Name in Books Tag–Take Two

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so about a month ago, I did this tag after seeing it over at my book blogger buddy Amber’s blog. And I had a rather fun time searching through my library to find the books to complete my name, choosing books that started with each letter in my name. Of course, this made me realize that I probably had enough books to at least do my name one more time.

After admitting that in a comment response to Amber, she actually did challenge me to do it again, so here we are now and I’m pleased to say that I was successful once more.

Well, okay, I gave myself an additional challenge and I didn’t quite succeed on that one, but I was very close. I wanted to see if I could spell my whole name using just books from my mass market paperback shelf.

So, anyway, let’s just jump into this.

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D: Dark Heir by Faith Hunter

A: Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby

N: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I: Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead

E: Eric by Terry Pratchett

L: (The) Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

L: Lost Soul by Adam Wright

E: Elephants in Our Bedroom by Michael Czyzniejewski

—–As you can see, I had to go with a couple different sized paperbacks.

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T: Thin Air by Rachel Caine

H: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

A: A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

M: My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster

A: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

S: Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind

A: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet


This is my second/bonus time of doing this tag, and again, I had a fun time browsing through my bookshelves trying to find titles to match the letters of my name. I’m not going to tag anybody this time around, but if you’d like to try this, then by all means, consider yourself tagged.

And if I’m being honest, I think I could maybe do this tag one more time from the books I have in my library currently.

Anyway, have a lovely day everyone and I’ll have another post up again soon.

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Goals for 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, here we are, a whole week into the new year already, and I am just now getting a post up where I talk about my goals for the year. Normally I would have had the post up already, but with the schedule I had figured out a month or so ago, this was the best I could do.

Last year I had a similar post, but I called it my 2017 Bookish Resolutions. So it seems fitting that I just continue that trend and talk about things I want to continue doing or improve on over the next twelve months.

First up: Reading. Obviously this is a big and important part of my life each and every year, which is probably why I list it first. Typically I started my reading goal at 75 books, but the past few years I have always increased the goal a couple times or so after reaching it with months left in the year. I still think this is a very doable goal, and I look forward to sharing my reading experiences with all of you. And part of sticking to this goal will be doing readathons. Right now I am already doing the Manga Madness Readathon, which is happening this week. I also plan to keep an eye out for 24 Hour Readathons from both Zoe Herdt (@readbyzoe on Twitter and YouTube), and @24Hourathon on Twitter. Then, of course, there is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon in both April and October.

Second: Blogging. Another big part of my life the past couple of years is this blog. 2016 may not have been a super popular year for my blog, but I felt like I grew a lot in 2017 and I started posting a lot more and interacting even more than that. So I look forward to seeing what is to come in 2018. I’m working on creating a book tag, and I hope you will all enjoy that. Plus, I am continuing my weekly recommendation posts, and as always, throw out more suggestions for themes/topics/etc for these posts. Also, I have a nice backlog of book tags and other post ideas that I’m hoping to get to, so I’m hoping to continue having lots of nice content on here for all of you.

The third item on my list of goals is: Writing. This has been the hardest resolution or goal to stick to the past couple years. Yes, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and continued to win, but I know I could and should be doing more. There is a book inside of me that I’ve been wanting to get out for the past year, so I’m honestly hoping I can get a decent draft of it finished in 2018. I’ll keep you guys posted on how I’m doing though. And honestly, a little motivation could help me out too. So, if you think about it randomly throughout the year, ask how the writing is going for me in the comments. I used to do some of my most regular writing back when I posted it online chapter by chapter using fictionpress. And it goes without saying, though I will say it now anyway, that I will definitely be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year.

Finally: Bookstagram. I only posted to Instagram a handful of times in 2017, and I feel really bad about that. Taking photos, particularly of books, is something I have enjoyed, so I need to try and get back into that again. Though, I suppose part of that would include bringing some of my Bookstagram photo props to my apartment instead of abandoning them at my mom’s house. I will start to post more on there; I promise. You can find me @danielle.thamasa on Instagram.

Okay, okay, so I guess technically I have a fifth category and that is goals for my non-bookish life. Because, let’s be honest, 2017 was a pretty good year for me away from this blog as well. My guy and I met, started dating, and moved in together. Now we are making more and more plans for the future, and it is kind of awesome. Right now we are definitely planning to attend all four days of Gen Con in August 2018, so that will be fun (it will also be my 30th birthday weekend so yay!), and we may even be going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this fall. We have to see if it will fit in the budget. So I am looking forward to a year of more board games, anime, video games, Dungeons & Dragons, and just cuddling up on the couch with my favorite guy.

I know there’s not a whole lot of concrete goals for this post. I’m not saying that I’m going to post a certain number of times each week, or that I’m going to write a certain number of words or for a certain length of time each day for my novels. I’ve been doing pretty good at having around 5 posts each week on the blog, but there could be times when work or life keep me from posting that much. At the very least I know that I will have a post or two up each week, but as much as possible I’m going to try and maintain my current posting schedule. Hopefully. And for my writing, I think it’s enough to say that I would like to have a whole draft finished for the book I’ve been wanting to write. It doesn’t set me up with a word count goal, but I still have a general idea of how much work I need to put in to achieve it.

What about you guys? What goals do you have for 2018? I would love to hear all about them in the comments, or even a link back to your own post (if you’ve already written one up).

Guest Post: FADVERSITY – Diversity as a Genre by Hannah Carmack

Hey all, Dani here.

 

Okay so today I am excited to bring to you a guest post by an author I’ve been speaking with recently. I shall also have a review up for her newest release within the next week based on my currently scheduled posts.

But I’ll start off with giving you some details about Hannah’s book.

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In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.

You can snag a copy of this book right now from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

And now I’m going to pass this post over to Hannah. Enjoy.


I’m going to open right away by saying these are some deep waters. In no world is a 300-500 word post going to cover the intricate details of the recent viralization of #ownvoice/Diverse Voices manuscripts. I’m coming at this simply as a debut-author publishing through a niche, #ownvoices dedicated press.

To say that navigating what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable in the genrefication of diversity is difficult is an understatement. From MSWL to Twitter Pitch Scandal, there’s no right way to talk about it. The only thing we can know for certain is although diversity shouldn’t be a fad, it is.

In a perfect world, diversity is just a way of life. Our world is diverse, so our fiction is. Currently, there is a push for more diverse book, which I think is good! More marginalized voices are being heard. I would have never found my publisher and gotten SEVEN-SIDED SPY published if not for the active search for LGBTQIA+ voices.

That said, there’s also anxiety in the publishing world that sometime soon diversity is going to go out of style. I was at a literary conference not too long ago. While there I was able to grab lunch with some fairly reputable authors, all of whom were talking about when the “vampire bubble” burst. You know, that sweet spot in literary history where the vampire boom from Twilight was finally over. A lot of authors, and readers rejoiced (As someone who loved Vampire’s Assistant I was –slightly- bummed). But, there’s no denying that for a while it seemed like you couldn’t pick up a YA book without a bloodsucker jumping out of the pages at you, and then just as sudden as it started, it was gone.

The conversation seemed normal, until everyone then transitioned into talking about “the diversity bubble.” In which case, all the wheels in my mind came to a screeching halt. I want to say that there will be no end to #ownvoices. That in this good perfect world our books will always be as diverse as our world. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think they were right.

“Trends” in literature come and go. For a while it was vampires, then it was zombies, currently, it feels like we’re in the ending days of dystopia, and soon we’ll be ushering in an era of #ownvoices. It’s no secret that one of these things is not like the other. Diversity shouldn’t be shelved alongside “dystopia” and “paranormal romance,” but it very well could be if we don’t keep speaking up and demanding our voices be heard.

The authors at that conference were right. We’re in a “diversity as a trend” bubble. Which has its pros –easier to find books featuring different races, religions, abilities, genders, ect, ect- and cons- trivialization of serious topics, problematic representation. It seems like the best thing we can do at the moment, is keep writing. Don’t shy away from your all-queer cast or your genderfluid track star or your coming of age about a girl with an ileostomy. Keep writing and keep reading books that speak to cultures that aren’t your own, the unconventional, the often shyed away from. There is a “trendification” of diversity going on. It’s up to readers and writers, to make sure it lasts even if this “bubble” bursts.


All right, Dani again. So tomorrow I’ll have two posts up: one on my underwhelming reads of 2017 and one for my top reads of 2017 (the July-December edition).

NaNoWriMo Update

Hey all, Dani here.

Perhaps this should be titled something more appropriate…like “I’m Completely Failing at NaNo This Year” or “How to Catch Up When You’re Behind.” Basically, I am really really behind on my word count this year.

To put this in perspective…I finally started working on my novel yesterday, so my word count is nothing too exciting.

In comparison, I have written 12,432 words on this blog so far this month. Oh, and that does not include the words written on today’s post.

Now, you may be wondering what my NaNoWriMo word count is. I’ll tell you, but you have been warned that it is low. My current word total is barely 1000 words. Yep, that’s right. I still haven’t even reached the goal for day one yet.

What that means is that I have a lot of catching up to do. But I know I can do it. I’ve been this far behind before, in several sessions of NaNo actually. In a majority of the last few years I have written 20-30K words in the final three or four days of the month. In my past 11 years of NaNo participation, I can honestly say that I have had several days where I wrote anywhere from 10-14K in a single day.

So, while catching up could be difficult, I also know that it is possible. I suppose what I mean this to highlight for any of you falling behind on your word count is that you are not alone, and you can still come out victorious by the end of the month.

Today I’m going to share just a few online writing tools that can help you increase your writing productivity.

First up: 750 words. This is a helpful site for year round writing. It technically has a site wide goal of writing 750 words each day, but I still find the reward system to be helpful for NaNo. Basically there is a scoring system based on bowling. For each day you achieve the goal of 750 words you earn a strike for the day, and for every day where you write something but don’t reach 750 words, you earn a spare. But more than that you can earn badges for writing several days in a row, for writing in the morning or the evening, for writing without stopping, and more. Sometimes working to earn badges can keep you motivated.

Next is for people who like positive reinforcement and rewards. Try Written? Kitten!  Don’t let the super simple site design scare you off. This can be a super helpful resource. Okay so you set a goal of 100, 200, 500, or 1000 words, and every time you hit that goal amount, you are rewarded with a picture of a cute little animal. The site has options for kittens, puppies, or bunnies, but there are also directions if you would like to choose a different animal.

Finally, for those of you who need that little jolt of panicked adrenaline if you stop writing, my favorite writing resource is Write or Die. I can’t even say how many words I’ve written because of this site. Actually, using this site was what started getting me in the habit of writing 10,000+ words in a day. I have purchased the desktop versions for the original Write or Die and Write or Die 2, and apparently Write or Die 3 is out now. But for the people who don’t want to pay like $10 for the desktop app, you can use the web version for free any time. Write or Die lets you set up either a time limit or a word goal, and also a grace period before any consequences begin. You can set it for annoying sounds, having your screen turn red, or even a mode that starts randomly deleting vowels (at least those were options with version 2). Write or Die 2 also saw the release for reward based writing instead of just consequence based, but I like that the negative reinforcement of the red screen or the nails on a chalkboard sound effects to keep me writing. Simply put, I don’t want to see or hear those things and so I just write and write and write until I’ve reached my goal.

So can I reach the 50,000 word goal by the end of November? Well there’s only one way to find out. I need to get a lot more writing in. So I’m off to put in a few sessions on Write or Die. Hopefully I can start catching up now that I’m finally ready to write.

Holiday Shopping for Your Bookish Friends

Hey all, Dani here.

So, the holiday season is upon us. Seriously, yesterday I went to Starbucks and had a peppermint mocha. Of course the holidays also mean it is time to do your Christmas shopping. Now if your life is anything like mine then people worry about trying to buy books for you. What if they buy something you already own? What if it’s something you aren’t interesting in reading? For me this means that my mom (and other people) just get me Barnes & Noble gift cards.

Don’t get me wrong. I am completely fine with getting gift cards. It means I can get what I want. Typically what I do is keep track of which books I buy with each gift card and then I’ll take a picture of them and tag the person on Facebook so they can see what their money got me.

But, if you don’t want to get a gift card, how do you choose gifts? Obviously you can always ask the person what they want. Doing that means that they’ll know exactly what you are getting them though.

What I know from my many years as a book lover is that book accessories are extremely helpful and always useful. And with all the creative shops and such open now, there are all kinds of other book related merchandise available. So I’m going to give you just a few options for some great gifts for the book lover in your life.

First up: Bookmarks! You absolutely cannot go wrong with a selection of bookmarks for the reader in your life. Some of us choose a bookmark to match what we’re reading. Some of us just misplace bookmarks constantly. Having a large stock of these is always great. And they come in a lot of varieties as well. There are standard paper/cardstock ones, wooden ones, magnetic ones, and even metal ones.

A quick search on Etsy reveals sooo many bookmark options, so I recommend starting there. Of course one of my favorite places to get bookmarks is Colorworld Books. Their bookmarks are made of metal and they feature comic, video game, and anime characters, so they are perfect for the geek in your life.

My next bookish gift recommendation is: Candles! Yes, that’s right. There are so many people doing book themed candles and it is wonderful. The scents are based on characters or locations or food/drink in books, and they smell wonderful. Again, searching Etsy for bookish candles is a good place to start. I recommend trying In the Wick of Time, Bookish Flame, Meraki Candles, Frostbeard Studios, Novelly Yours, and Geeky Candles Co.

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Of course, another bookish gift option is: shirts/apparel. For this one I really only have one store to recommend, but I’m sure an internet search will turn up other options. (I’m sure there are plenty of Etsy shops with this kind of merchandise). Anyway, I have to mention Litographs here. They take the text from books and use it to create fun art designs on shirts, scarves, tote bags, and even posters. It’s really cool.

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Going along the same lines as my previous recommendation, you can also get the bookworm in your life pillows or tote bags or a variety of other book inspired accessories. A store I definitely recommend is Evie Seo‘s. She has pillows and tote bags and clothing and stationary and phone cases and more, all with beautiful designs based around quotes from a variety of different popular books.

My fifth bookish accessory item that I would recommend as a gift is: a book light. Chances are the reader in your life likes to read at night or while traveling, and it isn’t always wise or possible for them to have a room light on. There are so many varieties of book lights out there, so finding the right one may take some in-store or online browsing, but trust me when I say that they are helpful. And if you do choose a book light as a gift, might I also recommend including some spare batteries.

The next item on my holiday shopping recommendations list is: bookish mugs. Seriously, I love having an assortment of mugs for drinking hot beverages, and having mugs that are geeky or that showcase books I love is just wonderful. Again, there are a lot of options out there, so be prepared to wade into places like Etsy, but it is so worth it.

To go along with those mugs, I should also recommend bookish beverages. Yes, people have created tea or coffee blends, or hot cocoa flavors, inspired by book characters or settings or food/drink. And the book lover in your life will appreciate having an assortment of hot beverages when they are curling up with a book in the winter months.

Finally, if all of those options sound great but you can’t decide which one to choose, might I recommend a mix of most/all of the above? Subscription boxes make great gifts and have a variety of items in them. Some boxes just have books, while others have an assortment of bookish accessories. Some subscription boxes are specialty one-time boxes, while others are a month-to-month subscription, or even a quarterly release. Many have options for a one month, three month, or even six month subscription, so you could really spoil the reader in your life. Some of my personal favorite boxes are: OwlCrate, Lit-Cube, FairyLoot, Quarterly, LitJoy Crate, and SpearCraft Book Box. But there are many options so I suggest looking for book boxes on CrateJoy.

Well, that wraps up my post for today. Are there any other book related items you would recommend for holiday gifts? Let me know about them in the comments. Also, feel free to share this with fellow readers, as well as your friends and family. Who knows, it might help them find the perfect presents for you and/or other readers in their lives.

Creatures of the Night Tag

Hey all, Dani here.

I found this tag on Kristin’s page over at Kristin Kraves Books, and I could not resist giving it a try. The rules are simple enough: Name a book that features the following creatures.

For some of them though, that seemed a bit too easy for me, so I’m going to name off as many of them as I can think of. But I’m only going to give myself about two minutes per creature, because why not?

Let’s get started.

Vampire

Midnight Texas trilogy by Charlaine Harris

Vampire Academy series and Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead

The Old Races novels by C.E. Murphy

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Levees by Night by Vince Moore

Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Blood Kin by M.J. Scott

Den of Shadows quartet by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa

Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Werewolf (okay, so some of these are shapeshifters but still)

Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (lion, wolf, bear, etc shifters)

Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter

Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

Zombie

iZombie by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

Ghost

Mediator series by Meg Cabot

How to Hang a Witch and Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Roaring Twenties novels by Jenn Bennett

The Raven Boys quartet by Maggie Stiefvater

Angel

Fallen series by Lauren Kate

Fallen series by Thomas E Sniegoski

Remy Chandler series by Thomas E Sniegoski

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Witches/Warlocks (also Wizards)

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Echo Park Coven novels by Amber Benson

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Crown’s Game duology by Evelyn Skye

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Fae

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

The Arcadia Project series by Mishell Baker

October Daye series by Seanan McGuire

Shadow Reader series by Sandy Williams

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Worldwalker duology by C.E. Murphy

Demon

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead

Alien

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers

Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series by Jim C Hines

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey

Super Powered Human

Heroine Complex series by Sarah Kuhn

Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson

Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks

Colorworld series by Rachel E Kelly

Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine

Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep

Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind

Study series and Glass series by Maria V Snyder

Midnighters trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo

Witchlands novels by Susan Dennard

Magic Ex Libris series by Jim C Hines

The Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

The Darkest Minds novels by Alexandra Bracken

Nemesis novels by April Daniels

Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer

All right, well that’s it for today. If this is a tag you’d like to do, then please consider yourself TAGGED. I’ll be back tomorrow with  another book tag.  Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

Review: The sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with another review for a book I read while participating in Readathon by Zoe, which was last weekend on October 14th. This is a book I was eagerly looking forward to, and I knew it would be perfect for a readathon because it is a collection of poetry.

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Summary

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I read and reviewed Rupi Kaur’s first collection of poetry a couple months ago, and I really enjoyed it. A number of the poems resonated with me, and several others I thought would be beneficial to my mom, especially considering what she has gone through this year. So after finishing it, I passed it on to her, and then she ended up passing the book on to another person who she thought would benefit from it.

So basically knowing that Kaur’s second collection of poetry was coming out, I had expectations that it would also resonate with me, and I can say that I was not disappointed. Now, I don’t believe I had as many “wow” moments with this collection as I did with Milk and Honey, but I still definitely thought that it is a well put together selection of poems.

What is so interesting to me with Kaur’s poetry is that the ones that hit me the most powerfully are not the poems that are a page long or a couple pages long. No, it seems the ones that pack the most punch to me are the ones that are only a few lines long. The fact that she can say so much in so few words is remarkable.

Much like with Milk and Honey, I found myself bookmarking certain poems so I could read them…usually to my boyfriend. Of course those were poems that typically had to do with love, romance, relationships, etc. They were poems that in some ways made me think of him, so I had to share.

But I definitely think that Kaur is a poet worth reading. This collection continued with similar style, structure, and art as before. And it was a bit longer, which was awesome, but still read rather quickly. As I mentioned before, there are a number of poems that are only a couple lines long. I am trying to read more poetry, and I’m glad this is an author who was recommended to me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this lovely collection of poetry from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. I actually got my copy at my local grocery store so it’s basically anywhere books can be found.

End of a Journey: Vox Machina

Hey all, Dani here.

My post today is somewhat related to books, but mostly pertains to storytelling and creativity. Stories have an impact on all of us. This is something we know as readers. We connect with these tales and these characters, and for the stories that impact us the most, it all feels completely real. Sometimes the characters in these tales, these adventures, start to feel like friends, and when the journey ends it is bittersweet. Hopefully everything worked out and they had a relatively happy ending, but we’re also sad because it is over.

This is what I have been dealing with for the past week. I have been watching the web series Critical Role for two years now. Every week I would spend 3-5 hours watching the newest episode. It is a Dungeons & Dragons show, where a group of nerdy voice actors have moved their home game into a studio at Geek & Sundry and are streaming it so we can all watch it.

Critical Role, following the journey of adventuring party Vox Machina, came into my life at the perfect time. Things were tense at my house with my ailing grandmother living with us and the tension that caused between my parents. I didn’t have any sort of social life aside from my coworker friends who I basically only saw at work. My only refuge from the negative aspects of my life was books…and then this show.

And after 115 episodes, the story of Vox Machina came to a close. For episode 114, which was the big boss fight, and then episode 115, which was the recovery from the fight and then the epilogues of the characters, I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to watch. I laughed, I cried, I worried, and I absolutely cried some more. I’m sure I could actually look up how many hours the show has run for total, but it is roughly somewhere between 350-600 hours. That is a lot of time to spend with a group of characters.

I really felt like I knew them. And of course, I have met them…twice. I went to a live show of an episode in August 2016, and then my boyfriend and I went and saw them this year at GenCon.

I own so much merchandise for the show: shirts, and dice, and Major Arcana Tarot cards, and an apron, and posters, and pencils, and the campaign setting book for the world created in the story.

This show is what really got me to talk to my friends and start playing Dungeons & Dragons. And because of playing D&D, I met my boyfriend.

So to say that Critical Role has made my life so much better, so much richer, and so much happier is truly an understatement.

Here we are a week later and I’m still watching recap videos of the final episodes. I’m still staring at the amazing fanart that other Critters have drawn. Obviously I’m also reading the new Vox Machina origin comic series–which issue #2 came out this week, and naturally I’ve already read it. I have a couple more comic mini reviews coming very soon.

I’ve also started to rewatch it all from the beginning.

I know that a new campaign will be starting soon and the cast of voice actors are creating new characters for it. I realize that the new campaign will be in the same world roughly a generation later, and so some of Vox Machina could show up in the future.

But I still feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to some dear friends. I’ll never forget their stories, their legend. I’ll never forget how much all of this means to me. Some days, though, I’ll just have moments where it hits me that the story is over (for now). I don’t like goodbyes. It is why I have several book series where I haven’t finished the final book, because I’m not ready to let go.

It all has me thinking about the stories that connected with us and impacted us the most. What book/series did that for you? Or maybe it was a movie, or a TV series, or a music album. Let me know what stories you hold near and dear to your heart.

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

Hey all, Dani here.

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and boy have I missed it. Honestly, aside from these blog posts, I have not done much writing lately, and I certainly have not done a whole lot of creative writing. And I really miss it. I’ve told myself that I need to set up a schedule and block out some time for writing every day and then I just don’t hold myself to it.

Thankfully I have the month of November to get me back into the rhythm of writing regularly.

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Okay, firstly, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event where each November participants attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel over the course of 30 days. Sounds pretty intense right? Well, honestly, sometimes it can be. Thankfully there are thousands of other writers attempting the same feat so you never really feel alone. You can even join regional forums based on where you live and you’ll be connected with other writers near you. Typically this also includes a person (or people) called Municipal Liaisons (MLs). These lovely people are the ones who organize meet-ups, a kick-off party, write-ins throughout the month, and a wrap party once it is over with.

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006, and it has just been such an enriching experience. In 2008 I became a Municipal Liaison, and I was one of the many founding donors for the Camp NaNoWriMo program, which is basically NaNoWriMo but in the summertime. I have written so many words and learned so much these past years and I’m so glad that I get to keep going.

This year would have been my tenth year as an ML, but sadly because of so much stuff happening in my real life, I missed the sign up deadline, something I never came close to missing before. So this year I get to watch as my co-ML runs the region on her own…well, officially anyway. Everyone knows that I’m not going anywhere, and am more than happy to answer questions and offer up advice and inspiration to any who need it.

But in some ways I’m actually glad that I just get to focus on my writing, instead of planning write-ins and pep talks, and spending a lot of time on the regional forums or on my region’s Facebook page.

In basically every previous NaNo, I wrote a fantasy or paranormal story, typically with just a hint of romance in it. But this year another story wants to be told, and it means a bit more of a challenge for me. See, events of my life this year have inspired me. At the beginning of this year I went to a friend’s house to start a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and there I met the amazingly wonderful and geeky man who has become my boyfriend.

So I want to write a geeky romance story, a story of two people who met while playing D&D and then bonded over board games and movies and other nerdy hobbies.

But I also know that I want the D&D campaign within the book to play a significant role too…so I plan on intertwining a fantasy story through the novel. It should be interesting at the very least.

I have basic sketches of most of the characters already finished and a general idea of the contemporary plot. I’m still thinking about the fantasy campaign story. Over the years I have learned that I can’t do a lot of writing down ideas and such because then I’ll struggle with writing the actual story in November. So I just come up with a few loose ideas and then fly by the seat of my pants the rest of the way. It works for me. Some people spend all of October drafting up elaborate outlines, and that’s fine too.

What I’m trying to do now is to come up with a good title I can use during this first draft process. I told my boyfriend that I don’t want something that is too ridiculous or cheesy, but the only thing that keeps coming to mind is “Roll for Romance.” He laughed and told me that was a perfect title and I should use it.

I guess unless something better comes along, that’s my title. I plan to draft up a quick book summary soon, and then I’ll be ready to write.

And look guys, I’m making more progress with my library/study. I should have it all finished just in time for NaNoWriMo to start, so that’ll be nice. Having a dedicated writing space can sometimes help the mind focus on the task at hand. I’ll just say here that my books aren’t fully in order yet, because I still have about half of my library to move from my mom’s house, and I still have a few more bookcases to assemble.

So are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let me know, and good luck! And if you have any suggestions for my book title (or if you really like Roll for Romance, let me know those as well.

Blogger Recognition Award

Hey all, Dani here.

I love being recognized and/or tagged to do awards and other posts by other bloggers. It is so great to make connections in the book community, and I am so thankful for all the people I have been meeting and interacting with, especially these past several months. Anyway, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the delightful Kathy over at Books & Munches. Seriously, go check out her blog because it is fantastic. I love how she recommends food to go along with each book, though I will say that reading her posts generally make me hungry.

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Rules

∞ Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
∞ Write a post to show your award
∞ Give a brief story of how your blog started
∞ Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
∞ Select a few other bloggers you want to give this award to

How Mousai Books Started

Back in 2009, I started working with my friend Signy Cullen to try and form a new sorority at our university. We went by the name Mu Psi, because the word “mousai” means muse, and we wanted to be a group that promoted the arts. It took a lot of work to figure out our colors and our mottos and beliefs and build up a membership, but we thought we had everything situated nicely. So we asked for a vote with the Greek Council, but they kept pushing it off later and later, and then some of our members graduated so we didn’t have enough to meet the criteria. Nevertheless Signy and I never stopped feeling the bonds of sisterhood. I decided to honor what we created by naming this blog Mousai Books.

I had a book blog back when I was in university, and it was problematic. Sometimes I got lazy and missed several weeks with no blog post. I didn’t try and connect with any other blogs. My book reviews were sporadic and not nearly as well formulated as they are now.

So I took this blog to be a fresh start, and I feel like I’ve mostly lived up to the ideas I had in mind when I first started. The muses stood for creativity and inspiration. I feel like sharing my love for books and for other geeky hobbies is my way of honoring the muses of old and of all those who have inspired me to be my creative and geeky self along the way.

Blogger Advice

I feel like so many of us give similar advice: be yourself, enjoy what you’re doing, be active in the community. Don’t get me wrong, that is all great advice, and you should absolutely follow it, but I’d like to try and give other helpful advice.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to adhere to a strict posting schedule. For most of us we can manage a full schedule for a short time, but then we may fall into a reading slump or a writing slump, and then we feel guilty for missing posts or not putting up as high quality posts. This can actually lead to a downward spiral and doesn’t actually end up helping anyone. So, if it becomes necessary, reduce the number of posts you release each week, take a step back, and allow yourself to breathe and relax. Then try again. Your mental health is more important than a rigorous posting schedule. Your reader friends will understand if you have to slow down a bit.

I guess the second piece of advice I’ll give is to spice things up and have a little variety. Post some book reviews, do some book tags, go to author signings or book festivals and document the experience. If you go to the movies and see a book adaptation on screen, go ahead and post a review or a compare/contrast post. If you take a day and go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, take pictures and share the experience with us. We spend a lot of time reading each other’s posts and chatting in the comment sections. It builds friendships and we like getting to know each other. You don’t have to limit yourself to one topic or one type of post.

Nominations

Jenna at J.K. I’m Exploring!

Kristin at Kristin Kraves Books

Katie at Never Not Reading

Holly at Nut Free Nerd

Maygin at Diversifying Perspective, One Book at a Time