The Phantom of the Opera Reading and Viewing Challenge – 1st Update

It’s April 1st, a quarter of the way through 2020 already, and that means it’s time for an update on Phantom reading and viewing adventures.  I hope you and yours are staying well in the midst of the pandemic situation, and maybe having time for some extra reading.  And remember – social isolation may be hard, but donning a mask and crashing chandeliers is never the answer!

I kicked off my Phantom exploration for the year with a reread of the original story, Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera.  This was my…third? fourth? time reading the book, and I enjoyed it immensely–and had lots of thoughts about the unreliability of the narration.

Read my written review of Leroux’s Phantom.

Watch my video review of Leroux’s Phantom.

If you’d like a refresher on the challenge, check out the launch post here.  And please share about your Phantom adventures so far in 2020 in a comment below.  I look forward to seeing what you’ve been exploring this year.

Shameless self-promotion: As a further update on my own retelling of the Phantom, The Guardian of the Opera: Nocturne will be out June 5th, and the cover reveal is this Friday, April 3rd.  Drop by Friday and see the awesome cover I can’t wait to share!

Blog Hop: Visit My Bookshelves


Today’s Book Blogger Hop question is:  Share a photo of one section of your bookshelf randomly selected or go ahead and share the entire bookshelf.

I’ve been wanting to share a video touring my L. M. Montgomery shelves (so, not that randomly selected), making this blog hop prompt perfect!  Please enjoy the visit to my shelves in the video below. 🙂

Video Book Review: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

I don’t expect every review I do in the future will be by video, but right now I’m home a lot and it’s a good time to film.  I’m home a lot because, probably like many of you, my region is under a “stay at home” directive for the coronavirus pandemic.  I decided a very small thing I could do in response was to make a video reviewing a book I have found helpful (and recommended in the past) for dealing with scary, tragic, unfathomable things.

I wrote a review of When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner before, and yesterday I made the video below.  The book explores the role of faith and God in the face of inexplicable tragedy, and offers enormous insight.

Blog Hop: A Taste of a Story


Today’s Book Blogger Hop question is:  If you could add one interactive feature to reading books, what would it be?

I’d love it if books could be more sensory somehow.  There are picture books (and movies) for the visual senses, and audiobooks sometimes include sound effects.  Beyond that we’d have to stray into fantasyland, I expect, but it would be awesome if books could somehow give you (as an option) a tactile sense when they describe, for example, soft silk or rough tree bark.  There are plenty of things characters feel I wouldn’t want to feel, so it would need to be optional!  Likewise, I’d like to experience some of the smells that are described in a story, but not all of them.

Taste would be the trickiest but maybe the coolest too.  I tend to be intrigued by food in books, especially fantasy-sounding food like bubbly pies (from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern) or butter pies (from Diana Wynne Jones’ A Tale of Time City).  I’m sure fans have made up recipes online, and I’ve even read a few books that included a recipe or two at the end, but the truth is I’ve never made any of them…so I guess what I really want is a replicator that would just spit out the food described in the book I’m reading!

Blog Hop: Beyond the Book

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is:  Other than book reviews, what do you feature on your blog?

Along with reviewing books, I sometimes review movies or TV shows, which I kind of consider the same thing…I mean, it’s all stories.  I also post updates about my own writing each Wednesday, and I do some kind of internet-community/reflect-on-books thing each Friday, generally either the Friday Face-Off or this Blog Hop.  I usually check each one and decide which prompt I like better that week!  I post quarterly about my reading challenge updates, and I was doing a Sunday spiritual quote that I need to get started back up.  Oh, and I post a LOT about my writing when I have a new book coming out soon!

So it’s all pretty story-focused one way or another…which is, after all, supposed to be the focus of this blog!  I have other things in my life, but this space is all about the stories. 🙂

Book Review: In Other Lands

A Book Club friend recommended In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan some time ago, and I finally got to reading it in the last couple weeks.  I’m glad I finally did, because it was funny, insightful and very original, while commenting on so many familiar story tropes.  Excellent read!

The story centers on Elliot, a boy from what we’d recognize as the real world, who has the chance at age thirteen to cross a magical wall into a country wholly separate and secret from the world he knows, where magical creatures abound.  He’s invited to join the Border Camp, launching us into something that somewhat resembles many other stories of children going away to magic school.  Except – Elliot is obnoxious, sarcastic, and cuts right through any pleasant fantasies.  He’s wildly indignant that they have no pens or central heating, and when he realizes they’re being trained for war promptly observes that they’re being turned into child soldiers.  Which is…actually quite true, but something I’ve never seen put so bluntly in any magical book!

Elliot only agrees to stay because he meets Serene, an elf maiden.  Her full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.  Elliot thinks this is the most badass thing he’s ever heard, falls promptly in love, and agrees to remain.  Also, maybe he’ll get to meet mermaids.

Continue reading “Book Review: In Other Lands”

Blog Hop: Bookish Identity

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is:  When did you first know you’re truly a bookworm? Did you lose sleep over a novel?

I think I’ve always known I was a bookworm…?  My parents took me to the library weekly since I was toddler-age, and I memorized The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree before I could actually read (so I count it as the first book I ever “read”).  I had a book bag all through my childhood that I’d bring home full of books from the library every week.  So this dates back!

Reading was so normalized that I don’t know if there was a point when I realized not everybody read this much.  Probably somewhere in elementary school, I imagine, when I noticed the divide between people who liked sports and people who liked books (I’m sure some people cross over but the two camps seemed clear to me at age ten!)  Ironically, perhaps, my clearest memory that should have told me I was unusually fond of reading is of reading a book (!) where the kids got points for prizes for each page they read.  I was politely incredulous of the very low numbers of pages they were reading and counting as good…

I can’t say I really lose sleep over books.  I stayed up late recently to find out the ending of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but the previous book I can distinctly recall staying up late reading was Jane Eyre, five years earlier.  And I don’t lie awake thinking about books in a worrying or angsting kind of way.  One thing I like about books is that they don’t make me feel that way!

When did you discover you were a bookworm?  Do other people often lose sleep over books?