Friday, August 30, 2013

Kindle Daily Deals

One of the best things about owning a Kindle e-reader is the  Kindle Daily Deals email I receive every morning. It features four (sometimes more) books that are less than $3 for the entire day. I love the Daily Deal because it allows me to take a chance on books or authors I am unfamiliar with without breaking the bank.  Today, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara  Kingsolver is available for only $2.99!

It tells the store of the Price family on their Baptist mission to the Congo in the 1950s just before civil war breaks out. Let me tell you this is a phenomenal book and I encourage everyone to pick it up!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Stacks & Shelves: Fall 2013 TBR

On Stacks and Shelves is a feature where I update you on my unread books shelf and my TBR pile for the next couple of months.

September is right around the corner with my favorite season of the year, fall!  The weather is cooling down at night and leaves are already starting to turn. I am a seasonal reader in that my taste for books changes depending on what time of the year it is.  As the fall (and Halloween) approaches, I stray away from the YA, romance and fantasy novels of the spring and summer and focus on darker books.

Fortunately, RIP VIII starts in September! I will be participating as a Peril the First reader this year (my first year) with the read-along -- 4 books that fit the RIP VIII guidelines and in the Estella Society read-along of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings has updated his post with all of the challenges for this read-along that runs from September 1 - October 30.

Currently Reading:
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel and The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern (audiobook).  I also have two books on hold at the library (Prodigy by Marie Lu and The Essence by Kimberly Derting) that I will finish by the end of August.

On Stacks: My Fall 2013 Short List

  • Friday Night Lights - H.G. Bissinger
  • House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski (Classics Club)
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Classics Club)
  • IT - Stephen King
  • The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
  • Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell
  • The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
  • Daughters of Witching Hill - Mary Sharrat
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Classics Club Spin #3 Challenge)
  • The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

On Shelves
I currently have 24 unread physical books in my house right now which is an all time low.  At the beginning of the year I had 60+ books that I hadn't read and one of my goals for 2013 was to read or eliminate those books from my collection.  I have culled my bookshelves a few times this year so I am not going to get rid of any more unread books at this point, and I am very proud of the progress I've made so far.  I also have 17 unread Kindle ebooks, an all time high.  I don't have a plan to read through these any time soon but I will be travelling to Florida in September and that will probably be when I utilize my Kindle the most.  Most of the books I want to read I already own or have on hold at the library so I am going to hold off on purchasing any books for the next few weeks (with the exception of my Fall 2013 Anticipated Reads, of course!).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fall 2013 Anticipated Reads

The next few months hold some of the most exciting book releases (in my opinion) since I was eagerly awaiting the next tome of Harry Potter in my teenage years.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
The sequel to The Shining, finally! I have been a fan of Stephen King for about 10 years but I hadn't read The Shining until a few months ago despite seeing the movie several times.  After reading Joyland and a few of King's other novels that stray from his original horror genre I can't wait to see where he takes Danny Torrence.
Release date is September 24, 2013 by Scribner.

How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Present, Past, and Future by Rachel Swirsky
I discovered this novel through Publisher Weekly's list of big upcoming releases for Fall 2013.  It is a book of short stories about humanity and life.
Release date is September 30, 2013 by Subterranean.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
When Gilbert first published her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, its' readers fell into two camps: love or hate.  I happened to absolutely love Eat, Pray, Love, and have reread it several times.   Once I found out she was writing a fiction novel I added it to my TBR list immediately.
Release date is October 1, 2013 by Viking Adult.

What are you looking forward to reading this this fall?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 Wrap Up

All good things must come to an end... and unfortunately that means Bout of Books 8.0 ends today.

This was my first Bout of Books and I am already excited to participate in the next installment that begins on January 6!  This read-a-thon gave me license to forego all housework for 7 days to read instead.  I successfully read three books over the course of the week - Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty, Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Legend by Marie Lu.   I only met about 1/2 of my original reading goals that I posted here, but that's okay.  Reading three books in one week is something that I haven't done in a long time so I am glad I was able to retreat from the world for a little bit.

I started to read Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty today to finish the Jessica Darling series and I just couldn't.  It was such a let down and I'm sad that I can't finish out the series but I would rather hold on to the great first two books in that series and the Jessica Darling that I know and love rather than spoil them with less than stellar writing and plot in the end of the series.

So, now that Bout of Books 8.0 is over -- what's next?

I started reading The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel a few weeks ago but did not get more than 20 or 30 pages into the book.  I am going to pick that up again tonight and enjoy the warm weather before September - and autumn - rolls in. My Fall 2013 TBR and Anticipated Reads should also be up sometime this week!

Legend Book Review

I recently finished reading Legend by Marie Lu as part of my Bout of Books 8.0 read-a-thon.  There has been a lot of praise for Lu's writing over the past few months, and with the final book being released in November I figured it was time to see what all of the hype was about.  I gave this book three out of five stars on Goodreads.

Legend is the first in the dystopian trilogy chronicling the lives of Day and June who live in the Republic (formerly the west coast of the United States).  At first, Day and June's geographic locations are the only thing drawing them together.  Day is the poor, vagabond enemy of the Republic and June is their prodigy military student from a prominent family.  Legend details the personal and political circumstances that bring the two protagonists together.

Overall, this was a good book and I have already placed a hold at my library for the second book in the series, Prodigy.  Legend didn't blow me away, probably because I have read so many YA dystopian series since the genre was popularized by the Hunger Games in early 2012, but I did enjoy reading it.  I was hesitant when I first heard it was written from two different character perspectives.  Neil Schusterman used this format in Unwind and I really disliked it because it was so repetitive.  But Lu did an excellent job using the two person perspective to create a whole picture of life in the Republic and  gave an equal footing to both protagonists perspectives. The developing relationship between Day and June, and the plot in general,  was a little predictable but there were a few scenes that shocked me (ending of Part 1 in particular) that made the book just different enough to hold my attention.

The lack of exposition regarding the Republic vs. Colony world both Day and June live in was the main flaw of the book.  I did not read any previous reviews or the actual synopsis on the book jacket so I had no idea why the Republic and the Colonies were at war, or how long the war had lasted.  Without the background information of the world that Day and June live in I had very little sympathy toward the Republic their military dictatorship.

Legend was published in 2013 by Speak.

Friday, August 23, 2013

#Friday Reads

Happy Friday, everyone!

I have off today for a bunch of appointments and then I'm headed to the beach! I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend full of good books.  I have already started reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth in anticipation of the final book's release in October, so I will hopefully finish that tonight.  I also have Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty lined up for Saturday and Sunday to finally finish the Jessica Darling series (you can read my review of the first three books here).

What are you reading this weekend?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Jessica Darling Series - Books 1-3

During my participation in Bout of Books 8.0 and the Dog Days of Summer Marathon, I decided to revisit Jessica Darling in the series of books written by Megan McCafferty in the early 2000s – a reread of the first three installments Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, and finishing out the series with Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths.

The first two books chronicle Jessica Darling’s life in Pineville, NJ during her sophomore and junior years of high school.  The books start immediately after her best friend Hope moved across country to Tennessee due to a tragic event due to the death of her older brother, Heath.   Now best friend-less, Jessica is trying to navigate the waters of a high school where she feels like an outsider and fit in with a family that all seem to get along without her.  During her post-Hope depression, Jessica encounters Marcus Flutie in seemingly harmless episodes until an event that occurs at the end of book one, which forges an awkward and unspoken relationship between them.   The first two books wouldn't be complete without the cast of characters that inhabits Pineville: The Clueless Crew, Scotty, Len Levy (Jessica’s first heartbreak), Paul Parlipiano, Jessica’s parents and much older sister Bethany.

Rereading Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings was like stepping back into my own 15 year old body.  The wear and tear imparted on my copies of these books clearly show I have read them more than 2 or 3 times and I revisited them frequently throughout high school. Jessica is an extremely flawed character – hyper observant to the point of judgmental, her friends cannot escape the mental stereotypes she applies to them (and herself).  She blames her inability to fit in with friends/family on everyone when her own malaise and anxiety are what causes the separation.  Jessica’s honest portrayal of high school made her seem so real, her emotions were tangible and the confusion of where she fit in with school, friends, and family made her relate-able in a way that most authors cannot communicate with their readers.  These qualities made me pick the book up time and time again.

Another portion of the books that I loved, more for nostalgia than anything else, are the pop culture references McCafferty makes during the time period (2000-2003).  Mentions of TRL and MTV’s Spring Break specials instantly time warped me back to middle and high school and watching these programs play out on TV.

Compared to the first two books, Charmed Thirds was a let down for me.  This books chronicles Jessica's senior year of high school through all four years of college at Columbia University.  It's written in season blocks, rather than months, so it was like a drive by of her college years rather than the daily insights and issues Jessica faced in high school.  While this allowed the book to span five years in just under 400 pages, it also disconnected Jessica from the reader.  The witty banter that made the first two books was still present in Charmed Thirds, so the reading experience was enjoyable, but other elements of the book made it a flop.
 The worst part of the book was the lack of personal growth.  There was no discernible difference in Jessica's personality or outlook on life, peers, school or family from the first two books.  Now, Jessica's negative disposition on life ends up being annoying rather than angst-y.  This, coupled with the bizarre on again-off again relationship with Marcus, made the book disappointed. I felt like this book was a bridge between adolescent and adult life for Jessica and I would have been thoroughly disappointed if I had known there were not two more books to potentially redeem the story line.

Sloppy Firsts was published in 2001 by Broadway Books, Second Helpings was published in 2003 by Three Rivers Press, and Charmed Thirds was published in 2007 by Broadway Books.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Readathon Progress

Now that we've made it half way through the week, here is my progress update for both the Dog Days of Summer and Bout of Books 8.0 read-a-thons!

Dog Days of Summer Wrap Up

Over the weekend I was able to read three books- Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty (review coming soon!) and Meet Molly by Valerie Tripp. I spent the majority of the weekend lounging and reading, a great way to relax from a really stressful week at work.

Bout of Books 8.0 Mid-Way Progress Report

I read Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty on Monday and Legend by Marie Lu on Tuesday and Wednesday (today).  The night is not quite over yet so I will probably start Insurgent by Veronica Roth.  After Insurgent, I"m not sure where I will end up - the other books I planned to read (post here) aren't appealing to me anymore.  I'm headed to the beach this weekend so I might pick up a lighter romance or contemporary novel to relax with.

How is your progress for Bout of Books 8.0 going? Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  They post a book-related topic each week for bloggers.  This week's topic is the Top Ten Five Things that Make Your Life as a Reader Easier.

1. The Internet
Before I got a grasp on how to use the internet properly in middle school I was desperate for books suggestions.  My low budget library certainly wasn't able to buy YA books let alone recommend them so I ended up reading the same things over and over again (Harry Potter!)

The internet has also led to items 2, 3, and 4 on this list.

2. Smart Phones (iPhone 4s)
Now I can take pictures, jot down ideas, look up books, use apps, etc., so I will never forget the title of the book I wanted to buy again.  On my iPhone I have apps for Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin, Blogger, Goodreads, Youtube.  Everything I need to stay connected, anywhere I go.

3. Goodreads
Best book tracking site I have found so far.  I formerly used AllConsuming but it was not as user friendly as Goodreads.  The scan feature makes in-person book browsing a lifesaver.

4. Youtube 
More specifically, booktube! I had no idea so many people my age were book lovers and readers, and had obsessive thoughts about the books they buy the same way I did.  The booktube community opened up a new perspective on reading and reviewing books, and served as a mean recommendation machine.  This blog is a direct result of booktube - the more I read, the more I had to say, but no outlet for those thoughts.

5. The Kindle
I know this is a controversial topic - and I have to say, there is nothing quite like the feel of a paperback book in your hands.  However,  the Kindle has allowed me to expand my reading horizons, especially because Amazon likes to throw out some amazing e-book deals once a month (Kindle Monthly Deals) and once a DAY (Kindle Daily Deals).  If I've heard a good recommendation on a book but didn't want to shell out the full price, and it happens to be on the Kindle Daily deal for $2.99 or less, I'm going for it.  It's also really helpful at 10 PM when I absolutely need X book right now but the bookstores are closed.  I don't think the Kindle or any e-reader will completely replace buying physical copies of books for me, but it has expanded my ability to read.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Happy Monday! The best part of today is all of the great reading I have lined up for this week. I just wrapped up the Dog Days of Summer read-a-thon and I'm diving head first into Bout of Books 8.0!  Today I plan on reading a majority of Charmed Thirds, the third of five books in the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. I plan on finishing the series and posting a full review this week.

Happy reading!!

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Check out her blog at 

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Classics Spin #3

Here we go! I made a commitment to the Classics Club in this post and now I'm going to let them select which book I will read first by participating in the Classics Spin #3.

Here is my list of 20 books:

  1. Emma - Jane Austen
  2. Island - Aldous Huxley
  3. Life of Pi - Yann Martell
  4. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  5. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  6. Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
  7. House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
  8. Mythology - Edith Hamilton
  9. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
  10. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  11. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
  12. The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
  13. If I Die in a Combat Zone - Tim O'Brien
  14. The Collected Stories - Edgar Allen Poe
  15. Julius Caesar - William Shakespeare
  16. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
  17. Beloved - Toni Morrison
  18. Sula - Toni Morrison
  19. 1984 - George Orwell
  20. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Now here's the thing: I own all of these books.  Some have been sitting on my shelf for YEARS and I've been dreading them or putting them off for too long.  It will be quite interesting to see what number gets chosen.  Check back on Monday to see what book I will be reading by Oct. 1!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Classics Club Commitment

Did anyone else skip out on all of the required reading for high school? I sure did, and I missed a lot of the literature that made up a core reference point for a lot of readers.  Even for my AP English course I only read one book, Native Son by Richard Wright, and it was so good that I decided I didn't need to continue with anything else on the list.  I've made up some ground through college and the past two years post-grad but I'm still missing out on a lot of good literature. I am remedying this by joining the Classics Club.  Below are the 36 books that I will read before October 7, 2014 (my 27th birthday).  I've separated them into a few categories:

Books I've Previously Read/Attempted to Read and Didn't Understand:
  • Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
  • Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  • Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Caroll
  • Invisble Man - Ralph Ellison
  • Slaughterhouse Five- Kurt Vonnegut
  • Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
  • Beloved - Toni Morrison
  • Sula - Toni Morrison
  • 1984 - George Orwell
Books I Own:
  • Emma - Jane Austen
  • Island - Aldous Huxley
  • Life of Pi - Yann Martell
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  • Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
  • House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
  • Mythology - Edith Hamilton
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
  • The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
  • If I Die in a Combat Zone - Tim O'Brien
  • The Collected Stories - Edgar Allen Poe
  • Julius Caesar - William Shakespeare
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Other Classics:
  • Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
  • Peter Pan - JM Barrie
  • This Side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Easter Parade - Richard Yates
  • The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
  • A View from the Bridge - Arthur Miller
  • Lolita - Vladimir Nabakov
  • A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams
  • The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglass Adams

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dog Days of Summer & Bout of Books 8.0 - Read-a-thon Madness

Hello all! 

I will be participating in two read-a-thons over the next few days: Dog Days of Summer hosted by The Estella Society and Bout of Books 8.0 hosted by Bout of Books!
I've never participating in a read-a-thon before so this should be interesting and fun.  I'm looking forward to reading a ton of great books, relive some characters I knew when I was younger and 

I discovered the Dog Days of Summer Read-a-thon through Andi @ Estella's Revenge.  It takes place this weekend, August 17-18 and the theme is nostalgia.  I've decided to dig deep and pull out some of my favorite books from when I was a tween/teen.  Here is what I have planned to re-read so far:

  • Meet Molly, An American Girl by Valerie Tripp (I will read all 6 books in the set if I can find them!)
  • The Babysitters Club: Dawn and the Impossible Three (#5) by Anne M. Martin
  • The Babysitters Club: Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn (#15) by Anne M. Martin 
  • Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
  • Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
  • Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
  • Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
The Dog Days of Summer Read-a-thon directly precedes Bout of Books 8.0 so I am going to extend the 'nostalgia' theme. 

Here are the YA series I plan on starting, finishing, or catching up on:
  • Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
  • Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
  • City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  • Champion by Marie Lu
  • Legend by Marie Lu

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team