Monday, August 29, 2016

Musing Mondays (60) How My Blogging Has Changed Since Way Back In 2013

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat, that asks you to muse about something book related each week.

My musings for the week...

15790873Random weekly question from August 22nd: Name a favorite book you’d take to the beach...

When I think of a book I would take to the beach, my first thought would be to pick something short, light, and fun—or even delve into a longer fantasy novel. However, there is one book in particular—because I haven’t read it in a long time—and that’s This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith.

Other Musings...

Usually, for Musing Mondays I talk about something book related, and today's post will still be associated with that and the blog. Specifically, I want to talk about how I’ve changed my method of blogging.  Hang tight, folks, this is going to be long...

When I first started blogging with my co-blogger in 2013, the majority of the posts on Our Thoughts Precisely were reviews or promotional posts. We didn’t participate in any weekly memes or book tags, and we certainly didn’t do interviews. We were new at it and the blog was a work in progress.

For a time, that method worked out pretty well. It was fun. But then, that sort of changed as the first year of blogging turned into a second and then a third. I wanted to do more, and that was a problem. There was only so much I could read in a year, and at the time I was disappointed with what I was reading. I found myself in reading slumps that lasted for weeks. And for long stretches, I couldn’t find the motivation to continue.

Since then, I’ve found a better way to maintain the blog. I’ve read more genres and found some true nonfiction gems. I participate in memes—Musing Mondays and The Friday 56. I took the pressure off myself, and no longer wanted to try and post something—no matter how short—every day of the week. And I no longer try to finish every book. I used to do that, even with ones that I just wasn’t enjoying. I just sort of let that go, and let me tell, it’s so much better that way.

One major thing that changed was the amount of reviews. No longer are they the majority. I limit it to a minimum of three to four in a month, basically once a week—sometimes more—which makes it easier to post regularly. Plus, I made a very loose plan for the week. Usually, posts go up on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Some weeks I’ll even throw something up on Saturday or Sunday. However, I usually like to keep my weekends reserved for other things—Splatoon I’m looking at you—and unless there’s a rare blog tour, release day blitz, or weekend tidbits that needs to go up, I rarely post on those days.

I still don’t keep a set reading goal for the year. Back in January, I did mention books I was looking forward to, but that was just a few and they were mainly sequels. I left room for other books to just catch my interest. I’ve had a monumental amount of fun with backlist titles, and I have read some fantastic debuts like The Reader by Traci Chee. Just don’t expect the review too soon, since I’m going to post it closer to the release date. However, just know that The Reader was a fantastic and complex story, and I want the sequel now.

So yeah, that’s how my blogging has changed. Looking back, 2013 seems like such a long time ago. I appreciate the readers that stop by the blog and the thoughtful comments. And, I have finally left the design of the blog alone. Who knew it would only take changing the header and color scheme a handful of times?

Do you blog? If so, how has it changed for you?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake

Mortal Gods (Goddess War, #2)Title: Mortal Gods
Author: Kendare Blake
Source/Format: Won; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Teen; October 14, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She's ready to wage a war of her own, and she's never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she'll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace. Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can't have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite. The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra's hate will get them ALL killed. The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can't, fates far worse than death await...
I won a copy of Mortal Gods a while ago, and until recently it’s been sitting on my shelf unread. I’m not very familiar with Blake’s work, but I’ve heard no shortage of glowing praise about Anna Dressed in Blood. I also haven’t read books that involved Greek mythology in a long time. So, I was really looking forward to getting to Mortal Gods.

The first thing that struck me about the story was the premise, which is basically along the lines of: the gods are mysteriously dying out, and the main character, Cassandra, is caught up in the middle of it. There’s a lot of action, internal conflict amongst the gods, and all the while sides are being chosen. Sounds interesting, right? Well, Mortal Gods was pretty fantastic. I really did enjoy the book. It had a lot going for it, from the mythology aspect, to the utterly normal moments amongst the chaos. All in all, the combination had a cool effect.

The plot in itself was enough to carry the novel—it was interesting, and the early introduction of the conflict raised enough questions to keep me reading. I did enjoy Blake’s take on Greek Mythology. There were familiar names like Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, and Hermes—just to name a few. The roles they occupied were as their mythology dictates with some minor changes to accommodate the plot. Then there was Cassandra. She wasn’t a bad main character, but sometimes I felt like her decisions were getting clouded by her grudge against certain characters. Other than that, she fit seamlessly into a story with Athena and Co.

I’ve read books where things rapidly unfold, but there’s never much of a reaction to it. It’s like, okay, this thing went down. So, tell me how this impacts the characters. How do they feel about it? How are they going to deal with the consequences and emotional impact? That wasn’t a problem here. There was an emotional aspect to Mortal Gods that I particularly enjoyed. There were a lot of relationships, friendships, current love interests, and even ones who were previously lost. Blake dealt with the fallout of these things in a way that blended it with the present story, without having it take over the plot entirely—yet the characters were certainly influenced by it.

I never considered reading Anna Dressed in Blood before, but after reading Mortal Gods, I’m curious to see if all that glowing praise is true. Two thumbs up for this one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ARC Review: Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor

Thieving WeaselsTitle: Thieving Weasels
Author: Billy Taylor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Dial Books; August 23, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Skip O’Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn’t know the con’s on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean’s Eleven... 

Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron. “One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you...
Let me start out by saying that Thieving Weasels was not a bad book. In fact, it was actually pretty good, I liked it. The story does explore the question of morality since the characters dipped into morally gray areas—they were career criminals after all. Now one thing I do have to note is that this book wasn’t really all that humorous. There were moments that were maybe, possibly a little funny, but there was nothing that made me outright laugh. However, besides that, there were other aspects about Thieving Weasels that I did like.

Thieving Weasels was basically about Cameron Smith, a.k.a Skip O’Rourke. He was running from a life of crime, and he saw the boarding school as an exit from his old life. What I got from the story is that he wasn’t just running from his family, he was trying to find a place that made him feel like an actual person. And yeah, Taylor did show Skip’s history in a way that made his otherwise outlandish decision to take off alone, seem like a plausible thing for someone so desperate for change. That part of the story was handled well, and brought up questions about loyalty and family. In short, I could understand Skip’s feelings on the matter.

The overall plot wasn’t bad, and the story was more entertaining than anything else. The pacing was also good, and it was a light read. One of the biggest draws for me was definitely seeing how Skip would ultimately deal with his family and the situation they put him in—think meddling relatives but about a hundred times worse. That part of the story was pretty good too. Morality was a big theme in this book, and more than once Skip grappled with decisions he had made and happened to be considering at the present point in time. I did like the fact that this was an actual detail, because it made Skip more fleshed-out with faults and habits, and the like.

As far as the secondary characters go, they were just alright. A lot of the development went to Skip’s family—his mother, cousin, and uncle—since they had such prominent roles in the story. I would have liked to have seen more of what his life was like at the boarding school, but Thieving Weasels wasn’t that long of a book. And given where the story began, I didn’t expect to see much of his life outside of his family anyway.

Overall, Thieving Weasels was not a bad read. I went in not knowing what to expect from a story like this, but the book ended up being fun and entertaining.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Musing Mondays (59) Hobbies are Subjective & Random Weekly Question

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat, that asks you to muse about something book related each week.

My musings for the week...

Random weekly question from August 15th: What sequel do you have yet to read?

There aren't many books that I can think of that have sequels that I haven't read. Partly because the majority of the sequels I do want to read haven't been released yet. The wait does suck sometimes, but at least I have something to look forward to.

One sequel that I haven't read yet is the conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. I've put it off for a long time, and I don't know when I'll have the time to go back and finish the series.

Other Musings:

For my musings this week, I want to talk about hobbies. I rarely mention them even though I’ve previously discussed the relationships between main characters and the secondary characters—whether it was strictly platonic or romantic. I’ve even made a list of my favorite fictional friendships. Yet, I haven’t mentioned hobbies. I feel like it’s easier to get an understanding about any given character by his/her actions, combined with the dialogue and internal thoughts.

Hobbies are anything that a character enjoys doing on his/her off time, as long as it’s some kind of activity, to me, it counts. Yet, I rarely pay much attention to them. I see and remember them, but just move on when the story goes on.

I’ve seen a lot of hobbies, most noticeably art, photography, cooking, reading, writing, a sport of some kind, drama, etc.. There’s nothing wrong with seeing those in books, in fact, the majority of the time the author/authors put a good spin on them, making the hobbies unique to the character. And trust me, I have a lot of favorite characters, and some of them have similar hobbies.

I also like to see less common activities as hobbies too—and yes, I’m just waiting for Pokémon Go to make an appearance (just kidding :-p).

So, what are less common hobbies anyway?

I don’t think there’s a way to really pinpoint any one thing that’s less common than the other. I think it’s purely subjective. What might be common/less common to one person might be in reverse for another. One example of something less commonly found in books is dog grooming. I first came across that hobby in Love Fortunes and Other Disasters. That was the first that I’ve seen of it mentioned in a book, even though I know there are other works of fiction out there that have it too, but I just haven’t found it yet. See what I mean? Subjective.

What are your thoughts on hobbies and how they can build/add to the personality of a character?

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Friday 56 (74) Visual Reference Guides: Architecture by Jonathan Glancey

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
10136656Synopsis from Goodreads...

Visual Reference Guides: Architecture, the definitive visual guide, allows you to discover 5,000 years of architectural design, style, and construction, from airports to ziggurats. You'll be able to explore the world's great buildings through amazing illustrations that take you right to the heart of the world's landmark buildings. Look beyond the façades and examine the materials and technology that shape buildings, and identify the key elements and decorative features of each architectural style. It's the perfect addition to any architecture enthusiast's library, whether expert or novice...

"Egyptian pharaoh Khufu ruled 2589-66BCE, and his tomb is the largest of three pyramids at Giza, standing farther north and east than the other two."--Visual Reference Guides: Architecture by Jonathan Glancey
Comments: This week, I'm reading a book on the architecture from around the world. So far, I really like this book. The setup kind of reminds me of how Women in Science was written, with little descriptions about each each place (kind of like a profile). What are you reading this week?

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