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…

Why I Hate Romance So Much
Outside the Reviews / July 2, 2017

[Disclaimer: I’m 17, folks. While I’ve watched long-standing married couples around me, including my close-knit parents, read plenty of books, and drawn a few conclusions of my own, I’m the first to admit I know next to nothing about romantic love.) If you’ve read any number of my reviews, (you haven’t? Um… don’t worry, that’s easily remedied. Shoo. Go read.) you’ll have noticed a recurring theme in my outlook on romance. Ranging from mildly annoyed to severely aggravated to outright furious, if there’s a love interest in the story odds aren’t good for my thoughts on it. But it’s an inconsistent hatred, because there are the romances I fall in love with, the love interests I praise, even love triangles I can put up with. (I think. Not sure I could name one, actually.) So what’s going on? A number of things. I’ll start with the least important and work up. Number one: it’s generally trope-ridden. I’m not dismissing love and/or romance in a story as a cliche in itself; they’re some of the oldest building blocks. Love, death, (and taxes), right? But the romance I tend to encounter, perhaps most especially in YA, is filled with side-cliches. The sarcastic,…

Seven Summer Reads (Fantasy, of course)
Outside the Reviews / June 25, 2017

Summer returns! Days are long, evenings pleasant, The Outside a riot of green and sunshine that may tempt even the most reclusive bookworm out into it. And what better way to spend those extra hours of sunlight but reading awesome fantasy? (Reading on the porch totally counts as outside time. And if well-meaning relatives absolutely insist you move around, it’s always possible to level up your skill-level to the point of reading whilst on your walk. Just don’t read in the street. Please.) Just to get you started, here’s a list; seven of my favorite fantasy books. I can’t pick a single favorite book to save my life, can’t even lay out a definitive list of favorites, but – seven of my favorites. 1. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld seems a good starting point. This book was my first blogged review, over a year ago! Not a beginner’s intro to fantasy, mind. The Forgotten Beasts starts off with a genealogy of sorts and doesn’t pick up pace for quite some pages further. However, sweet, solid prose and a strong magical setting provide the backdrop for Sybel’s growth and Coren’s love, for a dreamy atmosphere and hinted-metaphors. 2. The Girl Who…

Why Vampires?
Outside the Reviews / June 4, 2017

Trends and fashions generally move through books at about the same speed as they do in clothing; perhaps a little slower. And just like clothing trends, most of the time they’re completely harmless, but sometimes they go all weird and pear-shaped, and readers find themselves looking back and wondering “Just how did we end up with seventeen supernatural books following the same angelic plot line published over the same two years?” One of the weirder trends that’s doing a good job of sticking around is the vampire novel. Stories of revenants date all the way back to the 12th century, and by the 16th and 17th centuries they were blood-drinking; these walking dead entered literature through Gothic Horror around the 19th century, and the rest, as they say, is history. Only… it isn’t. Not really. In the first place, the vampire novels are hardly history – they’re still being published. But in the second, the series coming out today are very, very different from the early horror novels. They do still pull their traditions from the same source, though, and the result is what makes them odd. Early vampires were the incarnation of evil. Literally soulless, constantly murdering, driven away…

The Day to Day Impact of Books
Outside the Reviews / May 28, 2017

How has reading changed you? And I don’t mean “This biography was so meaningful it changed my life!” or “Reading the classics turns you into an intellectual.” I mean the small, every-day things that we don’t always realize come from the books and stories we surround ourselves with. Recently, I was working through a plateau in my martial arts training. I was tired, bored, and didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. Taekwondo had, and has, no immediate application in my life, and I wasn’t enjoying the exercise I got out of it. Why keep going? Because, I told myself, this is my backstory. In any good book the hero or heroine doesn’t whip impressive skills out of nowhere at the critical point. They have well established backstories. He didn’t just happen to understand the ancient writing on the walls: he’s a linguist fascinated by early periods, and we’re well aware of his interest. She didn’t just happen to sketch the intriguing design on the front of her notebook that caught the agent’s eye: she loves drawing and she’s been doodling and sketching throughout the book, maybe even taking lessons. She didn’t just happen to fend off the older, stronger, man following her…