How To Get All The Books
Outside the Reviews / November 5, 2017

First, a quick disclaimer: everything in this post is wholly unsponsored. It’s just ideas from my long experience of never-enough-money-for-all-the-books, compiled for you out of the goodness of my heart. All bookworms are intimately familiar with budgeting problems, right? All these shiny books, and they cost so much. A reader has to keep a sharp eye out for deals and freebies. There are two main divisions here: physical books, and e-books. Physical books in general are more expensive, and correspondingly hard to find deals for. I’ll start with those, since it’s a short list. ~ Physical Books ~ If you’re on Goodreads, the Giveaways are easy to enter. Pros: they have a lot of them, sometimes ARCS too, you can toggle a setting so they’ll notify you when there’s a book on your to-read list, and it’s a quick-n-easy enter like I said. Cons: you do have to use Goodreads, and because it’s a giveaway there’s no guarantees. I haven’t gotten any books this way yet, but people definitely do. Like giveaways? Cool. It Starts At Midnight hosts a monthly giveaway hop every month. Which means a whole bunch of book blogs link up to a single giveaway page, and you can…

October: Monthly Roundup
Outside the Reviews / October 31, 2017

My town usually only gets a few days of autumn color before it snows or freezes and all the leaves wither brown, but this year the weather has held true, crisp and (mostly) clear. I’d like to say that the sweeping color and lovely skies are the reason for only fourteen books reviewed this month, but I haven’t gotten outside anywhere nearly as much as I’d like. It just hasn’t been a productive month overall. But tomorrow…! Nanowrimo is upon us, and yet I have unreasonably high hopes for getting all sorts of things done. More, Oathbringer and Renegades are both coming out, the two new releases I’m most interested in for the rest of the year. ~ Favorites ~ My favorite book of the month… was a contemporary YA romance! Since when, right? At an even four stars, The Geography of You and Me isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s sweet, fluffy, and clean. My favorite recently published book was Apex, the third (and probably last) book of the Hunter series. It’s not very satisfying as an ending, but Joy is such a great main character. In Middle-Grade books, I really liked The Wednesday Wars, a realistic/semi-historical highschool story. Recommend for anyone who: likes Shakespeare,…

It’s Okay if the Sky is Awful
Outside the Reviews / October 29, 2017

It’s okay if the sky is awful. ​ Did you know that the words awesome and awful are directly related? “Awful” was around a lot earlier, going back almost a thousand years, and it meant something that was awe-inspiring. Full of awe. It could mean “worthy of, or commanding, profound respect or reverential fear”. It was not a far stretch, back then, to use it to mean “causing dread”. Sometime after it strayed into strong negative connotations, “awesome” came around, perhaps to replace it; and if now we say awesome the same way we’d say cool or great, still it used to mean “something that inspires awe”. Sometimes awesome is awful. Consider: even now, one of the sentences under the dictionary definition of awful is “the awful majesty of alpine peaks”. Being filled with awe has never been supposed to be a pleasant experience. It’s okay if the sky is awful. Humans are dreamers, philosophers, romanticists. We have always looked up at the sky and seen mystery. We have always asked halting questions about the intangible. We have always tried to paint our emotions: in lofty words of poetry and novels, in the music of songs and orchestras, in sweeping…

Brace Yourselves, Nanowrimo is Coming
Outside the Reviews / October 25, 2017

  Have you ever heard the writing advice, “Write the book you want to read” ? Well, that’s basically why I write things. A lot of things. Often, when I read a particularly good or bad book it inspires me to start something new, to play around with my own world and characters and FIX THE HORRIBLE MISTAKES okay sorry I promise my stories aren’t anger-driven but I recently read The Invisible Library and it’s The Reason I’ve revived an old idea about Libraries because I was so disappointed. (There are other reasons I write too, I just don’t feel like writing up a dissertation on Creative Writing right now.) I still have some notebooks filled with badly-spelled short stories from years and years ago (the first evidence of story-writing is from a journal entry dated in 2007), so maybe it’s not fair to blame everything on reading books? On the other hand, I was reading back then too. So what’s all this about NaNoWriMo? Well. *deep breath* NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month (November), and is also the name of a non-profit organization that encourages people to participate in the month. The official goal is to write a fifty thousand…

September Monthly Roundup
Outside the Reviews / September 30, 2017

Hi there! So the biggest thing on the blog this month was joining the 2017 Discussion Challenge, eight months late. ‘Cause that’s how we roll around here. We only got two posts linked up, When Fandom Stands Alone and Are You a Book-Hoarder? which is 50% of the month’s goal. Whoops… maybe next month? ~ New Books ~ There were actually a number of 2017 books this month! The Last Magician and One of Us is Lying were both 3.5 to 4 star books, although very different from each other. The first is a time-traveling alternate history and the second sort of a high school thriller murder mystery. Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods (I don’t think Sleeping Giants was published in 2017, but you have to read it before the sequel, right?) both sounded interesting but were thick with sci-fi clichés. Finally, What To Say Next and Darkness of Dragons are both down near the bottom of the rating slide, although to be fair to What To Say Next I think that may have been a case of “It’s me not you”. It’s actually pretty good for a contemporary romance/highschool story. ~ Somewhat Older ~ I finished up the Finishing…

Are You a Book Hoarder?
Outside the Reviews / September 16, 2017

Bernadette I’m not just a certified bookworm. I’m afraid I’m a bookwyrm, too. Which is just a nice way of saying book-hoarder. I can’t even say I’m letting you in on a secret, because honestly? All my friends and family know it. It’s hard to disguise an ever-growing collection of books as anything else, especially when it begins overflowing the bookshelf space and piling up across your room in stacks and mounds of paperbacks. In my defense, I pick up a lot of books at thriftstores and used book shops, and actually rarely buy a book new unless I’ve read it or am quite sure I’ll love it. I’ve seen many readers advocating minimalism. Only keep your absolute favorite books, the ones that absolutely deserve space in your home. Read, love, store that story away in your treasure-chest of memories, and pass the book on for someone else to enjoy. I actually agree with these sentiments. They’re wonderful ideas! They just… don’t work for me. For one thing, I have a librarian’s instinct. Every book deserves space in my home (well, a lot of them, anyway). A second factor is that even in this digital age, I am all for…

When Fandom Stands Alone
Outside the Reviews / September 7, 2017

Or, Why I’m a Proud Ravenclaw and Not Crazy About the Books How far down the rabbit hole? The question typifies the crazy, weird, multi-faceted thing we call fandom. It goes all the way from book-club type discussions and some cute stickers for your laptop, down into a twisting tangled warren of AUs and headcanons and fanfic and fanart and cosplay, a whole world springing up around… well, an imaginary world. And the really interesting thing, at least to me, is that once you get past the lightest layer of fandom, things begin to develop a life of their own. Book-length fanfics tie together a whole alternate universe where these characters are, in the end, quite different than the original book. The gorgeous fanart doesn’t fit in quite right anywhere in the books, not with the cross-over headcanon they’ve added, but somehow personifies this character in a way you haven’t seen before. The inside-joke quote on your merch may not even be part of the original canon… but everyone in your online fandom knows what it means. And it’s really cool. All these people, brought together by a common interest, building a world together. Taking their enjoyment of a set…

2017 Discussion Challenge!
Outside the Reviews / September 1, 2017

  I finally decided to sign up for my first book-blogging challenge ever… eight months late! Whoo! Ah, but it’s not that big a problem. The 2017 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight and Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction is divided up by months, so I’m jumping in on the September boat. The goal is just to post more discussion posts instead of only book reviews, which lines up nicely with my own goals. I’m going for “Creative Conversationalist” which, given how late I’m starting, means about one non-review post every week. Just to remind you, all discussion posts will be under the “Outside the Reviews” category on the sidebar, so they shouldn’t be hard to find.  

August Monthly Roundup
Outside the Reviews / August 31, 2017

Hey all! August was a bit of a fragmented month for reading, what with school coming up and family visiting and the solar eclipse – all sorts of exciting life events. There was only one non-review post, which introduced a new co-blogger, Marietta. (She’s a busier gal than me, so don’t expect a ton of reviews, but there’ll be some upcoming.) ~ Rereads ~ Oathbringer, the latest book in the Stormlight Archives, is coming out in November, so obviously I had to reread The Way of Kings. And as long as I was reading Sanderson, I hit up The Rithmatist again too, and finally posted reviews for both of them. Etiquette and Espionage is a fun steampunk-fluff read for back-to-school vibes; more back to school books further down the list (but sadly not ones I enjoyed!) I loved the middle grade Summerlands trilogy from several years ago, so I started reviewing them back in July and finished during August. The flaws were more obvious to me this time, but Rook was just as awesome as ever. Book One, Book Two, Book Three. And… there was really no reason to reread Red Rider’s Hood except that Neal Shusterman does great quirky retellings. ~ New Books ~ I…

Say Hello!
Outside the Reviews / August 27, 2017

Hello there everyone! I’d like to introduce a close friend and book buddy of mine: Marietta Mortensen. We’ve practically been a book club of two for years now, and I’m delighted to welcome her as the first co-blogger on x-rayreads. So, a quick introductory interview of sorts for ya’ll seems appropriate. Could you tell all the nice readers a little bit about yourself, Marietta? Hi! I’m Marietta, a Catholic teenager from Green Bay, Wisconsin (and before you ask, yes I’m a Packer fan, it’s mandatory when you live here). I’m a reader, a dancer, a singer, an oldest sister and my Hogwarts House is Hufflepuff. (I’m an elf, too.) I’ve known Bernadette forever (yes, literally) and we’ve been reading the same books for almost as long. The best part about being book buddies is that we generally like and dislike the same things, but not so frequently that we can’t each get a new perspective on what we’ve read! I’m really excited to be co-blogging with her, because it means that I won’t have to leave such long comments on her posts. (They’re all there, if you want to read them.) What sorts of books/genres do you read most? You’ll generally find…