Top Self-Isolation Reads During Quarantine

Below is the transcript to episode 26 of A Book and A Dream.

[00:00:03] Don't be shocked that I don't know the title. I never know the title of what I'm reading unless it's like one word. I don't know. I'm weird like that.

[00:00:16] Welcome to A Book and a Dream with Megan O'Russell: An Author's Adventure in Writing, Reading, and Being an Epic Fangirl.

[00:00:28] Hello and welcome to Episode 26 of A Book and A Dream. My name is Megan. O'Russell.

[00:00:36] Now, normally with my job in theater and being an author, I am surrounded by storytelling. It is what I love. I love books. I love reading. I love stories. It is what I do with my whole life. And I am so grateful for both of my careers. Normally, you know, when social distancing and self isolation is not a thing that's going on, my time is basically all spoken for between being on stage, being in rehearsal, writing books, other little jobs. I don't have a lot of time to myself, so I don't get to do a huge amount of reading that isn't completely necessary research.

[00:01:10] So by that I mean scripts. Gotta read a lot of scripts because you gotta read the script to do the show or audition for the show or, you know, those important actory type things or marketing books or writing books or the latest book in the genre that I'm working. And I don't get to choose a lot of books just because I love the covers. I just don't have time.

[00:01:30] Every once in a while I'll go on a book binge, which is sort of like super unhealthy, where I just stop sleeping for a week and tear through an entire series of seven books and, you know, ignore my writing work and sleeping and showering, you know, things like that that you should not do. And then I'll be so behind on things I feel guilty so I don't get to read again for like another month and a half. And then I do it again, which is really kind of sad and scary. But anyway, because I'm not in theatre right now. I have in fact had time to read so many books because there's only so much writing you can do in a day before your brain turns to mush. And then, you know, you go on a walk and you do your exercise and you chat with family and look up the world news. And then you, you know, it's time to read and there's hours for it. It's freaky. There's so much time. So I wanted to share with you my quarantine reads and give some recommendations. Now, granted, a lot of these I had already read the first one in the series and like the second one just came out or it came out and was on my Christmas list and I just haven't had time to read it yet. So some of these I already read book one going into it like Muse of Nightmares, which is book two in the Strange The Dreamer duology. It's a very lyrically written, beautiful, beautiful piece.

[00:02:53] If you're someone who just like wants action and wants the next thing to happen, it's probably not for you. If you want beautiful, detailed world building and intricate storylines and like glorious mushy language, it's a really good series.

[00:03:10] It's great. You should try it out. So my first one was Muse of Nightmares.

[00:03:14] I also binged the full Lunar Chronicles, except that weird 3.5 book, or 2.5 book. I haven't read that one yet, but I did go through Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. I went through them so quickly.

[00:03:29] I read Cinder and then I was like, Okay, I need Scarlet.

[00:03:31] And this was like at the very, very beginning. So bookstores were still open. I went to the bookstore, got Scarlet, and then I was gonna order Cress online. And I finished Scarlet that night and I was like, I'm not waiting two days for shipping. That's ridiculous.

[00:03:47] I have an iPad. So then I, you know, did the other ones on digital, which is dangerous because you want the whole set, but it's OK.

[00:03:54] And they're really good at the you need some like fast moving, lovely storytelling that just pulls you into the world and is like, we don't need to stop for water breaks. We're gonna get to this in the end. It's cool. Then this is a great series for you. However, it does have a plague so if that hits a little close to home for you right now, maybe like wait awhile and then jump into Lunar Chronicles because...plague. OK.

[00:04:22] So after that, I read Grimm Lovelies. I'm on book two, which is Beautiful Nightmares, no, Midnight Beauties. Midnight Beauties is the one that I'm actually reading right now. Don't be shocked that I don't know the title. I never know the title of what I'm reading unless it's like...one word. I don't know. I'm weird like that.

[00:04:39] So they're really fun. It's a really interesting take on magic and witches and like, not like magic and witches like I usually write about, it's like political and creatures and different rulers and like. Yeah. And it all takes place in modern day society. And technology is bad and like different people have to do different things and consume life sources to make spells. So it's very cool and it moves fast.

[00:05:08] I honestly would probably recommend the Lunar Chronicles first, but if you're avoiding the plague like the plague, then, you know, Grim Lovelies would be a great place for you to start.

[00:05:19] Ok, so. Caraval, the trilogy. I read the first one before quarantine, got the second one, got the third one, and I just talked to someone over at the Prince Kai Fan Pod when I was being interviewed over there and we were talking about the series and she had heard that like book one was too... Book one was good, book two was meh, book three was amazing. And I can agree with that, except for book two being meh.

[00:05:48] It wasn't as good as books one or three, but it was definitely still worth it.

[00:05:53] It's very cool. It has some cool magic. It has some lovely storylines. If you're one of those people who is like, I love Frozen so much because despite how much the sister...err, Ana might like fall in love with a prince, really, like, Elsa is her anchor. It's about sisterhood. It's about protecting the family that you have, and like what you do for your family. And there's like romance and magic and other stuff.

[00:06:19] But if you're super into, like, sisterly love, there's a reason that these books are number one in the siblings category on Amazon, because it's really good.

[00:06:26] Totally. Check it out. All right, then.

[00:06:29] Ooh, the book that shall not be named. I like to keep things positive and being an author is hard, like you're writing and you're like, I hope it's good, but there's so much imposter syndrome and self-doubt. And then, you know, you put it out there. And, yeah, negative reviews are good in some ways, because it turns away people who aren't right for your book. But it... It hurts. It does hurt when people say nasty things about your book. So I don't want to do that here. That's not what A Book and A Dream is about.

[00:06:58] So we're not going to name the book because no one needs that negativity in their life. We don't need that stress.

[00:07:06] But the book that shall not be named was responsible for the Punctuation Soup, where it was just like whatever punctuation you want to throw on a page. We can have 20 em dashes. Who cares? Let's just have like six semicolons. It was so... Not relatable to speech.

[00:07:26] And one of the things that I enjoy about books and that I try to put into all my books―and it's probably because as an actor, we are oral storytellers―is that even if you're writing it to be read silently, it should fit in your mouth.

[00:07:43] You should be able to say those sentences without stuttering and stumbling. And I would say 80 percent of the sentences in that book would sound so weird if they were read out loud just because there was so much odd punctuation to make it work that you couldn't ever actually speak it.

[00:08:02] And the plotline was a little eh... And it kind of didn't wrap up well. It was not a great experience. But that's one out of like, how many have I read? So that's a really good ratio. Like, you'd bet on that in Vegas. Of those were your odds. You'd be fine. But yeah, the book that shall not be named.

[00:08:24] I'm probably actually going to donate that book, which I never donate books, I horde them. It's a problem. I have a problem.

[00:08:30] Oh. And then I read King of Scars. It's Leigh Bardugo. So super interesting right now because, of course, there's the Grishaverse, which is Shadow and Bone..? Smoke and Bone? Like I said. Really bad with titles. But if you look up Grisha on any bookstore on the web, you're going to find that series.

[00:08:48] It's really cool because that is like this first person, kind of angsty girl book. And then Leigh Bardugo also wrote Six of Crows, which is one of my favorite series. It's like a fantasy heist with unreliable narrators. It's super cool. And there's going to be a Netflix series that combines both of them. And trust me, we're going to do an entire episode just based on that when it comes out, because I have lots of opinions on lots of worries and I can't wait to see what actually happens. So King of Scars is about a character that touches in both of those worlds. It's not in them, but it sort of like, crosses them together and links them a little bit more than they were.

[00:09:30] It's very good. I was pissed because I thought it was a standalone. It is not a standalone. And now I really need the second book, but it's traditionally published. And so it's gonna take forever for book two to come out. Also, like I guess Leigh Bardugo's kind of busy because Netflix series and whatever, but yeah, I was kind of pissed when I got to the end of it.

[00:09:49] And then the final book that I read. Well it's not the final book that I read, but the final one on my list.

[00:09:54] I still have four more on my to be read pile that I'm going to bust through because, you know, isolation, man, you might as well get through your TBR pile.

[00:10:02] So then I read Language of Thorns, which is a... It's actually really cool because the Grishaverse, the Six of Crows world is so big that there's like all this mythology that comes along with it. And so Language of Thorns is some of those like folk tales from that world. And it actually put me in like a reading slump for a while.

[00:10:26] Like, I got the book. It's beautiful. The illustrations are glorious. But I just couldn't get into it.

[00:10:33] And I felt bad abandoning it. So I would read like two pages at a time and then run away to do something else, because I'd just... It's so rare that I don't finish a book. Even the book that shall not be named. I made it to the end. It was a slog, but I did it.

[00:10:47] So it was hard for me to get through it.

[00:10:51] However, it's very cool because most of them are like a twist on different fairy tales that we know.

[00:10:59] So like Gingerbread Man, Little Mermaid, things like that. So that was really cool. And if you're a big fan of the world especially, I would recommend it to you. If you're a big fan of, like, fairy tale retellings, it could be very interesting.

[00:11:12] If you just want, like, a book to breeze through and give you an escape from life, like... Maybe read another one of Leigh Bardugo's books instead. Because that's not really going to give you the escapism you're looking for.

[00:11:27] Yeah, so those are all the things that I have binge read. I have... Still on my list, I have Heartless. I have Ninth house. I have something else that I ordered and can't remember.

[00:11:42] But if you are hitting a reading rut right now and you need something to dive into, that is my quarantine reading list.

[00:11:49] Of course, also, purely selfishly, if you have not started the Ena of Ilbrea series yet, the final book in that series comes out on May 26. So you could, in fact, binge the first three books in the series and the optional prequel novella Wrath and Wing before book four comes out. They're on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, anywhere you want to get an e-book. It will be there.

[00:12:15] The paperbacks are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Wal-Mart. Weird, but true. So check those out. Start reading. I'm super excited for the final book in the Ena of Ilbrea series to come out. It's been with reviewers. It's all very exciting.

[00:12:31] And... And yeah. Get your quarantine binge on because escapism, man. It really. It helps.

[00:12:40] Shockingly enough. I'm actually getting to the bottom of my to be read pile. I know, it's crazy. Whoever thought that these days would come?

[00:12:48] But do you have any recommendations for books you've read in quarantine. Other book binges that keep you happy? Put them in the comments. Reach out to me on social media. If you have a beautiful bookstagram picture, then tag me in the comments so that I can see it. I love bookstagram. I love all those delicious, yummy pictures that make me want to be, like, in a library in Paris or something glamorous. So send me all the pictures. Send me your recommendations. And don't forget to like, subscribe, share or comment.

[00:13:16] All those things that make the algorithms happy. Let you know you'll actually see the video again next week.

[00:13:22] And yeah, stay safe. Stay sane. And don't forget to send me those recommendations. Till next time. Bye!

Megan O'Russell

Fantastic Worlds. Unlikely Heroes.

Megan O'Russell

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