Friday, January 29, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: Non-Fiction Books In My To-Read Pile

I've been reading mostly fiction for the past three years because of grad school, but I very much enjoy my share of non-fiction, too. I'm interested in a wide array of subjects, and there's always a chance that a non-fiction topic will spark a story idea. In recognition of that, I'm going to try to read more of it in 2016, and here are some of the titles on my shelf I'm most looking forward to.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom, Sean B. Carroll
The great thing about being a writer is you can be into a lot of things even though your primary field is literature. I haven't read a lot of science-related books since before undergrad, but that doesn't mean I stopped being interest in science. I'm excited to dive back in.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Zombies, Matt Mogk
This is partially because zombies are cool, especially because this book approaches them almost from an academic standpoint, and partially because it's research for the young adult zombie novel I'm working on.

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, Elizabeth Kantor
Anything Jane Austen related makes me happy, which is enough of a reason for me to pick this up. I actually received this as a Christmas gift a few years ago and haven't been able to read it because I was so busy with grad school. Because of that and because Valentine's Day is coming up, it seemed like a good time to jump into it.

The Physics of Superheroes, James Kakalios
Again, this is on my list because I want to read it but also because it can act as research for a story idea I have (although one I probably won't get to fleshing out for a while yet). Besides, with all the superhero movies and TV shows lately, it'll be cool to see what's plausible and what isn't.

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates, David Cordingly
This one's because pirates are just cool. Judging by the title, though, I have a feeling my view of them might change while reading. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: TV Shows Returning in 2016

After the winter television hiatus, I'm looking forward to a number of shows returning, although I have to wait a little longer for some of them.

Indian Summers

If you're prematurely mourning the end of Downton Abbey, this might be the replacement for you. Set in the summer of 1932, season one follows an Indian family and the members of a British social club as the Empire's influence wanes. It's packed full of political intrigue, family drama, and secrets people would kill to keep. This one won't be back on PBS until the fall, so there's lots of time to catch up or rewatch.


My friend told me to give this show a shot, and I'm happy I did! It's about a trio of space bounty hunters who get caught up in an interplanetary war and find themselves up against a major antagonist from Dutch's past. Plus, the relationship between Dutch, the team's hardened leader, and Johnny, her partner and best friend, isn't one often portrayed in fiction.

Orphan Black

Season three expanded the world and the mystery of the clones by introducing the Castor clones, but season four looks like it'll be back to its Leda roots, focusing on Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, and Rachel while introducing at least one new clone. And, of course, I have to watch to see if Delphine is still alive and will continue her rise in badassery. 

Black Sails

What's better than pirates and explosions? Nothing, really. We left off with Eleanor under arrest and on a ship back to England; Flint and Vane teaming up to blow Charleston to smithereens; and Rackham, Anne, and Max sitting on a big old pile of Spanish gold. With the arrival of a new governor, will the privateers be able to hold on to their precious Nassau?

The 100

Things I'm looking forward to in season three: everything. More specifically: Clarke dealing with the psychological fall-out of her actions at Mount Weather, the Skaikru building a true home while learning to play nice with the Grounders, Octavia being a badass, Raven being a badass, Indra being a badass, everything about Lincoln, Lexa being a badass but also a softie, Clarke and Lexa reuniting. So . . . like I said, everything.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: Books of 2015

Okay, this is a day late. Maybe I should just start calling this "Sometime During the Weekend Five." But better late than never, I suppose. And continuing with the obligatory end-of-the-year lists, here are my favorite books read in 2015 (and proof that fantasy rules my heart).

Rat Queens: Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

I've frequently lamented about how difficult it is to find adult high fantasy with female protagonists, and this one offers four. That and the recommendation of a friend were enough to get me to give this a chance. All four heroines are different and bring their own strengths to the team, and the world is interestingly fantastical so far. I already have the second volume in my TBR pile.
Beauty Queens, Libba Bray

I decided to pick this up after hearing good things about it on Tumblr, but I had reservations because I didn't love A Great and Terrible Beauty. This turned out to be quite the pleasant surprise. The story follows thirteen teenage beauty queens who crash on a seemingly deserted island while in transit to the Miss Teen Dream pageant. Like Rat Queens, Beauty Queens features a large cast of diverse female characters, all of whom have secrets and quirks and charms. This tale of friendship and bravery deserves a spot on every teenager's reading list.

Falling Kingdoms, Morgan Rhodes

I'm a sucker for high fantasy, obviously. This is the story of Mytica, a land of three divided kingdoms, and four teenagers whose lives intersect: Cleo, a princess who discovers that privilege ; Jonas, out for revenge on his brother's murderer; Lucia, whose magical powers are awakening in a land where magic is forbidden; and Magnus, who harbors a damaging secret. Although there's no real new ground broken here, it's light fare and makes for a fun, easy read. Again, I've got the second book in my TBR pile.
Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor
I adored Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and the second installment didn't disappoint. It opens up the world and delves deeper into the conflict between chimaera and angels. It also depicts the very real and awful consequences of war on those who wage it. Through it all, the relationships, especially the friendship between Karou and Zuzana, ground the story. And Taylor's lyrical writing borders on magical. The third and final book is, once again, in my TBR pile.
The Circle, Fire, and The Key, Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

I don't even know what to say about these books because they're amazing and they were such a surprise! I got the first one in July on a whim because I had a gift card. When I finished, I immediately bought the second. Then I suffered for two months while I waited for the last one to be released. Basically, the trilogy follows six teenage girls who discover that they're witches and that their destiny is to stop the apocalypse. Only they're not even friends. How are they supposed to save the world?

The heart of this story is the girls: Minoo, Anna-Karin, Linnea, Vanessa, Rebekah, and Ida. All six girls are fully realized characters with their own hopes, fears, flaws, and strengths. Although they don't start out as friends, their relationships--both with the group as a whole and with other individuals--develop in realistic and moving ways. I want to re-read these already, and I've spent the last few months talking them up as much as possible!