Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Solved the mystery of “a novel” taglines!!!

The other day I stopped short went I noticed a ton of books with the words “a novel” tucked away on their cover design. I had no idea why some do this, and some don’t, despite them all being novels. Why even include it in the first place? I had to look into the mystery from my original post.

My confusion stemmed from the fact that it seems fairly obvious when a book is a novel. From the title, location we find it (shelved under fiction…), or just from the fact that novels are sort of the default in writing now, I could not figure out why this was included so irregularly.


Or, at least, I found several possible reasons.

The first, original reason is historical. Novels haven’t actually been a thing for very long. Writing used to be primarily nonfiction: travelogues, letters, play manuscripts, essays. English stories that were not actually true (aka our good friend fiction) were not very common until the 17th century or so. At that point, authors had to tell readers that their book was a novel because otherwise they might get confused.

Continue reading “Solved the mystery of “a novel” taglines!!!”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

I’ve just about smashed my yearly reading goal already… now what?

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about how I was keeping my reading goal the same as last year, despite completely obliterating it in 2019. My usual goal is 52, and I typically reach it with maybe one or two moments of panic — nothing too bad, though. I wanted to keep that goal the same because I had other goals for the year outside of just reading, too.

For example, this blog. Goals to go out with and visit friends more often (many live far away or in other states). Goals to find a way to get a dog, which inevitably entails moving, which somehow ended up looking like buying a house…

Well just about all of those other goals are now on hold since I can’t go out, visit friends, move, or buy a pet. But I can blog, and I can certainly read! So I find myself in an unprecedented state of having nearly completed my yearly reading goal before it’s even June.

now what?

The way I see it, there’s still no reason to change that reading goal. That’s what I wanted, and I smashed it! Yay! Upping it now and telling myself I have to read 75, 100, or 150 books… I feel like that will actually detract from my motivation and love of reading right now. Ultimately I read for myself, so there’s really no set amount I have to read in a year.

My plan is to instead push myself in what I read, instead. For example, I have nonfiction in my usual set when something interests me, but I want to make a conscious effort to read more. I also want to do more reviews on Booksirens and for new or lesser-known authors. They often get the biggest boost from it, it gives me a chance to find fantastic new books I might otherwise have missed, and connect with some really friendly amazing people. What’s not to love?

And, of course, blog stuff. Honestly, thank goodness I started this last year and had it ready to go because it’s what held me together the first shaky week or two. Not having a job meant not having a focus, and for me that could only result in bad things. So instead, I kept the same schedule and mimicked the way we control and plan our projects at work, but replaced things with reading and blog-based items.

(Research the MacMillan ban status, look into virtual book events, find 3 new blogs I like and follow them, read Book Riot articles to get a feel for different kinds of writing style…)

stay the course

That is likely the pattern I’ll continue to follow until everything changes again. Then I’ll figure out how to deal with those changes, and so on. In the end that’s all I can do, anyway, right? 😊 So we’ll see how many books I end up reading by the end of 2020. Maybe I’ll come out of quarantine and reading will take a backseat as other things open up as options. But regardless, I’m sticking to my goals. πŸ‘

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Why do books have “A Novel” hidden on the cover?

I was looking through the lineup of Booksparks’ Summer Reading Camp selection when a familiar question hit me again in force: why do books have “a novel” on their cover?

So many fiction works will have the title, the author, maybe a tagline, all the usual fare for a book cover. But then many will also shove the words “a novel” onto the cover. Some are bold and obvious about it, almost as if it’s a secondary part of the title:

Only slightly smaller than the title itself, with a design drawing attention to it

Others will still have it on there, but make it seem like a fun game of hide-and-seek. You might not even notice it; you get a free game of i-Spy with your novel!

check the hat
A sign on the car!

And yet others will modestly slip the words below everything else, or off to the side, or in a style designed to make it hardly noticeable — but still there.

Honestly, this wouldn’t matter at all if it weren’t for this next issue. Some books are fiction like the others above and yet don’t have that little appendix of “a novel.” I have no idea why. As far as I can tell, there’s no difference in their presented format or content.

Novels without “a novel”

My questions

My primary reaction to this little addition is “duh.” Why does it even exist? I don’t walk around with a label that says “a human” on me. We’re not in Westworld yet. A book is usually pretty clearly a book. SO why bother? Why waste the cover space?

Every time I see it I mentally roll my eyes a bit. If I really think about it, I feel like I also tend to judge those books as being a touch pretentious or condescending. It’s pretty clear you’re a novel; you really don’t have to spell it out.

Additionally, some books will have a special designation, like when they are a memoir or biography. I don’t think we see this on nonfiction very often, though.

A mystery of the publishing world?

I know, I know, maybe this is just a small thing that doesn’t matter at all, and is just preference. There is, however, also the chance that this is some really particular precise delineation of status from the publishing world that is shady and hidden from our view, with the only clue the appended “a novel.”

I hope it’s that second one. Seriously. So if any of you know why these differ, or know any publishing people who might know why these differ, please send them my way!! I am so curious!

PS – all the books in this post are in Booksparks’ #SRC2020. Check out their full lineup and if you see any books you’d like to read and chat about with others, sign on up! πŸ™‚

Posted in Chatty

…I bought more books…

Even though I have several from my last purchase still unread. Even though I have so many other books on my shelves that are unread. Even though I have a ton of digital books and library loans that are still waiting… I just can’t resist!

Admittedly part of my reason for buying more is to support the shop they come from, More Than Words. They’re run by at-risk youth and right now there are a lot of their employees who need help. My buying books helps feed some of them for another week. If I needed an excuse to buy books, that’s a pretty good one.

How are y’all doing? Have you been indulging in some online retail therapy or finding solace in what you have already?

–Update 4/24/20–

UHHH I was apparently in a daze yesterday and forgot to mention that it was World Book Day, which was also why I was buying more books. xD Hope y’all enjoyed! It’s nice to have a day dedicated to readers and authors and everyone else who loves books. ^.^

Posted in Cover Roulette

Cover Roulette: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I did my first cover roulette post a while ago for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was so fun I wanted to do another! Luckily I found another popular book that has had many different editions made, and I wondered…

What other awesome covers have I missed?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is over a decade old now, which was a startling realization. This book was probably the first dystopia novel I read, and as far as I can tell set off a whole chain of young adult dystopia novels coming out around the same time. It blew me away. Judging by all the other cover versions I found for various years and countries, I wasn’t the only one. ^.^

*A note on this set: some of the images I could find were smaller than the others, but they were so interesting that I wanted to include them anyway. Please forgive the inconsistency in sizes and enjoy the range of styles!

The Cover I Know

Identifiable primarily by the mockingjay symbol with the arrow, the mostly-black cover, and the blocky text for the title.

2009 Serbian: not that different

This is pretty similar to what I know. The author’s name is even the same sound if you said it aloud, so I’m sure I’d know what this was if I saw it at a bookshop or at the airport.

Continue reading “Cover Roulette: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins”
Posted in Chatty

I have a French hangover

Last week, I had this fun idea to read three books that were all set in one country. I ended choosing France for my first set, mostly because there was a book I wanted to read that was set in France. I’m a simple girl, what can I say?

All was going fine until I got to book #2 in my set, a nonfiction piece that’s highly acclaimed and well loved. But… if you couldn’t guess from my tone here… it is not well loved by me. This was me at about 40% through the book:


This book was so dull. It was so aggressively boring that I didn’t even read book #3, which I was excited about, because I just needed to get away from France!

As background, I already have very little interest in France to begin with. I’m not very interested in the language, the landmarks, the culture, the food… honestly there’s just not much that sets it above other places I’d love to visit (like Singapore!). There are so many other places on my list, that I thought I’d use this challenge to see if I could change my mind.

Nope. I very much feel the same… and maybe even less inclined to go there. I’m certainly less inclined to read another book set in France, that’s for sure. I still will get to book #3 and do that post, because I would really like to (and I already trudged my way through the trenches of Provence, so I might as well make it worth it). Look forward to it! ^.^

In the interim I’ve turned back towards World of Warcraft and some epic fantasy with demons and magic because I know what I like. I’ve been looking forward to Illidan for so long, and I feel like I deserve it. πŸ˜‚

Posted in Book Talk

March Wrap-Up

Let’s start with stating the (possibly) obvious: I have not done a “wrap up” post before. No particular reason, just never thought of it or felt the need. But the month of March 2020 is one I will never forget and has been absolutely bananas, so lets take a look at it in a timeline via books. Even if this is the only wrap up ever, this one is worth doing! 😁

March 1

Location: Mexico, England ~~ Current Read: The Girl on the Train ~~ General Happiness: 10!!!

FINALLY on my vacation, postponed since October. First vacation with my S.O. and so amazing with snorkeling, cave swimming, beach days, spa days, delicious food, and lots of sunshine!

March 6

Location: Massachusetts ~~ Current Reads: Anna K, The Fox & Little Tanuki Vol 1 ~~ General Happiness: 7

Obviously work is never going to be as good as a tropical resort vacation with my love, but I made it work. It helped that I got to review and ARC of a completely adorable comic and a fascinating adaptation of a Tolstoy work to young adult (bizarre yet effective).

March 10

Location: Massachusetts ~~ Current reads: Furiously Happy ~~ General Happiness: 4

Coronavirus ramping up. Projects at work getting canceled. Things feel… precarious. I have a terrible weekend as far as mental health goes and my love drives me to the bookstore late on Saturday because I know one thing that will absolutely make me feel better is a copy of Furiously Happy in my hands for a re-read.

March 18

Location: home, Hawai’i, Yugoslavia ~~ Current Reads: Moloka’i, Murder on the Orient Express ~~ General Happiness: 3

WELL. My company laid a ton of people off, resulting in a day of watching friends and coworkers sadly gather their things and be escorted out. Absolutely terrible. Company also gave the work from home order (FINALLY, THE FOOLS) so now I’m figuring out technology and self-care while permanently at home and how to be productive full-time in pajamas. But, as I remind myself, it could be worse: I could have leprosy and watch my country be overthrown and be separated from all my friends and family to slowly die.

I now live in fear, because I’m the most senior member of my team, but I’m also not counting anyone safe.

March 27

Location: home, Italy, L.A. ~~ Current Reads: Tell Me Three Things, Love & Gelato ~~ General Happiness: 1

Was furloughed from my job until maybe July at best but I’m not holding out hope. Now unemployed and unfocused and unpaid. However, I have books. So I furiously read books, particularly ones that can take me places I can’t currently go.

March 31

Location: home, South Korea ~~ Current Reads: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Empress of Salt and Fortune ~~ General Happiness: 7

Figured out how to deal with unemployment, how to keep my mental and physical health up, and how to make the best of the current situation. It’s actually possibly working out in my favor in some ways, so I’ll focus on that! 😊

So really, I started this month out on a paid vacation in Mexico and ended it unemployed and stuck at home for at least another month. The amount of change in that is insane! While there were certainly a few really awful days, overall I’ve done ok. My strength is in always being able to find things to be grateful for and keeping an awareness that all bad things eventually come to and end.

So, condensed:

The Lows

  • watching friends get laid off
  • catching a fever and having to figure out if it was COVID19 or just a fever
  • working from home full-time
  • being furloughed (unemployed)
  • figuring out unemployment
  • ever-present frustration around people’s behaviour and handling of COVID19 (STAY AT HOME!!!!! ITS NOT THAT HARD!!! MY GOD!!!)

The Highs

  • Mexico vacation!
  • bought a lot of new books to read at a great price
  • won/otherwise received several ARCs for books I’m excited about
  • got to spend a lot of time on my blog & reading
  • strengthened relationship with my S.O. after spending almost a solid month together 100% of the time 😁
  • becoming a better friend by consistently and deliberately reaching out to people and doing a video call, watch movies together, doing a virtual happy hour, etc.
  • joined a new book community (Bookishfirst!)
  • Completed my sixth year straight of daily photos
  • going for walks every day with my S.O. in the local park & befriending lots of squirrels
  • got over 300 views on my blog in the month, a new record for me (THANKS Y’ALL!!! 😍)
Just for fun, here are some neighbors who found all their decorations
Posted in Chatty

Dear past me: what’s your problem with Roger Ackroyd??

Yesterday I was writing my review for The Girl on the Train and trying to pinpoint why I wasn’t terribly excited by it. While I was thinking, I found that I kept comparing it to a mystery I remember really fondly. It was by the queen, of course, so maybe it’s an unfair comparison because who can compare well to Agatha Christie?

I had The Murder of Roger Ackroyd stuck in my head, so I went to nab a look at it out of curiosity to see what I had written in my review of it when I read it about five years ago. I remember the overall gist and tone of it now, but what details did I enjoy that I certainly missed?

WELL. Imagine my surprise when I found out that back in my youth in college, I had felt that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was a two-star read. As in, it was just okay.What the hell? How did I not care that much for it then, but end up five years later thinking on it fondly as one that I was impressed with and taught me a lot about the art of mystery?

Ultimately, I have no idea, but here’s a little retroactive note to myself.

Alright, past self. I know you were forced to read this in a college English class, but seriously, what? You’re saying it was just ok??

Current me is shaking her head in shame. And thinking, I should probably re-read this, as my memory of it was that it was pretty damn good. Entertaining, and dramatic, and an ending I didn’t expect, with a quirkily developed cast. Why didn’t I think so the first time? Odd.

I sense a re-read in my future. And maybe a dip back to Agatha, with Murder on the Orient Express, because how have I never read that yet?

Posted in Chatty

The glory of footnotes

The first book I ever read that had footnotes was The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud and I LOVED IT. In the chapters featuring perspective from this handsome fella to the right, there would be occasional little footnotes with explanation, insight, jokes, or other standard musings of a demon.

I liked the story itself, but man did I really love every time there was a footnote. And a footnote that was like a whole bonus paragraph on the page? Heaven.

Besides research items, I don’t see them used much. One of my other favorite uses of footnotes is by Jenny Lawson in her books. I originally picked up Let’s Pretend This Never Happened at a used book store, because I saw a tiny Hamlet mouse on the cover and obviously had to check it out. I read the first few pages and died laughing at the footnotes, and immediately bought it and fell in love. In fact I also just went out and bought a copy of her other book, Furiously Happy, because I was having a bad day and I knew that book would be the perfect one to help pull me out of it. Also, how did I not have a copy already? I must have borrowed it when I first read it.

I digress.

I’m probably in the minority with my love of footnotes, here. It seems like it might be something that just annoys some people completely, especially if you’re a digital reader because clicking back and forth to read footnotes IS super annoying. Have you read a book that used footnotes before? What’d you think of it?