My February 2018 Book Haul

This month, I’ve developed a new system reading more books every day. Besides reading one book at a time, I’d read two. I read 60 pages from one book and 30 pages from the second. This method worked wonders!

Looking forward to experimenting with another plan to read even more. If you haven’t viewed my 2018 resolutions, my goal is to read 333 books (including comics & e-books) by the end of the year.

Here’s my February 2018 book haul:

Adult Non-Fiction

1. Become the Force by Daniel M. Jones (4/5 stars)

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Daniel Jones took the whole Star Wars universe to a more in-depth spiritual level. The spirit of Jediism is being peaceful, doing good, and connecting with the Force.

I have no plans of joining the Church of Jediism anytime soon, but it was interesting to read about the church’s origins and its founder.

2. The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle (5/5 stars) *review*

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Consistent practice makes one talented according to The Little Book of Talent. This book is filled with valuable information to upgrade any skill you need to develop.

3. Show Your Work!  by Austin Kleon (5/5 stars) *review*

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You’d think having a creative career is hard, but Austin Kleon will show you how it’s done. Do the work, show your work, and repeat.

4. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (4/5 stars) *review*

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Show Your Work! was so great I immediately picked up Steal Like An Artist. These books are pure gold for artists everywhere.

5. The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring (4/5 stars) *review*

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Writing for leisure? Simple.

Writing full-time? Not so much.

Reading The Writing Warrior has helped me get over my writing problems especially the accursed writer’s block whenever it rears its ugly head.

Comics/Graphic Novels

1. The Adventures of Tintin (v.2) by Hergé

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I love these Tintin 3-1 editions. This volume features The Broken Ear, The Black Island, and King Ottokar’s Sceptre.

2. The Adventures of Tintin (v.3) by Hergé

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More Tintin adventures! This volume includes The Secret of the Unicorn, The Shooting Star, and The Crab with the Golden Claws.

3. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Book One) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (5/5 stars) *review*

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I love a good scary story sending chills down my spine. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is not another friendly Archie comic featuring Sabrina in her kooky, magical adventures.

Please read at your own risk.

4. Hollow City: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs (story) & Cassandra Jean (art) (4/5 stars)

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If you’re familiar with the Peculiar Children novels, try reading the graphic novel series.

I hope the movie sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children comes out soon. I’m ready to see this in theaters!

I also read: 

5. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (3/5 stars)

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Priyanka finds a magical scarf leading her back to India. There, she uncovers a family secret hidden from her since she was born.

6. Plutona by Jeff Lemire & Emi Lennox (2/5 stars)

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Plutona‘s about a group of kids finding a superheroine’s corpse in the woods. This story had rising potential then it dropped with an anti-climatic ending.

Juvenile (For Ages 8-13)

1. The Adventures of Riley: Outback Odyssey by Amanda Lumry & Laura Hurwitz (4/5 stars)

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I read Outback Odyssey since I was in a “Let’s travel to Australia” mood. I learned many things about the Outback wildlife. Did you know male kangaroos were called boomers?

YA (Young Adult)

1. Hurricane Kiss by Debbie Blumenthal (3/5 stars)

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Jillian is forced to shed her true feelings for River, a football star dropout, in the midst of Category 5 Hurricane Danielle.

Debbie Blumenthal’s storm descriptions made me feel like I was right in the middle of Mother Nature’s horrors. The romance was sweet, but I felt like the hurricane rushed it.

What was in your February book haul?

Past book hauls:

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BOOK REVIEW: “The Little Book of Talent” by Daniel Coyle

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When I was in elementary school, I used to believe the TAG (talented & gifted) students were born super smart like Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory.

I never made it to the program even in high school despite my awesome grades (at least I thought they were awesome).

I thought I wasn’t accepted to TAG because I wasn’t born talented enough.

After reading Daniel Coyle’s The Little Book of Talent, my old beliefs were complete poppycock. Talent isn’t born, it’s built.

My Favorite Tips

Coyle lists 52 skill-building tips one can use to improve their performance. It’s all about practice and repetition. With great practice comes great results.

My ten favorite tips were:

1. Take off the watch

Instead of using my watch to determine how long I practice a skill, I depend on repetition.

2.  Practice alone

It’s better to practice in solitude for extra concentration. I tend to stay in my room for half of the day reading and writing. It has come to the point I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I’m not doing it.

3. Pay attention to your mistakes

Sometimes I tend to rush with my writing, desperate to hit the “submit” button after I’m done with a draft. Afterwards, I’ve noticed the spelling errors and format mistakes.  It’s best to take things slow.

Mistakes can be your friend. They’re a friendly tap on the shoulder telling you what you can do better.

4. Play games with your skills

I give myself points every time I read, write, and exercise. The points lead to prizes like lottery tickets or a bit of shopping.  This method is incredibly helpful with my writing habit. It has increased my relationship with it.

5. Take a nap

I love naps. Who doesn’t?

According to Coyle, a 90 minute nap can improve brain functions.  If you want to work your best, take a nap. Most workaholic employers should implement naps in their employees’ schedules. They have humans working for them after all.

Coffee shouldn’t be the only substitute for working longer efficiently.

6. Embrace repetition

Forming repetition builds the brain. I love it!

7. Work like a blue-collar worker

Blue-collar workers do their job every day. It’s best to work on your skills daily like them.

8. Practice after competition

Congratulations, you made it through the tournament! You won a medal! Now, go practice some more.

Olympians don’t rest on the laurels after they achieved their first gold medal. Michael Phelps didn’t retire until he had 28 medals.

9. Build new habits

Instead of avoiding all forms of sweets during your diet, only focus on the fruits and vegetables. Want to watch less TV? Read more books.

Creating new habits is more about building the new instead of breaking down the old.

10. Try the 3 x 10 technique

Practice a skill three times with 10-minute breaks in between.

Conclusion

I thank Daniel Coyle for writing The Little Book of Talent.  I’m excited to apply these tips in my life. Can’t wait to see the results in the next three months, whether it be improving my writing skills, exercising,  or playing Overwatch (that game can be tough).

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Have you read the Little Book of Talent? What skills do you want to improve?

Related book reviews:

(Book pic source: Goodreads)

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BOOK REVIEW: “The Writing Warrior” by Laraine Herring

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  • Title: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your Voice (Amazon) (Goodreads)
  • Author: Laraine Herring
  • Publisher: Shambhala (July 20, 2010)
  • Genre: General Non-Fiction, Writing
  • Pages: 208
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Library
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

I can write forever in my journals. However, my writing’s slower when it comes to writing for publication.  Why does this particular block keep showing up? I picked up Laraine Herring’s The Writing Warrior for answers.

Unclog the Writer’s Block

No writer gets excited about writer’s block.

Writer: “F*ck yes, I don’t know what to write after little Suzy falls into the unholy vortex of doom! Now I can sit back and stress!”

Seriously, no writer acts like this.

Writer’s block is like a stubborn toilet clog. No matter how long you use the plunger, the mess only gets worst. Thank goodness, The Writing Warrior points out the problems and solutions:

1. Writing with Expectations

Problem: You think you have everything written out in your perfect outline. In the middle of writing, you have new ideas. Now your story is all over the place.

Solution: Let the story unfold itself. Your outline can be a guide, but let the story take a few twists and turns. After that, see what you can do from there.

2. Blocking Yourself

Problem: One moment, you have your creative juices flowing then you stop to think about what you’ve written and edit it. Two hours later,  you’re stuck in the same paragraph.

Solution: It’s okay to use your first draft as your brain dump stage. Once that stage is over, you can finally let your editor side do its job.

3. Writing Dishonestly

Problem: You try to write like Stephen King or J.K Rowling. It’s not working. It doesn’t feel like your writing.

Solution: Write like you. Listen to your inner voice.

4. Waiting for the Muse

Problem: You don’t start writing until your muse arrives.

Solution: The muse doesn’t show up until you start writing. That’s it. You wouldn’t wait around for Domino’s to show up at your place with pizza out of the blue. You have to call them first.

Conclusion

The Writing Warrior has helped me release my old writing beliefs. Thanks to this book, I’ve written longer than before. I let myself become a free-flowing channel of words.

Got any writing issues? The Writing Warrior can help you.

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Which writing books have improved your writing? Have you read The Writing Warrior? 

Related book reviews:

(Book pic source: Amazon)

(Gif sources: Giphy)

6 Louisiana Books to Catch Those Bayou State Vibes

My maternal grandmother was from Louisiana. I won’t ever be able to talk to her about it since she passed away shortly after my mom was born.

The family link might be a subconscious reason why I’ve always been interested in Louisiana. The vampire lore, its haunted history, the voodoo culture, and the melting pot diversity always fascinated me.

With that said, I found six Louisiana books that’ll give me those bayou state vibes no matter where I am in the world. Perhaps you too!

1. The Baby Dolls: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition by Kim Marie Vaz

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I would’ve never known street walkers organized a part of the Mardi Gras marches. The decision to march started out as a competition between rival red light districts.

2. Beware of the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

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A sister searches for her missing brother in a swamp the town locals wouldn’t dare explore.

3. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

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Anne Rice and New Orleans go together like PBJ. With vampires in the mix, it’s even more delicious!

4. The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

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Witches are turning against each other as their magic fades away. One witch’s case to solve witches’ disappearances in New Orleans may have dark connections to her family.

5. Mad Madame LaLaurie: New Orleans Most Famous Murderess Revealed by Victoria Cosner Love & Lorelei Shannon

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A locked room in Madame Delphine LaLaurie’s home hides her hidden atrocities. A city fire exposes all of its gruesome secrets.

You might recognize the LaLaurie name from  Kathy Bates’ character in American Horror Story: Coven.

6. Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Voodoo Dreams is a fictional account based on the real Marie Laveau, famed voodoo priestess of New Orleans. You can visit her grave at the Saint Louis Cemetery.

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Which books make you want to travel to Lousiana right now?

Other articles:

(Book pic sources: Amazon)

(Gif sources: Giphy)

BOOK REVIEW: “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon

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Please Read

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Every creative person should read Show Your Work right now! This book will help you get noticed for any original work you make. Author Austin Kleon shows you how it’s done.

If you’ve finished a short film or a painting, tell someone about it. It can either be by word of mouth or online. Show it off on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Use these social media sites to your advantage. They’re more valuable using it that way than sharing the latest meme.

You don’t have to share everything. Share one small thing daily during your creative process.

You’re Not the Next DaVinci

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If you’ve suffered through strict art school, it’s okay. More than likely, your over-the-top art teachers had it all wrong. You don’t have to be like any particular fantastic artist to make it out in the world. Not everybody will be the next Andy Warhol or Leonardo DaVinci. They’re one of a kind.

Stay inspired, disciplined, and do your own thing. What you create is essentially food. Someone’s going to find it delicious.

Process > Resumé

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Showing your daily creation process is better than showing your resumé. Kleon recommends it. You’d want to tell potential employers and clients what you’re doing at the very moment besides waving your resumé in their faces and hope for the best.

Some people complain about not having their dream career yet. You have to ask: “What are you doing right now to reach your career goals?” They’ll probably stare at you tight-lipped then retreat to their rooms to watch 12 hours of Netflix.

You Like That? Me too!

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Another handy Show Your Work tip is meeting people who are obsessed with the same things as you. Eventually, you’ll meet someone who will land you a career doing what you already do every day.

Love writing and reading comics? Meet people online and offline who can go on all day about them.

If you’re a fashion designer, meet other fashion designers. You freaking love minimalist painting? No doubt there are others who freaking love it too.

Being a convention wanderer is not mentioned in Show Your Work, but it’s a topic worth acknowledging. Whatever you do, don’t be that person who wastes large sums of money wandering through con after con with no specific goals. Sure, you meet people, but you forget about them as soon as the convention is over.

The essence of networking is establishing your network system. Create your network map of the cool people you meet through conventions, clubs, and other meeting areas.

Art is Process

painting GIF by Mina Mir

Think of yourself as a never-ending maker, a forever expanding universe of creation.

When I’m at the library, I’ve noticed authors like Anne Rice and Agatha Christie who have written over 20 books. They have their creative universe running.

According to Kleon, art is more about the process than the final product. Think the universe created one planet and was like, “SweetI’ve made Earth! My work is done.” and stopped making planets? More we haven’t discovered yet are created every day.

Be like the universe. You are a part of it. Keep creating.

Conclusion

Overall, this is what you need to do based on Show Your Work:

  1. Show your creative process daily (via your website, social media sites, word of mouth, etc.).
  2. Meet obsessive people (not crazy though).
  3. Don’t listen to the naysayers.
  4. You don’t have to be DaVinci to be great.
  5. Create every day.

Show Your Work should be given to all imaginative people especially young art students.

You don’t need an MFA in underwater basket weaving to tell others how good you are. Show them your latest basket creation. Someone might give you an opportunity of a lifetime because you tweeted about it.

Have you read Show Your Work?

Relate book reviews:

(Book pic source: Amazon)

(Gif sources: Giphy)

 

BOOK REVIEW: “Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

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  • Title: Chilling Adventures with Sabrina (Book One) (Amazon) (Goodreads)
  • Author: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
  • Publication: Archie Comics (Aug 16, 2016)
  • Genre:  Horror, Graphic Novels/Comics
  • Pages: 160
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Library
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

“Prepare to have your socks spooked off.” -i09

I should’ve paid closer attention to this quick review. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will creep you out! The book has the 50s-60s horror movie vibes all over it.

I thought, “Hmm, this will be cool to read before I go to bed.”

What the heck was I thinking? Do you want this face ingrained in your brain when you’re trying to sleep?

Not Your Friendly Teen Witch Story

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Sabrina’s dark life begins as soon as she’s born. Her mother Diane tried to run away with baby Sabrina from her warlock husband, Edward. Eventually, he catches up with Diane and turns her into a mental hospital. Edward’s sisters Hilda and Zelda become Sabrina’s guardians.

Years later, Sabrina reaches her teenage years and attends Baxter High in Greendale. There, she falls in love with football star Harvey Kinkle (lol that name).

The problem: witch law bans intimate relationships between witches and mortals. Even though Sabrina’s born with both mortal and witch’s blood, her aunts recommended she should focus on her witchcraft.

One becomes a fully-fledged witch on the first full moon after their 16th birthday. They go through a creepy ceremony sacrificing a goat and signing their name in the Devil’s book. Yeah, it’s that dark and serious.

Not only Sabrina has to choose to be a full-time witch or live a normal life to be with Harvey, but she also has to deal with Iola. She was Edward’s jilted lover.

Madame Satan

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Iola aka Madame Satan is the woman you’ll think about whenever you hear the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Iola dated Edward for a while until he announced he was seeing Diana. Furious with Edward’s decision, she threw herself into a lion’s den.

That’s the end of her, right? Nope. Iola ends up in hell tortured for her sin of suicide.

Iola returns to the human world after Betty and Veronica accidentally summon her. She learns of Sabrina’s whereabouts and disguises herself as a teacher in Sabrina’s school.

Sabrina doesn’t know how much hell Iola is about to give her.

Story Questions

A few questions linger in my mind about this Sabrina story:

1. Who turned Edward into a tree?

In one scene, angry five-year-old Sabrina has a telepathic temper tantrum because her dad isn’t present at her birthday party. Aunts Hilda and Zelda claim he’s busy. The next panel reveals Edward’s distorted face in a tree.

Did the aunts do it or Edward did it to himself by accident? Perhaps I’ve skipped a page…

2. What is Edward’s master plan with Sabrina?

Edward repeatedly states he needs an offspring because the Dark Lord (Satan) told him to.

But why? What happens after Sabrina’s born? What is Sabrina’s ultimate destiny?

I suppose my answers will come when the next book comes out.

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Special thanks to ccampaign7 from Charmed Book Haven Reviews. After reading her review on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I was inspired to read it too!

Any dark comics you’d recommend?

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(Book Pic Source: Amazon)

(Gif & Pic Source: Giphy, Imgur)