Thoughts on AART and Heist Society

I just realized that both of the books I talk about in this post have to do with the value of art. I probably didn’t make the connection before, because it was quite coincidental that they have been my most recent reads. But I did want to dedicate a post to these books that I would be able to look back on if need be. The result today is spoiler-free, so if you have no yet read them, you can safely read ahead.

As you might’ve been able to guess, I’m writing this introduction after having already written my thoughts. So I can tell you how hard it was to limit my discussion to just the first major points that came to mind. I feel like I could rant for thousands of words sometimes on the books I read, but that would just be too much.

• ⟡ • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing • ⟡ •

I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green primarily in October. It was a book I had highly anticipated as a casual viewer of the vlogbrothers YouTube channel Hank shares with his brother John. I’m not the biggest fan of John Green’s books, having only been able to finish The Fault in Our Stars, which I actually did like. But Hank’s book appealed to me purely based on the synopsis, so I was happy to be able to support his debut novel.

I set AART down extremely satisfied with the book. It stayed in my mind for a few weeks after. It has one of the best finales and denouements I’ve ever read. After meandering on the smaller details for most of the book, it becomes extremely action-packed and…emotionally impactful. There’s a moment towards the end that had me shed a tear. It was unexpected! It’s hard to talk much more about the final scenes without spoiling the book, so I won’t go any further!

Early on in the book, you realize that AART is being narrated by the protagonist after all the events of the book have gone down. It led to some satisfying foreshadowing, but I also found it annoying at times. April May makes a lot of mistakes in the book, some of which I didn’t particularly find myself sympathetic to, even after the fact. I dislike how she frames them, like, she knows she was wrong and thinks that her awareness of the fact makes it less bad. In my opinion, it’s akin to the author trying too hard to make readers feel or think a certain way.

Also her logic, or line of thinking, is at times hard to follow. I think that the biggest problem actually was just that Green assumes that everyone is going to have the same socio-political stances as he does. I do, but I’m not as far left as he, or April May more accurately, seems to be.

Other than that, I really loved this book. I think it’s so timely and relevant with how social media can give people so much power and how important it is to wield it responsibly. I also think it’s important in exploring how humanity can work together towards and common goal. It’s very reminiscent of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which I saw Hank say was intentional, but different in its selection of villain.

So many staples of science fiction, that I’m aware of, paint massive corporations as the bad guy. In AART, the villains are people who fall prey to the fear and anger exacerbated by fear-mongering conservative pundits.

I feel like this book is so a product of our current political climate in the U.S. It’s uplifting and terrifying at the same time.

• ⟡ • Heist Society • ⟡ •

I took a bit of break from reading after AART as I worked on my novel leading up to November. I was also busy with other projects and life this fall. My next read, had it been immediately gripping, would have actually been Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, the finale to the epic Throne of Glass series. But I was not able to become invested quickly enough in that 900-plus-page tome, so one day mid-November I decided to pick up something that would be a considerably easier read.

I read Heist Society by Ally Carter mostly over Thanksgiving Break. It wasn’t a high priority read, so I took my time with it. In fact, I picked it up because I realized I was in a bit of reading slump and I find YA contemporaries perfect for reviving interest in reading, because they are 1) generally easy to read and 2) seem to be written with the aim of being captivating.

I also almost picked up White Cat by Holly Black but I read it last year (around this time!) and couldn’t find it (which reminds me I need to look for it).

I was not as impressed by Heist Society as I was hoping to be. It’s not the book or author’s fault (it was published in 2010), but at this point I’m a bit exasperated by books where teens are these unbelievable super geniuses who are more qualified and capable than adults with experience to save the day. I don’t mind their age specifically, but when books seem so intent on emphasizing the mental prowess of teens in contrast with bumbling adults, it is just so overdone at this point. And unrealistic.

I don’t think that teens can’t or shouldn’t be able to accomplish amazing things. But I don’t need them all to be highly enlightened or brilliant minds. It’s not even that it’s just realistic but more importantly it’s not all that relatable.

Other than that major critique, which may or may not have been better explored elsewhere, I found the plot a little predictable at some point. Also, the heist was pretty clever, but since there’s no proof of how brilliant these cast of characters are beforehand (beyond them all being super confident and constantly alluding to past jobs) it didn’t feel too authentic. But I liked the characters and their interactions with one another. I also appreciated the fast pace of the story, which was filled with appropriately high stakes.

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

If you were interested in these books, I hope I was able to give you a good idea of what you might be able to expect along with my personal thoughts on them. In the future I may go into spoiler territory, but I think that will mostly be whenever I feel very strongly about what happened and need to vent (à la Tower of Dawn). Maybe my book talk on Kingdom of Ash will be such a post, whenever I get back to it!

I must say, however, that I prefer writing spoiler-free reviews. Particularly if I know I would like to read the book again. It’s nice to let yourself forget some of the details of a book you love so you can still enjoy it the next time as if it’s the first time.

Right now I leaning towards starting Heist Society‘s immediate sequel Uncommon Criminals. But I can’t say for certain, as I’ve not actually started it yet. Maybe I’ll jump back into another book I’ve wanted to read all autumn. Who’s to say at this moment?!

Thank you for reading!
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Beyond Betwined Reads ⁂ ✧.: *: ・

In which Lori explains her absence and plans for the future of the blog.

Hey, everyone! It’s me, Lori. I’m back again. Hopefully for a good while. I’ve missed you, and I’ve missed blogging. The longer I was away these past couple of months, the harder it was to jump back into it. I think I know why.

For most of the year, I started each month by setting some goals and trying to figure out what kinds of things I wanted to do on the blog. It was fun, and it also gave me an idea of where to focus my energy and attention. There are always so many things I want to do, I always find myself needing to reign it all in.

For some reason in September my blog started to get a lot more views and follows than I’ve experienced all year. I wasn’t sure really why, but it was exciting, and I wanted to nurture it by posting more often. I decided to get more serious about blogging and set up a schedule so that new followers knew what they could expect and I also knew what I needed to be working on each week. It was very ambitious, and it was the beginning of the end.

As much as I tried to adjust and stay happy with what I produced, I couldn’t keep up with it. Not when I wasn’t reading or writing behind the scenes. Not blogging became stressful. It was a chore in which I found no joy.

So I didn’t blog much in October and haven’t blogged much in November. I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to do, because despite all the turmoil I’ve been feeling I still want to blog. There have been so many times where I thought I might start back up again but felt stifled because I wasn’t sure how to address my absence, particularly since I felt I’d done nothing substantial with my time offline.

Last week I decided I wanted to blog, but something needed to change. I went back and forth over the idea of starting a new blog fresh and without a specific niche. But ultimately I realized that while the overall format is probably going to change, I still want to blog about the same sort of things, mainly reading and writing.

The biggest difference will be that I will be writing for myself. I want to be able to blog when I feel like it and not feel inadequate if I’m not doing x, y, or z. I want to be able to get more personal on my blog and in turn inspire others to feel happier in their lives no matter what they are doing. I don’t want to feel like my value comes from the quality of my writing or ingenuity of my posts. My blog is not proof or validation my worth but a record of my life.

From now on when I talk about books, I will not try to be too objective or overly insightful. I don’t see any reason I should be stressing myself out over book reviews or having more original and nuanced thoughts than the next person. I’m not a book seller/critic/marketer, nor do I want to be one unless I have a salary! I don’t want to be a arbiter of taste. When I think back about the books I’ve read, I want to remember my life context (i.e. where I read, why I picked up a book) and my immediate reactions.

Similarly with my writing posts, I don’t want to look back on old posts and just see what I wrote for my blog readers’ sake. Rather I want to be able to remember how the writing was going and have the details (i.e. illness, mood, sources of inspiration) why it was going well or poorly.

I don’t know how many people will find this post very necessary for me to have written to explain. I realize I could’ve just made these changes quietly and moved on, but I feel like I had to write this post for myself. Not to justify my choices but to organize my thoughts.

Regardless, I hope this post finds the eyes that need it most. I’m not sure how deeply my absence has been felt. If you’ve wondered what’s been up with me or where I’ve been, I deeply apologize! I always find it difficult to know when I need to take a hiatus. Just know that if I ever give up on the blog, I will most definitely announce it in a farewell post. Additionally, I’m constantly on Twitter or Instagram, even if I’m not posting, if you ever want to give me a shout!

I’ve got to go to bed now. I’ve been reading Heist Society by Ally Carter and it’s been a nice read so far. Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering but fast-paced and intriguing.

Thank you for reading!
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NaNoWriMo 2018 Kick-Off

First of all, let me start by saying Happy Halloween! I’m sorry it’s taken me a little while to get back to the blog and talk about my writing. Truth is I didn’t accomplish very much this month. It’s now been exactly two weeks since I had my nose surgery and I’m just now starting to feel more like myself again.

For NaNoWriMo I will continue working on Troubling a Star, which I’m renaming A Familiar Story. It suits it better and will mark a new leaf for this project. I recently looked back at my plot summary for the project this weekend and fell back in love with the story. I think trying to write chronologically was messing me up, so I’ll probably be jumping around this month in an effort to maintain my enthusiasm and momentum.

November Writing Goals

The official goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, which translated to about 1,667 words per day on average. I’ve long been a proponent of each participant picking a goal that works for them and their schedule; the most important thing being participating at all. This year I will be aiming for that 50k word count goal.

Additionally, I have mini-goals for the month that relate to writing.

  • Write at least 5 minutes every day
  • Write somewhere different at least once a week
  • Use my bullet journal
  • Don’t start any new books or T.V. shows!!!

My Bullet Journal

I’ll share it next week!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

Sorry this post went up a little later than I meant for it. It actually published before I was finished drafting it. I had decided not to post it, then it went up and I realized I should just polish it up.

I would like to start blogging a little more regularly, but this is not the month for me to commit to anything major. I’m planning to do at least one post per week related to NaNoWriMo and it is simply going to be a weekly log of my progress. I’ve already started it and I’m super excited about it.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you preparing?

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.