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Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favourites

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s prompt is a cute one. I’m going to try to answer it without mentioning books I’ve talked about here many times before like Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, and the Little House on the Prairie novels. Not only will it make this post a bit more unique, it will show you parts of my personality that I don’t think most of you have seen before.

 The Childcraft Series

Childcraft is a set of encyclopedias and anthologies meant for kids. Someone gave my mother a set of them in the 1960s or 1970s. After she and her siblings outgrew them, she saved them for her own children a few decades later. I believe that my nephews are now reading or have read these anthologies, too!

These books covered an incredibly wide range of subjects: history, science, technology, creative play/hobbies, animals, fairy tales, crafts, kid-friendly sociology, how things work, and much more. Just about anything a child might wonder about was covered by one of the volumes. Reading them was a fantastic way to learn a little bit about a wide range of topics.

I think this series had far more than 10 volumes, so technically they could be the basis for my entire post today. Let’s count them all as one answer and move on to other stuff, though.

Lois Gladys Leppard’s Mandie series

Once again, there were so many books in this series that I could have counted them as all of my answers today.

Mandie was a biracial orphan whose solved all sorts of mysteries in the late 1800s to early 1900s. I haven’t reread these books as a adult due to my loss of interest in the inspirational genre, but I do remember really liking her adventures when I was in elementary school because of how smart and headstrong the main character was.

The Dictionary

I loved reading the dictionary for fun when I was growing up. Sometimes I go to dictionary.com and look up new words for the sheer joy of it to this day.

The Thesaurus 

I’ve also read thesaurus entries for fun both as a child and as an adult . Can you all tell I’m a writer?

Medical Textbooks

My mom went back to college to get her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing when I was about eight or nine years old. I remember being fascinated by all of the textbooks she bought for her courses. Sometimes I’d read them when she wasn’t studying.

While I didn’t necessarily understand everything they talked about, I loved the case studies in her textbooks and was proud of myself when I figured out how to pronounce the really long medical terms. These books also confirmed that I am in no way suited to be a doctor or nurse…although I have the utmost respect for people who can deliver babies, perform surgeries, place IVs, and stitch up wounds!

This might be the most unique Top Ten Tuesday post I’ve written so far. How many of you had similar reading habits as kids?

Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

It’s going to be interesting to see how everyone responds to this week’s prompt. I wasn’t sure if I could come up with enough responses to justify participating this week, but luckily I did.

1. Sometimes the movie is better than the book.

For example, The Hobbit was a fantastic book. Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on it was not something I’d ever watch again.

2. While I regularly seek out #OwnVoices stories, every author who is willing to do the appropriate research should feel free to create characters from any background or identity they wish.

Speaking as someone who is bisexual, it makes me so happy when mono-sexual authors write bi characters so long as they talk to people from my community about our experiences and listen to our feedback on how to create non-stereotypical characters if they have any questions about the appropriateness of their ideas.

The more representation we get, the better! I’d also love it if we could create a literary culture that expects inclusivity in every story and applauds authors who put the work in that is necessary to create fresh characters from a wide range of backgrounds.

3.Stalking and jealousy aren’t romantic.

I see this a lot in young adult novels especially, but it bothers me when a young girl is harassed by a guy who knows she’s completely uninterested in him. It’s even more concerning when he continues to pursue her no matter how often she turns him down or tries to avoid him. Sometimes these “love interests” will also start telling her to stop talking to certain people, insist she dress a certain way, or make other big changes to who she is as a human being without her consent.

The thing is, this isn’t romance. It’s abuse. This is a totally unacceptable way for anyone to behave and should never be part of any romantic storyline…especially when it’s written for teenagers who might not have enough life experience yet to catch these red flags if or when they pop up in real life.

4.  Characters who die must stay dead.

I’m looking at you, super heroes and other inhabitants of graphic novels.

Exceptions to this rule include ghosts, zombies, and vampires, but  character can only be one of them. If they take this path, they should be exactly as dangerous as all of the other ghosts, zombies, or vampires out there.

I have no interest in the “true love makes it safe to kiss a creature that wants to eat me” trope. If a character is a monster, let them be a proper monster.

5. Short books are better than long ones.

There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but in general I believe it’s better to leave the audience wanting more than to turn what could have been a tightly-written 200 page novel into a 400+ page monstrosity.

I do not need dozens of pages of descriptions of the flora and fauna of a universe in the vast majority of cases. Give me the basic rundown of how that world is different from the one I live in and let my imagination fill in the gaps. It’s so much nicer to get straight to the plot than it is to wade through what I think of as unnecessary descriptions.

6. Proselytizing books are unhelpful.

No, this isn’t about any particular religion, ethical stance, or philosophical belief. I don’t care what point the author is trying to make or even if I happen to agree with them. Books should never be used as an excuse to sermonize.

They should be used to, you know, tell a story and entertain their audience. By all means introduce a sympathetic character who happens to be on your side of issue X if it happens to genuinely fit the storyline, but always stay focused on developing the plot and characters instead of pressuring the audience to join you in your love of big, purple hats or personal vendetta against cilantro.

7. Hype is like a drug

I tend to be cautious about books that are heavily hyped up. If they’re still receiving glowing reviews six months or a year after they are published, I will start to take the overwhelmingly positive response to them more seriously.

This isn’t to say that I avoid reading books that have overwhelmingly positive reviews, only that I try to temper my expectations if the response to them feels too good to be true.

8. Excessive slang makes novels feel dated before their time.

In no way do I expect characters to speak formal English all the time, but will we remember what TBF or honey wagon means 20 years from now? If every single scene in a book is filled with slang terms that are only a few months or years old, it makes me wonder if people will still find it readable in the future.

9. Some love triangles should have unconventional endings.

Love triangles would be rare if I had my way. In my opinion, they’re overused and often take up space that would be better allotted to resolving the main conflict. If they’re going to keep existing, why not wrap them up by:

  • Everyone turning out to be polyamorous
  • The main character choosing to keep dating around instead of picking from their first two options
  • The two love interests deciding to date while the main character ends up happily alone
  • All three characters finding partners who are better matches for themselves elsewhere
  • Everyone ending up happily single for now (or forever)
  • The main character picking one person for a romantic, committed, asexual happily ever after

I believe we need much more diversity in what is counted as a happy ending in tales that decide to make love a conflict.

10. Most stories should not have romantic subplots at all.

This might be my most unpopular bookish opinion of all, but I’ve grown weary of how often characters in non-romance genres suddenly end up in relationships when they have more pressing concerns in their lives like running from a hoard of zombies or figuring out who the killer really is before they become his next victim.

Look, I’ve been happily married for years. Romance and love are incredible experiences…but there are many other equally thrilling things to explore in fiction and in real life.

I dislike the cultural pressure that is placed on folks to be married or in a longterm romantic relationship regardless of whether that’s something they actually desire in the short term or long term.  I feel like making every character have a love interest only makes this pressure more intense.

Despite the occasionally critical things I’ve had to say about romantic plots today, I am in no way opposed to them in general. I simply wish it were as common for characters to be asexual, demisexual, polyamorous, or even simply too focused on building a career, dating around, or fighting the undead to settle down right now as it is for everyone to pair off by the final scene in so many of the books out there.

My Review of Bipasha Basu’s Unleash 30 Minute Fat Burning Cardio Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine. 

I’m reviewing this workout simply because I enjoyed it and think some of you might, too. I’m not being compensated for this post in any way and have no affiliation with Bipasha Basu or Shemaroo Good Health 24/7. As always, this is an advertisement-free site. 

A surprising number of people find my site every week by searching for Bipasha Basu. If you’re one of them, I hope you enjoy this workout as much as you have her previous ones. If you’re new to her videos, you’re in for a real treat today!

About the 30 Minute Fat Burning Cardio Workout

This is a 30 minute workout that includes approximately five minutes each of warmup and cool down exercises. I liked the fact that those things were accounted for. As I’ve said here in the past, I find it easy to skip out on cool downs especially when videos don’t include them because of how eager I am to flop over and relax after exercising.

One of the biggest reasons why I decided to do this particular workout was because Bipasha Basu was in it! She has an aerobic dance workout I’ll link to at the bottom of today’s post that I love, so I was curious to see what else she’s been up to lately.

There is no special equipment required for this routine. I appreciated having a yoga mat to jump around on, but this extra layer of padding on the ground is optional.

The cardiovascular exercises in this video included jumping jacks, pushups, mountain climbers, squats, kicks, squats, bunny hops, and marching in place between the most strenuous moves. Bipasha Basu’s 30 Minute Fat Burning Cardio Workout 

My Review

Let’s begin this review with a lighthearted comment about bunny hops. This wasn’t something I’d ever heard of before, but anyone who knows how much I adore rabbits can probably guess how much I enjoyed that particular part of the workout. It was the last thing I was expecting to find in such a serious video, but it sure was a cute thing to try.

Most of the cardiovascular exercise I do is in the form of walking. While it’s brisk, I was still more challenged by this workout than I was expecting to be. There’s a difference between taking a walk and doing jumping jacks, and I think I need to be doing more of the latter to build up my endurance!

This definitely isn’t something I’d recommend to a beginner. I consider myself to be a reasonably fit person, and I wasn’t able to go through this entire video without pausing when I was testing it out for this post. If you’ve been exercising regularly for a while, this may be right up your alley.

I never know how to properly gauge the intensity of a workout, but I would recommend it to people who have been exercising regularly for a while and are interested in trying something new. Bipasha’s Basu’s aerobic dance workout I previously reviewed on my site was an easier, lower-impact workout that included all sorts of positive messages about loving yourself and doing your best.

This one included a minimum amount of narration and more energetic moves. That minimalistic approach is something I appreciate. I suspect I’ll continue to be challenged by it for quite a while.

With that being said, I did notice a few exercises that carried over from her aerobic dance workout. It was amusing to be surprised by them just when I thought that Ms. Basu was expecting her audience to learn an entirely new set of moves.

The only non-complimentary thing I’ll say about this workout has to do with the background music. I’m not a fan of exercising to music unless I’m dancing, so I did find myself wishing for a version of this workout that included Ms. Basu’s instructions but no other noises. This is a minor criticism of something I otherwise found quite useful and challenging, though, and I am glad that the background music didn’t include lyrics.

What I like the most about Bipasha Basu’s workouts is the repetition built into them. Every move was repeated once before she had her audience go onto a different set of exercises. While this is a common thing to find in all sorts of fitness routines, I’ve only grown to appreciate it more over time. It’s nice to be able to practice certain moves more than once, especially if they’d be something I might skip if I were making up my own list of exercises to get through on cardio days.

Previous Reviews of Free Youtube Workout Routines:

The Challenging Chair Workout 

Bipasha Basu’s 30-Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

Fitness Blender’s Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout

Fitness Blender’s Ab Blasting Interval Workout

Fitness Blender’s Toned, Lean Arms Workout

Interview with KristaLyn A. Vetovich

Say hello to KristaLyn A. Vetovich! She was the second person to respond to my speculative fiction interview post, and I’m excited to share her answers with you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

My mother hooked me on reading with the Harry Potter series. She would read them to us every night, but I would read ahead because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

At the moment, Neil Gaiman. Not only are his stories incredible, but his perspective is so encouraging and grounding for me as an author.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

I love speculative fiction because it’s the best way to unleash everything my imagination can come up with, whether it’s through my own writing or leaping into a world of someone else’s design. It helps remind me that anything is possible and I can make a better reality.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

I love it! Why not get creative and complex as long as it’s entertaining and makes sense for the reader? We have plenty of people (editors, publishers, etc) who keep our feet on the ground while we take our minds further into the clouds.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

I usually let my pet’s personality inspire their names, but I did give my corgi the middle name Mikleo after a character in the Tales of Zestiria video game.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Any world with zombies in it. Zombies aren’t my thing.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

I want to visit the world of Good Omens and just get coffee (or tea) with Crowly and Aziraphale. I feel like that would be an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

I take responsibility for my own exposure to spoilers and if I happen upon one I see it as just another reason to experience the story as soon as possible. I’m not one to spread spoilers though. Everyone deserves the right to choose what they know going into a story.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

That’s a tough one! So many are already coming to the screen. As long as they’re done well, I’d watch all of them to promote the authors and their series!

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Those characters would translate so well into books!

Bonus Author Questions

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

For the Shifted series it was just people watching and imagining how hard we must make it on spirit guides to get through to us. The story exploded from there.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

I’ve had entire characters introduce themselves and I don’t realize it until pages later. I welcome them. If my creativity is flowing, I’m all for it and I like to think it usually works out better for the story than what I’d originally planned. I can always adjust in revisions if I need to.

What is your favourite trope?

I love the unwilling or unexpected hero. It shows that heroes come from everywhere and that being a hero is a choice anyone can make.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

I avoid love at first sight—though I believe it can happen. I like romance to be a secondary part of the plot in my stories so I can focus on the individuals and what makes them heroes in their own right.

 

About: KristaLyn is an internationally bestselling author, certified holistic practitioner, and intuitive coach who helps people attract the lives they want to live with the one thing they can’t control: divine timing.

KristaLyn lives in a treehouse in Pennsylvania with her husband and corgi, Jack, and cooperates with her family to help revitalize the Coal Region of Pennsylvania to a new, sustainable glory.

Website: www.KristaLynAVetovich.com

Email: info@KristaLynAVetovich.com

Social Media Handle: @AuthorKristaLyn

What to Read If You Liked The Walking Dead

Since the first post in this series was about a book published almost forty years ago, I thought the second post should feature something more contemporary from the speculative fiction genre.

I try not to make assumptions about what my followers already know about any book or graphic novel I blog about, so I’ll summarize The Walking Dead in one spoiler-free sentence for anyone who isn’t familiar with it:

After waking up from a coma, a police officer must find his missing family and adjust to a world that has somehow become overrun with zombies while he was unconscious. 

Obviously, there’s a lot more going on this world, but that sentence will give you the gist of it.

As a fair warning, the graphic novels as well as the TV show based on them are both incredibly violent. I actually had to stop reading and watching both of them a while ago due to this, although I’m still intrigued by the characters Robert Kirkman first created in 2003 and the assumptions he made about what life would be like in this sort of world.

If zombies and post-apocalyptic worlds are things you enjoy reading about, here are some other books that might be equally appealing.

Some of these titles have popped up in many similar lists online, but I’ve come up with a few classic novels I thought would work as well because of how many themes they share with this series.

Humans have dealt with plagues for millennia. For most of that time, we didn’t know why someone would seem to be perfectly healthy one day only to become dangerously ill the next.  You might be surprised to see how many similarities there are between an outbreak of cholera or rabies and a zombie infestation.

What happens when a society breaks down is another string connecting all of these recommendations. While I tend to have a much more optimistic view of how the average person would behave in that situation, not every writer agrees with that. It’s always interesting to see more pessimistic takes on the topic.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Imagine trying to stay alive in a world where nothing grew anymore. Now picture doing it while raising a child by yourself.

The relationship between the main character and his son reminded me a lot of how Rick Grimes interacted with his son in The Walking Dead. Both of these parents had been pushed to their limits by worlds they couldn’t possibly have predicted or prevented. Their love for their children was what kept them going in impossible situations.

Fair warning: this is a pretty violent story. Be sure to read some full reviews of it before checking it out if you’re sensitive to or triggered by acts of violence.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In this tale, a group of schoolboys were stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. They needed to figure out how to survive there without any adult supervision for a long period of time.

This was one of the first classics I thought about after I discovered the zombie genre. True, there weren’t any monsters on the island, but the unstable, dangerous community these kids developed reminded me a lot of how many living characters behave in typical zombie movies.

If only William Golding were still alive. I’d sure like to see what he thought of the similarities between this book and today’s horror movies.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Zombies attacked. Humans fought back. Eventually, society stabilized enough for researchers to begin collecting stories from the survivors of this apocalypse.

I liked this more hopeful approach to how people might respond to a zombie invasion. People banded together in many of the anecdotes the narrator collected, and not all of them were the folks you might necessarily expect to make alliances with one another. Some characters also survived circumstances that seemed like they should never have worked out okay in the end. It wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Oh, and do not watch the film based on this book. The only things it shared in common with the original version were the title and the fact that zombies exist in both universes.

Yes, I might still be a little vexed about that.

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy

If you think about it, rabies shares many similarities with whatever virus, bacteria, plot hole, or magical disease that creates zombies depending on which universe we’re talking about.

This disease is spread through bites and scratches.

Once symptoms appear, death is certain.

People and animals unlucky enough to be infected with it become agitated and unpredictable.

Sometimes I wonder if rabies was one of those real-life diseases that encourages creative minds to come up with fictional versions of it. They certainly have enough in common for me to think this is a likely explanation for at least some of the zombie folklore out there.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaugh

This is one of those graphic novels that I keep waiting for Hollywood to discover and turn into a TV series. It was a post-apocalyptic story what happened to the world after a virus killed off all but one man on Earth while leaving everyone who had two X chromosomes unaffected.

It was much less violent than The Walking Dead has been so far, but humanity still had to figure out how it was going to survive in the longterm. Since even frozen sperm and male embryos died out in this plague, humanity would only continue to exist for at most another century if the characters couldn’t figure out a way to create the next generation without the help of the Y chromosome.

Most of the storyline dealt with the main character’s quest to travel to the other side of the globe and find his estranged girlfriend. That journey was far from an easy one, but it did introduce the audience to all sorts of interesting characters along the way.

The Plague by Albert Camus

This tale was written at a time when epidemics happened more often than they do in most countries today. I’ve read that Camus was influenced by the Cholera outbreaks that happened both in the setting of this novella as well as closer to home. While the storyline doesn’t mention this disease by name, it does give clues that this might be what was killing off the characters so quickly.

If you’re not familiar with Cholera, know that it’s a bacteria that causes such severe, persistent diarrhea that people die of dehydration. In short, it is an awful way to die, and the plot did go into detail about what happens to the human body after being exposed to this illness. (So maybe don’t read this while eating lunch….)

Like fictional zombie diseases, Cholera didn’t have a cure and was poorly understood. I’m not surprised Camus was inspired to write about it. It struck communities without warning and spread like wildfire through fecally contaminated water and food. Seeing how the main character reacted to an illness that no one could stop reminded me so much of Rick Grimes’ reaction to the many deaths he saw while trying to survive in a zombiepocalypse.

What other books should be added to this list? Have you read any of these titles?

Previous posts in this series:

What to Read If You Liked Clan of the Cave Bear

Taking an Excused Absence Today

Don’t worry, everything is well in my world. I’m simply not satisfied enough with the posts I’m currently working on to publish any of them quite yet. It’s better to say nothing than to share half-formed thoughts, I think. I’ll go back to my usual posting routine on Monday. Cheers! Read More

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Suggestion Saturday: August 18, 2018

Here is this week’s list of links from my favourite corners of the web. Last week’s list was a little sparse. I think I more than made up for that this time around. Don’t Worry About Feeling Sad – on the Benefits of a Blue Period. What do all of you think of this idea? I… Read More

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My 4 Favourite Science Fiction Books About Life on Mars

Today’s post was inspired by yesterday’s breaking news about a lake of salty, liquid water being found on Mars. This is exciting news for the scientific community and humanity in general. We may now be a little closer to discovering life on another planet. As a sci-fi writer, I can only hope this leads to… Read More

What Should I Write About Next?

Every once in a while, I like to ask my readers for feedback. What topics related to fitness, writing, mindfulness, and/or the science fiction and fantasy genres would you like to see me blog about? What posts here have you enjoyed the most so far? Which ones would you like to see a follow-up to?… Read More

Nothing Appeals to Everyone

As I mentioned last week, there are certain authors and genres I’ve never been able to become a fan of no matter how many times I try to like them. It simply isn’t possible to write, draw, film, or sing something that’s going to appeal to every single person who stumbles across it. My thoughts… Read More