to library or not to library | discussion

I, personally, am a huge fan of libraries. I’m even considering librarianship as a career! I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent at the library, browsing shelves and studying. I’m lucky enough that the library nearest my home is really nice, with tons of cozy, quiet spaces, fully-stocked shelves, and plenty of friendly librarians. I also have quite a lot of locations within a half-hour radius from me–such easy access!

That said…libraries can suck sometimes. Books from libraries can suck sometimes. Libraries make me want to pULL OUT MY HAIR sometimes.

So, what do you think? Yea or nay to libraries? Let’s break this down a bit.

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  • Free books! I said free!!!
  • MOST books usually available in some format–print, ebook, audiobook, etc.
  • Cozy place to read, quiet place to study
  • Used books sales!
  • Community events!
  • Real Humans to help with finding books, research, and more
  • Recommendations from librarians, fliers, or other community members
  • Reading programs! Rewards for reading = best thing ever
  • A place where people love books and reading–basically a second home for us bookworms ❤️  ❤️  ❤️

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  • Sometimes books look like they’ve come from the sewer — the quality is terrible
  • Sometimes books are falling apart — they’re super old
  • Books might not be available upon release date. What do you mean the library has to process books before lending them out?!
  • Book holds might take MONTHS to come through…especially when peOPLE HANG ONTO THEIR BOOKS LONG PAST THE DUE DATE (YES, that’s happened to me, could you guess?)
  • Older releases or less popular books aren’t always available
  • You can’t keep the books forever, unfortunately. Which means no pretty bookshelves in your bedroom.
  • OVERDUE FINES 🔪 🔪 🔪

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pros and cons of libraries

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I am seriously always looking for a deal. FREE BOOKS is a fantastic deal. I mean, I can read as many books as my heart desires for no cost to myself! (Other than time and gas money…and possible overdue fines.) That is the best deal ever, and it trumps pretty much any con on my list. Sure, those cons I listed can be frustrating (and sometimes depressing, because who DOESN’T want a shelf of gorgeous and beautifious books on their shelf at home?!), but in the end: BOOKS.

Yea to libraries for me.

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What do you think? Do the cons outweigh the pros? Have I forgotten any important points?

Discuss with me below! 

Until next time,
Brianne

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top 5 wednesday | september 20

I’m back again for another Top 5 Wednesday!

Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam at thoughtsontomes. Check out the Goodreads group if you’re interested in learning more or joining in on the fun!

Today’s prompt: Favorite Fancasts

Fancasts can be tricky things. Oftentimes, I find myself neither satisfied by fancasts nor pleased about actual castings. This is possibly became I don’t tend to picture detailed characters when I read. They’re more like blurry, faceless people. (I know, I’m weird.) Blurry, faceless people are rather hard to come by when looking for actors for TV and film.

That said, there are a few fancasts that either I’ve thought of myself or I’ve seen around the interwebs that do totally work for me. Read on for some of my favorites!

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Richard Harmon as Sevro

from the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

Richard Harmon seems like such a perfect Sevro to me, other than his hair color–but dying hair isn’t so hard a change, right? He can pull off weird, threatening, sassy, and fierce so well. Plus, he’s slighter and shorter–both necessary characteristics for Sevro. Kinda scary, kinda awesome. He’d be so great playing a gritty, emotional character like Sevro.

Reece King as Ronan

from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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This guy has basically BECOME Ronan on Tumblr. I’m not sure if Reece is even an actor or just a model, but so many fans–me included!–think he has just the perfect vibe for Ronan. He looks dangerous, bored, snarky, and arrogant. Now, Ronan is supposed to be pale and Irish…but sometimes the fit of a character and actor goes deeper than skin color.

Plus, he knows fans like him as Ronan…and seems generally positive about the idea.

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Neelam Gill as Inej

from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Another Tumblr favorite! Again, any fancast or ~aesthetic post on Tumblr for Six of Crows of Crooked Kingdom has Neelam Gill as Inej, and I love it so much. She has a fantastic presence–a confident yet demure way about her. Plus, she’s small, and (I believe) the right ethnicity look for Inej. She’s another model, but boy is she a great fit in my mind.

Luke Pasqualino as Kaladin

from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

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*drools*

Okay, okay. This is a fancast that I found on the publisher’s website, created by Sanderon’s beta and gamma readers. Sanderson described the Alethi as a mix of Asian, Arab, Polynesian, and possibly more–a race not easily definable to us. Luke Pasqualino was listed as their honorable mention, but I think he fits the part so well. He can play conflicted so well, though he might have to bulk up a bit for the role! Plus, he’s just beautiful, and I wouldn’t mind watching him onscreen for the adaptation of 5/10 books. Just saying…

Honorable mention (also stolen from the Tor post linked above): Evanna Lynch as Syl, Kaladin’s wind spren sidekick. HOW PERFECT would that be?! I think I may have actually read Syl’s dialogue in her voice without realizing.

Hunter Parrish as Nikolai Lantsov

from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

So this is one I came up with myself?! Still not entirely sure how I feel about it, BUT. I just love Hunter Parrish. I first saw him in Weeds, in which he plays a cocky, sexy, intelligent character. As Nikolai is so similar, it occurred to me that Hunter Parrish would be an excellent fit! Plus, he has a classically beautiful face (in my opinion, anyway), which looks quite princely. I would love to see him as Nikolai if these books ever become movies (which, by the way, WHY hasn’t that happened yet?!).

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There you have it! My top 5 fancasts. What are some of your favorite fancasts? Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne

when a prince’s bastard son becomes a royal assassin | series review

the farseer trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★☆

Within the series: Assassin’s Apprentice (#1), Royal Assassin (#2), and Assassin’s Quest (#3)

A six-year-old boy is dropped off at a keep, returned by his family to the prince who fathered him. This boy comes to be known as FitzChivalry, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, next in line to the throne. Fitz becomes a catalyst to a series of events that occur in the land of the Six Duchies throughout his growing years. Invaders from the sea, tension within the royal family, and mysteries of magic and Elderlings create the chaos in which Fitz tries to find his place, and eventually realizes that while here is a mere boy, he’s also a piece of a larger puzzle.

Recommended if you like:

  • coming of age stories
  • dynamic characters and relationships
  • subtle yet complex fantasy
  • long, winding plots and descriptive writing

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My Spoiler-Free Review

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This series is our hero’s backstory, and a tragic backstory it is. Fitz’s childhood is tough, heartbreaking, and challenging.  The story begins when the only family he’s ever known basically abandoning him, and continues as he tries to find his place as the bastard son of a prince in a world that doesn’t care about him. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy boyhood story, this series isn’t it.

That said, Fitz’s story will tug at your heartstrings in the very best way. Hobb accomplishes this by writing a cast of complex, developed, interesting characters, including Fitz himself. He grows from an innocent young boy to a slightly exasperating teen, and finally a matured young man. Other characters, though not protagonists or evolving in such a dramatic way as coming of age, still shift and complete their own character arcs and development in satisfying ways. More than anything, Hobb excels at character development, dynamics, and relationships.

Throughout the series, Fitz brings together a found family of sorts, and his relationships with these people are deep yet complicated. He clashes with these people and he doesn’t like them all the time, but they are his people. These characters and their relationships not only make you fall in love with this trilogy, but want to continue reading the entire Realm of the Elderlings series.

The plot, though slow and perhaps meandering at times, has many shades to it as well. There are two major conflicts within the series: the first and foremost, a war with invaders from across the sea. The second and more subtle: tension within the royal family itself. When Fitz begins training as an assassin, a King’s Man for his grandfather King Shrewd, he is inexplicably drawn into this tension, and as he grows older, he plays his own part in it. As a bastard, he inevitably creates unique situations and tension himself, and it’s all deliciously suspenseful and dramatic.

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Hobb’s writing is a delight. Though she tends to be overly descriptive, you can’t say she doesn’t write a vivid world. The details and pictures she gives makes the world of the Six Duchies come alive, and as you read through the series, each new location featured is just as vibrant as the rest.

The magic in this fantasy world is subtle yet interesting. There are two types of magical abilities. First is the Skill. This ability allows someone to read another’s mind, see through their eyes, and also speak to them in their mind, sway their thoughts, or cause them to see an illusion. This Skill is found mainly in the royal bloodline, so Fitz, although he’s a bastard, could develop it. The second type of ability is called the Wit; in many ways, it’s the opposite of the Skill. This ability allows one to bond and communicate with animals. However, it is seen as a perversion and not encouraged or fostered by any civilized person. Both abilities are featured in this series, and you can imagine how they could create some conflicts.

In sum, pick up this series for a magical, political, suspenseful story. You will fall in love with the characters, delight in Hobb’s descriptive writing, and wonder at the magic of it all.

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Have you read The Farseer Trilogy? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

i’ve made some health and fitness goals

I’m once again here with a Friday post that expands the bounds of this blog. What can I say, I like to babble about whatever’s on my mind. I’m into it.

Anyway, today’s topic is health and fitness.

The backstory

A few years ago, I began my career as a teacher and had not a thought in my mind about health and fitness. I was much too preoccupied with lesson planning, grading papers, and catching up on sleep. Plus, I was on my feet all day long and most likely hit at least 10,000 steps a day–not that I had the tracker to prove it. Regardless, my unhealthy eating and lack of thought in the fitness department wasn’t affecting me too negatively.

About a year ago is when I decided to take a step back from teaching, move back in with my parents, and find a new job. I was no longer getting all those steps in, but I had a ton more time to do my favorite free time activities–read and surf the interwebs. Neither activity is particularly active, as I’m sure you all know. Unfortunately, these activities, combined with everything else happening (or not happening) in my life, made me progressively less fit by the day.

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Now that I’ve been working at the same job for four months, and am planning to stay on for longer, I have settled into a routine and realized just how gross I’ve been in terms of health and fitness. I’m not necessarily talking about weight here; just in general, I wasn’t thinking about what I was eating or being active. Simply put: I got lazy.

Then, a month or so ago, my best friend got engaged. I won’t say this was my motivation to start being better about health and fitness, but it may have been the catalyst. My younger sister and I both realized that if we wanted to look dang good in wedding photos, and feel good about ourselves in general, we would have to start taking action. And so we have!

How I’m taking action

I started by tracking my calories. Notice I don’t say “counting” like most others would. I like thinking about it as tracking, simply seeing what I’m eating, where the nutrients are coming from, if I’m getting enough protein and fiber in a day, etc. To start, I wasn’t even concerned with going over my “calorie limit.” I just wanted to get a look at what I’m working with and see if I could notice any trends.

I use the My Fitness Pal calorie counter, and you’d be surprised by how fun it is, especially if you get friends or family to do it with you. Yes, it can be depressing. It can be shocking when you learn just how much sugar is in that smoothie you just ordered, or how many calories are in a burger at your favorite restaurant. But it’s also extremely informative. It has helped me learn that I hardly ever get enough protein, I usually consume too much sugar, and I only get enough nutrients if I eat my fruits and vegetables. Sometimes easier said than done.

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Finally, the fitness. My sister and I both agreed that we would be more motivated to get active if we had the opportunity to do things together and possibly take some classes. So, our conclusion was to get a gym membership. It’s expensive, but I already feel that it’s worth it. So far, we’ve been going three times a week–two times to do our own thing (walk, use the bikes and other machines) and once to take a Zumba class. I think it’s been going great.

The number one reservation people seem to have about joining is a gym is worry over making time for it and getting their money’s worth. I’ve found that somehow I feel like I have even more free time in my days now that we’ve been going to the gym–how does that work? I suspect it all comes down to scheduling and prioritizing. When you make the time for something, you don’t notice that a little bit of your free time is gone. You still fit in all you want to do at some point in the week. And when you start to feel restless and ready for another workout, it’s a positive, doable thing, not something negative that will take time away from whatever else you’d like to do.

My overall goals

As I’ve gone through this experience in the past month or so, some overall goals have shaped themselves. This has been a real discovery process for me, and I am so pleased that it began in the first place and that it began organically, if you will. For the most part, anyway.

My goals aren’t anything specific; I think that’s where I would start getting frustrated with myself and possibly too obsessed with results. I’m thinking of a broader picture, here. This isn’t just a thing I want to do to lose weight right now. I want to make a lifestyle change.

So, my goals are simple:

  • Eat clean (aka cut out processed foods as much as possible)
  • Eat balanced meals
  • Be active (ideally, working out 3 times a week)
  • Do what works for me

That last one is the kicker. As I’ve read blogs, watched Youtube videos, and started my own fitness journey, I learned one important thing: There is not just ONE way to go about being fit and healthy. There are many ways. It’s up to me to figure out what works for me, and that will take some experimentation.

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Having this mentality is what will, I believe, give me perseverance with this life change. It has kept me positive and excited about it so far! I won’t deny that I’ve been stressed a few times, but I’m learning how not to be. It’s a process, and it’ll be a long one, but it will be worth it.

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Do you have any health or fitness tips to share? And what are your favorite ways to eat veggies? That’s honestly what I need the most help with right now! Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne

 

5 best times to read

Has there ever been a time when you were totally vibing with reading? You were immersed in your book, your surroundings were ideal, it was you and your book against the world?

Hey, me too! I’ll feel very sad for you if you haven’t.

As a bookish and inquisitive person, I’ve observed over the years that there are certain times of day in which I’m most likely to achieve said vibes with reading. When nothing is wrong with the world (at least in my bubble) and the reading is good. Five of those times stand out as the very best.

Read on, and perhaps you’ll experience some excellent reading vibes in your future.

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  1. First thing in the morning

    If you are lucky (like me), you have lazy mornings all week long. Mornings in which you wake up at a Normal Human Being hour (never before 7:00am), you’re not in a rush to get anywhere because work or school starts later in the day, and you have some time to putz around. Instead of putzing, I suggest reading.

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    Reading first thing in the morning is SO LOVELY. Get your cereal, your coffee or tea, open your blinds to let the sun in, and settle down with your book for a while. I did this for a few months straight, and allowed myself one hour to read in the morning. LET ME TELL YOU, it was glorious. It also made me motivated to read more later on in the day because I was thinking about my book all day and wondering what would happen next.

  2. Right before bed

    Also very nice is reading right before bed! A nice book end to the day if you also read first thing in the morning. (Don’t mind my pun.)

    Now, this can be a tricky time depending on the book you’re reading. Sometimes, if a book is boring and you’re not really into it, reading before bed just puts you to sleep. Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely the opposite of good vibes. On the other hand, if you’re super into a book, you’ll keep reading until your eyes are watering and suddenly it’s the wee hours of the morning. Also not good.

    However, if you can manage to cuddle up and read for just a bit, warm the bed before you nod off, and finish up one last chapter, it can be real nice.

  3. When procrastinating

    Let’s be honest; we all do it. When we’re procrastinating from doing our homework, filling out a job application, finishing laundry…we read instead!

    It’s a great time to do so, because you’re doubly focused on your task at hand. You resolutely don’t want to be doing that thing you’re procrastinating from, so you push it to the corner of your mind and determinedly focus on your reading. Hopefully you don’t start feeling guilty like I do after a while.

    Being so focused on your task and sneaking in some reading can open up some good reading vibes.

  4. Whilst on a drive (of at least 15 minutes or more)

    This time of day is a double whammy because it’s applicable whether you’re the driver or a passenger whilst on said drive. Two for one, y’all!

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    As a passenger, nothing passes time better on a drive than reading. Road trips in particular are My Jam. I LOVE reading books compulsively while stuck in a car for hours. There’s almost something addicting about it.

    On the flip side, listening to audiobooks while being a driver has also been My Jam lately. Radio stations are so exhausting, with their song collections totaling ten songs, comprised of songs I hate as much as I like. Ugh. Just skip them altogether and listen to a fab book instead. (But make sure you still pay a little attention to the road…Might be a good idea.)

  5. When you’re excited about a book

    This last one might sound like a no-brainer, but hear me out. How many times have you set aside a book you’re so excited about because you have other things going on? You have work to do. You’re reading another book already. You have to get to sleep. This Special One will just have to wait until later.

    Don’t do it! I can tell you from lots and lots of experience that I have never regretted diving right into a book I’m super excited about no matter what else I have going on. If you want to be a respectable adult/person, manage your time so you can still get your Responsibilities squared away. Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time to read.

    RELISH in the fact that you’re super excited about a book and can’t wait to read it. Dive right in and snatch those good reading vibes, because they were meant for you.

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What do you think? What are some of your best times to read? Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne

how would you feel if giant robot parts were found scattered across the earth?

sleeping giants by sylvain neuvel

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

This story begins when a young girl, Rose, wakes up from a biking accident in the middle of a giant metal hand. Fast forward a few years, and adult Rose finds herself involved in the study of this artifact, trying to discover where it came from and what it can do. She becomes part of a small team, led by a mysterious nameless benefactor, to put the pieces together–in more ways than one.

Recommended if you like:

  • robots and science
  • mixed format stories
  • intrigue and mystery of the sci-fi variety

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My Spoiler-Free Review

What an intriguing concept for a story! I just love sci-fi books that I could picture happening right here and now. This means not so heavy on the aliens and space, and more of a focus on weirdness happening here on Earth. So interesting.

This book is short and fast-paced, a very quick read. The story is told through interviews, journal entries, and various reports. Because of this, there’s lots of scientific jargon and little world-building. Expect to skim over some of the complexities yet find yourself wishing for more depth at the same time.

The cast of characters is certainly interesting as well. We have a small team working in close quarters on this project, and that creates some interesting dynamics and surprisingly quite a bit of tension. While I expected the plot of this book to be more driven by the discovery of the robot, it actually focused a lot more (than I expected, anyway) on the drama between the characters.

The writing is hard to comment on because it was written in such a different way. Neuvel managed to really capture the way people talk, and the interviews came across so naturally. Though I didn’t listen to the audiobook, I have a feeling it must be stellar. However, I did wish for more description and overall world-building. I felt the story lacked depth and impact overall.

Will I continue the series? Probably. But I’m in no rush.

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Have you read Sleeping Giants? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

top 5 wednesday | september 6

I’m back again for another Top 5 Wednesday!

Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam at thoughtsontomes. Check out the Goodreads group if you’re interested in learning more or joining in on the fun!

Today’s prompt: Classes Based on Books or Characters

So this prompt is asking what five classes you would take based on a character’s skills or the events that happen in a book.

I had a lot of fun with this! I’m all done with school for the moment, but if I ever go back, I think this would be my dream semester. Partly because I’d get to learn and interact with some of my favorite literary characters, and also partly because I would genuinely like to learn more about these skills and subject areas. Maybe I’m a nerd, but I always love learning. (Which is why I have a feeling I’ll end up back at school someday in the future…)

Read on for my top five classes!

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from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Oh, how I’d love to be a great cake decorator! This is an area I am severely lacking in talent. I can “oooh” and “ahhh” over cakes all day long, but whenever I try my hand at it, I always end up disappointed! Peeta would make a great, patient teacher, and could hopefully help someone as challenged as me.

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from the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

Okay, I’ll be honest: Half the reason I’d take this class is because HELLO! Who wouldn’t want a charming privateer like Sturmhond to be their teacher?! He’d be the hot young teacher all the girls drool over. I’d be there for it. Also, I am interested in learning more about sailing, so, y’know, maybe I’d pick up a tip or two.

5

from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Elend goes through quite a transformation throughout this series. I won’t say too much because Spoilers, but he goes from a bookish nerd to a confident young man. I’m sure he’d have some great tips about public speaking and presentation. I’ve always been on the shy side, and though I’ve gotten better about it over the years, I could always use more tips and tricks!

4

from the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo

Note how this would be a beginner’s class in tightroping! Because I have a total amount of ZERO experience. How cool would this be, though?! Inej would be a lovely, encouraging teacher–although I’m pretty certain I’d be destined to fail, as a tall, uncoordinated person myself. Nonetheless, tightroping would be such an awesome skill, and I’d just bask in Inej’s greatness all the class long.

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from the Monsters of Verity series by Victoria Schwab

Here’s the thing: as a violin master, August would be such an excellent private lessons teacher! Except, I play the viola and not the violin! I played in various orchestras throughout my school years, but lately I haven’t played as much. I’d certainly take up lessons again with August, and though the violin is definitely different than the viola, maybe some of his greatness would rub off on me anyway.

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There you have it! My top 5 classes. What classes would you like to take based on books and characters? Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne