Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2021

Hello, everyone! It seems that another month has already flown by! My blog has continued to grow (thank you to everyone who stops by to read the posts), and I’ve been increasing the amount and types of content. It’s been a lot of fun to experiment with all the different posts, but it has also been a bit exhausting keeping up with it all and trying to read books too. That being said, I made a lot of progress on my reading goals this month, which you’ll be able to see below.

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First Lines Fridays #3

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
Read More »

First Lines Fridays #2

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
Read More »

Why I Read: Part 3

I am excited to reflect on my third motivation for reading: relaxation/escape/coping. Although, I don’t think any of those words adequately describes the peace that reading brings me. Before delving in to this week’s reflection, be sure to read parts one and two of this series, as well.

For as long as I can remember, I have experienced anxiety and cycles of depressive episodes. My mind constantly worries about everything and will not turn off. This then leads to exhaustion and the onset of depression to the point of being unable to get out of bed or do basic daily activities. Luckily, with therapy and years of honing coping skills, I have learned how to better deal with both of these disorders. I have even been able to successfully help others by becoming a therapist myself. So, I am living proof that things can get better.

One of the ways I cope with my anxiety and depression is reading. It is one of the things that allows me to focus and quiet my mind whenever I’m feeling anxious. The practice of intentionally bringing my thoughts back to the book at hand rather than going down the random rabbit hole of worry my brain tries to create helps me stay grounded in the moment with the story. I enjoy being absorbed in a good story, and it allows me to escape my thoughts or whatever situation I may be worrying about, even if only for a time. The distance created by this distraction very often helps me return to a stressful situation refreshed or with a different perspective.

Reading has also helped me cope with depression. When I get depressed, I typically don’t have the energy to do much. This often leads to thoughts of me being worthless, useless, or guilty for being lazy. These thoughts then further fuel and deepen my depression. I’ve found that reading is something I can do without the need to use up a great deal of energy. Finishing a few pages or a chapter gives me a sense of accomplishment that helps decrease my negative feelings toward myself and assists in stopping the negative spiral of becoming more and more depressed. It allows me an avenue to feel I am doing something worthwhile without overwhelming the small reserves of energy I have during a depressive state. As with the anxiety, the distraction of reading also helps me cope during times I’m feeling overwhelmingly sad because it sometimes provides at least a small break from the oppressive darkness. Additionally, it allows me an outlet to express some of the sadness that is often bottled up. For example, reading something sad may help me cry or get in touch with that emotion, which allows me to release some of it and feel a little better. So often, I feel a sense of apathy when depressed, and reading can assist in overcoming the apathy and help me feel again.

Does reading solve all of my problems? Definitely not. There are plenty of times when I am too anxious to control my mind enough to read or too depressed to be able to focus for even a couple of pages. There are also numerous situations where avoidance and distraction can do more harm than good in the long term. So, I’m not advocating that reading can cure mental illness or make someone, or myself, feel better all the time. It is one of many tools I use to relax and distract myself when things get to be too much. However, I do think it is one of the things I find most relaxing and most useful in many cases to help cope with my anxiety and depression. I have found that reading regularly when I’m not anxious or depressed also helps me prevent extreme cases of worry or depression because I am spending more time mindful of my reading rather than letting the negative thoughts consume my mind. Therefore, maintenance of my mental health is huge motivation for why I read consistently.

Do you use reading to relax, escape for a bit, or cope with depression or anxiety? Let me know in the comments.

Audiobook Review – Doctor Who: The Minds of Magnox

Goodreads Synopsis

A brand new standalone adventure for the Tenth Doctor, which also forms part of the Time Lord Victorious story arc, read by Jacob Dudman.

The Doctor travels with Brian, the Ood assassin, to the planet Magnox, one of the greatest receptacles of knowledge the universe will ever know. The Doctor needs to ask a vital question, but the answer is Grade 1 Classified! In order to gain an audience with the Minds of Magnox themselves he must take a dangerous test. Is he smart enough to get through?

Meanwhile, Brian gets involved with the criminal fraternity and is given a job: to assassinate the Minds of Magnox. However, others also have the planet within their sights….

Jacob Dudman reads this exclusive audio adventure by Darren Jones, and this edition also features a short coda to the story.

My Review

What I Liked

This is probably my favorite story, so far, of the Time Lord Victorious multimedia project. It is a tight story with an interesting, self-contained plot. While it is clearly interconnected with the overarching story of the event, it tells a good story of its own, which some other entries were lacking. I liked the premise of a planet ruled by people who have access to all the information in the universe and the answer to every question. I also enjoyed seeing the Doctor become obsessed with discovering whether his actions in other parts of the TLV event had made the universe a better place. The consequences of this obsession are ironic given the harm caused by it. This entry also contained another stand out performance by Brian the Ood, which I absolutely loved. He really is such a demented, yet fun, character.

The narration really brought this story to another level, as well. It was top notch, and Jacob Dudman did a great job impersonating the Doctor and making Brian the Ood sound eery. The coda was also fantastic and is probably my favorite scene from all of Time Lord Victorious, so far.

What I Didn’t Like

There isn’t really anything negative that stands out to me about this story.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this audiobook is a great entry in the Time Lord Victorious event. It has a fun and interesting story with fantastic narration. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars. If you are a fan of Doctor Who, I recommend it!

ARC Review: The Year Before the End

***I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review has been completed voluntarily and is my honest opinion.***

Plot Summary

Aliens have finally made contact and seem to be interested in helping humanity join the larger galactic stage. However, many think the aliens have other nefarious ideas and are worried the building of a gate to connect Earth to the wider galaxy will bring nothing but conquest and domination from the stars. Amidst this backdrop, Zo learns of plans that the aliens will indeed attack Earth once the gate is built and agrees to have her crew participate in a mission to stop it. Along the way, she learns nothing is as it seems and not all people, even those close to you, can be trusted. Now she and her crew must run for their lives and attempt to prevent calamity from unfolding.

What I Liked

This was a solid science fiction story. I liked it’s take on what would happen if beings from other worlds made contact with humans. The various reactions described were very different, and it was a realistic approach to the topic. I think it is logical to assume some people would view the aliens as opportunity while others would see them as dangerous, and I enjoyed seeing the dynamic between the two factions play out throughout the novel. I also appreciated the amount of science present in this science fiction. I felt as though I understood what was going on, and how it was happening, fairly well thanks to the descriptions.

I enjoyed all the characters in this book, but I liked Zo and Clarice the most. They were the characters with the most background information. The rest of the crew were fun to read too, but I still felt like I didn’t really know them very well by the end of the book. With Zo, I enjoyed the backstory of how she became captain and liked how capably she led the crew. Clarice is probably my favorite, though, because I loved the exploration of how she integrated technology with her body.

The descriptions in this book were very detailed. The author did a great job making the battle and chase scenes feel realistic. There is plenty of action throughout the book, which keeps things fairly fast-paced for much of the story, especially the latter half. I also enjoyed author’s descriptions of locations, and I felt I was looking out at Mars with a vivid image in my mind. I loved the way he described the movement of the crew through the spaceships; it made me feel as though I was there bouncing around with them.

What I Didn’t Like

Even though I enjoyed the detail in the descriptions throughout the book, I found it made the book harder to read, especially the first half. There were parts that read almost like a technical manual rather than a novel. I had to take breaks or re-read some passages to fully understand or grasp the image or information trying to be conveyed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I enjoyed it once I wrapped my head around it, but sometimes it made the reading tedious.

I also did not like the romance in this book. Luckily, it played only a small part. However, the one major romance scene was seriously problematic. It was steeped in sexual harassment and applied the use of a power differential and intoxication to obtain companionship. I cringed while reading it and hope the author does better with future outings for these characters.

Final Thoughts

If you like science fiction that is heavy on science and descriptions of how things work, this is probably a great book for you. There is also plenty of great action, political intrigue, and interesting uses of technology. Therefore, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.