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Obligation reading

Published July 23, 2014 by Shannon

I’ve been having an issue lately. Though I don’t have many books I’m obligated to read, there are certainly some. And I’m not reading them. This even includes voluntary obligations, like the Rifter.

I took on running a book club this year for an organization I’m passionate about. I should not have done this, for a variety of reasons that aren’t related to anything except my personality.

So I’m feeling really rebellious. There are books I should be reading, even books I have promised to read, and I just don’t want to. At all.

I will get a Rifter post up soon. But it falls under the category of obligation for me. Luckily, it is the shortest of my latest batch of obligation books, so I’ll probably finish reading it first.

I think what makes this batch of books harder to get through is that many of them I’m anticipating to be horrible. The book club I shouldn’t have volunteered to lead is reading something that is marked as religious fiction, which I do feel somewhat obligated to at least attempt. The one I go to for work next month is reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, which, if it is secretly awesome, I would love to know that, but basically it looks like a giant pile of things that annoy me. And our Book Hoarders book, though it was my suggestion, has not grabbed me yet.

In the meantime, I plan to keep with the strategy I’ve used before-mix in pleasure reading with the obligation stuff and hope the “I don’t wannas” go away.

Top Ten Blogging Confessions

Published July 8, 2014 by Shannon

Oh, look, I remembered to look at the Top Ten Tuesday prompt on actual Tuesday. This meme comes courtesy of Broke and Bookish

Blogging Confessions

1. I really hate that gifs have become the way we express ourselves on the textual Internet. Finding and posting book covers is a good 40% of why I don’t review everything I read. Just getting past coding in the URL for a picture I can’t even see is sometimes more than I want to deal with.

2. I wish I were better at reading challenges. I can never remember due dates, or even what I signed up for. Every time I think about Wendy’s TBR Challenge I sigh wistfully and promise myself I’ll participate, but the date always slips my mind.

3. I’m so glad my regular commenters aren’t authors. It’s not that I wouldn’t welcome author voices, but even though I follow a bunch of authors on social media, the fact that they wrote books I love still intimidates me. I don’t consider myself a fangirl, but sometimes i worry that the authors who know how much I fangirl them don’t think I’m capable of having real conversations.

4. I do not always believe authors when they say they want honest reviews. When I google you and I see that you have reviewed your books on Goodreads, (sometimes modestly only giving them 4 stars like that’s supposed to prove your humility) I immediately don’t trust you not to come back with a scathing comment if I dare to give your book less than an A.
5. While I don’t consider myself one of the cult of nice shiny happy reviewers who never have a mean thing to say about anyone, there are some reviews I just don’t want to write. If I have had coffee with an author, I immediately feel uncomfortable writing about them. I worry that, if I go to romance conventions and actually do this more than twice, I will soon be left not reviewing anybody, because see also 4.

6. I am an aspiring writer. I don’t know if I’ve ever brought that up here. But I am working on edits for a paranormal romance I co-wrote with one of my BFFs. We are likely to self-publish it, and I will fail to market it effectively because I will be instantly afraid all my blogging friends will hate it.

7. I don’t use an RSS reader. All the blogs I follow are on live journal feeds, and I have an LJ for the specific purpose of reading my blogs. Even then, I often forget to actually check it, and end up going to people’s sites regularly.

8. Sometimes I miss group blogging. I would love for people to write guest posts for me, or to take on other reviewers. But more, I like the freedom to post as much or as little as I like without having to manage someone else’s posting schedule, too.

9. Sometimes a book will strike me as so amazing and spectacular that I can’t bring myself to finish because then it will be over. This is something I have to fight in myself. (Most recently, Victoria Dahl’s Close Enough to Touch has hit me that way. I love the heroine and her snarky thought processes so much, but even though I know there are other books in the series, leaving Grace is something I’m reluctant to do.)

10. According to my Goodreads shelves, my most read genre is contemporary romance. I mock contemporary romance all the time, but it does seem that I reach for contemps when I want a light, comforting and fluffy read. Maybe I just need a lot of those lately.

Announcing the Rifter Book club

Published May 24, 2014 by Shannon

The other day I was thinking aloud, on Twitter, as one does, about how I’d like to do some kind of book club posts on my blog. Immediately Liz Mc2 and Sonoma Lass jumped on board, so this is happening.

Our first project is to read all of The Rifter by Ginn Hale. I picked this one because one fine day Liz Mc2 and I bought the whole 10-part serial and its sheer size is somewhat intimidating. Plus, unlike the last time I tried something like this, I fully expect I’ll enjoy the book, because I like epic fantasy, I like people-from-our-world-go-to-another sorts of stories, I like M/M books, and I like the thought of serial fiction, particularly when it’s all completed.

Here is the synopsis of the first book, to let you know what this is all about:

When John opens a letter addressed to his missing roommate, Kyle, he expects to find a house key, but instead he is swept into a strange realm of magic, mysticism, revolutionaries and assassins. Though he struggles to escape, John is drawn steadily closer to a fate he share with Kyle—to wake the destroyer god, the Rifter, and shatter a world.

My plan is to post a reaction post on every Friday starting June 6 for each of the parts of the serial. I understand the serials clock in at about 100-150 pages each, so I think that should be reasonable. After that, I’ll leave the comments open for discussion.

Each of the parts runs about $2.99, but the whole thing is available at a discount if you click on the Blind Eye books website above. I wish I’d done that instead of buying my copies through All Romance Ebooks, since their ebook buck program seems unnecessarily byzantine.

Anyway, I hope this experiment turns out to be fun. I hope you’ll all join me on the 6th!

5 A.M. Bad Ideas

Published March 26, 2014 by Shannon

Shortly before I moved to my quaint little apartment in Seattle, I woke from a sound sleep, realizing I had about three weeks before the move was to occur, and I had neglected what at the time seemed a highly important purchase. I proceeded to get up and go to Amazon.com, and I bought pillows, because I did not want to leave the place where I was living and abscond with the pillows that rightfully belonged to my BFF and partner in crime, Meka, with whom I was living, even though Meka would have gladly parted with them, because she would give the shirt off her back for her friends.
Ever since then, anytime I make a questionable purchasing decision, Meka will ask me, “Were you on Amazon.com again?”

Yesterday, I tweeted that I was looking for blogs that reviewed M/M books that were smart and a little snarky. (The blogs, not the books.) I used to read several, but they’ve all long since ceased being updated.) This morning, at around 5 A.M., I woke with the burning thought: ‘Hey, you could start the kind of blog you want to see.’ I then spent several minutes contemplating my domain name, and wording review policies, comment policies, and requests for co-reviewers in my head.

Thankfully, I failed to come up with a name that I thought fit the image I wanted to project, and fell asleep. When the alarm went off an hour later, I realized that I already don’t post enough on this blog, and I can barely keep up with the other hobbies and projects I’ve taken on. Leading a group blog would be a headache I couldn’t realistically manage. Plus, there’s something about the idea of giving myself a brand that gives me the shudders. I read what I want. If tomorrow I should decide reading romance and YA isn’t my bag and switch to reading Tom Clancy, I want to be able to do that. (This is unlikely to occur; capsule descriptions of Clancy’s books have been known to make me snort with the kind of laughter no author ever wants to inspire–what do you mean, Jack Ryan is still fighting terrorists even when he’s the president of the United States?)

I read with fascination this post on Dear Author about online reviewing. I’ve been trying to figure out my own opinions, and have come to the conclusion that I enjoy reviewing, but over the past six or seven years that I’ve participated in online book blogger communities, I’ve had to adjust what I do constantly to keep it fun. I liked writing for a group review blog, but don’t know if I could do it again, because I have enough homework reading as it is. I used to try to review consistently on Goodreads, but then they started deleting reviews, and now I basically use it as a means to catalogue my books. (I’ve caught the librarian bug! Oh noes!) Even this blog has gone through lots of different evolutions. (I had to learn not to be too worried about posting daily, because I learned quickly that that leads to burn-out, which is, well, not fun.

I have also managed to avoid all the author and reader drama that’s been so prevalent. I haven’t gotten a nasty comment from any butthurt people about something I wrote since I started blogging more consistently. I suspect if I were to write for a larger blog, that would happen more often and I’d find it disheartening.

I am grateful for the half dozen or so of you who stop in when I post. I’ve had good conversations in my comment spaces, and I think I wouldn’t enjoy having to moderate a larger community.

Now I just have to look back on this post the next time I get a brilliant idea for a website. What I’ve got is lovely and more than sufficient for my needs.

Thanks for continuing to visit my little corner of these often terrifying Internets. You guys rock!

Blog maintenance

Published January 25, 2014 by Shannon

This is just a test to see if the plugin configuration I just did for my blog actually worked.

I’ve always been a little frightened of Facebook, and of putting my blog content up there, but then I am very bad at convincing people in real life to read my blog. Or, if I do convince them, they don’t tell me. They simply lurk, absorbing my words of wisdom like the sponges of knowledge they are.

So now I’m just making that easier. Maybe. Assuming I did this correctly.

Back to your regularly scheduled book chatter sometime soon!

Happy holidays

Published December 25, 2013 by Shannon

Merry Christmas, for those who celebrate such things. Even if you don’t, it’s a little hard to avoid the whole Christmas season, so I hope you are at least having a good day.

Today I’m going to be on a plane headed back home to Kansas to spend time with my family. I hope to get a lot of reading done on the flight, provided I haven’t culled my TBR pile into complete oblivion.

I hope all of us have joyous celebrations, with lots of love and laughter. Or, failing that, I hope the booze is plentiful.

In closing, let’s have a raucous and celebratory Christmas classic I have heard exactly no time at all on the Christmas radio playlists I’ve been subjected to.

Tilting at Windmills: Seeking books with trans* characters

Published November 24, 2013 by Shannon

I’ve been processing around the fact that a dear friend came out to me as transgendered quite recently. This is not a blog post about that. It’s all deeply personal, and while I would like to find a place where I can write about more personal issues on this blog, I still think about my LJ days and break out into hives. So… baby steps. Also I don’t know that the world is clamoring for yet another blog post in which a cisgendered woman embarks on a journey toward ally-hood. Not when there should be more trans* people blogging about their own experiences and being allowed to speak for themselves.

Anyway, as anyone who reads this can probably imagine, books help a great deal with that sort of processing. Thus it was that I googled “romances with transgendered protagonists” and got… nothing. I did get lists of good YA with transgendered characters, but even though I read YA, I didn’t want problem novels. The only trans* characters who are awesome that I can think of offhand are Bel from the Vorkosigan Saga and… that’s pretty much it. (And I’m not sure Bel counted considering the character was a genetically engineered hermaphrodite who identified as an ‘it’, which reads kind of skeevy to my ear.) I wanted a book where the trans* person is just, you know, part of the core cast, or, better yet, the protagonist, who gets to have adventures, maybe even get the boy or girl or some other gendered person of xir choice, and basically gets treated like a person.

Of course, given the number and complexity of books out there about, say, blind people who are people first, their disability second (I can think of two) it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that I can’t find what I want to read. I knew, intellectually, that the book world was overwhelmingly white and able-bodied and straight, but it never really sank in how pervasive that actually is. (And no, I rather think that my predilection for M/M novels primarily written by straight women isn’t exactly helping the diversity train all that much.) It makes me sad and angry, and now I get in a visceral way why we need more voices crying out for diversity.

That said, I hope it’s just that my Google foo is terrible and you can all hook me up with awesome suggestions in the comments.

State of the Shannon 10/8/13

Published October 8, 2013 by Shannon

Once more, let’s see if I can make this whole blogging regularly thing stick. No promises or anything since my track record has sucked so far, but I live in hope.

What I’m reading: I’m about two thirds through Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan. It’s utterly delightful. I had a recent conversation with a friend about how she hates this whole new adult genre with its rapey spoiled rich kids. I just think she hasn’t found a NA book that calls to her. Honestly,not many of them call to me, but I love the idea and the potential of the genre. Not only does Ms. Cullinan deliver on the potential of the college setting, which features a shy, somewhat idealistic young man paired with a campus party boy, but it actually feels contemporary. Like, with real pop culture references and with the boys geeking out on real things that people would geek out on. Also, this is the kind of romance I adore, with two very differently vulnerable people being drawn to each other. The whole alpha man protecting his mate thing rarely strikes me as a relationship that’s not inherently exploitive in some way, and while I get that it makes for a really good fantasy, it rarely works as one of my fantasies. So yes. This book is all kinds of awesome.

Current Obsession: I’ve been on a Welcome to Night Vale kick lately. I think I saw some mention of the show on Twitter, but didn’t pay attention until I was bored at work and googled it. It’s described as “H. P. Lovecraft as told by NPR”, and that’s pretty accurate. It’s a podcast presented like a community news radio show, but the community is a creepy place with supernatural and scary things happening all the time. I’m not sure what it is that hooked me when a couple of other radio drama podcasts have failed to entice. I think it’s the weird combination of horror and comedy, though. And for the romance fan in me, there’s a nice overarching relationship between Cecil, the news anchor and the major voice of the show, and Carlos, (perfect Carlos with his perfect hair), the hot scientist who comes to town to study its anomalies. I love this romance because not only is it between two men, but it’s treated just as casually as if Carlos’s name was actually Carla. Which, honestly, is how more things should be. Also, people are writing awesome fanfiction, much of which features Cecil with tentacles. If you were to ask me if I’d ever find gay tentacle pr0n hot before, say, last week, I would have laughed mockingly at you. But I want more sweet and fluffy tentacle fics plz. (And now I will get some extremely weird hits for this blog, I just know it.)

Currently in RL: I seem to have a lot going on. Various social commitments are coming up in the next couple of weeks. This makes me a little shocked because WTF I’m a hermit, dammit. Nonetheless, I have a dinner date with a friend tomorrow night, a meeting of my local Washington Council of the Blind chapter, and the week after that, I get to go to a Halloween party.

In the Future: I’m going to do Nanowrimo. I don’t know what I will write, but I need to get in the habit of starting to write more often, goodor bad. So. 50 thousand words. 30 days. Some of which are Thanksgiving and a WCB convention. I can totally do this. Maybe. I hope.

Hope all of you are having a great week!

Sunday Checkin- Where have I been?

Published May 12, 2013 by Shannon

My last blog post was in September. It is now May. A whole school year has come and gone since I last updated. For shame.

So what’s been going on? Let me make a list.

  • 1. I moved halfway across the country. (a good decision, though I miss my family)
  • 2. I got a job as a Reader’s Advisor at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. (More on that in future posts, I’m sure, but money and a job are both good things.)
  • 3. I have not been reading nearly as much as I would like, but I’m still plugging along.
  • 4. I have become friends with my roommate’s guide dog. I definitely want one of my own, if I ever get the vacation time for it.
  • 5. Part of my trip to work involves a ferry. Or, as one of my friends put it, somewhat incredulously, “So you’re telling me you go to work on a boat?” Yes, ma’am. That is what I’m saying.

I do want to talk a bit about my job, as it does relate to the purposes of this blog. Basically, our library lends books out throughout the state to patrons who are print-disabled. We’re part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and we’re also affiliated with the Washington State Library.
My day involves a lot of talking to people on the phone, many of whom are elderly, and trying to find appropriate books for them. Most of them simply can’t come in and browse the shelves at our library anyway, and it makes picking out books somewhat difficult.

I enjoy my job. The rest of the staff is warm and friendly, most of the patrons are extremely nice, if clearly somewhat lonely, and at the end of the day I feel rewarded because I’m keeping someone apprised of books.

The downside of my work, though, is that I’ve become more conscious of how much the Internet is a privilege. Many of our patrons are elderly, and don’t have computers, or couldn’t use them if they did. Many of our books are downloadable only. I, on the other hand, have thousands of books at my fingertips. I could go to Audible and buy any old audiobook I wanted. I have access to Bookshare, a website for the distribution of ebooks to the print-disabled. And now both the Nook and Kindle apps are accessible on my iPhone. there isn’t perfect accessibility–not every book I ever want to read is on one of those services–but I have it a lot better than my patrons do. Particularly if I want to research a specialized topic. As one of my colleagues put it, we have the contents of a small branch library in an affluent district. Which is fine for most things, but I know it frustrates people when we can’t fill their specialized niches.

I don’t know what the solution is. Clearly, everyone should be able to afford an iPhone and a computer, and there should be some magical way of transferring knowledge about how to use those devices into people’s brains somehow. Except there isn’t. And in a way I’m glad there isn’t, because I like that these older people need me. I just wish they didn’t have to.

More administrivia

Published July 18, 2012 by Shannon

this time it’s really Shannon. Also this time I think we’re done tinkering with the theme and site design. (She says now… who knows what will happen later?)
There is now a handy contact form and an equally handy link to my review policy. If you have always wanted to contact me but are intimidated by my sparkling personality and all 3 of my regular readers, now is your chance.

While I’m at it, here is a link to my twitter. I love twitter, and it’s a place where I can be silly on the Internet. If you want to follow me, feel free.