Science Fiction

It’s been a while since I did a book review and it occurred to me that I’ve been reading a lot of amazing science fiction books in the past year or two. I want to share some of the ones that I’ve enjoyed.

I’ve been reading science fiction off and on over the years and enjoy it but a lot of it seems to focus on the science and technology and not so much on the character development. I think this has changed at least in the books I’ve been reading.

Many of these books show a view of the future which I never imagined which makes reading them a fun adventure. They are so different and sometimes weird, that I can never guess what is going to happen which keeps me turning the pages. These two books are examples of this. The Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang Stories of Your Life and Othersis a book of short stories that I’m still thinking about. The movie, Arrival, was based on one of the stories in this book. The other book is Sleeping Giants by Silvain Neuvel. Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)The premise of the book is very strange but I couldn’t stop reading it and look forward to reading the sequel.

Many are cautionary tales like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Station ElevenI think Sleeping Giants could fit into this category. Probably a few others as well. These are stories that make you wonder what you would do in the situations the characters are in. 

There are retellings of old stories with amazingly imaginative new twists and visions like Unclaimed (The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan, Book 1) by Erin McCole Cupp which is a unique retelling story of Jane Eyre, science fiction style and is full of  neat ideas that I never would have thought of but make for a fun read.  Also the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)This is a fun series that retell the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White but the main characters are strong, kick-butt young women and the stories are full of cyborgs, robots and space travel. 

Some are written in an amazing physically graphic way; meaning the format of the story is a big part of the story itself like the Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)If you haven’t seen these books they tell the story using a variety of emails, confidential files and amazing pages of words that fly across the page or look like they are exploding making you feel like you are in space with them. They are books you experience as well as read.

But the ones I enjoy most have a little bit of everything. And the story is told through the perspectives of fully developed characters that I can relate to. The ones I like most usually have a positive outcome. Books that say, sure there are problems but we can overcome them. Some of the worlds they take place in I would love to visit. Others, not so much.

These last two authors are ones that I am telling everyone about because their writing is amazing! First there is the Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie who wrote Ancillary Justice,Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1) which is the first one. These books are what I would consider more hard-core science fiction but the way they are written is mind-blowing. The main character was once a starship with the ability to be able to ‘be’ in many places at once but is now trapped in one body. The way the author manages to give us the various views this character has had is amazing.

And my final recommendation is theThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. I just finished the first two and need to wait for the next one this summer. These books were so much fun I couldn’t put them down. The characters are so real that I wondered what they were doing when I wasn’t reading the books. These are lighter than the other ones which makes a good break from heavy reading.

I hope you will check some of these out and let me know if you do. I would love to hear what you think. And if you have any suggestions for me to read, please share.

Happy reading!



Who Do You Write For?

When you are writing, do you think about who you are writing the story for?

And does it vary according to the story? I find that it does for me.

Right now I’m working on a story that has been evolving for a few years. I feel like I am writing it completely for my own enjoyment. When I get it done I’ll be curious to see if I want anyone else to read it and if so, will it resonate for that person? If not, that’s okay because this is a self-indulgent story.

I’ve written other stories that just have to be written and quite frankly, sometimes don’t even feel like they are my words or my kind of story. Those are the ones I like to share and hope they were written for others to enjoy.

I have read that some authors write while thinking of a specific person or a kind of audience that will read the story they are writing. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that except in a very loose way like maybe and age group. I think that would be very intimidating and I’d be afraid that it would interfere with my creativity.

There have been a couple of times when I’ve been influenced by a certain person and a story idea will grow from that. Sometimes I want that person to read it and other times I wouldn’t dare show it to them or let on that it had anything to do with them.

Have you written something that you felt was so strong and said so much only to have someone not get it at all? That can hurt. I had that happen in a class once and the teacher completely missed the point. Luckily a fellow student spoke up defending my story and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I realized that it wasn’t the story but the reader. And we have no control over a reader.

That also happened in a writing group but it wasn’t so traumatic because I knew the members of the group well and expected some of them to not get it. I enjoyed the discussion that followed on the different interpretations of my poem. That was a good lesson of not having any control over the reader.

There are various quotes from famous authors saying something to the effect that while you are the author of the story it belongs to you but when you send it out into the world you truly have to let go of it because then it belongs each reader.

That’s why I’m curious as to whether you write with a specific person in mind and if so, do you let that person read it? I would think that would be the ultimate act of bravery in putting your words out there. I think it could be terrifying. It could also be exhilarating.

For the most part, I think that’s why I write for myself. Then, if I’m feeling really brave, I’ll share it. And if the reader gets what I was trying to say, then that is just the best. Isn’t that what all authors dream about? Finding common ground? Feeling that we all share that experience and we aren’t alone?

More Than One Book at a Time

Do you read more than one book at a time? Apparently this is a shocking concept to some people.

I’m always reading more than one book at a time. Plus magazines. I don’t give it much thought or think this is unusual but when it comes up in conversation a lot of people are surprised. Most people say they could never read more than one book at a time and that they would never be able to keep the stories straight.

I like to have options depending on my mood or the time of the day.

Reading nonfiction is very different for me than reading fiction. It’s easier pick up a nonfiction book and put it down because I don’t get as caught up in it like I do fiction. I can read a paragraph or a page or two, put the book down and do something else while I absorb what I just read. I read nonfiction out of curiosity and the desire to learn.

With fiction my goal is to escape. I tend to lose track of time and motivation to get things done so I try not to read it when I need to pay attention to what is going on around me or if I only have short amount of time to read. I get lost in the story and sometimes find it jolting when I have to put the book down and deal with real life.

Variety is important depending on my mood. If a day is going badly it’s wonderful to be able to lose myself in a made up world for a little while. It’s a mini vacation. And that comes in very handy when waiting for something like a doctor’s appointment. It makes the wait easier and keeps me from getting as nervous.

I don’t like to waste time so I always have something handy to read; like during commercials while watching TV. There are so many commercials now that I can get a lot of reading done! I don’t watch a lot of TV but the few shows I do watch are loaded with commercials. I used to be able to watch shows on demand and fast forward through the commercials but can’t seem to do that much anymore. Keeping a book ready passes that time in a good way.

Often I’m reading something for a book group. I don’t want to stop reading any other books so I just add another one. This reading involves taking notes for discussion or making up trivia questions for fun at the group.

Book pile

I like to have something lighter to read before going to sleep at night. I avoid anything really scary or full of graphic violence before drifting off. Those are not the kinds of thoughts I want to have dreams about!

Usually I have at least three books going at a time. Often more.

I know I’m a bit book crazy but wonder if other people do this as much as I do. I’m more surprised when people tell me they never have time to read. I find that amazing!

How about you? Do you read more than one book at a time?


Play Day

I need a play day. Being a grownup is a lot of work and not enough play. As a grownup I find that I don’t make enough time for fun. When this goes on too long and I don’t pay attention then usually I end up getting sick. So really a play day is a good health day.

Today I’m trying to take a play day. I started the day by taking my time which in itself is such a wonderful luxury! I sat and had more than one cup of tea and the one I’m having right now is a delicious specialty blend that I bought at a tea shop. It is cocoa caramel sea salt tea and how can I possibly feel like a responsible adult while sipping on this? I can’t!

While sipping my tea I watched two (two!) episodes of Star Trek, Next Generation instead of the news. Yes, I’m a Trekkie. I have been all of my life. Watching a fun show makes me feel like a kid.

I have discovered that I’m not very good at play days and I have to work at having one which seems ironic. Despite my best intentions, I still have things that I have to get done whether I want to or not. So in keeping with the childlike frame of mind I want to maintain today I am doing a lot of grumbling and whining about having to do my chores. Little by little I am getting things done like laundry and stuff. Ugh.

However, I am determined to play. How? Well the great thing about being a grownup is that I have a lot of options! I can play video games, I can color, I can read, I can write, I can watch a movie; all of which sound fun and best of all none of which I have to do. I think that’s the key. Finding something fun to do, something enjoyable. Doing something that I think about doing a lot and keep telling myself that I will when I have time. And how often does that time come up? Almost never. 

I have been given a lot of coloring books to choose from. Fun!

I have been given a lot of coloring books to choose from. Fun!

So I am making time today. Playing enough to take my mind away from all thoughts about what I should be doing. Forgetting about time for a while. Doing something so enjoyable that I will realize that a few hours have gone by without my noticing.

What do you do when you play? What brings out the carefree kid in you?

Wish me luck! Because I am going to go play before I think of something I should be doing!


Book Vlog

I’m going to start by saying that this is a shameless plugging of my daughter’s video blog, or vlog. She reviews books and since I know a lot of you love books I thought you might be interested in taking a look.

I also need to explain that I am not one of those moms who automatically thinks everything my kids do is wonderful. In fact, I am very skeptical until proven otherwise. (Sorry kids!) So when Chelsea told me that she was doing book review videos online I watched the first one not expecting much. Much to my delight, it was good! She’s really good!

So if you are looking for something good to read, head over to see what books she talks about. I know my to-read list has grown since I started watching. Sigh. So many books and so little time! It’s a great problem to have.


Chelsea Palmer Book Reviews, Recommendations & Hauls

I hope you enjoy!


Picture Book Meditation

I work in a library and patrons ask for recommendations all of the time. I try to read the new picture books as they come in. That made me think about how much I loved picture books as a child. Which led me to wonder why I didn’t seem to enjoy them as much as an adult.

The most obvious answer about why I loved them as a child is the memory of my mother reading to my sister and me. We belonged to a Dr. Seuss book club and I vividly remember whenever a new book arrived in the mail we stopped everything to sit on the couch while Mom read us the story. As she read, I devoured the illustrations. It was wonderful. When the story was over, I sat with that book practically memorizing every illustration. Then the next time the story was read to me I followed along more fully engaged.

Today, when I read a picture book I’m at work and busy. So I read it as quickly as I can and move on. It was making me a little sad that I didn’t seem to enjoy them as much and I wondered if it was one of those childhood things that we lose as adults. It eventually occurred to me that I wasn’t reading them the way they are meant to be read!

I checked out a few of the books that appealed to me and brought them home. Picking the books depended on the illustrations, the title and what the story seemed to be about. I’m a sucker for watercolor drawings but have since learned that when done right the style of the illustration should compliment the written words.  And now I’m more open to many different styles of illustration. There is greatness when the pictures enhance and deepen the story. It’s art.

Recently I sat on the couch and tried to put myself in the same frame of mind I had as a child. Reading silently didn’t work because I read too fast. I discovered that the words needed to be read out loud so I could savor each word and each page of illustrations. Slowing down to enjoy a book is something most adults forget how to do but doing this adds a depth and dimension to the story you don’t get with a quick read. The great thing about a picture book is that it’s short so it doesn’t involve a big time commitment.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I lost myself in the story. Despite the fact that picture books are only 32 pages on average, the combination of the right words with the right illustration becomes magical.

As adults we all need to slow down and be in the moment. Savoring picture books can be a form of meditation. Of losing yourself in the story. Who could have guessed that picture books are a wonderful way of doing that and we can still enjoy them as adults.

I can’t wait for the new books to arrive!

Here are just 3 of my favorite summertime picture books today:

The Raft by Jim La Marche


Water is Water by Miranda Paul 

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayer




A Gift From Harry Potter

The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling have been a part of my life from the beginning. I started reading them with my daughter when she was about the same age as Harry.

I remember reading that first book and being pulled in from the first page. The writing was fantastic and the world of Harry Potter was magical.

I started working at a book store and got to be a part of the Midnight Release Parties for the last three books. I became Professor Trivia and was in charge of the trivia games. I also started book discussion groups while there where we would meet and talk about all of the books in anticipation of the next one coming out.

These books are loved by people of all ages. There were kids from about the age of five all the way up to grandparents in these groups. The excitement about the new books, the bonds that people had made with the characters, the amazing memorizing of details and the fun of guessing or hoping what would happen next was so much fun. By the last book, everyone was curious to see how it would all end but felt sadness in it being over. I think everyone knew that we were a part of a historical event and nobody was taking it for granted.

Now I work in a tiny library and the love of the Harry Potter books and movies is going strong. Last year I decided to split the series in two and hold two discussion/trivia groups. I had a great turnout and the excitement is still there. It is wonderful to see that people are still discovering these books. I’m a little jealous of them getting to experience it all for the first time.

Did I mention the creative snacks we enjoy?

Did I mention the creative snacks we enjoy?

What I learned is that people still want to talk about the books in detail and those two groups weren’t nearly enough time. So after a few requests, I am now doing one book a month.

We just met to discuss Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second in the series. Most of the same people were there but there were some new faces too.

What was surprising was how creative these kids are! Not only did they know their stuff about Harry and the gang, they brought their own surprises. One young man showed us his magic card trick which I thought was amazing! Another played the theme music on his tablet. A girl introduced me to Potter Puppet Pals by playing one of these videos on her smart phone for the group. I realized that not only were the kids having fun but I was too!

My favorite thing that happened was that two of the kids admitted that they aren’t big readers but are having so much fun and enjoying these books so much that they are going to continue reading them and attending these groups. I don’t think I can fully express how excited I was to hear this!

These groups started out to be fun but have turned into so much more. Seeing young people getting excited about reading is just the best. It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing and that is a feeling we all could use more of. If you follow this blog you know that reading and writing are my passions in life. It is so fulfilling to be able to share with others and see them get it too.

So how about you? Do you have a passion for something and share it with others?