Why I Love Baseball And Books

I don’t love many things. I could spend an entire day telling you everything I dislike or despise But I know this for a fact: I love baseball and books. Why, you may ask. I’ll attempt to explain as eloquently as I can.

I need variety, variation. I’m not someone who enjoys monotony or repetition.

Thankfully, no game is the same. No book exactly like another. Even after all these years, I still see plays and stories I’ve never seen before.

Variety goes hand in hand with discovery. I’m a fan of discovering new things. That’s why learning is one of my favourite activities. Books and baseball have been great teachers. I’m lucky to be a student of both. Sometimes the best life lessons aren’t the ones on the page or on the field either. You learn the most when you least expect to.

They allow me to disconnect. When I’m in the middle of a book or ball game, I want to be so immersed in the experience that I’m not thinking about checking my phone. I want to be in the moment. Besides, I can always connect to wifi after I finish reading or watching.

I enjoy cheering for someone. Sticking with a character or a player through thick and thin. Being in a person’s corner from beginning to end. Come what may, come hell or high water. In a way, they become your friends.

There’s something special in not knowing. You don’t know what will happen. Maybe your two favourite characters fall in love. Perhaps your team makes it to the post-season. I’ve come to embrace the strange, scary but also beautiful and lovely feeling of not knowing. After all, that book, that game might just be the best thing to ever happen to you.

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Pick One: Book Characters

While writing my Pick One: Book Series blog post, I was inspired to pit fictional characters against each other. Enjoy!

Peeta or Gale? Hunger Games 

They’re both cool characters. Younger Herminia just thought Gale was cooler.

Edward or Jacob? Twilight 

Probably Jacob. I’m old, but I believe younger me was a bigger fan of the latter.

Dorian or Chaol? Throne of Glass

I liked Chaol’s character and his relationship with Celaena.

Rhysand or Tamlin? A Court of Thorns and Roses

Rhysand. He was more interesting to me even in the first book.

Darrow or Sevro? Red Rising

Darrow is amazing, but Sevro is somehow even more amazing. But I love them to pieces.

Minho or Newt? The Maze Runner

Minho in the books, Newt in the movies. So much got lost in the film adaptations. It’s such a shame.

Brenda or Theresa? The Maze Runner

Theresa in both the books and movies. She had greater depth to her character.

John or Robert Puller? John Puller

Robert. I’ve said this before, and I’m going to say it again: I love the older brother’s brain. I need a series that exclusively follows him everywhere.

Safiya or Iseult? The Witchlands

Iseult. She helped me remember the word, homeostasis, which I coincidentally learned in my biotechnology class. That’s enough to win me over. I have low expectations, okay.

Clary or Isabelle? The Mortal Instruments

Isabelle all the way. She’s one of the few characters I grew fonder of.

This was such a struggle to write. I hope you appreciate my suffering.

No Man’s Land By David Baldacci | A Book Review

Title: No Man’s Land

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s the fourth book in a series which follows an army investigator, John Puller.

First impressions: I’ve read Baldacci’s works in the past, and I keep returning to his stuff. They’re entertaining and exciting. I’m also a bit biased because The Escape was my first Baldacci novel, so it has a special place in my heart. For that reason and others, the John Puller books are some of my favourites. Hence why I had to pick up No Man’s Land.

Summary: Puller’s mom disappeared thirty years ago. Now Puller’s dad is accused of murdering his wife. John Puller won’t stop investigating until he finds out the truth, despite attempts from people to throw a gigantic wrench in his plans.

Characters: Not long ago, I fell in love with Robert Puller, John’s older brother. Thanks to this story, I fell in love even more. Is that even possible? I can’t explain it. I just love the interaction between both brothers. The humour and sarcasm gets me every time.

While you don’t have to have read the first three in the series (Zero Day, The Forgotten, The Escape). they do provide greater insight into the Puller family.

Paul Rogers is a man on a mission, seeking revenge. Although he does many terrible things, I couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t the bad guy at any point.

Kudos to Baldacci for writing interesting characters with realistic motivations.

Quote:

“Truths coming from those facts can be difficult to accept, particularly when they are of a personal nature.”

Conflict: Conflicts between people are my kind of conflicts.

Writing: When I’m reading for leisure, I almost always appreciate short sentences and chapters. I’ve also noticed Baldacci tends to set up his books in a similar way too.

Even though I predicted some things, there were a few twists I didn’t see coming. That’s likely why I keep returning to his works. I won’t spoil anything for anyone. You’ll have to find out what happens for yourself.

Final thoughts: Near the end, I really wanted to know the real truth. I think the ending provides much needed closure for everyone, characters and readers alike. That said, I hope Baldacci continues the series further.

My bias rears its head again when I say that I’d love for a larger focus on Robert Puller, even if the author technically wrote a story about him already. I’d love for the two brothers to work every case together from here on out. Regardless I think No Man’s Land might be one of my favourite books by Baldacci. In general, you can expect fun, quick reads from him.

I recommend if you’re interested in fast-paced thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat or the tips of your toes. (I stood while reading most of the novel.)


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The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood | A Book Review

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Classic Fiction

About the book: It’s a standalone novel with dystopian undertones.

First impressions: I’ve only read Oryx and Crake, and even though the book was weird, I enjoyed it because Atwood told a good story. Safe to say the TV adaptation made me even more excited for The Handmaid’s Tale. Early on I got the sense this would be a different novel than what I’m used to reading (thriller, young adult, etc.), especially in the summer It’s dark and deep.

Summary: A Handmaid’s life. Offred leaves the house every day to buy food. She tries to get pregnant once a month because a baby is valuable. Offred remembers her past, but the present is nothing like the world she once knew.

Characters: We don’t learn the real name of the main character. She’s referred to as Offred, a Handmaid for the Commander who also has a wife. The novel is more character-centric than plot. There’s development. There’s depth. What more could you ask for?

Quote:

“But people will do anything rather than admit that their lives have no meaning.”

Conflict: Women are not allowed to read. They aren’t permitted to do a lot of things anymore.

Writing: It’s fragmented. That’s the best way I can describe the writing. Atwood writes in short sentences. I like to think the fragmented writing is a reflection of Offred’s life as a handmaid. The one issue I had, especially in the beginning, was the non-existent quotation marks. It made for a tougher reading experience. Because the story is technically more of a retelling after the events happened, I realize the dialogue isn’t an exact replica of what was said. Still, I would have liked an easier way to distinguish between conversation and narration or exposition. That said, the language and imagery are descriptive, especially with the darker, more poignant scenes.

Final thoughts: The ending is vague. Ambiguous even. It’s left to the reader to interpret. Atwood leaves some questions unanswered.

I’m not usually one to watch TV or film adaptations of books because the latter tends to be better. But after reading the novel, a part of me wants to watch the show. I’m curious to see how the events in the book are depicted on screen.

I’d recommend The Handmaid’s Tale to just about everybody. Even though I haven’t seen any of the TV episodes, I did read the book, and I’d encourage others to do so as well. The story is relevant. It might be tougher to relate to, but some parts resonated with me.

I can see why the novel doesn’t appeal to everyone. Nevertheless, I think Atwood has a way with words. The effect is quite chilling.


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A Rant In Regards To Reading

This post may or may not be a rant depending on your definition, but it will be about reading.

I think it’s important to read what you want and to enjoy your reading experience. No, you might not love everything about a certain book, but try to find something you do like.

Even though I read as an escape from real life, reading for me is almost akin to living in a way. I get to live different lives through fictional characters.

Maybe I’m using reading as a metaphor or analogy for living. I’m not too sure. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not an English major.

I just hope readers don’t feel pressured to read what they don’t want to just because everyone else is. Case in point: Herminia and Harry Potter.

I also do my best to finish what I start, especially if I chose to buy the book with the thought I’ll enjoy the story. Or at least, enjoy some aspect of the work. Sometimes, it’s the writing. Other times, I’m a fan of the plot or I’m fond of the characters.

Besides, reading what you enjoy will always win out over the alternative of not enjoying yourself.

Am I ranting or rambling? I’m not even sure at this point. Now that I’m older and wiser, I hope going forward, I will decide what’s best for my interests. Not allow others to decide for me.

So go ahead, read what you want. If you realize you aren’t enjoying the book, read something else.

It’s perfectly fine to pick up another novel if you aren’t enjoying the one you’re on right now.

Reading, like life, is about timing. Perhaps you don’t appreciate a certain book at this exact moment. But maybe in the future, you will.

That might mean you’ll grow out of books. Stories you loved in the past might not have the same effect on you years later. This is okay.

After all, readers should read what their heart desires.

Live your life. Read the books you want. Have fun. Enjoy yourself while reading.

You don’t get that time back.

Pick One: Book Series

I force myself to choose between book series to figure out which ones I love with my broken heart.

Hunger Games or Divergent?

Considering I read all three books of the former and I only read the first book for the latter, it’s no contest. The Hunger Games takes the cake. I’m not usually a big fan of love triangles, but Gale and Peeta didn’t annoy me. Maybe I also need to do a post where I pick between two characters. That’ll be fun.

Twilight or Thirst?

The latter. It’s not as well known, but I enjoyed reading Christopher Pike’s novels in high school. I finished all of the Twilight books in 22 days, something I don’t do very often nowadays. By something I mean I don’t read a whole series all at once in such a short span of time. I miss the good old days where I had no responsibilities.

Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses?

The Throne of Glass novels will always have a special place in my heart because I started that series first. But also because I love the characters so much it’s not even funny.

The Maze Runner or The Mortality Doctrine?

I read all the books in the former and only The Eye of Minds for the latter. I even watched The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trial films alone because I have no friends.

Lorien Legacies or Legend?

Legend. I’ve been trying to pit similar series together or books written by the same author. This one is slightly questionable. I digress. I liked Legend. I didn’t like I Am Number Four.

The Ender Quintet or Red Rising?

There isn’t a series that can rival my love for Red Rising, despite my four star ratings on GoodReads. Take those with a grain of salt. I’m all over the place and have yet to get my act together. I’m not sure how I’m 20 years old.

Writing this post has made me realize how many series I haven’t read but need to. And that my memory is bad (re: I am 20, so old; did you get that memo?).

Let me know your picks down below!

20 Lessons I Learned As A Reader

I spent nearly all my life around books, so here are 20 lessons I’ve learned as an avid reader.

  1. Start.
  2. Try to finish.
  3. Timing is everything.
  4. Read what you want.
  5. Read when you want.
  6. Read how you want.
  7. Just read.
  8. Study what works.
  9. Never stop learning.
  10. Books are great teachers.
  11. Seek out other readers.
  12. Some stories won’t resonate with you.
  13. You can still take something away from a novel you didn’t like.
  14. Give books a chance.
  15. Step outside your comfort zone.
  16. Enjoy the act of reading.
  17. The right book at the right time can change your life.
  18. Leaders are readers.
  19. Make time to read.
  20. Happy reading is the best kind of reading.

What is something you’ve realized as a reader of books? I’d love to know down below.

Why I Love Reading Books

I think it's no surprise that I love books. More than a lot of things and many people in fact. But why exactly do I love papers with ink on them so much?

As a kid, I've always liked reading even before I realized I did. I buried my nose into all kinds of books.

Mainly because I enjoyed learning, and I still do. I'm all for gaining as much knowledge as I can. I especially want to know more about subjects that fascinate me.

Being able to escape from the real world was always welcome for me. Sometimes we just need to get away, be distracted for a little while.

At some point, I wanted to write my own books. As much as I love reading other people's stories, there's nothing quite like telling your own.

Of course, I love words. That's why I'm a writer. Reading books ignited my passion for writing stories.

In elementary school, I had a much smaller vocabulary. Younger me wasn't as confident with the English language as I am now, even more so when it came to writing in it.

I can still recall a memory of myself in class. I always asked this much smarter student how to spell certain words I didn't know at the time.

Interestingly enough, my first language isn't English. I grew up in a Cantonese speaking household. Back then, my parents didn't speak much English. So for several years during my childhood, I felt more comfortable with Cantonese, my mother tongue. After all, it was what I spoke at home.

Only after reading a bunch of English books did my communication skills improve. Over the course of my elementary schooling, I saw my grades in Reading, Writing, and Oral Communication increase little by little.

Nowadays, I still crave exposure to new ideas and beliefs. I may not agree with everything, but at the very least, I get a chance to see the perspectives of others. More importantly, I try to understand.

I owe writers and authors a lot. They keep inspiring me to speak, to share.

Frankly, I have little desire to spend my money on anything that is not a good book.

The Assassin’s Blade By Sarah J. Maas | A Book Review

Title: The Assassin's Blade

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

About the book: It's a book of five novellas, serving as a prequel to the Throne of Glass series.

First impressions: I read the first novel and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The hype almost made me pass on these books. But after finishing Queen of Shadows, I very much looked forward to learning more backstory about certain characters. The Assassin's Blade begins with an interesting tale about Calaena and a pirate lord. Safe to say, I had high hopes for the rest of the book.

Summary: The stories follow Celaena, an assassin in a guild. She encounters a whole host of various people along her journey. Of course, Celaena being Celaena, she starts to defy Arobynn, her master during his missions for her.

Characters: There's a lot of different characters introduced in a short period of time. Celaena Sardothien is the female protagonist. In general, I think Maas creates likeable, complex characters readers want to root for. She also does a fine job making you dislike evil ones. I'm all for well-developed characters who actually develop.

Quote:

"If you can learn to endure pain, you can survive anything."

Conflict: Each novella features a new conflict that tends to get resolved by the end. But as Celaena acts against Arobynn's wishes, he begins to punish her.

Writing: When I first read her books, I wasn't expecting the writing to be amazing. Which is partly why I found myself surprised at how well-written her stories are.

There's a balance of world-building with story-telling. With the five novellas, I felt the plot advancing at a fast pace.

I had an idea of how the book would end because I knew some events after reading the first four books in the series. That didn't stop me from appreciating all the novellas on the whole.

A part of me wishes I had read The Assassin's Blade before the other novels. And now after finishing it, I'm tempted to reread the series from start to finish. I haven't read Empire of Storms yet, but it's on my mental to be read list. Maybe my head isn't the best place to store things…

Final thoughts: I'm biased. I'm a fan of Maas. Her books will always have a special place in my heart. I read The Assassin's Blade during a great time in my life, unlike Queen of Shadows. Enjoying good writing has a way of making my bad days better.

The ending left me feeling sad. I would've been more upset if I didn't already know what would ultimately happen. Even knowing beforehand made the last handful of chapters tough to get through. I don't know how to describe my feelings. I definitely had a subdued book hangover.

Give The Assassin's Blade a go if it sounds like something up your alley. The five novellas read very much like a novel. I would not have been mad at all if the stories were turned into full-fledged books.

Let me know what you think down below.


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Plan Your Perfect Author Panel

Not long ago, I watched an author panel about genre blending. It got me thinking how awesome it’d be if I could gather all my favourite authors in the same room and listen to them talk about writing.

Here’s how I imagine my perfect panel:

Who would be there?

Pierce Brown, Stephen King, Sarah J. Maas, and Jodi Picoult. They’re my favourite storytellers as of right now.

Why these authors in particular?

In general, I love all of their work.

I enjoyed Brown’s Red Rising series, even though it shattered my already broken heart. So now I’m eagerly awaiting Iron Gold. In fact, IG is the first book I ever preordered. Also, Brown was in the genre blending panel, and his comments were spot on. The video is on YouTube for anyone interested.

King is king. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. This won’t be the last time, my friends. For some reason, I have this irrational fear I won’t like one of his novels. He still continues to surpass any and all expectations of mine. Carrie has a special place in my heart. The film adaption was not as good as the book but it wasn’t bad either.

I didn’t think I would like Throne of Glass by Maas as much as I did. The hype surrounding the books almost made me pass on it. I’m glad I didn’t.

Fortunately, I found and fell in love with House Rules. Then I proceeded to read all the Picoult novels I could get my hands on. Nineteen Minutes and The Pact stand out in my memory still to this day.

What will the panel be about?

To start, I’d want them to talk about their writing journey.

I even have questions prepared. When did you start writing? What made you become a writer? Why do you write? What’s a typical day in your life like? Where do you work? How do you write? What’s the easiest thing about your job? What is the hardest?

I’m a curious writer myself, so I like listening to other writers share their life stories.

Of course, if I could only ask one question, I’d have them answer this: what’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring writers?

Where would the panel take place? 

I wish more book events and conferences were held in the wonderful country of Canada. As much as I love the United States and hope to visit the United Kingdom one day, I can’t book a plane ticket without losing an arm or a leg. Probably both.

So, for obvious reasons, I’d want the panel to be held at a location near me. That way I could actually attend and keep all my limbs. In my dreams, I want to go to a Canadian book conference. Preferably downtown Toronto in a large building with awesome views of the skyline. Bonus points if it’s close to a hotel for those flying in from other countries with their two arms and legs.

When would the panel take place?

A weekend in the summer would be ideal. Or during autumn when the temperature is cool but not chilly. Then again, the panel will be inside an air conditioned room. But I’m all for having fun events take place outdoors. Beggars can’t be choosers, but planners can be picky, right?

Who should moderate?

I’m not sure. Perhaps another writer. Maybe an agent or an editor. I don’t have anyone specific in mind.

I want to hear all about your dream author panel. Let me know in a comment down below or create your own blog post and get carried away like me. I won’t judge.

Thanks to Eventbrite for inspiring this post. They are a self-service ticketing platform that helps people find and plan events like book conferences or author panels.

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