A 2020 Update

I haven’t been posting as much as I planned to lately. I kept a pretty decent pace for most of the year but a few developments have kept me away from devoting time to this blog the past month or so, and I’m afraid I’m not going to have much time to find for awhile.

The main reason being that I have started a second graduate program. I am currently pursuing an MBA in Management. I finished my MFA in Writing about three years ago and my ever-inquisitive mind has dreamt up interests that made getting an MBA a logical decision. I am already learning a lot and enjoying the program. I hope to complete the degree by the end of 2021.

Since I have to spend a large amount of time studying and reading for my classes, I have had little time to read for pleasure and therefore have not been writing any book recommendations. I picked up a book of short stories since I figured short stories would be easy to read with my new schedule. The collection is The Best of Gene Wolfe and I am enjoying them so far. I first read Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun series and found his writing interesting. I’m glad to find I am really enjoying his short fiction. I had a feeling I would like his work and I will likely continue exploring more of his stories. I think he is an interesting person as well. He may very well be the next installment in my On Authors series.

I have been completing house projects like my secret bookshelves leading into my new office. We are doing a few other larger house projects since our planned vacation was canceled due to the pandemic. It has been a crazy year and I have been staying sane by continuing to read and learn and try to take care of myself by focusing on the good things. Honestly, one thing that has helped is The Great British Baking Show. The show is an a sincere, relaxing, wholesome experience you wouldn’t normally find in a competition show. It isn’t a cutthroat competition like you would typically find in most competitions shows. Everyone is just trying to do their best while still helping others when they can, which is probably the best trait of the human race. The show has also made me want sweets every time I watch it and it also makes me want to delve into baking myself, which I intend to do perhaps when I’m finished studying.

It seems like everything is unstable and the world is a mess, but the day-to-day is mostly unchanged. Technology has given us a wide, constant view of the world. All the bad and the good. It just seems like the bad is more prominent. We must persevere and do what we can to look out for each other. Continue doing good and good shall prevail. Keep doing what makes you steady, healthy, and rejuvenated. Keep your balance and we will make it through.

An Alphabet of Authors

Inspired by @WS_Bookclub’s post of alphabetical fantasy authors. I decided to do an Alphabet of Authors myself. These are authors I have read and I was surprised to see several gaps in letters, so please give me some recommendations if you know of any.

I made this list mainly by perusing my bookshelf so it may very well be incomplete. I’ve also only added the authors whose work I have enjoyed (of course) because I figured you may want to read them if you haven’t yet. If you want a specific book recommendation for any of these authors, peruse my list of recommendations I have posted here. Anyway, here we go:

An alphabet of authors (by last name)

A – Douglas Adams with Honorable Mentions: Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Ryunosuke Akutagawa

B – Ray Bradbury with Honorable Mentions: Edgar Rice Burroughs

C – Ted Chiang with Honorable Mentions: Orson Scott Card, Raymond Carver, Albert Camus, Ernest Cline

D – Philip K. Dick with Honorable Mentions: Emily Dickinson, Anthony Doerr, Alexandre Dumas

E – Cary Elwes with Honorable Mention: Matthew Eck

F – Raymond E. Feist with Honorable Mentions: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carrie Fisher, Victor Frankl

G – Neil Gaiman with Honorable Mentions: William Gibson, Arthur Golden, Helene A. Guerber, The Brothers Grimm, Malcolm Gladwell

H – Frank Herbert with Honorable Mentions: Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, Aldous Huxley

I – Dave Itzkoff with Honorable Mention: Kazuo Ishiguro

J – Robert Jordan with Honorable Mention: Diana Wynne Jones

K – Stephen King with Honorable Mention: Franz Kafka

L – Ursula K. Le Guin with Honorable Mentions: Stanislaw Lem, Ann Leckie, Tom Lloyd

M – John Marco with Honorable Mentions: David Mitchell, Cormac McCarthy

N – Garth Nix with Honorable Mentions: Phong Nguyen, Patrick Ness

O – George Orwell with Honorable Mentions: Joyce Carol Oates, Nnedi Okorafor

P – Terry Pratchett with Honorable Mentions: Gary Paulson, Robert M. Pirsig, Gareth L. Powell, Edgar Allen Poe

Q – Recommendations Please (I do want to read Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook)

R – Patrick Rothfuss with Honorable Mentions: Ayn Rand, J.K. Rowling

S – Antione de Saint-Exupery with Honorable Mentions: V.E. Schwab, Snorri Sturluson

T – J.R.R. Tolkien with Honorable Mention: Karen Traviss

U – Recommendations Please

V – Kurt Vonnegut

W – Tobias Wolff with Honorable Mentions: Gene Wolfe, Martha Wells, Danny Wallace, and Andy Weir

X – Recommendations Please

Y – Recommendations Please (I do want to read Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life)

Z – Yevgeny Zamyatin with Honorable Mention: Timothy Zahn

An Office, A Bookcase, and A Secret

So this happens to be my 300th blog post, which is crazy to think about. I’ve just been plugging away and here we are. This post is actually not necessarily about books or writing (ironically). This post is about a house project I have been working on for a while. I’ve finished moving my home office. This included building new bookshelves, and, to my childhood satisfaction, a secret door!

Bookcase

With a secret book lever.

Bookcase Open

Bookcase DoorBookcase Entry

And into my new office.

Office1

With a reading corner.

Office2

And of course a new, large bookcase so I can buy a lot more books.

Office3

And I can close the bookcase doors to focus on my work.

Office4

That is what I have been working on over the past several months, and I am really happy with how everything turned out.

The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games


The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is officially out in the world and it is riveting. There is so much I’d love to say, but I keep these recommendations spoiler-free so I’ll just let the official blurb give you a taste of what to expect.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

When I first started reading, I couldn’t help but compare this book to the movie Knives Out, which I greatly enjoyed, because they have some similarities: the wealthy grandfather who passes away, a will reading, a great cast of suspicious characters who are all family.

But from there it diverges into it’s own, well-constructed world that is the Hawthorne family (and they definitely live in their own world of wealth and mind games). The pacing of this book is excellent. Short chapters and just enough revelations paired with new mysteries make this book an absolute page-turner.

My only gripe (which isn’t really a gripe) is that there are too many mysteries to be contained in this one novel. Or rather, the overarching mystery is too big. That’s right, there will be a sequel and I would be surprised if there is only one. Don’t worry though, you won’t feel cheated in any way. The “game” just extends into a new phase though I’m sure you will be like me and want the sequel right away. Alas, we must wait and let Jennifer Lynn Barnes work her magic for us.

Huge thank you to TheWriteReads for letting me join this blog tour. I can’t imagine a better way of finding new books than following them and the many bloggers promoting great books. Of course, I also need to thank Jennifer Lynn Barnes for writing such a compelling book.

Happy Reading.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me GoI wasn’t going to recommend this book, but there are a few things that have led me to change my mind and this recommendation will be a bit different that any of my previous ones.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is not like anything I’ve really read before. In a way, it seems like a combination of several books I’ve read but with a little something extra (or omitted). This book was released in 2005 and was later adapted into a 2010 film.

Kazuo Ishiguro is a name that came onto my radar several years ago but I had never read any of his work. I can’t recall exactly how I came across his name. It could have been from others talking about his books or the fact he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017, but now that I’m actually trying to recall how his name came to my memory I think it was some association with Neil Gaiman.

However it happened, I knew of him as a respected author and therefore picked up Never Let Me Go from a library book sale simply because I wanted to eventually read some of his work. Ironically enough, I recently finished a book of nonfiction by Margaret Atwood where she actually discussed this very book. I realized I had it on my shelf and it became my next read.

I enjoyed the book because it was well written and it held an underlying mystery throughout that kept you interested in the story. The book technically would fall into a science fiction dystopia category considering the subject matter, but I will get into that a bit later. For now, I will supply a brief summary adapted from the book itself:

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at an exclusive English boarding school called Hailsham. It was a place of mysterious rules. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman and Ruth and Tommy have re-entered her life. She begins to look back at their time at Hailsham and comes to understand how they were special.

As I said, the story is written well and there is enough mystery to keep interest, but it can be considered a bit slow story-wise despite being a fairly quick read being just shy of 300 pages. Here is where this book recommendation goes off my regular pattern. After this paragraph, I will include spoilers so if you want to stop here and enjoy the book yourself, please do so and I bid you happy reading. If you have already read the book or don’t care much about spoilers, then feel free to read ahead. Continue reading