Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Top 15 of 2016

You may recall that last year I published my “Top 15 of 2015,” and since increasing the number of books you can highlight indefinitely seems silly to me, I’m sticking to the same pattern as I did last year. I read 201 books during 2016, but I will promote my favorite fifteen. All my reactions are confined to 100 characters or less, not including spaces.

And, as before, these are in order by author’s last name.

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton—an adorable book about adorable warriors that kind of reminds me of Tangled, now that I think about it.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black—contemporary fantasy is my jam, and all of the romance, and the twins are so enticing. Which is why I got it for Christmas.

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duvyis—wow. This might be the most powerful book on my list, and I must reread it, because DISASTER and DIVERSITY blow my mind.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton—after six years to think about it, I still favor Darry, but I have more sympathy for the other boys now.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis—MURDER? And LUTHERANS? And FEMINISM? What more could I ask for from a contemporary?

The Host by Stephenie Meyer—this was a blast. I wasn’t sure what I’d think, but I was really impressed with the sci-fi romance vibe. And yaaas aliens.

Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer—this was actually amazing, especially because I started to see prejudices I didn’t even know I had. Also, SQUEE.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson—ALL Y’ALL MADE ME THINK NOAH DIED WHEN HE WAS THIRTEEN OR SOMETHING. This was amazing, but c’mon, “tragedy” is so vague.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath—this is a terrifying and depressing book. But Plath just writes like a bedazzling machine, and I like the shinies.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler—okay: haikus, about boobs, read by Sir Patrick Stewart. There, I just made your 2017.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby—this is probably the most interesting Hades/Persephone retelling I’ve read in a long time. And the characters rock.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo—despite potentially problematic tropes, it was fast-paced and fluffy enough for this girl.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab—Schwab is hit-and-miss with me, so I was pleased to find this book FABULOUS. Monsters and music are so delicious.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley—having written an essay about how incest is key to all the main relationships in this book, I cannot leave it off.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker—I don’t know what to praise about this book that hasn’t been praised before. Still need to listen to the musical.

Interestingly enough, my top books are all by ladies this year. And that does not bother me, even a little bit! I look forward to reading similarly awesome books over this next year.

What about you? What were the best books you read in 2016?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Does Your Upcoming TBR Look Like?

via Jukka Zitting on Flickr

I am not the kind of person who often takes stock of her TBR—like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I have a list of titles I certainly mean to read but have not gotten around to. At least not yet.

Still, since I’m on Winter Break and I am actually powering through a lot more books than I expected, I thought it might be a good idea to think about what is on my immediate TBR. And by that I mean these are books I have in my possession or have put on hold.

The nice thing about libraries is they give you a deadline to finish things. Deadlines are my jam.

Anyway, here are ten titles I’m excited to start reading soon:

1. The Odyssey by Homer
2. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
3. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
4. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
5. The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
6. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
7. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
8. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
9. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
10. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Of course, it is also worth saying that on Tuesday I rededicated my life to Scooby-Doo, so I also expect something like seven DVDs to be waiting for me at the library pretty soon (much to the chagrin of my younger sisters; apparently I am too old for that nonsense, which is a lie).

And that leads me to today’s discussion question: What are you currently reading? What do you plan to read over the next couple of weeks? Also, if you’ve read anything on my TBR, what were your thoughts?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Does Watson Sleep So Much?

When we meet Joan Watson on Elementary, she is asleep.

Introducing a character through his or her morning routine is nothing new—everyone does that. As the show progresses, though, Watson continues to receive an inordinate amount of characterization through her sleeping habits. Like, a lot. Joan reads in bed, surfs the Internet on her laptop, naps. Sherlock often wakes Joan up in the morning, but he’s also deactivated all her alarms so she would not wake up on time. He’s brought her breakfast in bed, and even picked out her outfit for her because he’s been so eager to leave. Joan has woken up to find Clyde (their pet turtle) crawling on her, and to find Sherlock has redesigned the entire space around her.

Like I said: a lot. This, of course, begs a question. Why does Watson sleep so much?

My first instinct is to examine the BBC’s Sherlock, which does not often feature sleeping characters. The first time I remember Holmes falling asleep is in “A Scandal in Belgravia” (2x1), when Irene Adler drugs Sherlock before making her escape. Sherlock dramatically ends up in bed and is incoherent and groggy. Sleep, in this case, is weakness. Sherlock would have been in active pursuit of Adler; she reduced him to an “inferior” state and thus displayed her own domination. The fact that she does this to one such as Sherlock communicates the real danger of Adler’s character to the audience.

The other time I remember Sherlock and John falling asleep was in “The Sign of Three” (3x2) when they get drunk and are stupid. Lestrade yells at them during their hangover. They deserve it.

(I also remember Sherlock got shot one time, but I'm leaving that out for various reasons.)

Neither example is particularly flattering. Both suggest why Sherlock might resist sleep in general. First, sleep is a humanizing thing. It is a vulnerable state, an inactive state, and people who seem to need more of it appear to fit less in our capitalistic society (think babies and old people). The less Sherlock and John sleep, the more they are protected. They get closer to solving the crime and traditional victory. That’s the BBC.

As I’ve mentioned, Elementary isn’t much like that at all. Watson often sleeps—it is part of her daily routine. Even Sherlock has fallen asleep once or twice on the show (to his dismay), and tends to wear comfy-looking sweats and a t-shirt when he rests. Which I mention because they seem like normal pajamas compared to the aesthetic of some aforementioned programs, but why name names?

Anyhoo. Watson sleeps. Sherlock (rarely) sleeps. And this matters a great deal to Elementary for a reason I’ve already mentioned: it is a vulnerable state. And through vulnerability, companionship forms. Sure, it is funny when Joan wakes to find a turtle in her bed, but it’s also a demonstration of familiarity. How many people do you feel comfortable around, not just in your pajamas, but in your messiest state? Hair unbrushed, drooling, unaware, unprepared. Joan doesn’t always appreciate Sherlock’s presence in her bedroom, but their confinement contributes to their closeness. They get to see each other in a way few others do.

What’s more, Joan functions better as a detective when she sleeps. As a health professional, you’d expect her to value sleep anyway. And she does. Nonetheless, Joan is still the best Joan when she is well-rested. Whether he likes it or not, Sherlock is the best Sherlock after a good sleep, too. This matters even more for Sherlock, since tiredness can trigger a relapse in an addict. Joan’s good habits don’t just improve Sherlock’s life (sometimes), but they also protect him. Heroin has the potential to ruin his life again—so Joan watches out for him.

That is the best thing. This is a detective show and a murder mystery show, but it is also a show about taking care of yourself and one another. Emotionally, physically, scientifically. Sleep is not a weakness. It’s a strength. An opportunity to build trust and to maintain sobriety. Also, it is funny.

Obviously, there’s an important message here:

Be a good detective. Get some sleep.

Do you think the media tends to portray a positive or negative aspect of sleep?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In Praise of Louise Belcher

Howdy! I may post sporadically throughout December. I am posting today because I am officially out of homework and therefore bored.

I wanted to talk about one of my personal role models: Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. She is amazing. And this is why.

She advocates for herself | Louise doesn’t accept things she doesn’t like. Period. Though she has questionable means of persuasion, she never lets anyone cow her into silence.

She takes action | She will pay any cost. If pooping in a swimming pool will get her out of summer school, she will not hesitate a moment.

She doesn’t learn lessons | Louise-centric episodes focus on many things: her interests, her fears, her failings. Whatever problems she runs into, though, she gets out of them through her own ingenuity and determination—none of this “learning not to lie” or “next time don’t jump off a moving train” silliness.

She has a strong sense of honor | This is a girl who takes pride in her morally-questionable shenanigans. When she is falsely accused, though, she insists upon proving her innocence. She’ll accept consequences—just as long as she’s responsible for them.

She is determined | Linda thinks Louise can’t spend a weekend at her Aunt Gail’s? Think again. Louise will tough out anything.

She is prepared | Also, when she was, like, six, she hid a duffel in a lake in case she ever needed to run away.

She transcends age | This is a nine-year-old who socializes with prostitutes and ran a gambling den. She is also afraid of the dentist and called Bob “Daddy” until she was eight.

She is morbid | Part of Louise’s appeal is her dark humor. A quote: “Nosebone! Nosebone into the brain! Then skin him and wear him like a costume!”

She is blunt | It isn’t that Louise never lies, but when she is honest, there is no beating around the bush with this girl.

She has ambitions | Louise wants to run her father’s restaurant someday, as well as be very rich. I don’t know how she will do both, but she will.

She cares | Though she doesn’t often fall for that touchy-feely crap, Louise cares about her family and siblings. She’ll definitely say so at gunpoint, but the fact that her siblings are main characters in her “Why I Love Wagstaff” story—people she wants by her side in a robot crisis—says something, too.

She is a dangerous girl | Louise wants a doll whose head comes off and it’s a knife. Physical threats are among her favorite things.

She got manicured with monster nails | I cannot put the awesomeness into words, so here is a GIF:


Have you watched Bob’s Burgers? Who is your favorite character?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Update: Indefinite Hiatus

Greetings, blogosphere!

This is just a general update that Sometimes I’m a Story is now going on an indefinite hiatus. I’m a little busy with school and also pursuing other interests at the moment, so it will be a while before I can devote more attention to blogging.

I still have lots of ideas I might want to pursue in the future, and I haven’t given up on blogging yet. It’s possible that I’ll start up a sporadic posting routine. We’ll find out.

Until then, stay cool, my cucumbers.


Monday, October 17, 2016



Since school is getting to be a little much right now, I'm going to put Sometimes I'm a Story on hiatus for a little bit. Not to worry—I'll be back again next month (probably before Thanksgiving) with more discussions, ideas, and more.

Also, don't feel sad that I'm going away. I'm still going to be visiting blogs and sharing awkward stories on Twitter if you find you miss me.

See you in November!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Do House Systems in Fiction Appeal to You?

Historic Milling Town of Falk
Flickr Credit: blmcalifornia
House systems make me suspicious.

I’m not against dividing students. In both my high school and university, colleges separate students so they take classes according to their desired career—STEM, business, healthcare/service, or arts. These allow students to specialize, which is a good thing in our world! Thus, I can understand why fictional schools or organizations have houses. Individuals have a personal “group” to whom they can be loyal. It forces team dynamics. It can be nice.

At the same time, at my schools we aren’t differentiated by uniforms with our house sigils. We aren’t always divided. The point is specialization, not group (read as: mob) loyalty that defines student relationships. We can even participate in more than one “house” if we want to! It happens in books, though. House systems manipulate kids. By blocking certain interactions or exchanges of information, these houses can lead to terrible, terrible things. So I thought I’d look at a few.

Harry Potter’s houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Ravenclaw
Percy Jackson’s cabins: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Dionysus [and more]
Shadow and Bone’s Grisha Orders: Corporalki, Etheralki, Materialki
H.I.V.E.’s streams: Alpha, Henchman, Political/Financial, Technical
39 Clues’ branches: Lucian, Ekaterina, Janus, Tomas, Madrigal

via Goodreads

Who is allowed to join this house?

HP| the virtuous—houses distinguish students by their value for bravery, honesty, cunning, or wit
PJO| the heirs—cabins distinguish campers by their godly parent
Grisha| the heirs—orders select students by their innate ability for the small science
H.I.V.E.| the skilled—streams divide students based on a propensity for leadership, tactical skill, social orders, and technology
39C| the heirs—branches claim talented members of a certain bloodline

via Goodreads

Do students take classes together?

HP| sometimes—younger students are more divided; older students with similar career goals intermix
PJO| yes—most activities are open to everyone, though cabins do dictate teams sometimes
Grisha| sometimes—Grisha specialize within the small science, but they might go over history, etc. in groups (we don’t really know)
H.I.V.E.| sometimes—all streams require some classes; older students take specialized classes
39C| no—family secrets must stay secret, so no intermixing is allowed (at first)

via Goodreads

Are students allowed to interact outside of class?

HP| sometimes—most of the time, yes, minus mealtimes; during an emergency or a dark wizard takeover, houses are kept separate
PJO| yes—everyone has friends outside their own cabin
Grisha| yes—everyone must team up for the war effort, after all
H.I.V.E.| yes—streams intermix in dormitory blocks, the dining room, and all other activities (the one time they separated the streams was to aid a mass murder plot and kill an entire stream)
39C| no—branches try to keep separate and when they meet it is usually to kill or betray each other

via Goodreads

What level of rivalry exists between the houses?

HP| a lot—through Quidditch and the point system there are major rivalries between G/S and H/R
PJO| some to a lot—there’s regular competition, and then there’s Greek mythology’s daddy issues made manifest on earth
Grisha| little—while there is a lot of individual competition, the orders are for the most part unified
H.I.V.E.| some—it’s mostly individual competition, but the Alpha and henchman streams do not get along
39C| a lot—they’ve been trying to kill each other for six centuries, and those wounds don’t heal easy

via Goodreads

Is there a class/moral association with any houses over the others?

HP| moral—the books characterize Slytherin as evil, period; they are Hogwarts’ general enemies
PJO| class and moral—certain houses bring great esteem (Zeus, Poseidon, etc.) while others are considered less (Hermes); some houses have dubious morality because of their values (Ares) and others because of their occupants (children of the Big Three)
Grisha| class—the Darkling and Sun Summoner are at the top of the pyramid, certain orders have more respect than others, and some individuals are considered less by their profession (like Genya)
H.I.V.E.| class—Alphas and Political/Financial students are expected to become the world’s next leaders; henchmen have comparatively little esteem or wealth to look forward to
39C| moral—some branches have a more sinister nature, Madrigals are perceived as good, and everyone is good compared to the Vespers

I don’t know if I think one of these is the “best” of them all. Ultimately, I have a lot of problems with the house system—it’s because of houses that so much injustice occurs in Harry Potter’s world, and a magical serum justifies centuries of murder between the Cahill family branches.

I mean, I think The 39 Clues branches are the worst. That’s something I’m willing to say. They are the most divisive and unjust, so. Yeah. That does it for me. And if I wanted to choose somewhere for myself, it would be H.I.V.E. Dr. Nero has structured his school like, well, a real school. And I like that best.

Which house system appeals to you the most?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Infinity Dreams Tag

Though you may know Alexa from Summer Snowflakes, she also posts for a book review blog called Verbosity Reviews, and on it she tagged me for the Infinity Dreams Award! And though you may know Victoria from Endless Oceans of My Mind… I don’t think she has  another blog. She ALSO tagged me for the Infinity Dreams Award! Thanks, ladies!
  • thank the blogger who nominated you
  • list 11 facts about yourself
  • answer your nominator’s questions
  • nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

I have brown hair. | I have hazel eyes. | But my eyes used to be blue. | I wear black glasses. | My ears are pierced. | My earrings are usually the turquoise. | I have other earrings, too. | I have some red and purple and skull ones in my room. | I have a rounder head than my sisters. | I have the nose from my dad’s side of the family. | You’re welcome, police sketch artists. 

Alexa’s Questions

1. If you could pick one character to portray you in the movie of your life, who would that person be? | Franz Argentblum. We are different in appearance but alike in spirit.

2. Pick one character from any movie, show, or book, and pick a candy to describe them. What candy would they be? | Ron Weasley would be Reese’s Peanut Butter cups because I’m allergic.

3. What’s your favorite album? | All Things Bright and Beautiful by Owl City

4. What’s your favorite soundtrack? | That for Firefly.

5. Do you use character reference pictures? | No, that’s always felt immoral to me.

6. Do you prefer a lot of descriptions in stories or just a taste of setting so your imagine can build up the rest? | Tastes of a setting spark my imagination better than the hellish info-dump.

7. If you had to choose and could only have one or the other, would you choose a brilliant plot and awful characters or brilliant charries and an awful plot? | Brilliant characters, awful plot. I’m a charaholic.

8. Do you feel like your personality type changes when you write? | Nope… I’m pretty standardly me when I’m writing.

9. Do you adore discovering MBTI types? | Rarely. They are less fun for real people and more fun for fictional characters because then they don't hurt anybody.

10. Since I’m on a roll, what’s your MBTI type? | ISTJ.

11. What’s your favorite gif/meme/pinterest post? | Simba.


Victoria’s Questions

1. Who is your favorite superhero and why? | Captain America or Thor—they just have the best values in the MCU, I think.

2. If you had a whole day to yourself to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? | College, homework, many television shows. Pretty much what I do every day.

3. What was your favorite book of 2015? | Good news—I actually narrowed it down to my top 15!

4. If you could live anywhere outside of your country, where would you live? | Key word being could. I could live anywhere. But I don’t want to.

5. Is there a specific piece of clothing you wear all the time/often? | Yes. All of my clothes. All the time.

6. Which genre do you write in the most? | Speculative—different kinds of fantasy, mostly.

7. What’s your favorite way to spend your evenings? | Watching Castle or Supernatural or Elementary or Leverage or Firefly or any of my favorite TV shows.

8. Which accomplishment are you most proud of? | I hate getting this question because the concept of accomplishments is dumb.

9. If you could travel back in time, when and where would you go? | Probably to the year I was born or something. Maybe the year my parents were born. Stalking my family members/baby me sounds like the most amusing way to do it.

10. Briefly describe a usual day for you. | wake up-Internet-homework-homework-homework-Internet-dinner-write-TV-read-sleep again.

11. Who is your favorite fictional character? | If Franz is not available because I already said him, Carlisle Cullen or MCU’s Loki.

I’m not tagging anybody this round, but you’re welcome to steal any of the above questions if you so choose!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thursentary: Translated Books

via Goodreads
Reading books that have been translated into English has always been a weird experience for me.

I don’t read translated books a lot. Most of the time I read books written by English-speaking writers. Some of them are native speakers, and some are fluent in their second language, but that is the norm. This is my comfort zone.

I start to get antsy when a book that was written in an entirely different language has been translated to English. Translators have a tricky task ahead of them—Ana Castillo said it like this: “as a writer as well as a translator I do believe that translated words are not different names for the same thing. They're different names for different things” (source). Essentially, a language represents the people it is talking about and the person who is talking, and you have to try to capture that with an entirely different set of words.

Some stuff translates better than others. Also, some stuff doesn’t. Let me tell you about my strongest memories of translated books:

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke | The only Funke book I ever finished was Dragon Rider. Thief Lord and Inkheart were too boring, even though the latter is especially popular. I WANTED TO LIKE IT. I did. But I got bored all the times I tried to read Inkheart. Few people understood why I didn’t enjoy the book, so most of the time I just told them, “I think it probably sounds better in German.”

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder | This was not a bad book—it’s intellectual, challenging, and has a decent story. But the language of the book was a little difficult for me, and some of the plot points… Not to spoil anything, but Sophie has a birthday party. I think she turns thirteen or fourteen. Anyway, it’s a kids-and-parents party, and two of the kids go and have sex in the bushes and maybe get pregnant and literally no one cares. Part of that is like, the point of such a philosophical book, but part of me believes that scene made more sense to Gaarder when he wrote the book.

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marçal | Full disclosure: this is my current read. I’m only partway through so far, but it’s easy to notice a few stylistic writing differences. A good part appears in the form of fragmented sentences. It’s common for the writer to say something important. And then add on a sentence like this, when she really probably should have used a comma or started a new complete sentence. Also, the logic system they use is different. It’s hard to describe, but I feel like the system involves saying a lot of things and then looping back and elaborating on the details as many times as is necessary. I… am getting used to it. Ish.

I’m not sure if I have a definitive opinion on translations. On the one hand, they’re special because they can help you share in something that somebody said in another language. You communicate in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. But translations are tricky! There are some impossible differences to reconcile, and I know it makes me less satisfied sometimes. But that’s okay. It’s good to stretch your brain sometimes.

Have you read any books translated from another language?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Sacrifice Tag

Flickr Credit: Forsaken Fotos
Liz over at Out of Coffee, Out of Mind was a cool person and tagged me for the Book Sacrifice Tag! Thanks, Liz!

Also, just because I would sacrifice these books doesn’t mean that they are terrible or you shouldn’t like them. DO WHAT YOU WANT. Let’s just not sacrifice each other over our opinions.

via Goodreads
an over-hyped book | situation: You are in a bookstore when zombies attack. Over the loudspeaker, you hear the military informing you that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness. What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies? (And remember, no body shots. Head shots only. Come on, you’ve seen The Walking Dead—you know how this works.)

I felt like Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter was a huge disappointment. And I’d heard such good things about it! Of my friends on Goodreads, all of them gave it 3-5 stars, which means all of them at least liked it. BUT THERE WAS LITERALLY NO EXTERNAL PROBLEM IN CAMMIE’S LIFE AND SHE WAS COMPLETELY PASSIVE THE ENTIRE NOVEL. Ugh, this was just a painful read.

via Goodreads
a sequel | situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour, and you’re probably the type who melts when you get wet. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne. NOOP. Noop noop noop. There’s so much to say but the worst part was definitely the screwy characterization of Severus Snape. That was unacceptable to me. Better his dialogue melts than me.

via Goodreads
a classic | situation: You’re in English class and your professor won’t stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature." Personally, you think that classic is garbage, and you decide to express your opposing opinion by hurling it at his head. What classic is that?

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Forgive me if I don’t find the overwhelming male-ness of the novel interesting or true or worthwhile. Say what you will about human morality—though I also believe a different group of boys could easily have created a very different novel. I just hate it.

via Goodreads
a least favorite book | situation: You’re hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to turn the world into a frozen wasteland. Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book. Which book would you not regret tossing onto the fire?

The worst novel I have ever read is Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. I have seen all the James Bond movies, including all three Casino Royales, so I was hoping the book might be good. No, it was boring and dumb. I will sum it up so you do not have to read it: James Bond is a spy. It is spy beach day! Yay! James Bond has sex. James Bond gambles! More sex! Then James Bond goes for a drive. Then, suddenly, there is international conflict and James Bond and his girlfriend are tortured! But then James Bond saves the day and more sex happens. The end. Blah.

So, I could tell you more strong feelings about books I didn’t like but you’re probably done now, as am I. I don’t plan to tag anyone, but please, steal this from me if you feel so inclined.

All right, let us here it. What is a book that you would sacrifice, and why?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Is Commenting Back Still a Thing?

Any Questions?
Flickr Credit: Matthias Ripp
I started blogging because of the fad.

Blogs were cool—I think there were various articles suggesting they would be good for your business, maybe your life. I didn’t know about those until later. I just made one because my friends were making them, too. For a lot of people, the formula went something like, post twice, forget for a month, try again, and then delete the thing.

That didn’t happen to me. I think I thought it would be good blogging practice if I posted often, so despite the fact that I was doing this alone, I stuck to it. I didn’t understand why people thought it was fun, but I still did it anyway.

Then I found the book blogging community and realized the entertainment and social factor were not myths. I wanted to comment on other people’s blogs, and, surprisingly, they wanted to comment back on mine.

I know that at least some of my traffic came from a project created by Readers in WonderlandBloggers Commenting Back. It’s about as simple as it sounds. When someone comments on your blog, you go and comment on theirs. Personally, I never really participated. My general philosophy is if you don’t have anything [nice] to say, don’t say nothing at all. I have my mean commenter side, but if I feel stupid compared to other people commenting or have no opinion then I don’t force myself to force a comment. Those are pretty painful.

Anyway, back to the thing: commenting back. I remember seeing people displaying the banner and feeling very curious about it. Bloggers who wrote good comments seemed to make them popular and good at making new friends. They got themselves out there. From what I’ve observed, that seems less of a thing now. Why is that, I wonder?

Blogging is less big now. Many people have realized that blogs are not the next Facebook, and nobody blogs forever. To me, this suggests there are fewer people blogging than a couple years ago and fewer people making blogs. That would contribute to the commenting back downsize.

Also, new bloggers might not know. It is always great to see new faces in the blogosphere, but they might not come in with a working knowledge of what was going on three years ago. Which is fine—how would such people know? But, it also means that people aren’t necessarily jumping on the “commenting back” bandwagon anymore.

Finally, I bet it’s tiresome. I actually struggled to find a Bloggers Commenting Back banner on blogs where I knew I’d seen it before. Some people have taken it down. But I have no judgment. Blogging is hard, and commenting back is harder. People lose the time and ability to comment back as they once had, and especially since a lot of book bloggers are in this gig for free, commenting back is an even greater toll on their time. There isn’t always enough compensation to make commenting back worth it, and I think that’s okay to admit. Like I’ve said before, you as a person are more important than your blog.

I guess I’m curious, though—has the “Bloggers Commenting Back” movement ended for good? Have bloggers lost interest? Do they only comment on blogs they really enjoy? Do they still comment back, but without identifying themselves by the banner? I don’t know. Perhaps you do.

Is commenting back a priority on your blog?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Vacation Week


For productivity reasons, I will not be posting this week. You can expect our regularly scheduled discussion posts beginning again next Monday!

Have a superb week, and beware the cabbage.



Friday, September 23, 2016

Habits and Styles for Reading and Writing

Clancy in Bed
Flickr Credit: Hegla Weber
Today’s question comes from Topaz Winters at Six Impossible Things:

I’ve already talked a little bit about how being in college has impacted being able to read for fun, which you can read here. The general gist is that college is time-consuming, but I work my way around it.

When it comes to reading for school, I have a few particular quirks that don’t apply to reading for fun. Namely, when I read a book for school I have to think about whether or not I’m going to want to keep it in the long run. For example, I have a decent sociology textbook, but I’ll try to sell it at the end of the semester because it will no longer be of use to me. I have been highlighting the book and writing down notes separately so someone else can use it later.

Sometimes I do find books I want to keep, though. A few of my favorites include Wit by Margaret Edson, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. These were all great books and I hope to read them again at some point, so I don’t inhibit myself with annotations and whatnot.

Writing is another matter entirely.

My writing style especially has seen a bigger shift. I used to spend a lot of time writing creative fiction. I haven’t given up on that, but I’ve mostly worked on those projects during the winter and summer breaks. In the meantime, I’ve spent more time on essay-type activities. Some of that is indeed homework, but some of that is also the blog posts you read here. Some of that is also me writing geeky responses to the TV shows I watch.

As to habits, I’ve definitely fallen behind. I make time for writing blog posts and my fun TV-related essays, but I haven’t made writing as much of a priority during the school year. It doesn’t bother me, though. I don’t really know what I want to do career-wise, so I don’t feel like I’m losing anything by not writing.

There is one difference about this semester—I’m taking a creative writing class in poetry. We read and study famous people’s poetry, of course, but it also involves writing our own poems. This means that even if I’m not writing the same way I used to, I still have a creative outlet that fits right into my school schedule and a group of people who can help me improve.

That’s sort of a brief overview of my styles and habits right now. I don’t think that’s what they’ll look like in the long run, but here we are for now.

How do you stay on top of writing and reading during the school year?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


ZOMBIES. I love zombies. Fictional zombies. I am less excited about real zombies. Anyway, we’re using the zombie apocalypse for this tag, so I have zero fears in my heart. Thanks to Alexa from Summer Snowflakes for tagging me!

The Rulios:
  • pick five books (favorites or random, but know the characters)
  • write the name of the books on strips of paper
  • draw one strip randomly for the first question
  • open to a random page and use the first name you see to answer the first question
  • use the same book for question two, but turn to a different page
  • repeat steps 2-5 until you’ve answered all the questions
Full disclosure, I’m not doing that. I am not going to be writing down all these things on paper. Instead, I am going to use the Random Thing Picker to select both the order of the books and the characters I’m using (instead of the first name I see, I will put all the character names on that page into the generator).

The setup is so much faster this way.

via Goodreads

Dreadnought by Mark Walden

1. The First Person to Die: Jason Drake. Praise the Lord. This guy is like Steve Jobs, but with plans to set off the volcano in Yosemite and kill us all. Him getting eaten by zombies is a best-case scenario.

2. The Person You Trip to Get Away from the Zombies: Diabolus Darkdoom. In what world am I going to be faster than Diabolus Darkdoom? He’s one of the world’s most prominent supervillains and he must have a foot on me. (Also, if I trip him and he lives, I am going to be facing a world of pain when this is all over.)

via Goodreads

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

3. The First Person to Turn Into a Zombie: Sydney. Is it more ironic that she already is one or that, well—read the book. You will understand. You will laugh.

4. The Person that Trips You To Get Away from the Zombies: Victor. Completely in character and I don’t forgive him even a little bit.

via Goodreads

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

5. The Idiot of the Team: Charlie Swan. I don’t think Charlie is stupid, of course, but if Bella and Edward are still committed to telling him things on a “need to know” basis then yeah, he might not even realize there are zombies about until they’re already defeated.

6. The Brains of the Team: Jacob. Well. Maybe we will die. Maybe we won’t. It isn’t that he’s stupid… it’s just… he is a very emotional boy. Good leader, and probably a great weapon against zombies. Just… emotional.

via Goodreads

Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

7. The Team’s Medic: Bob. Well, he really is more of a gung-ho leader who leads people fearlessly into battle in the name of saving his species, but… Well. He wasn’t all that excited about stopping to deliver a baby, so if you get shot, you might just have to suck it up.

8. The Weapons Expert: Cole. Oh dear. I mean, I’m sure Cole knows a lot of things about weapons, he is also just dumb as a brick. It’s cute, but probably not that cute when you have fifty zombies behind you. Hoo boy.

via Goodreads

Cress by Marissa Meyer

9. The Brawler: Cinder. Well, it’s not really her style, but I suppose, being a cyborg and all, that she can adjust to the task if needed.

10. The Team Captain: Thorne. Oh goodie. I mean, not only will he be a hilarious team captain, but he’ll also make Jacob and Bob feel like they are stupid every day of the week. Maybe he will need Cinder there to be his impulse control.

And there we have it! My zombie apocalypse team. Will we live? Will we die? I have no idea. However, I have to say, if I were looking for better examples of leadership, cunning, bravery, and kickassery, then I would be hard-pressed to improve. I guess that’s something.

I shall to tagging Victoria and Imogen and Alex very.

Who would you want on your zombie apocalypse team?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Five Posts a Day

Flickr Credit: Wetsun
I love going to school, but I have to admit it’s disappointing to lose some of my blogging time.

Fortunately, writing blog posts hasn’t become unmanageable. I didn’t think I was going to come up with a Thursentary last week, and then I had so much free time that putting one together Wednesday afternoon was a non-stressful experience. Normally, though, I reserve an hour on Friday mornings to write blog posts, and that gets me through the week.

But blogging isn’t just about being a good writer—good bloggers are also good readers and commenters.

I’ve never been a timely commenter. Even when I had plenty of time to frolic in the blogosphere over the summer, I was that person who showed up two weeks late to posts and made many executive decisions that involved ignoring various posts on my reading list. Still, there would be days when I could binge my reading list and conquer my neighborly duties.

Blog Binging season is over. Between homework and the recently-arrived seasons of Leverage, Supernatural and Elementary, my priorities have changed. (Sorry, mortals.) This doesn’t bother me—I’m not getting paid for this, and likewise, I wouldn’t expect other unpaid bloggers to devote their lives to this gig, either.

At the same time, the cost of not visiting other people’s blogs is great. I lose community and contacts, and that doesn’t appeal to me in the long run. I’ve hardly been able to hang out on Twitter, so blogging is the main way I’ve been able to stay involved. My solution isn’t amazing, but it’s functional.

I read five unread blog posts every day. It suits me, since I don’t have all the time in the world or a great attention span. I still don’t always comment and I don’t always reach my goal, but it’s still been helping. Doing something is always more productive than doing nothing. And I’m glad that my Bloglovin’ list is getting smaller, even if it takes a longer time than I am used to.

And sure, my inbox is flooded with comments from my own blog that I haven’t responded to in weeks. My Google Calendar is overwhelmed with post and tag ideas I haven’t gotten around to yet. My unfinished homework sits in a pile of guilt. Just kidding, I always do my homework before I blog. At any rate, it’s not a perfect system, but I’m managing.

It can be enough.

How do you stay active in the blogging community when your life gets busy?