17 Feb 2014

Book Photos #1

As you may have guessed, I love books a whole lot. I especially love taking photos of books, so today I thought I'd include some random photos I've taken in the last few months. I also run a Tumblr on which I can reblog pretty things related to books, which you can find here.

This was a TBR pile I had a few months back, it's kinda sad to say that there are still a bunch of books there that I have still not read. From bottom to top, the books are: Pure, The Winter Palace, Zoe Letting Go, Scarlett Fever, Paper Towns, The Darkest Minds, The Poison Throne, Eragon, The White Queen, The Princess Bride, Northern Lights, Game of Thrones, Strange Angels, Warm Bodies, The Book Thief, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Wentworth Hall, My Soul to Save, Pennies for Hitler, The Elite, The Gift, Duncton Wood and The Pale Horse.

The ever-lovely Eva Pohler spoils Chami and I so much more than we could ever deserve. This is our latest gift, a paperback copy of her new YA release 'The Purgatorium'. Our review is coming up shortly.

These next two pictures are off all the books I owned at the time, I think there's about a total of 300 and something books in these piles. This photo was taken a few days after the New Year, so I'm sort of embarrassed to note that I have since accumulated probably at least another 50 books. I mean, it's awesome to have that many books, but it also shows you how much of a problem I really have when it comes to buying books.

This photo was taken on the same day as the above ones, this was after I'd finally gotten my books back into my shelves. This, however, is nowhere near all of them. In fact, I filled up the bottom shelf with extra books that day and since then, I've now completely covered all of the shelves again. But that still isn't all of my books, I have five more bookshelves around the house that hold some of my books. I wish it still looked this clean, but it honestly doesn't and I think this cleanness and order didn't even last a day.Yeah, I've got a serious problem guys.

So I hope you guys enjoyed these photos, I probably won't do this very often here but remember to check out my tumblr if you're interested.

15 Feb 2014


Q. What is your writing process?A. I usually get up in the morning and write for four hours, and then I eat lunch, and then in the afternoon I do web and youtube and businessy stuff for five hours. My work day is eight AM to six PM with an hour for lunch. I don’t always stick to this schedule–I travel a lot and some days I have to do non-writing stuff all day. But I am pretty good about the schedule.
Q. How do you deal with writers’ block?
A. I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90% of my first drafts (the only exception to this rule so far has been 
Will Grayson, Will Grayson) so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90% chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating.
I also like to remind myself of something my dad said to me once in re. writers’ block: “Coal miners don’t get coal miners’ block.”
Q. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
A. Well, my books don’t have capital-i Ideas, really. I don’t have ideas that hit like a ton of bricks out of nowhere, like BAM! Write a book about a wizard school! Or, Bam! Vampires in Suburbia! The ideas for my books come from lower case-i ideas.
Looking for Alaska began, really, in thinking about whether there was meaning to suffering, and how one can reconcile one’s self to a world where suffering is so unjustly distributed. Paper Towns began with thinking about our fascination with manic pixie dream girls and our relentless misimagining of each other. Then little ideas will come along and link up to other little ideas and then in a few short years, I have a book. I would love to have a high-concept book idea fall out of the sky and hit me one day, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Q. How do you feel about your books after you’re done writing them?A. It varies. I am usually pretty disappointed with the book when I finally turn in the last draft and hear that I can’t revise it any further. I worry a lot that no one will like it and that I’ve failed and that I haven’t lived up to the story. Then when it comes out there’s a weird adjustment and I find myself really protective of the book and increasingly proud of it. Then after a while it settles into ambivalence for me, to be totally honest. I still feel proud of the books I’ve written, but they also feel very *finished* to me. They belong to their readers now, which is a great thing–because the books are more powerful in the hands of my readers than they could ever be in my hands.
Q. Have you ever felt, midway through a book, that you didn’t have any more ideas and you wouldn’t be able to finish writing it?
A. Oh yeah all the time. And sometimes I don’t finish the book–or at least not for a long time. That’s always a bit depressing, but I don’t think it’s wasted time–even if you end up not finishing the story. You were learning something as a writer that you needed to learn. The difficult thing is figuring out when a story really SHOULD be abandoned, and when it’s just the mid-story blues–which I think happens to every book.
Q. When did you know you wanted to write?
A. I knew I liked writing from the time I was very young, so I don’t think I ever really
decided to write. I just kinda kept writing, even when I didn’t show much potential. I never thought that I would be able to write for a living or anything, and I still don’t feel comfortable saying that, like, writing is my job. (And in many ways it isn’t. I have several jobs.)
Q.  How do you write young adult novels when you are not an adolescent yourself?
A. Well, it’s a lot easier than writing about, like, vampires, because I used to be an adolescent. But in truth all fiction is an attempt at empathy: When I write, I’m trying to imagine what it’s like to be someone else more than I’m trying to express what it’s like to be me. So in that sense, it’s very helpful for me to write from the perspectives of characters who are at least a little different from me. Of course, I’m a writer of limited talents, and I don’t feel that I can stray too far from myself.
Q. Are you currently working on a novel?
A. Yes, I am always working on a novel, although I guess it depends on how you define “working” and “on.” I’ve become very superstitious, however, about saying more than that, because while I was writing the book that became 
The Fault in Our Stars, I promised many different stories–a zombie apocalypse novel, a novel about kids stranded on a desert island–and then delivered a very different book. So you’ll have to trust me that I’m working.
Q.  Did you study writing in school?
A. To an extent. I don’t have an MFA or anything, but I did take creative writing classes in high school and I took a hugely helpful fiction writing class at Kenyon with P. F. Kluge. If it hadn’t been for that class, I don’t think I would’ve ever written a book.
I also received much training after I graduated from college from my mentor, Ilene Cooper, and from many other writers and editors at 
Q.  Do you ever wake up in the morning and dread writing?
A. No, not that I can remember. I often get mad at myself because I’m writing poorly, or worry that I’ll never write another book, or feel frustrated because I’m up against the limits of my talents, but I never dread writing. So I often feel that I’m not up to the task, but I never dread it.
Q.  Do you ever think about writing an “adult book”?
A.  Not really. I don’t find adults very interesting, to be honest with you.
Q. Do you research your ideas beforehand (such as cancer in TFIOS)?
A. Well, I spent about a decade writing the story that eventually became 
The Fault in Our Stars, and I definitely did a lot of research along the way. I talked to a lot of cancer survivors and their families, and I also read a lot about the disease itself and its treatments. I really enjoy research, atlhough in the case of TFiOS it was perhaps not great for my hypochondria.
Q.  How many drafts do you do?
A. That really depends on how you define “draft.” I believe that all writing is rewriting–even when you’re writing something down for the first time, it’s still an act of translation in a way because you’re trying to use text to bring life to this thing that exists in your mind. And I’m a big believer in revision: I almost always delete most of my first drafts (often as much as 90%). But there are many mini-drafts along the way, so it’s hard to talk about the process quantitatively. I do try to save the file with a different name each time I’ve made some dramatic changes I fear I might later regret, so that’s some measure, maybe, of how many drafts there are. The final copy of 
Katherines on my hard drive is called aok284; the final copy of TFiOS is called okay192.
Q. Do you talk about what you’re working on with your editor or wife?
A. Yes, both. I’ve been working with my editor and publishing, Julie Strauss-Gabel, for more than a decade now, and I often show her scraps and chapters and excerpts and all variety of unfinished things. But when I get on a roll, she usually doesn’t hear from me for a while, because I like to send her at least something of a finished manuscript once we agree that I’m on the right track.
I also read a lot to my wife, Sarah, who has informed and shaped all my books in uncountable ways. (Many of the most quoted lines in books are actually Sarah’s, and in general our conversations about art and meaning and everything else are hugely important to me.)
Q. What books would you recommend for a young adult?
A. There are so many. 
The Book ThiefHow I Live NowThe First Part LastFeed.The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation13 Little Blue EnvelopesStory of a GirlWhite Cat (and sequels). Every Day.
I could go on for weeks. Let me steer you toward one book, though, that partly inspired 
An Imperial Affliction, the nonexistent novel I write about in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s called The Blood of the Lamb, and it’s by Peter de Vries, and although it is hardly read at all today, it is one of my favorite books ever.

4 Feb 2014

January Wrap-Up and February TBR

 So in January, I challenged myself to read 15 books, and I ended up reading 17. This being said, I didn't actually finish all of the books on my original TBR, which you can see here in case you're interested. The 17 books I ended up reading were:

Now because I was away for the first couple of days of February, which is the reason why this post is a little bit later, I've already finished four books this month. So those four are:
In addition to these, I'm trying to read another 15 books this month. Like last month, I'll probably deviate from these a little throughout the month but I'm going to give it my best shot. So the books are:


1 Feb 2014

REVIEW: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: December 11th 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Format: Paperback
Pages: 488
Rating: 5/5

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a government rehabilitation camp. Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of Americas children, but she and the others had emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control. 

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now on the run, she is desperate to find East River, the only safe haven left for kids like her, and she joins a group of other runaways who have escaped their own camps. Liam, their brave leader, is falling for Ruby, but she cant risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all Liam. But there are also other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. 

Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice - and one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

First of all, I’m giving this book a five out of five star rating because it was genuinely a nice read. Adventure seems to be missing from a lot of YA books lately and I just loved the idea of all seriousness being turned down a notch in this book. It was fun, enjoyable and there was humour! I KNOW. SURPRISE SURPRISE. I find it so hard to find any humour in Dystopian books but this book punched me in the face and said “suck on that Chami.” I mean, come on, when you’re living in such a dark dreary world there has got to be some uplift in that life of yours!

Another thing that I loved about this book is the not so obviousness of the dystopian world. It didn’t suffocate under that genre title and that’s what made it great in that aspect. I liked not having to hear about degenerating world all the time and the “oh so importance” of the government and all that shiz. Sometimes, Dystopian’s can be so utterly consuming and drive you nuts. This book did that to a less of an extent.

Liam is the likeable version of Adam from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. HE was genuinely someone with a good heart but not in a cheesy way. Like I didn’t want to destroy him like I normally do with the goody goody characters. He is a very real and down to earth character. Goofy, as well. I love when boys sing along and dance weirdly...and he was that guy!

By the way Ely, you lied to me. Clancy is so not like Warner in anyway I can imagine. Warner was never deceivingly nice hahaha.

Can we just stop and allow me to adopt Liam, Chubs and zu? Like please. They are kind of amazing.

Anyway, about the bad things. (Yeah, sadly there were bad things)

Pacing: Felt like it was a bit too slow and some parts.

Writing: Felt like it was a bit disjointed and confusing. Sometimes things just happened in one line that was totally different from where the characterts were in the last line. It wasn’t even a pacing change (which Marie Lu of the Legend series does beautifully), it was just confusion.

Okay, I'm going to be completely honest. The ending I was not so happy with. I feel like we see those types of endings every day in young adult and I'm sick to the throat of them. I've been having a bad dystopian streak with endings that are exactly the same and it just does not sit well with me. That aside, I completely agree with everything Ely said in her review. Like I'm not even kidding. She somehow read my mind.

Overall, that was a good read (haha see what I did there) however I'm not sure if I will immediately read the second one as those last few pages didn't leave me too happy. I will, however, read it eventually.

Did I expect more? Just of the last pages. But that is also my fault for reading other books with similar endings.