books & a cuppa;

bookworm things

Most of us like to have a glass of something when we read. For me, usually, that glass of something is a hot drink. Coffee, tea, sometimes a chocolate drink, like a Nutella hot chocolate. I choose my drinks based on my moods, and more often than not, my moods are linked to the book I am reading.

What I’m saying, of course, is that I categorise my drinks by the type of books I am reading. There are just certain stories and genres that pair well with certain drinks.

books & a cuppa

Chocolate; Fantasy

chocolates

It can be anywhere between overly sweet and dark bitterness. For me, hot chocolate pairs well with a well-paced fantasy story. It sucks you right in, the characters leaping off the page. You amble along with them, learn with them, grow with them. A quest tale, perhaps, or a fairytale adaptation.

 

Tea; Romance

romance novels

It pairs well with something that is soothing, that calms you down, brings you back a few paces. Slows you down, though nothing that is so dull you fall asleep. Generally, I find myself having a mug of tea with a romance novel. Something I can curl up with that makes me smile. Something that warms me up on the inside.

 

Coffee; Sci-Fi

illuminae files

It gets your pulse racing. The adrenaline flows, and you find yourself flipping through your book, eagerly devouring everything in sight. You have to know what comes next. There is a sense of urgency in the story. It moves quickly, it grips you and does not let go. Action in science-fiction finds me with a coffee, and a book finished in a scant few hours even though I should be doing something else.

 

 

Of course, sometimes I switch it up. I’ll have a tea while I’m reading a fantasy, or a coffee while I’m reading romance. It depends on the mood, and the atomosphere, but I have always enjoyed reading when I have a mug of a good drink in my hand.

Everyone has their own preferred cup of something to go with what they are reading. What are yours?

2016-04-12 11:46

;reading starter kit

bookworm things

I’ve been complaining to anyone who sits still long enough to listen that coming up with new and interesting blog posts ideas is so difficult. This has been largely due to the fact that I have been stuck trying to come up with something different and fun to post.

A conversation with a new friend, one who is not an avid reader, but wants to get back into reading for fun, gave me this one. We were discussing something I’ve been planning (something she’s gotten excited about, and made me more excited to be doing!) when she suggested I put together a reading starter kit for her and others like her. She meant physically, but that can be difficult since everyone’s tastes vary.

So I thought why not put together a list of items people can find (easily or not) to make their own reading starter kit?

reading starter kit

We start, of course, with a book.

The book depends on the reader. Or the reader’s friends and family, if they are going based on recommendations and gifts.

Then we add in a bookmark.

If the book is borrowed, especially, it is better not to dogear it. Personally, I hate it. I’ve done it, used to do it all the time, but now? Use anything you can find as a bookmark. An old reciept? Sure, why not? Tissue paper? Works too! Something thin and easy to slip between the pages.

ribbon + book2

Some music wouldn’t be remiss.

Mood music is always great for getting into the groove. Find a playlist online for the book you are reading! Or create your own, if you are into that. Of course, there are some people who don’t work well with music, and they can skip this part.

A cup of tea can help with getting comfortable.

It adds to the atmosphere. Something warm to drink while you get lost in the words and story being created on the page in front of you. It might be tea, or coffee, or something else entirely. It might be accompanied by some snacks, or it might not.

open book2

Or maybe wine is more your thing.

I know some people like to read in the bath. It is not something I’ve ever done, but hey, if that’s you, pour yourself some wine, throw in a bath bomb and get comfortable!

The main thing is to customise your reading starter kit to your needs. Like reading outside? Add an umbrella or sunhat to protect your head! Like reading by the pool? Add a towel, just in case! Enjoy sitting at a cafe? Make sure you have some cash on you, of course, and maybe you’ll want a notebook to jot down quotes you like.

I know most of us are longtime readers, but what would your reading starter kit consist of?

2016-04-12 11:46

 

ten things I hate about first person point of view;

bookworm things

I’ve always been told hate is a very strong word. Growing up, my parents preferred that my sisters and I say we strongly disliked something over hate. Frankly, they’re still that way. And for the most part, I agree. I don’t use hate very much, though sometimes I do use it as hyperbole. (A little bit of that is the case of the title, I will admit.)

First person point of view is a very hit or miss with me. I was not fond of it for a very long time, and I still have issues with it. I find myself shying away from a lot of novels with first person points of view for a variety of reasons. Some of my strongest pet peeves are listed below, in no particular order.

ten things i hate about first person point of view

  • It limits the reader’s experience of the world the protagonist is part of.
    First person point of view means we’re seeing the world as the protagonist is seeing it, and it can be a very myopic view of the world. It is also very biased, because everything is coloured by the protagonist’s perceptions.
  • Connected to the first point, it can be very narcissistic.
    Everything being coloured by the protagonist’s perceptions comes across as very self-obsessed. This can be made worse if your protagonist’s personality is one of being very sure they are making all the right choices and decisions, and being constantly condescending towards other characters.
    (I am not naming names, but I am thinking of certain characters from certain books that gained a lot of popularity in recent years.)
  • There tends to be a lot of telling and a lot less showing.
    Being trapped in the protagonist’s perceptions means we only notice the things they notice. A lot of author’s then fall into the trap of telling things instead of showing them happen. Such as the narrator being scared, or upset, instead of showing minute details that allow the reader to infer the narrator’s feelings.
    This is not limited to the narrator’s feelings but also of the action in the story.
  • There is too much introspection and too little action.
    Being stuck in the narrator’s head means that the reader is taken through their feelings on every moment instead of being allowed to infer what is going on with them. Some authors get stuck on the internal workings of the narrator’s mind, and the plot seems like an afterthought. Every action that occurs outside of the narrator’s head is followed by a paragraph of two examining the narrator’s feelings on the subject.
    It gets tedious, guys.
  • There is a repetitive feel to the voice and tone of the novel.
    If the narrator does not have an engaging enough voice, this can turn me off the entire novel. The constant Is and mes are not just repetitive, but can also be restrictive. Literary devices and vocabulary are limited to the character’s tone and personality. And, again, the protagonist can come across as very self-centered.
  • Things that do not happen in front of the character becomes exposition.
    This is especially annoying in novels that should be fast-paced and action-packed. If the action is not happening in front of the character, then the character is hearing about it second-hand, and it becomes exposition. Again, this comes back to telling and not showing, and is so tiring.
  • Unless the novel goes into an overly descriptive, fanfiction style moment where the protagonist describes themselves and what they are wearing, we are left wondering what the protagonist looks like.
    You know the type of paragraph I am imagining. Don’t say you don’t.
    Unless another character says something about the protagonist’s hair or eyes or skin colour, which I have not seen happen. It can be liberating to not be spoon-fed the narrator’s looks, and being allowed to imagine them any way. But it can also be very disconcerting.
  • The narrative style is very self-indulgent.
    The narrator becomes a stand in for the author, with too much of their own points of views colouring the character. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the narrator has too little personality to allow readers to imagine themselves as the protagonist, and comes across as very bland or naive.
  • There is a lack of subplots in the novel because everything revolves around the one character.
    It gets so boring to only read about the protagonist’s storyline. Any secondary plot is heard about secondhand, unless it affects the protagonist.
  • BIASED STORYTELLING.
    Basically, the narrator is very unreliable because everything is coloured by their experiences and perspectives. Everything is the way the narrator understands it.
    I’m not saying this cannot be done well, but it has to be acknowledged too.

It does seem like I’m repeating points, I know. But there are nuances to every point! And I’m not saying it is always a bad thing. Sometimes biased narratives add to the story instead of detract from it. Sometimes being limited in the point of view adds something to the story instead of takes away from it.

First person point of view, when done well, can be such a compelling read. But those books I just have not found. There are maybe a handful of first person point of view books I have enjoyed.

Does anybody else have an aversion to first person? What are your thoughts on the first person point of view? Which are some of your favourite first person point of view books? Change my mind and give me recommendations!

2016-04-12 11:46

press play;

press play

“If music be the food of love, play on.”
– Duke Orsino; Twelfth Night, Act 1 Scene 1

For a few years now, I’ve caught myself thinking about books when listening to music. Sometimes a lyric reminds me of a character, or a plot arc, or a relationship in a novel I have read or am reading and I find myself either listening to that song on repeat as I read, or sitting down and making a playlist.

Playlists are a fun way of telling a story. While listening to the songs, you get the sense of the characters, get a sense of what the novel has put them through. And I know I’m not the only one who enjoys doing this. Just look at 8tracks! There are loads of playlists based on different novels to find.

I have seen a few blog posts around the ‘sphere of how to make book playlists, but this is not that. For starters, I haven’t found a website that fully suits me – 8tracks no longer plays all the songs for everybody, Spotify sometimes does not have the song I want to use on the playlist uploaded, and YouTube comes with videos that can be rather distracting.

This blog post is for me to find out if other people enjoy making playlists and listening to playlists as much as I do.

I have a list of relationships from novels I have enjoyed that I have made playlists for, or that I am making playlists for. Everytime I hear a new song that I feel reminds me of the novel, I add it to the list. It’s fun, it sometimes influences me to re-read the novel (while my TBR continues to grow in the distance), and it is simple to do.

(The not so simple part comes when I try to make playlist covers. It helps if I have a fancast for the novels – playing around on PhotoShop is always fun when you have a fancast because it is easier to find photos. I might be the only one who thinks this.)

Figuring out where to post the playlist so that I can share it with other readers has been a pain. And I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one still enjoying making these. It certainly sometimes seems like not a lot of other people have been making or posting playlists anywhere.

(Not that I’m planning to stop anytime soon.)

What are your thoughts on playlists? Do you listen to them? Make them? Where do you look for them?

2016-04-12 11:46

P.S.
If you’re interested, here are a few of my playlists.

 

the art of poetry;

the art of poetry

I was never much of a poetry girl growing up. I mean, I liked them well enough, I suppose, but they never evoked that sense of wonder or roused my emotions the way getting lost in novels did.

Until recently, that is.

Tumblr has made being exposed to different styles of poetry much easier. The first few ‘proper’ poems I had read were Shakespearean and the more classic types taught in my English Literature classes. Tumblr has taught me that poetry can be pretty much anything. From a story, to rhyming words, to a protest (of sorts), or to – whatever this is.

I have not had the chance to read Milk And Honey by Rupi Kaur, but I have read some of her poems and there are a few that have struck me. Poetry, in its essence, is about feelings.

And I have a lot of those.

It has resulted in my writing poetry. Since the beginning of the year, I have been writing quite a bit of poetry. My muses are my family. My daughter, my mother, my sisters – I’ve written poems for and about them. I’ve written poems about my faith, about my feelings on subjective topics.

Maybe someday they will resonate with someone the way they resonate with me.

Maybe someday they will inspire someone, make them fall in love with poetry, the way I have slowly begun to my own descent.

Maybe.

Poetry has gone from something I did not quite understand, though I appreciated the aesthetics of it, to something I love.

2016-04-12 11:46

;writing communities (and why we need them)

bookworm things

Most readers I know are also writers. Maybe they’re not writing the next Big Thing, or posting what they are writing anywhere. But they write. Whether reviews or poems or short stories or scenes – they write.

And almost every one of them has a community of fellow writers and readers around them that keep them on task, or distract them when they need it. They have a group of friends, maybe online, maybe people they meet up with – maybe even family members they trust – who know they write, who read their words, and who are there to bolster their confidence when it seems like they need it, or to critique their words.

Writing communities, in my humble opinion, are everywhere. And boy, are they important.

writing communities

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

Number One;

Communities are necessary because we do not want to feel like we’re alone in how we’re feeling. Talking to fellow writers, or to people who are willing to listen, makes you feel less alone in your frustration. I mean, there is a reason I have a tag for writing on my personal Tumblr where I reblog relatable posts. It reminds me that there are other people who get what I am going through when I get stuck on a sentence, or a paragraph. That there are other writers who get it. Now, this might not be a community that I personally know, but it is the wider writing community, and it still helps me as a writer to know they are out there.

Number Two;

You know the feeling of frustration you get when you write something, and at first, you think it’s great! And then the self-doubt creeps in, and everything you write suddenly looks like trash? Yeah, that feeling. That is when you should turn to someone you trust and go “Hey, I need you to read this and tell me, truthfully, what you think” because you need to take a step back yourself. Someone else’s perspective will help you clear your mind from doubts, will help you figure out what no longer works for you, and what does. That person you trust? It might just be one person, but that’s your core community. It could be your best friend, or your significant other, or your sibling. It could be someone you met online, or someone you went to school with. That person you share your writing with, whose judgement you trust, that person will help you reach your potential.

Number Three;

Sometimes you need to leave the house for a change of scenery when you write. And sometimes you don’t want to be alone when you do. The person you call? Who sits next to you, or opposite you at the library or the coffee shop. Who does their own thing while you write. Who will distract you when you get stuck, who understands why you’ve called them out like this without you having to explain yourself over and over. That person is your writing community. Having someone there, just knowing they are there to pull you out of your own head, is helpful. Trust me on this. I’ve had the same person there for me for just over half my life now.

ipad

Of course, some writing communities are literal writing groups. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with other like-minded writers, then you could go out once a week to sit and work on your individual projects, bounce ideas off of one another, read snippets of your work to each other, or just talk about what you’ve read recently. A friend of mine has a group that does this, and sometimes I get jealous that I don’t.

And then I remember my other friend and realise that I do have a writing community of my own. I have people online I can turn to, and people in my personal life I can turn to, when I need a beta reader, or a distraction, or someone to just hurtle ideas and verbalise thoughts at.

Writing communities are important because they help us figure out what we want to say. They might not be who you think they are – you might not have even realised they’re a writing community yet. Maybe you call them something else. But they’re there for you, they’re important, and we need them.

What do you think?

2016-04-12 11:46

the nostalgia post;

bookworm things

You know the books you read as a kid that, on looking back aren’t as good as you think, but you’ve still got a warm spot in your heart for them? Yeah, this post is for that feeling. This post is for those books, the ones that you turn to when you need the comfort of your memories, the ones you read when you need to be reminded of your childhood and how much simpler life could be then.

the nostalgia post

There are books that I remember fondly from my childhood. That I can read over and over to spark a feeling of warmth. These books take me back to simpler times. Or sometimes, to the escape I had needed from my studies and, well, society.

I was admittedly a very singular kid. My friends knew when to leave me alone. Too much company got to me.

Books? Books were my best friends.

And these books are those old friends I turn back to when I need comfort. I don’t know many people who have read these particular ones, but I would love to find some. Would love to talk to people who have similar fond memories of the first time they picked these books up.

Patricia C. Wrede’s Dragons series

The first time I read these books, I was 11. I think. My mother, younger sister and two of my cousins had gone on a holiday to visit my mother’s brother. His daughters had drawers full of books – and this series was in one of those drawers. They let me borrow them, and needless to say, I spent a lot of my holiday with my nose buried in them.

It took me years to actually get my hands on a copy of the full series, but when I did, I immediately had a re-read. And while there were obviously some things that, while fantastical and wonderful to a young child, felt a little juvenile to a teenager, it still invoked that same magical feeling in me. Definitely a series I would read again. And again.

Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did series

Upon reflection, this series can be very preachy. But there’s something about it that I still adore. I think it’s the simplicity of it, the way the characters grow. The familial relationships, and then the friendships that develop in the second novel.

And then the love story – not a very large part of the novel, but a very understated and lovely bit that tugged at my heart strings. It is probably a part of why I keep going back to the books. Why, despite my copies being old and tattered, I can’t see myself letting them go.

Diana Wynne Jones’ A Tale Of Time City

I’ve mentioned this book to a number of people. I still recommend it, because it is a fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy type elements. It still thrills me each time I read it, and I still find myself wondering what will happen next, even though I’ve read it at least three times already.

The first time I read it was when I borrowed it from a cousin (one of the ones previously mentioned in this post), who highly recommended the author to me. She also lent me her copy of Howl’s Moving Castle, which I adored just as much. But there was just something about this one that kept me hooked. That keeps me going back.

C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia

When I think nostalgia, I think Narnia, even though I was in my teens when I finally got down to reading the series. But the influence this series has had on my writing style probably has something to do with how much I adore it. I read it when I need a pick me up. I read it when I need to find a way to get back into writing.

It is just – whimsical and yet grounded. It teaches us something, and yet, I feel like we could have taught the characters something too. I still find that there is much to discuss about the books and the characters, and there is so much world yet to explore.

This series helped me as a writer. And for that, I will always adore it.

books box

Of course, there are more books that I adore from my childhood. That evoke the same feelings of wistfulness for the past. But these are the ones that struck me the most, I think. Does anyone else have those books that meant a lot to them as a kid? Books that you still turn to, even now, when you need some comfort?

2016-04-12 11:46

hashtag twitter book chats; part deux

bookworm things

Yes, I did write a blog post about Twitter chats last year. I was raving about them, and to be fair, most of my thoughts are still the same. I still adore participating in Twitter (book) chats. I still think they are a great way to interact with fellow readers, with finding more books to read, and to interact with writers.

However, circumstances have changed things for me in regards to actually participating in chats, and that, my dear friends, is what this particular post is about.

twitter chat title two

Pretty much since late last year, I have been missing the book chats I usually participate in due to a variety of reasons. First, we were packing up our apartment in Auckland for our move back to Asia. Then we were busy with setting up in Asia, and visiting family we had not seen in a while.

And now? Now I have come to one very important conclusion:

Time differences suck.

When we were still staying in New Zealand, it was much easier for me to participate in chats because 9pm EST meant the afternoon – usually lunchtime – in Auckland. These days, that same timing for a chat means breakfast time. It means that little bit of time I get with the husband and the father-in-law in the mornings before they head off to work.

It means I cannot make the chats I loved to participate in without compromising on time with my family.

And it’s led me to consider organising a Twitter chat that is more conducive and convenient for Asian – particularly South East Asian, if only because that’s where I am – bloggers. The trouble is, I am not entirely sure what it takes to organise and run a chat such as the ones I’ve been participating in. I’m looking into it, that is for sure, but I also know that I cannot do it alone.

I have to find someone to help me out. Someone in a similar time zone to me, with similar interests so that we can run this thing without too much butting of heads. Someone who is up to the challenge.

This does not mean I’m not going to participate in any of the other chats going on. I’m definitely going to try to catch a chat or two every few weeks, if possible. I miss interacting with the friends I’ve made.

I just also want to put together something that is convenient for me. That does not involve me sacrificing time with my family. I’m sure there are other bloggers who feel the same.

What do you think? Should I try and come up with a book chat with timings that Asians can make it for?

2016-04-12 11:46

the year of the diverse?;

bookworm things

It is 2017! And I promised myself that I would try to be better about posting discussion posts on the blog. Yes, that means my schedule is a lot slower than other bloggers, but hey, so long as I keep blogging, right?

But even so, it has been difficult for me to get into the right mindframe. I was having a tough time trying to figure out what I should write about for my first post of 2017. And then it hit me.

No, not literally.

I got an email notification that Cait @ Paper Fury had a new blog post up, so obviously I went to read it. Her 2017 YA Genre Predictions (Which Can’t Possibly Go Wrong) included guest bloggers’ thoughts on what would be on the rise this year in the book community. Which gave me the inspiration I needed.

No, not to do the same thing.

But some of their predictions did spark of a train of thought. With the louder and more stringent demands by readers, is 2017 going to be the year for diverse representation?

the year of the diverse

I’ve talked about diversity before. More along the lines of PoC representation, but that is something that has come up on this blog a couple of times. I am all about diversity in media. More characters that look like me, sound like my grandparents – more characters that struggle with mental or physical disorders without being shamed for it or miraculously ‘fixed’ at the end of their journey.

Basically, I want it all.

And it seems like this year, I’ll be getting it. Or at least, some of it. It is safe to say that #OwnVoices has caught traction with a number of book bloggers, and it just keeps building up. So I’m definitely ready to see some of these books talked about on the blogs I visit. I’m also definitely ready to try to get my hands on these books myself.

Books about generally marginalised groups of people, by members of those communities?

Yes, please!

It’s not that I don’t think an author cannot write about something they have not experienced. Of course they can! So long as they do with respect, and with a lot of research. There’s just something about reading a book by someone who understands what they are writing about because they have experienced it.

I know I’m looking forward to delving into their stories, their experiences. Between Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Bellza, Saints And Misfits by S.K. Ali and A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, it looks like I’m going to be spoiled for choice when it comes to writers with an Asian background. This – is a first for me.

And then there are the other books – the ones about the other types of diversity. And we know that these stories will not be diverse just for the sake of being ‘diverse’. I’m hoping for little to no harmful stereotypes or harmful tropes. I’m hoping for a rich and vibrant world, where everybody is different and everybody has a voice.

Hey, it could happen.

What do you think? Will this year be the year of diversity? Will this year meet our expectations, or will it fall sort?

And what are some of the diverse (not necessarily #OwnVoices) books you are looking forward to reading in 2017?

2016-04-12 11:46

 

;the life and times of writers

bookworm things

Let me start off by saying, if you write, you’re a writer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not. If you studied English, or whatever language you may write in, in college. It doesn’t matter if you’ve posted your work online or sent it to someone for validation.

If you write? You’re a writer.

Of course, writing comes in all shapes and forms. I’m not here to go into that. I’m here to go into the most relatable things writers feel across the board. In my opinion, anyway.

Note; these posts are taken from Tumblr, and I cropped out the original post’s URL because not all of them were in the post, and I didn’t want to not credit someone and credit others. Feel free to head to my Tumblr blog and check out the actual posts, though.

thelifeandtimesofwriters

Number One;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-15-57-pm

The irony of this is the procrastination involved in being a ‘writer’. Or is that just me? I mean, whenever I find posts about writing on Tumblr, the ones that relate to me the most are the ones that talk about having a plot, but when you open your project, you just sit blankly in front of the screen.

Number Two;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-17-10-pm

To be fair, this sort of ties in to Number One, but still. You have to pick and choose your battles. In the Venn Diagram of Writing, the three circles never overlap. If they do? YOU LUCKY DUCK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GO WRITE!

Number Three;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-18-54-pm

When you’re writing, you’re having trouble getting the words out, or something about it is just not the way you pictured. When you’re not writing, you’re thinking about writing. No matter what you’re doing, you feel like you should be doing something else. You just cannot win.

Number Four;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-21-49-pm

You have a great story idea! You try and write it. You do well for the first few weeks or months, and then you fall into a slump. Writers’ block sucks. And then! You get another story idea! Rinse and repeat, over and over. I have finished maybe one original piece of work, and the rest are WIPs. Whoops?

Number Five;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-24-10-pm

Just, something is keeping you from writing. All the time. Even when you want to write. (I did say they were all related, didn’t I?)

Writing is hard. Any writer who says otherwise is lying. (Or a robot.) (Or an alien.) But seriously, with all the distractions around us, no wonder I’m more likely to be reblogging writer woes into my #thelifeandtimesofwriters tag on Tumblr than actually writing.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-28-00-pm

Now, to go and prove this post right…

2016-04-12 11:46