Why No One Should Judge the Things Others Are Passionate About

Monday, October 24, 2016

I strongly believe that every person should have multiple things that they love, and adore, and are fully passionate about. And when I say this I don't just mean family, friends, significant others, or pets. While the people in your life are incredibly important, I assume and hope that everyone already has some worthwhile, wonderful people in their lives. But what I often notice is a lack of passion in many lives. Lots of people go to work or school all day, come home, do homework or projects, watch their favorite shows and go to bed.

But in this type of a life, where is there passion for anything? This is existence, but not a truly fulfilling life. However, add a few hobbies, interests, or activities that you're passionate about, and suddenly your world is more positive and colorful. I will always be an advocate for people caring deeply about things besides checking their phones and watching their favorite shows (not that those aren't enjoyable activities).

The biggest thing that really bothers me are people who, rather than spend time doing the things they love, choose to condemn the passions of others. Unless someone's hobby is physically harmful to others, why should they feel bad about the things they love? If the activities your neighbor participates in (be it a sport, collecting something, cosplay, anything) aren't things you also enjoy, who cares? Find another point of similarity and connect with them instead of judging them. We are all people who deserve to be respected, and something that brings us joy should never also be criticized by the people in our lives.

I personally have a lot of hobbies and things that I love doing (though some get neglected in my busy schedule), but the one that I'm clearly most consistent with is reading. But even in the book-loving community, I sometimes sense that people judge certain genres and books more than others, thinking that their own preferences are much more sophisticated/intellectual/cool/unique/etc.

Personally, I read a whole lot of everything--popular fiction, less popular fiction, classics, creative nonfiction, fantasy, graphic novels, true crime, memoir, short stories, poetry, humor, young adult, travel, even children's books (seriously, I don't care if you're an adult--go back and reread your favorite childhood books; there are very few happier experiences)! So why should I feel embarrassed about reading one thing over another, as long as I'm enjoying what I read and gaining something from it (whether that be new knowledge, entertainment, or a break from the stress of school)?

The same goes for every hobby, intellectual interest, activity, or source of entertainment. Huge classic film buff? Awesome. Huge sappy rom-com buff? Equally awesome. Love what you love--just love the things you want! Don't let the popular or "cool" (whatever that means) opinion sway you.

And please, just remember never to diminish the joy that anything brings something else just because it's not something you love. You'd ask for the same in return. Keep on spreading love and joy instead!

Book Review: The Bone Tree

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

From the publisher: (sequel to Natchez Burning)
Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancĂ©e, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi’s most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn’t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.
The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage—who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him—is either to make a devil’s bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles’ downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years . . . a place of terrifying evil known only as “the bone tree.”
The Bone Tree is an explosive, action-packed thriller full of twisting intrigue and deadly secrets, a tale that explores the conflicts and casualties that result when the darkest truths of American history come to light. It puts us inside the skin of a noble man who has always fought for justice—now finally pushed beyond his limits.
Just how far will Penn Cage, the hero we thought we knew, go to protect those he loves?

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I won't get into too much detail about this book, since it's a sequel and I don't want to spoil anything for those who have yet to read Natchez Burning. What I will say is that this is an excellent follow-up to the previous book. Iles doesn't lose momentum with this sequel, and in fact even amps up the suspense at times. 

The two books are very similar, of course in the fact that they continue the previous story line and characters, but also in their style and content. Again, I did feel that there was extraneous detail in this book that could have been pared down a bit in order to shorten it somewhat, but still, all major action was entirely relevant and seemed to make full sense within the world of the story. 

While the sheer amount of characters and subplots was confusing for me at times in Natchez Burning, now that I was more established in the text, I truly enjoyed the chapter-by-chapter switch in perspective. In a book with so many plots all working together at once, this format of writing is almost necessary, and makes me as a reader feel like I'm in five places at once, and able to better comprehend the story. 

These are books that feel startling real, partially because all of the events are based at least somewhat on truth, and also because of the highly captivating nature of the writing. I was easily drawn into the sick, twisted world of Natchez, Mississippi and I felt myself pulled toward the characters and their various plights. I was frustrated time and again when something new went wrong, and held my breath as characters risked their lives. That is the mark of a good book. 

The Bone Tree, like Natchez Burning, I thoroughly recommend, for fans of historical fiction, political intrigue and complex mystery. 

Book links for HarperCollins, GoodreadsAmazon and Barnes & Noble
I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Check out the rest of the tour here!

Book Review: Mercury

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mercury by Margot Livesey


From the publisher: Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optometrist in suburban Boston, he is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury—a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past—arrives at Windy Hill and everything changes.

Mercury’s owner, Hilary, is a newcomer to town who has enrolled her daughter in riding lessons. When she brings Mercury to board at Windy Hill, everyone is struck by his beauty and prowess, particularly Viv. As she rides him, Viv begins to dream of competing again, embracing the ambitions that she had harbored, and relinquished, as a young woman. Her daydreams soon morph into consuming desire, and her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates to obsession.

Donald may have 20/20 vision but he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. By the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv’s ambitions and his own myopia.

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First, let me say that the cover and spine (at least on my ARC copy) of this book are pretty awesome. I've been obsessing over this spine since the book arrived. And it took me a couple months, but just a day or two ago I realized that the image on the cover is a horse (yes, now I realize it's super obvious--it's been a long few weeks in my defense). 

However, the book itself left quite a bit to be desired for me. There were a lot of small things in the writing of this book that, if changed or improved, would have made the book a lot more enjoyable for me. I found the writing, particularly in the beginning of the book to be quite confusing. The narrative seemed to jump around a lot, time flew by without being properly remarked upon, and this all gave me a greater disconnect with the story. 

I really didn't connect with Donald's narration much. For me it was unclear, pompous, and left me with a lot of questions. He blames every problem in his life on something or someone besides himself, obsesses over the past, and makes some fairly astounding decisions. He really wasn't sympathetic to me, especially in the first section. This is a small thing, but I also don't enjoy when characters in books sporadically refer the book that I'm reading as something that they are apparently writing, with no explanation as to why. I prefer just to read a book and not be forced every so often to confront the confusing fact that apparently this character is actually writing all of this story down for me. *cringe*

The pace definitely picked up for me at the end of Donald's first section and during Viv's narration. She was much more clear and fluid as a narrative voice and I had much less trouble catching all of what was happening. Though I don't agree with all of the actions of either main character, I enjoyed reading Viv's perspective more, even when her storytelling got redundant and she insisted on referring to Don as "you" as though she too was writing this down to read him as a bedtime story. 

Otherwise, a lot of the minor characters were kind of confusing at first. Remembering the differences between Hilary, Claudia, Diane, Bonnie, etc. took a while for me. Also, another small thing, but why do the children in the story sometimes refer to their parents and grandparents by first name? Quite disorienting to me for whatever reason. 

I definitely didn't hate this book though--the second half in particular was very enjoyable. While I had a lot of small complaints, it's also a very interesting, driven novel. I haven't read a "horse book" since I was a kid, but this was a great fresh take on the concept and I was pleasantly surprised by it. There were some great shocking moments and plenty of intrigue throughout. It's a pretty suspenseful book, but it's also a book about people and their thoughts and actions, and I think it did quite well at achieving all of those goals. So while it all could have been executed better, there is definitely still a lot that's worthwhile here, and I do recommend it for anyone intrigued by the description or by psychologically perplexing books. 

I received this book for review froHarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Check out the rest of the tour here!

September Wrap-Up

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A few days late this time, but I have an excuse! I spent the weekend in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, taking in glorious views, ATV-ing, and eating lots of food. It was great, but now I'm back in reality and it's time for my September wrap-up!

1. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
[3rd reread]
Genre: fantasy, adventure
Goodreads link

2. Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones
Genre: poetry
Goodreads link

3. Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
Genre: fiction, mystery, historical fiction
Goodreads link

4. Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh
[short story]
Genre: sci-fi
Goodreads link

5. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Genre: fiction, drama, humor
Goodreads link

6. The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
Genre: fiction, mystery, suspense
Goodreads link

7. Remembering Animals by Brenda Iijima
Genre: poetry
Goodreads link

8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Genre: classic fiction, drama
Goodreads link