Thursday, May 26, 2016

Life Post: Summer Break So Far

It's been three weeks since I wrote one of these, which is pretty much what I expected once summer break started. There's nothing noteworthy going on that I can write about. One thing I'm very thankful for is that I've had more time to write, and I've been trying to take advantage of that recently. There have been other things going on, but they're either not significant or feel too far away (like getting a new filling at the dentist) for me to talk about them now.

The main reason I wanted to post this (other than the fact that it had been three weeks) was to mention what I've been posting elsewhere on the Internet.

Over on my writing blog, I wrote about my current progress with the novel I've been writing.

I've been much better about posting to Youtube since summer break started. I posted a video about why I love Harry Potter the character, not the series, since he often gets less love than other characters. I talked about my thoughts on the new information about the Ilvermorny houses that were leaked. I reviewed Catching Fire: The Illustrated Movie Companion. And I made a video on my thoughts of Jia leaving Miss A, which was new for me since I don't talk about kpop in videos (or here on the blog).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: Starfighters of Adumar (Star Wars: X-Wing #9) by Aaron Allston

ISBN: 0553574183
Published: August 1999
Publisher: Del Rey
Received: Christmas present
Read from May 22nd to 24th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The X-wing fighter pilots have earned their reputation as the Rebel Alliance's ultimate strike force by overwhelming enemies with their rapid-fire assaults. But now they are about to embark on a diplomatic mission that will prove to be even more hazardous than all-out combat....
The neutral world of Adumar has decided to pick a side in the war to control the galaxy. Delegates from both the New Republic and the Empire have been invited to Adumar, and each camp will be given a chance to plead its government's case. But there is one small catch: since the Adumari prize military skill above all else, they insist that both delegations be composed exclusively of fighter pilots. For pilot Wedge Antilles and his company, it's an unfamiliar exercise in diplomacy--and one that's filled with unexpected peril. For once they arrive, the X-wing pilots are challenged by Adumar's fierce warriors and attacked by Imperial assassins bent on eliminating all competition. But these challenges pale in comparison to the threat posed by a rogue Republic who is determined to win Adumar's allegiance once and for all--even if it costs the X-wing pilots their lives.


I'm going to try to keep this review brief as this is the ninth book in a series, and I typically don't like spoiling previous books in a series in my reviews. This series does feel different in that there's not a larger, overarching plot that links the story in this ninth book with the others in the series. But still, this is the ninth one, so I feel like anyone who has gotten to this point is invested in the series and knows whether they want to read this one or not. That makes going into a lot of detail feel pointless.

For me, I read this book three years after reading all eight of the other books, since those were the ones I had at the time, so I was worried that I'd be confused going into this one, having forgotten the events of the last eight books. That wasn't a problem though. Any information that I needed to know came back to me quickly. It was almost shocking how much I remembered once I was back in the series again. The familiarity was nice.

That being said, I think this was my least favorite of the series, and I don't think I'm saying that because it's been three years since I read the others (although maybe that is why). It was only a minimal drop in enjoyment. I still want to read the tenth book. I'm even more curious about it because it was published so many years after the ninth.

The ninth book was enjoyable and fun. I really did like it, and I think anyone who read and liked the first eight would get enjoyment out of this one too. I did. It's just that, if I were to rank the series, I'm not sure what order they would be in, but this one would likely come last for reasons that I can't quite place my finger on.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book Review: Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw

Fifteen LanesISBN: 1101917806
Published: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Tundra Books
Received from: Netgalley
Read from May 17th to 21st, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Noor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade. She must act soon to have any chance of escaping this grim future.
Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack.
When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?
Award-winning author S.J. Laidlaw masterfully weaves together their stories in a way that resonates across class and culture. Fifteen Lanes boldly explores the ties that bind us to places and people, and shows us that the strongest of bonds can be forged when hope is all but lost.


Considering the subject matter, I'm finding it difficult to write a review of Fifteen Lanes that I'm happy with. The book's narration switches between two girls with very different lives. Noor is the daughter of a sex worker who has lived in the same brothel her entire life, and despite her mother's determination to give her an education when those around her say that educating a female child is worthless, Noor's odds of escaping are almost nonexistent as the brothel owner already views her as his property.

Then there's Grace, a rich North American girl whose father runs a large company in Mumbai. She's never felt like she fits in and becomes even more ostracized by her peers when she's betrayed by those she was trying to befriend.

While you learn both girls' stories, Noor is undoubtedly the focus of the book. The point-of-view of the chapters does not just go back and forth between the girls each chapter, and while I didn't count, I do believe that Noor has quite a few more chapters than Grace.

In the end, Grace's story is there to support Noor's story, which is interesting to me because what happens to Grace throughout the novel would be enough to support a novel on its own. For that reason, I would have thought the book wouldn't work well, but it actually did in my opinion. While I think the novel could have been great without Grace's story, I did enjoy reading both girl's chapters and seeing how their stories intertwined with each other.

From the author's note at the end of the story, you learn that the author of the book works at an NGO like those described in the book itself, and it is also clear that she wanted to tell this story the "right" way. She says that it took her a long time to write for that reason, and I think it comes across in the book how important of a topic this is to her and how carefully she approached this story.

It's hard to call this an enjoyable read when it's heart-wrenching and often difficult to read. Laidlaw doesn't shy away from sharing the horrors of Noor's life, but there is also so much good within the story inside Noor and many of the other characters. I would highly recommend this book.

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 326-330

I'm in love with this set of episodes. Wow. There was a lot of focus on the tailed beasts, which I found fascinating. I've always liked Kurama for his place in the story if not because he was a kind, wonderful being, but my love for him grew in these episodes.

The tailed beasts have been such an important part of the story, particularly since the start of the storyline about the Akatsuki going after each of them, but it isn't until these episodes that you get to meet each of them for the first time, and meeting them is something that I'm completely behind. I love the idea of these creatures that, in the beginning, are portrayed as little more than forces of pure evil gradually become more complex until you are introduced to them for the first time and see that they have personalities and aren't quite as black and white as you were led to believe.

Not only does it makes the beasts intriguing as they're now more complex, it also makes seeing how Madara is controlling them, even putting them in chains, seem much worse than if the audience still viewed them as the faceless forces of evil from the beginning of the story.

While I did appreciate meeting each of the tailed beasts, there was a definite focus on Kurama in these episodes for obvious reasons, and like I said, my love for him grew over the course of these episodes.

Can I just throw out there how adorable little Kurama was in that one flashback? It didn't help that the flashback included "you'll all be reunited" and was placed in the middle of the scene where they're being reunited. That was one of my favorite moments from these episodes, although it's tough to pick just one favorite moment since I'm in love with so much of it.

If I had to choose just two favorite moments though, my second choice would be Naruto and Kurama fighting together for the first time (as opposed to Naruto taking and using Kurama's chakra). That was an epic scene that got me sucked into the episode. That entire episode had such a "this is what I've been waiting for" feel to it that I loved.

Also, I can't end this review without mentioning the tailed beasts counting song, which I'd listen to over and over again. When it started, I was kind of like "what's this and why is it happening?" but by the end I was enjoying it. I get why they'd want to create a way to help people remember each of the tailed beasts and the jinchuriki, and I think the song was effective. It keeps replaying in my head since I watched that episode, and I imagine I'd be singing it to myself if I knew more Japanese, which means that it's probably a pretty effective way of remembering the tailed beasts for Japanese speakers.

Here's hoping the next five episodes are as excellent because those last five have gotten me pumped up for what's coming next. However, there's a part of me that feels like they can't be as good as the episodes I just watched because those episodes were that good. Either way, I'm thrilled with the story currently, and I'm excited to get to the next episode.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reign Review: 3x14 "To the Death"

After not being a tremendous fan of the last episode, I hoped this one would be a lot better, but I still felt annoyed with a few story decisions that I feel like I need to talk about. Overall, my views are probably along the lines of "It's complicated" because maybe the show will surprise me and actually make something good come from what they've done so far, but I'm becoming less optimistic.

They seem to be focusing on transitioning the show from France to Scotland, and I think it's clear that they're trying to figure out the specifics of how that's going to work. While I've been unbelievably excited about the possibility of Mary going back to Scotland for more than a season, I'm not sure if I'm pleased with some of the decisions they're making that seem to have come about because of that move.

For one thing, I do hope we continue to see France once Mary leaves for Scotland, and there's no way to be certain if we will. It's true that Mary is the main character, and if she isn't in France, it could make sense for them to pay less attention to the characters still in France. But the Red Knights storyline would, at the very least, need to be tied up before that happens, and they've been showing England for a while now in a way that I think is very effective. I think they could do a good job of keeping France tied enough to Mary that continuing to show events there would make sense. Plus, the audience is attached to certain characters in France, which is another reason for them to not suddenly drop those characters from the show.

What I do think they're doing is whittling down the number of characters in France that they need to worry about, thereby making it easier to incorporate them into the story when Scotland becomes a focal point as well. I think that's why we saw Greer leave in this episode, which is the decision that leaves me the most frustrated out of all the decisions made in this episode.

I think it's safe to assume that we won't be seeing Greer again, which means that three of my five favorite characters have left the show. I think Mary and Catherine are safe, but that's still a lot of characters gone. It's not so much that I expect all of the characters to stick around forever. There is a bit of sadness over losing one of my personal favorite characters, but I also feel annoyed that Mary has lost all of her ladies. That's what's making this a bigger problem to me.

From what I can tell, the show is trying to play the decision as Mary not needing her ladies anymore. Supposedly, she's stronger now, so she just doesn't need friends? I don't understand that, and it seems to contradict previous depictions of friendship on this show and the importance Elizabeth's newly formed friendship with Lola to the current storyline. Yes, Mary has other friends. Namely Sebastian who seems to be the only familiar face she'll have in Scotland (more on that in a minute), but I don't like the show trying to play it like, "Mary's ladies are gone because she has no use for their friendship anymore."

Would the particular dynamics of their friendships change over time? Yes, but the way their departures are being played like Mary is strong enough to not need her past friendships at all seems like the wrong way to go to me. She needs more support than just Sebastian in Scotland, especially when Sebastian's motivations seems at least partially (but actually almost entirely as far as I can see) driven by his romantic feelings for Mary.

Which is another thing that annoys me. So, Mary is losing her friends except for the guy that has feelings for her? That annoys me even more than Mary just losing her friends. Look, I like Bash. I want him and Mary to remain friends. But this sudden return of his romantic feelings that haven't come up for about two seasons annoys me. It's like: Francis is dead, Mary's going to Scotland, and we need at least one familiar character to go along with her on that journey. Who should be choose? Not one of her oldest friends. Let's have her bring along the guy who used to have feelings for her, and even though he hasn't seemed to have those feelings for the longest time, we'll bring them back up like they've been there the whole time. Then we'll have a nice new romance plot too. Just as we've gotten rid of Mary's last love interest. Brilliant!

Except it's not. To me at least. I don't like any of those story decisions, and despite enjoying other, smaller aspects of the episode (Lola and Elizabeth's story in England is going great in my opinion because I love the friendship developing between them, and the scene with Lola seeing her son again was adorable. Big surprise that I'm more enthralled by them than anything else on the show right now.), Greer's sudden departure (when I was so excited to see what would happen to her storyline too) and Bash suddenly tagging along with Mary (more the way they did that than that Sebastian is coming along at all) have just left me feeling even more annoyed with the show than I was this time last week.

What's most disappointing about the way the story is going is that I've been looking forward to Mary returning to Scotland for the longest time, but while I knew that would necessitate certain changes on the show, I don't like the direction they have decided to make in an attempt to make that change. They really do feel, to me, to go against a lot of what the show has been about in the past, including my personal favorite parts of the show, and I'm worried about what is coming next after the events of the past couple of episodes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial by Peter Goodchild

Published: November 2nd, 2006
Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works
Listened to from May 11th to 16th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Scopes Trial, over the right to teach evolution in public schools, reaffirmed the importance of intellectual freedom as codified in the Bill of Rights. The trial, in a small-town Tennessee courtroom in 1925, set the stage for ongoing debates over the separation of Church and State in a democratic society - debates that continue to this day.
An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Edward Asner, Bill Brochtrup, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, Matthew Patrick Davis, John de Lancie, James Gleason, Harry Groener, Jerry Hardin, Geoffrey Lower, Marnie Mosiman and Kenneth Alan Williams.
The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.
©2006 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2006 L.A. Theatre Works


Before listening to this, I hadn't listened to an audiobook since the Harry Potter series years ago. Recently, I'd wanted to listen to them, so when I learned that this site was releasing two free audiobooks from download each week over the summer, I was interested. I figured this would be a good way to explore audiobooks for the first time.

I was genuinely interested in this audiobook as well. We watched the movie about the Scopes trial in high school, and I also observed in a classroom last year while they were studying the play. Of course, we also talked about it in history class in high school, which is actually why we watched the movie, but I don't remember discussing it in huge detail other than watching the movie. At any rate, nothing in this audiobook felt new per se, but I wasn't expecting it too.

It's worth mentioning that this isn't an audiobook with one narrator reading the entire story. It's a recorded play, which isn't what I would necessarily think of as an audiobook. Because of this, there are also times where you can tell that actors forget or stumble over their lines, and you also hear audience reactions in several places (in addition to reactions that are part of the play that are meant to be the crowd in the story, which I admit felt a bit confusing at times).

Overall, I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. I probably wouldn't have bought it myself. There were some parts that felt too summarized when the narrator just told you what had happened. I would rather watch the movie, which I felt explored the story more effectively and didn't summarize chunks in such an obvious way as the play. I would probably watch the actual play if I had a chance, but I'm not sure if I'll ever feel that interested in listening to it in audiobook format again. I think the play is something that was meant to be seen and not just listened to. It just didn't always seem to translate well.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: Rewind to You by Laura Johnston

ISBN: 1601833504
Published: September 15th, 2014
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Read from May 4th to 16th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
One last summer before college on beautiful Tybee Island is supposed to help Sienna forget. But how can she? This is where her family spent every summer before everything changed, before the world as she knew it was ripped away.
But the past isn’t easily left behind. Especially when Sienna keeps having episodes that take her back to the night she wants to forget. Even when she meets the mysterious Austin Dobbs, the guy with the intense blue eyes, athlete’s body, and weakness for pralines who scooped her out of trouble when she blacked out on River Street.
When she’s with Austin, Sienna feels a whole new world opening up to her. Austin has secrets, and she has history. But caught between the past and the future, Sienna can still choose what happens now…


The story within Rewind to You was enough to hold my attention although there was nothing about it that particularly wowed me. It was, overall, what I expected going into the book. I did enjoy some of the attempts to incorporate the setting into the story and make it an important part of what was going on. In fact, if I had to choose a favorite part of the story, I would probably choose its setting on Tybee Island, which made it very much feel like a summer book.

My least favorite part of the book would without a doubt be the characters. Aside from Sienna's boyfriend Kyle, who you figure out pretty quickly is not someone you're meant to like, I wasn't particularly interested in any of the characters.

I did like Austin. He's just about the only character I can say that about. While I get the impression that I would have liked both Brian and his mother if we saw them more, the fact of the matter is that we don't. Sienna and Brian are meant to have been friends since they were kids and spend every summer with each other, but that didn't come across that well in the book. Once Sienna meets Austin at the beginning, I think she interacts with Brian maybe twice. Or once? I honestly don't remember. At any rate, it left their friendship being something that you were told about far more than you actually saw.

I also think I would have liked Sienna's brother Spencer more if we actually saw him. I think I was supposed to be left with the impression that their relationship greatly improved over the summer based on the ending of the book, but I'm not really sure how that could be when it wasn't shown in the book itself.

Really. Sienna's relationships with everyone except Austin and Kyle is neglected in the books. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I went into this book knowing it was a romance, so I expected such a thing to be the case. It's just that the author seemed to try to make the book about Sienna's relationships with everyone at the end, which didn't feel accurate to the rest of the book's sole focus on Sienna and Austin's relationship.

All of that being said, I did enjoy Sienna and Austin together, and because of that, I mostly enjoyed the book. The only pet peeve I have is that Sienna spends the majority of the book dating both Austin and Kyle, which Austin knows about and Kyle doesn't. While Kyle is set up as a jerk who has repeatedly cheated on Sienna from the beginning, it didn't leave me feeling any better about Sienna's reactions. Sienna also gets very defensive when her mom is angry about this, which seems a bit unfair considering the circumstances. Was Sienna's mom unfairly prejudiced towards Austin? Yes. She treated him horrible as a person. However, I would have been more worried if she'd seen her daughter cheating on her boyfriend and not been angry about it. I was actually surprised that she didn't do or say more to condemn what Sienna was doing.

Overall, Sienna seemed to get a huge pass for cheating from just about anyone. Almost everyone knows she's dating Austin despite the fact that she has a boyfriend back home, and hardly anyone seems to care, which is an aspect of the story that I can't seem to wrap my head around. It made what would have been an otherwise more positive experience instead leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I didn't like it, and it made it far more difficult to support Sienna and Austin's relationship.

I almost would have appreciated a bigger focus on Austin anyway. I enjoyed the development he went through over the course of the book, and he was a far more likable character than Sienna. I greatly enjoyed the parts of the book in his point-of-view, and that might have been what helped me stick through and read the entire book.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Armchair BEA 2016: Wrap-Up

It's time for this year's Armchair BEA to come to an end. It really did fly by. Even after posting daily for the first time in who knows how long, I have to say that it left me feeling far more energized than tired. (Granted. It's easy to say as much when summer break just started and I'm reveling in the previous semester being over.)

I have found some new bloggers to follow, which is particularly great as I'd been itching for new blogs to subscribe to for a while. Over time, I'd been finding it harder and harder to find new blogs even when I was searching, so I've loved Armchair BEA for that.

Plus, you can never complain about more opportunities to discuss books with people who enjoy reading as much as you do. The Twitter chats were perhaps the funnest part of Armchair BEA for me. I've had some excellent discussions surrounding books (and even some slightly off topic discussions) the past few days.

For anyone who missed any of this weeks posts, here's what I posted this week:

Introduction and Diversity in Books
Aesthetic Concerns - Books and Blogs
Beyond the Books & Beyond the Blog
Surviving Fictional Worlds

I look forward to participating in Armchair BEA in 2017. While I was excited this year, I think I'll be even more excited come next year now that I know exactly what to expect. I'm very glad I participated this week.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Armchair BEA 2016: Surviving Fictional Worlds

Day for of Armchair BEA is here! We're reaching the end, which is definitely bittersweet. I've had such a fun time participating this year.

We're talking about fictional worlds today, which is one of my favorite aspects of many books. I mentioned in my Armchair BEA introduction post that world building is a big part of why fantasy is my favorite genre. Needless to say, it's something that I'm excited to discuss.

When it comes to the fictional worlds I want to live in the most, it will surprise no one who knows me when I say: Harry Potter. I'm too old to go to Hogwarts now, but even so, if I could magically appear in the Harry Potter world right now and live in it as an adult, I'd take the opportunity. I don't know how I could not. There might be some lingering sadness that I couldn't go to Hogwarts, but I would still be over the moon about getting to explore the wizarding world.

Just strolling around Diagon Alley would make me happy. Or Hogsmeade. Or the Ministry of Magic. Honestly, I would just explore. I'd probably be satisfied with being able to explore as a muggle, but if I was lucky enough to discover that I was a witch, I would, of course, immediately make my way to Flourish and Blotts (assuming I was still too old to attend Hogwarts) and Ollivander's to get everything I needed to begin learning magic.

That being said, I'd like to be in the Harry Potter universe when everything is peaceful, not in the midst of the war. If you were to ask me if I'd want to live in our reality or go to Hogwarts during the war, I'm not sure what I would choose.

That's what makes saying I'd want to live in fictional worlds difficult for me. There are plenty of fictional worlds that I'd love to explore, but I'd also like to not get caught up in any life or death struggles that the main characters often go through. Give me the option of explore them free from all that, and I'll probably say yes.

As for fictional worlds I wouldn't want to visit no matter what the circumstances, just about every dystopian world would apply. It's such a cliche answer, but there are reasons for that. I could visit many of those worlds without threat of death if I stayed out of the main conflicts shown in the books and if I was careful to follow the status quo. But following the status quo would mean being complicit in all of these terrible systems, and I just don't know if I could consider that a positive experience. I think I'm much better off sticking to reading about dystopian worlds in books.

Although maybe I would visit some of them once everything had been resolved and they're building a better world. Panem, for instance, might be cool to explore once they're rebuilding just to see how things have changed and how they've made their world a better place (hopefully).

For the most part though, I'd consider dystopian worlds as off limits for me.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Armchair BEA 2016: Beyond the Books & Beyond the Blog

It's day three of Armchair BEA! I'm still as excited as I have been the last two days. Maybe it's reaching the point where I'm overusing that word. I don't know. It doesn't change the sentiment. Now, on to day three.

Beyond the Novel

Aside from novels, I do enjoy reading manga. I don't read manga anywhere near as often as I would like. It often gets pushed aside in favor of buying novels, and admittedly, the number of volumes of manga makes it difficult for me to stay on top of it. Ouran High School Host Club has been finished for years now, and I still haven't read half of it. I absolutely love Ouran, so it's not a lack of desire. Truthfully, I'm terrible at keeping up with series in general, so the multitude of volumes in a manga series only make it more difficult for me.

One alternate form of books that I would like to get into is audiobooks. In the past, I was always turned off by how expensive they can be, but I love listening to podcasts. I figure I would like audiobooks. (This next part is going to sound like a paid promotion, but it's genuinely not. I just learned about this from another blog and am excited about it.) OverDrive is doing this thing where they're giving away two free audiobooks a week all summer. I downloaded the first two and began listening to one already. I even downloaded OverDrive for it, so I'd say their promotion is working. Maybe this will lead to me listening to more audiobooks even once the summer is over.

Beyond the Blog

The biggest way I discuss books outside of my blog in the past would be in class, since I'm an English major. However, that's changing. Or has changed. This past semester I didn't have any English classes since I've completed all my English credits. I'm actually an English education major, and next semester is my student teaching, then I graduate. So I've lost the one of the biggest ways I've discussed books outside of the blog.

However, I am going to be an English teacher. Even in my student teaching, I know I'll be discussing books with my students. (I've seen the curriculum already, and let me tell you, I'm excited about it.) Still, I wouldn't mark that down as the same thing as other types of bookish discussion. In the classroom, I want the students to discuss the stories they've read. I don't want my views to be the center of attention. For that reason, I think I'm going to have to find some new ways to discuss books now that I'm no longer in English classes. Maybe I'll come to rely on the blog even more for that sort of thing.

I do have a Goodreads account that I use religiously to keep track of the books I read. It's not, however, a place that I spend a lot of time discussing books. I do see that as a possible way to make up for my new lack of people to discuss books with.

I've thought about book clubs before, but I just don't know if they're for me. That's mostly because I like reading books I already have on my shelf, and I don't want to be in a club where I have to go out and buy books I don't already own (when I have so many that I need to read) in order to discuss it with the club. Other than that, I would find joining a book club appealing.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Armchair BEA 2016: Aesthetic Concerns - Books and Blogs

It's day two of Armchair BEA, and I'm feeling even more excited after how great yesterday was. There were some wifi problems that made it difficult for me to participate to the extent that I wanted to (fingers crossed those don't continue today), but even so, I had a great time. Now I'm excited to share today's post.

Aesthetics: Books

I used to say that I never judged a book by its cover, and I do think that was true at one point in my life. At least, I never noticed covers influencing my decisions to read particular books. However, at some point over the years, they started to sway me more than they had previously. I still don't think it's that huge of a factor if the book has a great synopsis or great reviews. Because I tend to hear about books online through discussion first, I don't even think covers are my first impression of a book all that often.

Still, I've noticed that there are certain aspects of covers that serve to turn me off. Really, it has to be an extremely ugly cover for me to not want to read the book, but I have found that it happens more now than in the past.

Plus, I hate when people are on covers. The best explanation for this aversion that I can come up with is that I hate having the ability to imagine the characters on my own taken away from me. Sure, I can still imagine them however I want as I read, but having that picture on the cover plants a picture in your mind that winds up influencing you (or me at least). So I'm not a huge fan of people on covers, but there are people on so many covers that I don't think it winds up influencing me to not pick up a book.

I don't want it to influence my decision because so many great books have people on the covers. Even Harry Potter, my favorite series, has people on the covers (of many editions). I know that my aversion to the cover itself doesn't mean I won't like the book inside, so I try not to let it influence me. Maybe it does more than I realize.

When it comes to the covers of series matching, I would like them to, but it doesn't bother me enough for me to go to great lengths to get matching covers. (Largely because of the money that might be involved.) I bought two books from the same series from a used bookstore recently, and I bought one in paperback and one in hardback. That was because one of them was only in hardback. The other book was in both, but the paperback was cheaper (and I also prefer reading paperbacks). Would it have been nice to have them both look the same? Yes, but not enough to stop me from buying one hardback and one paperback.

Aesthetics: Blogs

Branding is something that I struggle with to be honest. The design of my blog isn't what I'm most proud of, and it's something I've wanted to work on for quite a while (basically since I started the blog). One thing I can say is that the basic design of the blog hasn't changed much since 2009, which could be considered a good or bad thing. Most would probably consider it a bad thing.

Mostly, I like the colors of my blog because they're my favorite colors and I think they look good together. If I do manage to redesign the blog, I'd like to keep the same color scheme or at least something similar to it. I do use purple in my Twitter profile as well and just about anywhere that I can choose colors. Perhaps that helps with branding although my real motivation is, admittedly, that it's just my favorite color.

So, yeah, branding is something that I should pay more attention to, and the various aspects of branding are all things that I tell myself I'm going to work on, but then they get pushed to the back burner every time while I work on other things instead. Maybe talking about this on the blog will mean I take some steps to improve on it in the future.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Armchair BEA 2016: Introduction and Diversity in Books

Hi, everyone! This is my first year participating in Armchair BEA (but I'll talk about that more below). I'm excited to get to talk with a lot of awesome people about books this week.

For anyone who happens upon this post and doesn't know what is going on, I'll direct you to the Armchair BEA blog to learn more.


What is the name you prefer to use?

Feel free to call me Haley.

How long have you been a book blogger?

I started this blog back in September 2009 (on my sister's birthday actually) when I was a sophomore in high school. So, seven years come this September. At first it was more of a personal blog where I just happened to talk about books I was reading though. Talk about books took it over gradually, although I do still post about other personal stuff and TV reviews and such.

Have you participated in ABEA before?

Nope. This is my first year. I've seen other bloggers participate before, and I was always interested. The problem was that I would never remember until ABEA was already happening. Luckily, that didn't happen this year!

 Do you have a favorite book? If you cannot choose a favorite book of all time, pick your favorite book today - just this second. Remember that favorites are allowed to change if something affects you deeply enough.

Harry Potter is always my answer to this question, but I can't pick one favorite from the series. I like them each for different reasons, and it really depends on my mood. One thing I can say is that the fourth book is my least favorite. I feel so terrible having a least favorite and not a most favorite. If I was really being pressured, I'd probably choose Deathly Hallows. Fun fact about me: I have a fondness for the endings to stories.

What is your favorite genre and why?

While I love a wide variety of genres, my favorite has always been fantasy. I'm not sure how much of an influence Harry Potter had on that, but I have a good feeling that fantasy would be my favorite with or without Harry Potter. I love being able to explore new worlds. While I love characters and plot and the other sorts of things that you can find in any book (or even the world building in other genres) there's something about exploring new worlds in fantasy books that can only be rivaled by some scifi books (which I also love). I think that's what makes it my favorite.

Oh, and magic. Magic is always cool.

 What book are you most excited for on your TBR? What are you most intimidated by?

My favorite TV show of all time is Avatar: The Last Airbender (with Legend of Korra being another top favorite). I got the art books from both shows for Christmas, and they're still waiting to be read. I've been wanting the Avatar one in particular for ages, and the animation in both shows is so beautiful. I'm really looking forward to reading both of those.

As for most intimidating, I'll go with my literary criticism textbook that's from a class I took a couple of years ago. Technically, I've already read parts of it, but the book is massive and we couldn't study the whole thing. Now I've gotten it into my head that I'm going to start reading through it on my own, which may or may not be a good idea. We'll find out when I get started.

If you could choose three characters to have lunch with, who would they be and why?

This is definitely one of those questions where I'll never have a definitive answer. Who I choose would be different if you asked me five minutes later, but here's my attempt at choosing three:

1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I've loved her since I was a kid, and it would be great to discuss books with her. Plus, she's read all these awesome magical books. I would love to get her to tell me more about those, even Hogwarts, A History, and I'm sure she would love that as well.

2. Alec Lightwood from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. My all-time favorite fictional character. I relate to Alec a lot on a personal level. For one thing, I feel like Alec and I share a similar role among our friends. I'd like to think that we'd get along well with each other, and he might find all of Hermione's magical knowledge interesting to learn about as well.

3. Tamaki Suoh from the Ouran High School Host Club manga series by Bisco Hatori. I think my primary motivation for choosing Tamaki is that he would be great at providing ice breakers if they're needed. And just all around humor. He's another one of my favorite characters, and it's largely because he is so bright and caring. He always wants to make people happy, and I feel like it would be difficult to have lunch with him and not be in an excellent mood afterward.

Diversity in Books

Whose voices do we see?

I think the answer to that question is obvious. Unfortunately. I know the majority of the books I read have white, straight, cis female protagonists. I know that the female part comes from the fact that I read more YA than anything else. It seems to be dominated by female main characters (and authors for that matter) in a way that not all genres are.

I do think that things are getting better. There are more characters who aren't white. There are more characters that aren't straight. I still think I'm reading about them in books with main characters who are straight and white more than in stories of their own. The norm is still the norm, but I hope we're (readers, bloggers, writers, publishers) making progress.

 Whose voices do we need more of?

All of them that aren't currently being heard as much as they should be. It's so hard to describe it all because there is such a diverse range of stories that I will never be able to list all that we need to hear here. The most obvious places to start is that we need stories about characters of all races and all sexualities. Characters who are autistic. Characters of all types of gender expressions. And so many more.

We especially need voices that fall into a wide range of these different categories. Voices who are Black and autistic. Voices who are Japanese and asexual or bisexual. We need all of the voices that haven't been listened to.

Where do we find representation lacking and what can we as bloggers do to address that?

Again, I think we find representation lacking in a lot of ways. I think the biggest way to address this as bloggers is to talk about stories that do represent people who we don't hear from all the time. I'm never going to claim that I'm perfect at doing this, but it's been something I've been thinking about a lot as I want to get better about it.

I think this not only involves reading a diverse range of books but talking about them when you do. Help promote the stories you enjoy, and I also don't think the importance of discussing the topic like we are here should be forgotten. I know that discussions alone mean little if no one actually goes on to read diverse books, but at least it's a start.

What about negative or stereotypical representation? 

This is another problem that I think would be less of a problem if only there were more books about a wide variety of people. Stereotypes themselves are bad, but they become so much worse when the stories of a particular group are limited, making the stereotypes stand out even more than they would otherwise.

It's a difficult topic because you obviously want representation for different groups, but you don't want that representation to come in the form of stereotypes. I think the best thing we can do as bloggers is talk about these stereotypes and be willing to bring them up when we find them in a book. Even if we enjoyed the story, I think we should talk about any stereotypes present in the novel and ways the author could have handled characters or topics better than they did.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reign Review: 3x13 "Strange Bedfellows"

Reign keeps flying through different story points much faster than I expect them to. First we didn't get to see Mary at the Vatican. Now Dudley both comes to France and leaves France, no longer betrothed to Mary no less) in the same episode. They're really not drawing much out in the recent episodes, and I'm not sure if I'm okay with it or if I think it's rushed. I'm leaning towards thinking it's rushed.

That being said, there were quite a few aspects of this episode that I loved.

For one thing, we got to see Greer, Leith, and Claude in this episode, and I was painfully reminded how much I still ship Greer/Leith but also how much Claude/Leith has grown on me. After Greer and her sister getting in a fight and her sister seemingly not adopting the baby anymore, I can't help but daydream about Greer and Leith raising the baby together and being a happy family. Almost definitely not what's going to happen, but I can't stop myself from living in that dream world until something else happens on the show.

At the same time, I do quite enjoy Claude and Leith together, which makes the idea of Greer and Leith together almost bittersweet for me. I think that at this point I would be satisfied with either. I just can't deny that Greer/Leith would make me a bit giddier over it. If they do get back together, I hope Claude finds happiness too.

Catherine's quote about spineless men using women to do their dirty work was also brilliant. That moment was one of those where I was instantly reminded of what I love about this show so much. Actually, the current storyline is dealing a lot with women in power and how the men around them are uncomfortable having a woman in charge. I love it. That's always been one of my favorite parts of Reign, and I'm really loving how it has been coming to the forefront, particularly since Francis' death. I don't imagine they'll shift their focus away from that anytime soon, but still, it's worth saying that I hope they don't.

When it comes to the Red Knights, I don't feel like I have any strong feelings yet. I am interested in who they are and why exactly they want to destroy the Valois family. But I don't feel like we've seen enough of that storyline for me to say anything more. It still seems to much of a mystery for me to declare that I find it interesting or uninteresting. It's still one of those "wait and see what they do with it" things.

This feels like a shorter review than normal, but I also feel like I have less thoughts about this episode than I often do. For whatever reason, the episode felt a little less eventful for me this episode than the other recent episodes. Then again, maybe I just got too distracted by Greer and Leith having screen time together that I forgot everything else there is to say. I know I didn't really talk about Gideon, and I suppose I should. He seems to be leaving, and to be honest, I don't feel all that much over it. I like Gideon well enough, but I don't like him enough to feel that upset. Since quite a bit of the episode revolved around that, maybe that's why I feel like so little happened. Who knows.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Slytherclaw? I May Have Just Given Myself a Hogwarts House Identity Crisis.

Here's something that (shockingly) I don't think I've ever discussed here on the blog: my Hogwarts house. I've considered myself a Ravenclaw for more than four years now. Ever since I took the Pottermore house quiz and got Ravenclaw.

Before that, I considered myself a Hufflepuff. In fact, I own a Hufflepuff tie and have a Hufflepuff house crest sticker on my bedroom mirror because of this. In the past, I identified with Hufflepuff largely because I saw (and still see) them as the underdog house I think. The way some people joked (fondly) about Hufflepuff being the "leftover" house led to me feeling an affinity for the house.

There was also the fact that, while I saw that I had some Ravenclaw-like traits, I didn't think I was smart enough to consider myself a Ravenclaw. Back then, I knew I could relate to Ravenclaw very well as well, but I also thought that calling myself a Ravenclaw would be arrogant because I'd be saying I was smarter than I am.

Being sorted into Ravenclaw on Pottermore was actually what made me start to view this differently. I finally fully understood that Ravenclaw isn't the "smart" house. After all, Hermione Granger, the smartest witch of her age, was a Gryffindor, not a Ravenclaw. I did know this before, but I couldn't quite get past the Ravenclaws = geniuses view. Now I think of Ravenclaws as the house that loves to learn and expand their knowledge, but it has nothing to do with intelligence level, just that they value learning. Overall, I guess, my view of it is just more nuanced now than before, and that makes me feel much more comfortable labeling myself a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff still holds a special place in my heart, but I do think of myself as a Ravenclaw now. I think it fits me the best, but Hufflepuff would be a second. I don't view myself as being much of a Slytherin or Gryffindor at all.

Now, Pottermore has changed the house quiz. A lot of people are happy about this because they didn't get the house they wanted with the old quiz. Many of these people seem to be happier with their new result, and they also seem to think the questions in the new quiz make a lot more sense.

I haven't taken this new quiz yet. After my Ravenclaw result last time completely shook up how I viewed my Hogwarts house, I really didn't want that to happen again. Not when I'd managed to feel confident with being a Ravenclaw, which I know many other people didn't manage after getting a result they didn't expect.

As a huge Harry Potter fan though, I think I need to take the new quiz. Otherwise, what result I could possibly get is going to continue to hang over my head. I need to know. So...I'm going to take the quiz. Everything in this post above this was written before taking it, and now I'm opening Potter more to take the quiz. I'll follow up with my results...

(Oh, I must add that while I was going to take the quiz, I stumbled upon the new information of the Ilvermorny houses. As an American, this has also been shaking me up because it's actually one of those houses that I would be a part of if I'd been born a witch. But that whole thing deserves a post of its own. I'll be talking about Ilvermorny houses soon...)

Okay. There's no denying that I'm stalling. I'm actually scared about this, guys. But I swear that I'm actually doing it now.

Oh. My. God. I just got sorted into Slytherin. What just...? I truly do not know how to explain what just happened. This makes absolutely zero sense to me. As I was taking the quiz I was actually really sure that I was going to wind up in Ravenclaw again, and then...

Now I'm trying to think this through and figure out if there's any possible way that I'm a Slytherin, and I truly cannot rationalize it to myself. Unless there is something about myself that I'm completely clueless to, then I don't get it. Sure, I would say that I'm more like a Slytherin than a Gryffindor, but that's not saying much since I think of myself as being very unlike both houses.

I'm pretty sure that if I attended Hogwarts and in Slytherin that I would be shunned by the rest of the house. I don't even know how to put into words how much I don't understand this, and because of that, I'm going to try to pretend to myself that this never happened.

Yeah, I'm still going to consider myself a Ravenclaw. Last time, when I got Ravenclaw even though I had considered myself a Hufflepuff, I understood, and after giving it time, I was able to consider myself a Ravenclaw. I feel pretty confident that that won't be happening this time.

Now Pottermore is green for me though, so I'm never going to quite escape. It's really making me wish that I had just claimed Ravenclaw instead of going through the sorting. I also miss my old Pottermore account despite the fact that I could never remember the username.


This really is going to bother me. As it turns out, I was being smart not retaking the quiz. Still, I know it means nothing in the larger picture, and unless I can set the actual Sorting Hat on my head, I feel completely justified in choosing my own house. So Ravenclaw it is. Just pretend like this never happened.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

I Love the Harry Potter Movies

I spent the last several days thinking about writing a post on which scenes from the Harry Potter books I was most disappointed didn't make it into the movies. Then I realized that I wrote a post five years ago about changes in the Harry Potter movies.

Looking back over that post, I think I would only repeat a lot of what I said there. All of the most important ones I would have pointed out are there. Like Teddy not being mentioned, which was something I was feeling grumpy about just the other day before I started thinking about writing this post. And Peeves is always a big one.

Sometimes I can't help but really, really wish that a certain scene or tidbit of information had made it into the movies. It's hard not to. At the same time, the Harry Potter movies have become an entity of their own that played a huge role in my childhood, and admittedly, that makes it difficult to even criticize them for not including certain things. Because even though they're different, they're something on their own apart from the books.

That doesn't mean I don't criticize them in certain ways. I did, after all, write that original post. But when I think about the movies potentially being different, I don't know if I really want it or not. I guess it doesn't really matter since they won't change. (Although I suppose we could always get remakes in the future that do something different. That will undoubtedly be interesting if it ever happens in my lifetime.)

If there was a choice between the books and the movies, I would choose the books. I always feel a little sad for people who are only fans of the movies and haven't read the books. Still, the movies have their own special place that have led to me appreciating them on their own and not just in comparison to the movies.

But I still wish they could have at least mentioned Teddy...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Life Post: The Fourth Year of College Comes to an End

I'm writing this post the morning of my last final. Yep. After today I'm done. So many people I know and started college with are graduating at the end of the week, and then there's me preparing for another semester. So, there's that... Really, I'm sadder about certain people being gone than I am about having to complete an extra semester at this point.

Actually, it's a bit hard to be annoyed that I have to go another semester when that semester is student teaching. I'm just focused on preparing for student teaching itself. Yep, I'm preparing already. Yesterday I went to the school for the first time and met some people, including my mentor teacher. I got the curriculum we'll be using. And, guys, it was awesome. I don't want to speak too soon, but I feel pretty confident that I'm going to enjoy it there. (We're going to read To Kill a Mockingbird, guys. If I could have chosen one book to teach during student teaching, that would have been it.)

Needless to say, it's feeling difficult to focus on my last final. My other finals are out of the way and seemed to go well. I'm feeling good about them. I'm also feeling good about this one. The test isn't something I'm stressed out about, which is good when I'm far more interested in brainstorming lesson ideas for next semester than studying for long periods of time. (But I promise that I have, in fact, studied for this test.)

What I'm really not looking forward to is moving out of my dorm and then the long trip home afterward. Knowing I have to do that today has me far more stressed out than the test. I'm sure it will go well though. At the very least, it'll be over by the end of today, so there's that.

Over on my writing blog, I've posted a piece of flash fiction about fanfiction. Over on Youtube, I posted a vlog.

While it's not on my own Youtube channel, I have to mention Shadowhunters Positivity, a channel that was created to talk about all of the wonderful things about the Shadowhunters TV show. It was pretty much made in response to the negative response the show got from a lot of big Booktubers. Other fans wanted to share what they love about the show instead of letting the negative talk permeate.

I think the idea is brilliant, so of course, I made a video for the channel. You can find my Shadowhunters TV tag over there. I hope you don't just check out my video though. The channel as a whole really is an incredible idea, so I hope people subscribe and watch it all. Plus, you can totally submit your own videos if you want to talk about Shadowhunters. There's more information about how to do that over there and on the Tumblr.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reign Review: 3x11 "No Way Out"

My biggest disappointment with this episode is that we didn't get to see Mary at the Vatican. That could have been at least one episode on its own, and instead we just heard about it summarized. I get not wanting (or possibly not being able to) get entirely new sets and cast entirely new people, but I still feel disappointed. It definitely felt strange to only have a summary of what had happened. Admittedly, I was disappointed enough that I think I enjoyed the rest of the episode slightly less because of it, but it wasn't like it was bad enough that I hated the episode. There was definitely quite a bit of good stuff in it.

I quite enjoy the friendship that seems to be developing between Lola and Elizabeth. Of course, I always want Lola to be Mary's friend before Elizabeth's, but it's still nice to see them getting along with each other.

We also saw Greer, even if it was only for a moment. I really hope she gets more to do soon because I miss her so much. She's definitely one of my favorite characters (probably second after Catherine), and considering that we had the break as well, it just feels like far too long since we've gotten to see much of her.

You know who else I really want to see more? Claude. I never would have thought I'd be saying that not too long ago, but she's grown to be one of my favorite characters. She also got to be in this episode a bit, but like Greer, it wasn't much. I'd really love for both of them to get some focus again. If that could happen through some sort of storyline that involved both of them, that would be even better.

Elizabeth demanding that Dudley marry Mary wasn't exactly surprising once the possibility of Mary marrying an Englishman was raised. Still, I think this storyline has the potential to be interesting mostly because Dudley and Mary will get to know each other. With all of the conflict between Mary and Elizabeth and then Dudley and Elizabeth's relationship, that should be very interesting.

I don't think they'll actually get married though. I'm not sure how everything will play out, but I don't see a marriage happening in the end. Mary will get out of it so that she's not a pawn. I'd love if Mary could convince Dudley that she wants to work with Elizabeth to prevent her from being assassinated and Dudley helped her convince Elizabeth that she was genuine. That would be pretty great, and I think it was a good chance of being what happens.

The last small thing that I have to comment on is that Mary went to Catherine when she needed advice and not anyone else. I love it. Their relationship continues to be one of my favorite things about the show, and I love how Catherine genuinely helps Mary each time too.

Despite not getting to see the Vatican, I'm holding out hope that we will get to see Mary go to Scotland. Even if I'm not sure what that means about all of the characters in France. I just think it would be really awesome to see her finally return to the country that she's queen of. But who knows when that will happen. (I feel like it has to happen eventually.)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episdoes 321-325

Oh, wow, it's been a while. Two months ago I posted a Naruto review for episodes 301-305, and then, for the next two months, I proceeded to post all of my Naruto reviews as videos (which is strange for me). Now I've gone a span of twenty episodes without doing a review here on the blog. I think it's time to change that.

And this seems like a good set of episodes for it. I really have been enjoying all of the episodes I've been watching lately, even the ones that err more towards filler than anything else. There hasn't been anything close to ninja ostriches, so that helps up my enjoyment of any particular episode a bit.

These five episodes in particular were great though. How could they not be? Naruto and "Madara" (who they finally learn isn't the "real" Madara) finally meet face-to-face. I loved the build up of that and how it was used as a cliffhanger as well. Really, even though some other stuff happened in these episodes, that's the thing that's primarily on my mind because everything else just felt like buildup for it.

That being said, I do have some other things to say: First of all, seeing the Kage all fight together was exciting. Almost as exciting as Bee and Naruto reaching Madara. In that small scene where so many people died and the guy saved Naruto even though he was only a clone, I loved Naruto's reaction and just everything about that scene. And this was also only a small, tiny bit, but I just have to take a moment to say, yet again, how much I love Gaara and Naruto's dynamics.

As for the fight with Madara, I don't actually want to say much since I'm only at the beginning of it all. I'm excited that Kakashi and Guy showed up, and I'm excited to see what happens next. For now, I think that's all that I have to say.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Life Post: Be the Leaf

This marks the last day before finals, and while I feel prepared, it's still finals week. I know that it will feel long, especially since I have to move out of the dorm immediately after finishing.

Of course, it's not like it will be a new level of busy-ness. This past week might have actually been busier now that I've stopped to think about it. I had a big meeting about my clinical internship that will happen next week, and while that's really only the significant thing to mention about last week, there was plenty of school work in addition to that. I think about half of my big "end of the year" stuff was due last week and the rest of it is this week.

I can't write this post and not talk about the fact that I now have Janet Varney's autograph (i.e. the voice of Korra in the Legend of Korra). My sister volunteered at Indiana Comic Con and got it for me. Honestly, I get excited all over again whenever I think about it. Plus, it happening right before finals was a nice bit of excitement in between studying and writing papers. (And she wrote "be the leaf" and "wish you were here" on it. It's just the best...)

Over on my writing blog, I wound up posting the letter of reflection that I wrote as part of my senior portfolio, so if you're interested in reading some introspection on my part, that's there. Over on Youtube, I thought a bit about why I read, and I posted my monthy wrap-up and TBR.

Why Do I Feel Like I Never Read Fantasy?

I feel like I'm having a bit of a problem. One that's not a new problem for me, but one that continues to kind of annoy me.

Earlier today (Okay. Technically yesterday because it's now after midnight.) I posted a video where I made one small comment about fantasy being my favorite genre. It is, and I've said that many times in the past. My love for fantasy probably isn't surprising to anyone who knows of my massive love for Harry Potter either.

The problem is, for the last...I don't even know how long, but for a while now, I don't feel like I've been reading much fantasy at all. I have read some. The last book review I posted was for a fantasy book actually, so maybe this isn't the best time to be bringing this up. And about a month earlier I read a complete fantasy series in a short span of time, which felt amazing to do.

The thing is, when I go back to look at Goodreads, I've been reading at least one fantasy book every couple of months, but I don't feel like I've even managed that. For a year or more now this sort of feeling has been bothering me. Technically, I was reading fantasy (even if it was still not that frequent), but I didn't feel like I was at all.

And I think I finally figured out why I feel like that. That fantasy series that I read completely through really quickly, called the War of Princes series (which I highly recommend), was the first fantasy series (and fantasy books always seem to be series) that I'd finished (not counting my Harry Potter re-read) in more than a year.

That's the problem. By and large, those fantasy books I'm reading are the first books in series, and I have yet to finish any of those series. So, I am reading fantasy, but I'm not actually finishing the fantasy stories.

I was determined going into this year that I would finish at least some of the series I was in the middle of, and I haven't been that great at that. I think I've only finished one (if we don't count the War of Princes series that I managed to start and finish).

Who knows how many series I'll wind up finishing by the end of this year, but I can say that this realization has made me even more determined. After all, one of my favorite fantasy series has had two new books (the last in the series) come out since I last read one in that series, and I read this one fantasy book a couple of years ago that still stands out in my mind as one of the greatest things I've read. I have yet to pick up the second book.

Clearly, something needs to happen, so I'm making it a priority over this summer especially to at least make progress in some series that I've started. If I tell myself that and not that I have to finish them, then maybe something will happen.