sure I’m going to adore this. I’ve adored the first four – all five stars – and am currently reading the fifth (aaaand am loving it just as much). Plus! Everything of Novik’s that I’ve read, I’ve been smitten with. Temeraire, Uprooted, Spinning Silver, all of it.

Goodreads synopsis of His Majesty’s Dragon:

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

By the way, the Temeraire series is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve loved it since I first read the first four books back in high school. If you are tempted to pick any of the books mentioned up, I recommend this one the most.

And that’s it for the predictions. Are there any other factors you use to determine how much you’ll like a book? Or ones that you know will make you hate it? Do tell!

Happy reading!

Second Annual Book Buying Ban Time

Coffee Time

Hello! Today’s post will detail on the book buying ban I have placed myself on.

Last year, around September or so, I made a post called ‘My brain told me I have enough books‘, where I talked about going to a library sale and not having the urge to buy a single book. Shortly after, I placed myself on a ban that lasted from then until after Christmas. And it actually worked – aside from the one book I mentioned in the post that I planned on buying that October, I bought 0 books the rest of 2017.

Well, I just went to Half Price Book’s clearance sale, and I’ve decided to make this ban an annual thing because holy cow did I get some books. This time, I’m starting now, in August. As you read this, I’m in Chicago. I might visit a book store there and buy a book. I don’t know. I might. But after this trip, I’m placing myself again on this ban. Again, I have an October exception: Wotakoi volume 3 and The Monster Baru Cormorant. These two books, I am buying.

And that is all. Between Now and Christmas, I will get nothing else.

Keep in mind, this book buying bonanza I just finished at the clearance sale still needs to be hauled, so I will have one more haul post and the end of September, but they will all be books purchased today or earlier. And the two books I plan on getting in October will be hauled at the end of December. Unless I get books as Christmas gifts, those two books will be the only ones in the haul.

I know I can do this, as I’ve done it before. And man, it does wonders for my TBR. (And lemme tell ya, walking into a bookstore on January 1st after not buying books for four months is heaven)

Wish me luck! If you plan on doing a full or partial ban anytime soon, tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Coffee time: On the impact of a good first sentence

Coffee Time

Hello! Today’s coffee time post is about how much a first sentence can suck you into a book.

First sentences aren’t the end all be all of how much I’m going to like a book. It can be absolutely plain and I’ll still end up giving a book five stars. But man, when a book has a good first line, I know the rest of it is going to be just as good. There is only one book in the examples I’m going to give where I loved the first line and ended up not caring for the book.

But I will tell you one thing: whether or not I liked the book, if a first sentence is good, I tend to remember it. It sticks with me.

What qualifies as ‘good’?

To me, the number one indicator of a good first line is frisson. The definition of frisson is ‘a sudden strong feeling of excitement, fear, or thrill’. So, essentially the chill or that shiver you get when you read a sentence. The one that makes you catch your breath or go ‘ooooh’. I’m sure as avid readers you’ve all come across something in your books that have caused you to experience frisson.

And the best part is, frisson is obviously completely subjective, so the sentences I’m going to list caused it for me, but they might not do so for you, whether it be lack of context or the words just not doin’ it for you. Either way, I hope you find the examples I give at least intriguing if not frisson…ing.

‘Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)This first one is obviously from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and when I first read the book back in 4th grade, honestly this sentence was just a sentence. But now when I go back to reread the series for the umpteenth time, this sentence really hits me. Maybe it’s because now I know the significance of it. Maybe it’s because I know what adventures are to come. Maybe it’s because it sends me back to being nine years old and reading this for the first time.

Regardless of the actual reason, every time I’ve ever read Harry Potter, which is probably in the twenties at this point honestly, this sentence gets me so pumped for it. Actually, I started writing this, copied down that sentence above, and it made me feel so nostalgic that I’m now playing the first movie in the background as I write. Yer a wizard, Harry.

If there’s no frisson involved, a good first sentence should basically catch the reader off guard, make them laugh, or stick them right in the middle of something action-y or spooky. It should be something that lets the reader know right away that something is happening.

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’


The above sentence is from 1984, and it lets the reader know that the book is going to be just a bit… off. Just a bit disconcerting. It’s going to leave them with an uncertain and uncomfortable feeling. Depending on your country of origin and your current political situation, it may even speak to you in a way that is a bit too close to home.

I first read 1984 back in 2006 when I was sixteen and I feel like I need to reread it to fully appreciate it. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite. I feel that a reread now that would have me enjoying.. well, ‘enjoying’ the book a lot more. I feel like it’d be hard to read it and not think ‘oh great, I’ve found the cheeto’s manifesto’.

‘I’m pretty much fucked.’

The MartianThis cheerful and optimistic line is the first in The Martian by Andy Weir. Going into this, I had heard it was a funny sci-fi, but I didn’t really grasp the extend of how ridiculous it was going to be until I actually cracked it open and read that first line. Well, listened. Audiobook. 😛

The remaining two examples both come from some of my all-time favorite books. Both, upon first reading them, gave me frisson. Both, when finishing the book and going back to look at the first sentence, had even more significance. Both of the following books I consider to be masterpieces.

‘The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.’

A Monster CallsThis one is technically two sentences so it might(?) be cheating? But you need both to get the impact. This line is from A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. If you haven’t read this, I very much recommend it. This book has stayed with me since I first read it and I’m about due for a reread I think. This first line sets the tone of the book. The tone of inevitability, the tone of ‘this is how it is’. The theme lasts throughout the book and makes it one of the best I’ve ever read.

‘A Promise. This is the truth. You will know it because it hurts.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Baru Cormorant #1)This is my favorite opening line. This is the one where I read it, went ‘someone’s trying to be dramatic’, read the book… had my heart destroyed, went back and reread this line and went ‘fuuuuuuck‘. This line seems innocent enough at first, but after the events of the book, it holds so much more significance. It rips your heart out all over again, knowing this was said and then the events of the book followed. I loved this book, and its opening line makes it resonate so much more.

The line is from The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, which was one of my favorite books last year and will likely be a favorite for a long while. The second one comes out this October and already I’ve seen people getting advanced reader copies of it. I am so envious. You bet your butt I’m getting it on the day it comes out.

So, which books have you read where the first line really struck you? I know there are more. Honestly I had above five more titles I wanted to mention, but I figured this post shouldn’t get too long. If you loved the first sentence, did you also love the book? Have you ever read a first sentence and just said ‘nope’?

Happy reading!

Coffee time: On coming to terms with book borrowing betrayal

Coffee Time

A year or two or three ago, I wrote a post titled On Borrowing Books: A Harrowing Tale of Betrayal, where I told a story about some books, she-who-must-not-be-named, and the complete and utter devastating betrayal that she dealt me. I highly recommend you go read it if you haven’t already, especially if you intend on reading this post. Context is important.

Though if you really don’t want to, a short summary is that this… person… borrowed six of my books about a decade ago, gave back three in awful condition and claimed that I had never even lent her the remaining three, despite knowing the plot content of them. Highly suspect, no? Seriously go read the post, I get very uh… involved in the story.

So for some reason, these past ten years I never repurchased the three books that had been stolen from me. Was it ego? Was I holding out some hope that even though I likely wouldn’t know her to recognize her now, that one day she’d appear at my door with the books she’d taken? I don’t know. The thought of re-getting these books has been on the back burner of my mind every time I’d go through my book collection for the past ten years. Ten years this is been bugging me, that I never got these books back.

And for ten years I’ve been telling myself ‘I should get these again’, because hey, I now had 9 out of 12 volumes of a series, and without the remaining three, I’d never be able to reread it to completion. So guess who hasn’t read Death Note in almost ten years. Time’s up, it’s me.

But last week, I bit the bullet. I found the books, used, online, and purchased them. I think I spent thirteen dollars total for all three. And they arrived today:

I’m not sure what actually convinced me to buy them. It wasn’t that I was really in the mood to read Death Note (but now I likely will soon just because I can). Maybe it was the fact that it has been literally a decade and my mind was like ‘oh it’s been long enough’. No clue.

Anyway, you should all read Death Note, it’s really neat.

Have you ever lost books or had them borrowed or not returned? Did you re-buy them, or did you turn it into a generational feud like I did?

Coffee time: On reading multiple books at once

Coffee Time

Hello! Today is the start of a new type of post – coffee times! Basically they’ll be discussion posts because you, me and the entire universe knows that the likelihood of me drinking coffee while writing these things is 99.9%. If not coffee, then it’s alcohol, but that’s a whole different kind of discussion. Anyways, these’ll happen whenever I come up with content for them. 😛 I have done a few of these in the past, but I didn’t have the catchy title at the time. My personal favorite is On Borrowing Books: A Harrowing Tale of Betrayal. So if you’re interested in my being dramatic, go read that one.

I decided to write this post because usually I read two to three books at once: An audio book for the car, a physical book, and maybe a second physical book if I have a buddy read going on. That’s it, max three books. But looking at my Currently Reading Shelf on goodreads, right now I’m reading seven books. In addition to that, the Borrowathon readathon starts today, so I’ll be picking up a bunch of manga this week too.

So, this is way above my norm and honestly I’m a bit intimidated by it.

  • Black Powder War by Naomi Novik is my one audio book. That hasn’t changed.
  • Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb is my buddy read book, currently reading it with Zezee
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski was my one physical book…. then it put me into a reading slump. Currently I’m about 60% through it, judging by the bookmark placement.

And this reading slump lasted a whole month – I picked the book up in January or February and then March was an awful reading month for me because of it. I didn’t really read anything, aside from audio books during my commute. And this is when I started thinking about reading multiple books at once.

I knew I didn’t want to DNF House of Leaves, and I still don’t. I do like it when I can get myself to read it, but it’s definitely one of the most challenging books I’ve read, so my pacing is very slow.

After the slump month and having to write a wrap up of ‘I did literally nothing’, I figured I should break my own rule.

  • The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks was the book I decided to pick up. I figured that if I was going to pick up a new book outside of my normal number, that it would at least be one on my ’10 in 2018′ list. So now I’m about 100 or so pages into that…
  • The Flood by William Dietz is the next book I picked up. I borrowed it from a friend. Well, the friend lent it with a ‘READ IT READ IT’ heavily implied, so I was kinda pressured into picking it up quickly. I have a lot of books borrowed right now, but this guy was insistent that I read his book immediately, so here we are, book number five. I’m enjoying it so far, but am only reading it during my lunch breaks at work.
  • A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa I then picked up on my kindle app. Why, I don’t know. Recently I got Amazon Prime as part of the family plan and the kindle started popping up notifications going ‘hey you get a free ebook every so often’, so guess who picked up this ebook and is now reading it. I read it… mostly when I’m having slow moments or hiding in the bathroom at work. 😛 So this is definitely my slowest read. It’s good though!

  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas… this one is the last and most recent one I added to my Currently Reading list. And honestly it’s just from my lack of impulse control. I bought this very recently and with me participating in Bout of Books (ending today) I wanted to read something I knew I could buzz through. And while I like all the books listed above, they’re not exactly ones that I fly through. So I started this one and am now half way through it. So for it’s uh… it’s decent. It’s very fan servicey.

And then today is the start of Borrowathon so a bunch of borrowed manga will be read. The list just keeps getting bigger.

So right now my currently reading list is huge and it’s becoming hard to prioritize which to pick up. Eventually it’ll get back down to a manageable level, but I just… found it odd that when I broke my limit for one book that magically three more on top of that got added in.

I mean I’m not complaining per say – I’m enjoying all the books I’m reading. It’s just… a lot, haha.

So, is this something you do as well? Do you have a strict one book at a time policy or maybe are you in the middle of ten books? What would your ideal be? I think mine is probably three books, where I had it before. I don’t want to DNF any of these though, so they’ll slowly be marked off the list. Hopefully the urge to pick up another one in the mean time won’t happen. 😛