Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections and Resolutions | 2014-2015

On the last day of 2014, I reflected (through statistics, mostly) on the reading I have accomplished this year.  Goodreads has a wonderful export function on their website that allows you to download all of your reading data into an Excel spreadsheet and analyze it to your heart’s content.  Of course, I did that! 
Here is the breakdown:
  • In 2014, I finished 51 books and read a total of 15,049 pages.  This count does not include any book I am currently reading or any book I have started but put down throughout the year.  If that were included, my page count would be significantly increased.  I’m looking at you, Philip Pullman!
  • Of the 51 books, 30 (59%) were written by female authors and 17 (33%) were written by male authors.  The remaining four books (8%) were written by multiple authors of differing genders.  45 books (88%) were written by white authors (this includes all nationalities, not just white people from the United States), 5 books (10%) were written by nonwhite authors and 1 (2%) book was written by multiple authors of differing races.
  • There was an almost equal distribution throughout the four seasons of the year, with just a little lag in the last few months because of the holidays.  A majority of my reading has been focused in the 21st century (35 books) with quite a few new releases this year and 27 of the authors I read were  “first time” authors for me, meaning I had never read their work prior to this year.
Overall, my reading was much more diverse than I thought it was.  I am not saying it was ideal, and I am making some resolutions on improving my reading experience.  But I am proud of what I have accomplished this year.  Moving forward into 2015 – I have set a few goals, or reading resolutions for myself to direct my reading habits and experience. 

The Goodreads Challenge
I will participate in the Goodreads Challenge reading goal once again, but I am lowering my goal from 50 books to 30 books.  I am doing this for several reasons – most importantly, I know I can reach this goal and I will not feel pressure at the end of the year to squeeze in books I wouldn't normally want to read because I have an arbitrary goal to meet. I want to enhance the quality of my reading, which brings me to my next resolution.

Reading Diversely
I will have a separate post on the revelation I had on reading more diversity in 2015, but I want to state that I am fully on the bandwagon of increasing the diversity of books in stores, in publishing, and in the general public awareness.  I am first making the change within myself and my own habits so I can lead by example when I speak of this topic with others.

Inspired by Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and wanting to diminish the number of books I have piled up on my TBR shelf, I have created a list of 25 books (20 of which I already own) to read in the new year. The list is diverse in author race, nationality and gender, as well as in genre category.  The goal is to expand my reading with backlist titles while still making room to enjoy 2015 new releases.  Some of the authors on my list include Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marilynne Robinson, Toni Morrison and Karen Russell. 

Utilizing the Library
A majority of the books on my 2015 Reading List are already on my shelf or waiting on my Kindle because I bought them with the best of intentions of reading them that week, or that month, but got distracted and moved on to something else.  I want to put more intention into my reading and the money I am spending on reading.  Therefore I have decided to utilize my library’s physical and E-book catalogue prior to purchasing books, and then only purchasing the titles if I feel the need to add them to my personal collection.  I just ordered the Kindle Paperwhite to make e-reading even more enticing and I’m stocking up on a few books today to ensure I have plenty of reading material on hand for the upcoming year. 

Perhaps the most exciting portion of 2015 – all of the good book events on the horizon! So far I only know of and am definitely attending BookCon this year in May for a full weekend instead of just one day. I have also located a great independent bookstore near me – the Doylestown Bookshop – that hosts author events on a relatively regular basis that I would like to attend this year. 

Stacks & Shelves
Blogging has been sporadic and mood fueled for me in the past year.  I either feel pressure to update with relentless and usually meaningless (to me) content like book hauls or tags because I want to maintain traffic to the site with regular updates. But posting that content felt empty because I was only doing it to say something, instead of having something to say, if that makes sense.  This year I am not going to guarantee a certain number of posts by week or month.  Instead I am going to focus on meaningful posts, like book reviews or discussions or other events and news happening in the literary world.

So there you have it – my introspection on the past year and my goals for 2015.  I hope everyone has a wonderful new year. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer | Review

Source: Goole Books
I picked up Belzhar after hearing about it on Book Riot’s Youtube channel and a million other places on the internet book world -  I couldn’t get away from it as an anticipated new release for the fall.  I promptly put it on my library request list and forgot about it.  I already own two other books by Wolitzer, The Wife and The Position, that I haven't read yet.  But with endless recommendations for her writing style and story crafting, and the kick in the pants YA has on my reading habits, I jumped in headfirst and finished Belzhar within 72 hours of picking it up. 

Belzhar is about Jam, a 15 year old girl who is sent to The Wooden Barn boarding school for “highly intelligent and emotionally fragile” teenagers after the trauma of losing her British exchange student boyfriend, Reeve.  At the Wooden Barn, Jam is placed in the Special Topics in English class with four other students hand picked (for mysterious reasons) by Mrs. Quennell.  Mrs. Q helps these five teens heal over the course of one semester by teaching The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and requiring students to journal about themselves.  What happens when the students journal allow them to become a close knit group of friends (almost like a secret society) and overcome the hardships that brought them to The Wooden Barn.

I liked this book for several reasons.  Personally, my entire undergraduate degree was focused on the psychology of school-aged students so this hit home to me on an academic level.  I think mental health is a very important topic that should be taught to young adults in schools, at home, in the media, etc., but doesn’t receive much attention.  Meg Wolitzer creates characters with backgrounds that are relatable enough for people who have not experienced trauma to remain sympathetic and empathetic to the experiences the characters have had.  She brings attention to their mental health issues (depression, binge eating, withdrawal) and emotions (fear, anger, resentment, remorse) without making the issue or emotion the sole defining trait of the character. 

Secondly, the emphasis that Wolitzer put on introspection and journaling was constructive and realistic and generally awesome even though not every character had a happy ending.  At the end of the 260ish page book, despite making growth in their personal journeys to overcome their experiences, every character was not fully healed.  But they were able to function better in their daily lives and form relationships with new people because of their journals.  I think this is a great message for the teens that are going to read this book.
The main drawback I felt while reading this book was the lack of depth with the characters.  Even though every character had a reason to be at the The Wooden Barn, none were explained or explored in a below the surface context.  As a young adult reader, that much depth might not be necessary to pull you into the book, but I think that would have added a lot more for adult readers.  There was also a lot of telling instead of experiencing about the healing each character experienced, specifically at the conclusion of the novel when the characters wrote in their journals for the last time.

Overall I enjoyed Belzhar book for the value it will provide to young adult readers and the contribution to mental health literature but I wouldn't recommend this to everyone.  I think young adults, teachers, and parents would get the most out of this book.  It brings emotional growth and development of adolescents into the forefront of your mind and makes you think about the validity of emotional experiences adolescents have instead of writing them off as hormonal or growing pains.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

RIP IX Readalong

Fall is HERE!  Technically we have another few weeks or so until "it's official" but Labor Day is over, I've had my final beach trip of the year and pumpkin spice is everywhere. I started decorating for fall on Sept 1 and I can't wait for October 1 to set up for Halloween.  My birthday is also in October and that is a great reason to buy new books.

Part of celebrating Fall means the RIP IX readalong! I participated in RIP XIII hosted by Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings and the Estella Society's Readalong of The Historian last year and had a blast.  This year, the readalong runs from September 1 - October 1, two great months of spooky, scary, nightmare inspiring books!

This year I am participating in Peril the First (four books) and Peril of the Group Read by reading The Haunting of Hill House along with the Estella Society.

Here is what I have lined up to read:
  • Locke and Key, volumes 1 and 2 (finished yesterday)
  • The Sandman: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 
  • The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

These are all library books so I will have to add even more to my TBR once September is over.  Stay tuned for reviews!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Landline Review

Landline by Rainbow Rowell was published a few weeks ago and was automatically added to my TBR; I requested it from my library so far in advance I was the second person to be added to the wait list.  I like to call Rainbow Rowell's books my "one hit wonders" because I always finish them in one sitting, so I added this book to my Bout of Books 11.0 TBR and successfully finished it in one sitting at three o'clock in the morning.  Now I can check off the box on my Bookish Bucket List of reading an author's entire published work.  Rainbow Rowell's writing and storytelling capabilities are like sinking into a bubble bath: comfortable.  I knew I was going to enjoy this book even before I knew what it was about.

Landline tells the story of Georgie McCool and the events that unfold when she stays in California one week over Christmas to pursue her lifelong dream of pitching her own sitcom to network executives instead of travelling to Nebraska with her family .  When we meet Georgie, she has devoted her entire existence to being a sitcom writer and mother which resulted in a strained marriage to Neal, her stay at home husband.  During the week that she is separated from her family. Georgie tries to call Neal from the old landline phone in her childhood bedroom and ends up talking to the Neal from 1998, before they were engaged.  Georgie uses these phone calls to repair her relationship with her husband to find out what went wrong in their marriage.

I enjoyed this book and I am glad I read it but I feel like it came up short (I felt the same way about Rowell's other adult contemporary Attachments.  She doesn't seem to have this problem with her YA books). I do not want to delve into spoilers, but throughout the novel, it seemed like Georgie was being forced to choose her marriage or her career, with a greater emphasis on the importance to her marriage.  I am not saying that her marriage is not important- as a married lady myself, I agree that Georgie needed to refocus on her marriage to repair the years of damage that we witness in this novel.  However, I think Georgie should have been able to fix her marriage and still have her career but the novel ended before that could happen.

Did you read Landline and feel the same way? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bout of Books 11.0 Wrap Up

Hello Bout of Book-ers! It has been an interesting week.  I started the Bout of Books 11.0 readathon with a bang, reading three books in three days. Unfortunately my reading pace slowed down significantly after Tuesday.

So, how did I do?

If you count the books I read last weekend, I finished five books - super close to my goal! Even though I didn't finish a sixth book I am really happy with my progress.

I finished...

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review here)
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (review here)
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell (review coming soon!)
  • Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (review coming soon!)

... for a total of 1,682 pages! I posted updated Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday here.  Five books on week was a lot, especially when looking at my slower reading habits over the past week.  I'm really happy with the readathon and I am now 1 book ahead of schedule on my reading challenge.

I read about 20% into Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead before putting that down due to lack of interest and picked up This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (prepping for the moving that comes out in September) and The Magician King by Lev Grossman.  Bout of Books was a success!

I also achieved my other goal of interacting with the #boutofbooks hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and checking out new blogs on the daily progress link up. I also participated in my first ever Twitter chat (Tweetdeck was really helpful for the chat, I tried to follow along on my regular Twitter layout and got lost).

Bout of Book 11.0 was a lot of fun, and with fall right around the corner I am excited for the cooler weather and the awesome bookish things it brings, like Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon (October 18th!) and the RIP Readalong.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Anna and the French Kiss Series Review

Prior to reading the trilogy of Stephanie Perkins' three books Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After I was an anti-romance YA reader.  I preferred dystopian, fantasy, or horror books - as far from romance as you could get until the buzz surrounding Anna and the French Kiss was unavoidable.

I picked up Anna  in February 2013 because it was a kindle daily deal, and it was Valentine's Day,  and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish the book.  The next day at work, I was bleary eyed and tired but it was well worth it for the witty, funny, and gushy romance I have read the night before.  I repeated the same experience for Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, both times pre-ordering the books on my kindle so I could read them as soon as possible.  Now that all three books in the series have been released, and I read them individually, I want to marathon them back to back to experience Anna, Lola and Isla fall in love all over again.

I have linked each book's Goodread pages above so you can read more plot summary of the individual books. If you are in the mood for light, funny, sometimes heart wrenching but ultimately satisfying books, I highly recommend all three of Stephanie's novels, even if you are a non-romance reader like I was.  These books capture something genuine about first time love and heartbreak that make stand out amongst their peers and are definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Night Circus Review

Just short of a year ago, I posted this review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern confessing my inability to finish the audiobook and not for lack of trying.  I loved the atmosphere that narrator Jim Dale brought to the already rick text of the book but I couldn't follow the plot of the book because it crosses decades and continents from one page to the next.  I didn't forget about it, though, and I picked up the paperback a couple of months ago at Books a Million to try again.

The Night Circus weaves a tale of competition, love, and a young man's true calling throughout it's 500 pages.  It is fantastical, yet grounded in reality, as you watch the creation of a larger than life circus become a magical exposition center for Celia and Marco to compete against one another in an unexplained, vague contest that they were bound to at six years old  At the same time, you experience the circus through Bailey's eyes as an adolescent and how he and the circus change over time.

Photo Credit to Greeneiris at Fan Pop

This is a phenomenal book.  Erin Morgenstern takes the time to craft a story that appeals to all five senses - I have been thinking about the caramel popcorn descriptions in this book since last year. The Night Circus primarily takes place in Victorian England, a time period just far enough in the past to be unfamiliar.  There is enough magic, romance, and suspense to push the plot forward while relishing in each vignette written about the characters.  If you are thinking about picking this book up, do it! I highly recommend it and I can't wait for Morgenstern's next release.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Most Anticipated Books - Fall 2014

There is nothing I like more than a nice long list of things that I intend to read. In fact, a majority of this blog consists of lists of books or bookish things that I am going to get to eventually.  Most of the time when I look at my TBR shelves, I do not feel overwhelmed that I will not be able to read all of the books in my lifetime. I feel comforted that I have this book for this particular mood, or I’m saving that re-read for a rainy day.  I like to add to this list on a daily basis based on blog, twitter, and radio recommendations, but the largest chunk of my seasonal TBR comes from the quarterly list of most anticipated books from Publisher’s Weekly and the biannual list of books from The Millions.  
Fall is my most favorite time of the year because of the colors, foods, weather, scents and decorations associated with it. It also happens to be my birthday season, which is a great time to add to my stacks.  The challenge is actually acquiring and reading these books once I’ve put them on this list! Here is what I’m looking forward to most this fall.
The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell (Sept. 2)
This book comes again as a recommendation from Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves and was one of the most anticipated ARCs at BEA this year – I have never heard of David Mitchell before, but Jenn doesn't mess around when recommending books so I added this to my list as soon as she reviewed it.

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters (Sept. 16)
I only own one book by Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger, and I read about 100 pages of this book before I got distracted by something else.  I have heard nothing but good things about Waters’ books from Mercedes at Mercy’s Bookish Musings and Andi at Estella’s Revenge so this author is on my auto-buy list even though I haven’t fully read any of her work.  Mercedes and Andi have never steered me in the wrong direction before so I am certain I will enjoy The Paying Guests.

Gangersterland – Tod Goldberg (Sept. 9)
I first found out about Gangsterland from Tod Goldberg on the Literary Disco podcast that he hosts with Rider Strong and Julia Pistell (this podcast is amazing, if you haven’t listened to it before!).  Most of my nonfiction recommendations come from Tod’s Bookshelf Revisits on the podcast so I am excited that I get to read his new release this fall.  I haven’t read many crime books so this will be a first on many fronts.

Sister Golden Hair – Darcey Steinke (Oct. 14)
I have never heard of Steinke before reading this description of Sister Golden Hair on The Millions:
In Steinke’s new novel, a coming-of-age story set in early-70s Virginia, twelve-year-old Jesse’s family is on the brink of collapse: her father has recently been defrocked, and her mother is coming undone.
Early 70s? Family conflict? I’m sold. This novel reminds me a lot of The Virgin Suicides which is one of my favorite books of all time. I can’t wait to read it.

Yes, Please – Amy Poehler (Oct. 28)
I absolutely love Amy Poehler’s comedy and acting so this was added to my pre-order must buy list for the fall as soon as I heard about it.  I also saw Amy Poehler and Martin Short speak at BookCon in May and that solidified this purchase for me.

Twilight of the Eastern Gods – Ismail Kadare (Nov. 4)

This was completely random – I have never heard of this book or the author, but this novel is sent in 1950s Moscow and I have been interested in Russian based literature with Socialist criticism since I read Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente.  I don’t know a lot about Russia’s historical or political past so anything set in 20th century Russia has a magical aura that really appeals to me.

Revival - Stephen King (Nov. 11)
I couldn't believe that King was publishing another book this year after the release of Mr. Mercedes just a few weeks ago - and I believe he published 3 books in 2013? Stephen King has been one of my favorite authors and a guaranteed auto-buy even though I have no idea what this book is about.
So that is my lengthy list of books that I am highly anticipating for this upcoming fall.  Judging by last year's list I will only get to about 1/3 of these books when they are released but hey, a girl can dream, right? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bout of Books 11.0 Goals & Reading Updates

Earlier this week I posted my Bout of Books 11.0 TBR and officially announced my entry into the readathon.  In this post I am going to outline my reading goals for the week and post daily updates on my progress.

Due to some life and work changes that happened last fall, my reading pace has significantly decreases compared to 2012 and 2013.  I set my Goodreads Challenge to just 50 books this year, in hopes that I would be able to read about 1 book per week.  Right now I am 2 books behind (I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After the day it was released - gotta love preordering on a Kindle!) and I hope to get ahead during this readathon.

Bout of Books 11.0 Goals
  1. Read every day! I will be on vacation for the duration of this readathon so it shouldn't be a difficult goal to achieve but I want to bump reading up on my priorities list. 
  2. Read 6 books to gain headway on my annual Goodreads Challenge
  3. Cheer on other readers via their blogs, twitter and instagram! Connecting with other readers is the best part of any readathon so I am going to spend time each day checking in with other people that have signed up on the Bout of Books posts and following along with the #boutofbooks hashtag on instagram and twitter.

If you are participating in Bout of Books, leave your information in the comments section so I can follow your progress! If you want to follow along with me, you can find me at keepingheather on twitter and instagram. If you haven't signed up for Bout of Books yet, head on over to their blog! You have until Tuesday, 8/19 to enter.  Happy reading!
Bout of Books Daily Updates

Monday 8/18
  • Currently Reading: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Books Finished: Landline by Rainbow Rowell and Locke and Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Number of Pages Read: 476
  • Time Spent Reading: 5 hours and 15 minutes 
Tuesday 8/19
  • Currently Reading: The Magician King by Lev Grossman
  • Books Finished: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Number of Pages: Read: 250
  • Time Spent Reading: 3 hours and 5 minutes
Wednesday 8/20
  • Currently Reading: The Magician King by Lev Grossman (currently at 8%)
  • Books Finished: 0
  • Number of Pages Read: 0
  • Time Spent Reading: 0
Oops! Looks like I was enjoying vacation too much and didn't read today..

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bout of Book 11.0 Sign Up

It's here! Bout of Books 11.0 kicks off in just under 4 days and I am back again this year with a huge stack of books I want to tackle.  This year, I will be on vacation with no plans for the first time that I've participated in a readathon and I'm really excited to get started. Here is an older post from Bout of Books 8.0, the last time I participated in this readathon!

Are you new to Bout of Books? Here's the official blurb:
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 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th 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 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I pledged to read 50 books this year on my Goodreads Challenge and I have completed 28/50.  This means I need to read 4.4 books a month (including August) to hit my goal.  I picked 11 books from my TBR to pull from this week and my goal is to read 6 of these books.  I've broken them down into categories:

  • Devil in the White City by Erik Larsson
  • I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman
 Graphic Novels
  • Locke and Key Volume 1 by Joe Hill
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (this is four graphic novel volumes)
  • Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (currently reading)
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (released on 8/14!)
  • The Magician King by Lev Grossman (and if I like it, and I feel inclined, I will also purchase the third book in this trilogy that was just released a few weeks ago and read that too.  It's called The Magician Land).
  • Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
 Physical Books
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (currently reading)
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
I believe that Isla and Landline will be one hit wonders, meaning I will read them in one sitting.  I am hoping to make a significant impact in either The Night Circus or Seating Arrangements prior to leaving for vacation on Tuesday, and then finishing off with 2 additional books while I am at the beach.  If my mention of The Night Circus sounds like a broken record, you may be recalling the last time I tried to listen to the audiobook and failed in September 2013.  I am really enjoying reading the physical copy this time around, though!

So, are you participating in Bout of Books 11.0? Leave a comment! I would love to read your TBR & Goal lists.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Hangman's Daughter | Review

The Hangman's Daughter was published in 2008 and is the first in a quartet written by Oliver Potzch.  This book chronicles a witch hunt that takes placed in Germany during the 1660s after a boy mysteriously dies at the town's dock.   This sets off a series of children's deaths that are complicated by local economic and political conflicts, as well as the ethical and moral implications of a witch hunt.  The local hangman, his daughter, and the town physician set out to unravel the mystery of the deaths to ensure the right culprit is punished.

Source Image: Goodreads

I purchased this book on my Kindle on accident - it was on the Daily Deal and I thought I was purchasing The Madman's Daughter, a YA spin-off from The Island of Doctor Moreau.  Surprisingly,despite what I thought I was originally reading the plot of The Hangman's Daughter was really intriguing.  I enjoyed getting the local politics and folklore of Schongau and unravelling the mystery of the murders.  The plot frequently changed perspectives- first a third person perspective of the town, and then a first person perspective from the mysterious murder.

The first 80% of the book was great, the plot was fast paced and it was detailed enough to understand the conflicting relationships between all of the townspeople for really fleshed out characters and culture.  However, once the mystery started unravelling the book fell flat for me and I wasn't interested in finding out who the murdered was.  To be quite honest, this might not be the book's fault- I have the same problem with other mystery and horror novels that I read, where the build up is more exciting than the resolution.  Some of the mystery may have been lost in the translation as well (originally written in German).

 Overall, the end I ended up only giving the book 2/5 stars on Goodreads but despite that low rating I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a well developed, character driven plot. I do not plan on reading the other three books in The Hangman's Daughter quartet.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday | Library Edition

Hi friends.  Today for Waiting on Wednesday I am going to discuss a crazy habit I have- requesting interlibrary loans on books in my county.  It's like an addiction, I just browse through my TBR and put in requests for all of the books I want to read to be delivered to my nearest library for pickup.  In this post I'm going to focus on the physical books I've requested because the available e-books from my library is a whole different monster.  I have five pending requests (!!!) at my library and I just recieved an email today letting me know these two books are available for pick up.  I will have them by the weekend!

Hosted at Breaking the Spine
The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith - I recently saw a review of this on a blog last week (if it was your blog, please let me know! I can't remember who it was and I want to link you!).  This book is a collection of ghost stories and Vietnamese folk tales that sound interesting because I've never read anything about Vietnamese culture and it will count as one of my five committed books for Once Upon a Time.

The Most of Nora Ephron - I love the movie You've Got Mail, which is the first introduction to Nora Ephron that I had at 10 years old.  Unfortunately,  Nora passed away last year and I have never read any of her books so I am starting with this compilation before moving onto more of her movies and story collections.

Do you use your local library's request and borrow system? What do you have on hold?  Let me know in the comments!  I am always looking for additions to my TBR.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I hope everyone is having a great Monday! It's raining here again (I feel like everytime I write a post it's raining).

Hosted by Sheila at The Book Journey

This past weekend I participated in the #24in48 readathon hosted at Home Between Pages and finished two books- The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.  I didn't make any progress on The Name of the Wind or Peter Pan so *hopefully* I will finish them sometime this month.

In My Mailbox this week are two new books. Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the conclusion of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor will download to my Kindle at midnight.  I also picked up a physical copy of Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. I was debating on buying or borrowing this book from the library but the first few lines had me hooked and I had to get it:
"I first discovered I was trash three days before my ninth birthday - one year after my father lost his job and moved to Secaucus to live with a woman who lived with a woman named Crystal and four years before my mother had the car accident, started taking pills, and began exclusively wearing bedroom slippers instead of normal shoes."

This week I have a few posts already planned - a review for The Hangman's Daughter and for The Amityville Horror as well as a Waiting on Wednesday post for some of the books I've requested at my library.

Here's to a good week! Let me know what you've got going on in the comments.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Reads - 4/4

Happy Friday everyone! I can't believe how quickly and slowly this week went, if that makes any sense?

I am really excited for this weekend to relax in the beautiful spring weather that finally arrived in Philadelphia and to finish some of the books I've started in my book-ADD phase.

Since my March Wrap Up post on Monday, I've started reading two more books! Here is my reading progress so far:
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss- 31% complete 
Peter Pan by JM Barrie - 43% complete
The Amityville Horror - 43% complete
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - 21% complete

My goals this weekend are to finish Attachments and The Amityville Horror (which I can only read during the day!) and participate in the #24in48 readathon hosted by Home Between Pages here on Blogspot. I will be posting updated on Twitter using the #24in48 hashtag.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Once Upon a Time | Reading Quest

After successfully participating in RIPVIII last fall, I kept my eye out for more themed reading challenges from Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings and he did not disappoint! The Once Upon a Time readalong starting on March 21 (the first day of Spring) and runs through June 21.  Carl describes the event much better than I can:

 This is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing whims.

I wanted to participate in this event without too many constraints (and without too much hunting into book genres).  I am embarking upon Quest the First.  I will read at least five books in the Once Upon a Time categories, with a focus on mythology and fantasy.

I mentioned in my March Wrap Up that I am currently reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss which fits in perfectly with this challenge, as well as Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor which releases next week.

Here are a few potential books I have lined up:
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Titan's Curse and The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (books 3-5 in the Percy Jackson series).
  • City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Last year I read Deathless by Catherynne Valente which would have fit perfectly into the Folklore portion of this challenge.  I highly recommend this to anyone participating in this challenge!

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? And March Wrap Up

Good morning fellow book lovers. This weekend was a rainy, dreary, curl up with a book and don't get out of bed few days. I loved it!

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at The Book Journey.  I'm currently reading The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss and let me tell you it is GOOD.  More than good, amazing, wonderful and fantastically written and I am only 24% of the way through (currently reading it on my Kindle because it was an impulse purchase and 600+ pages). I purchased this book from a recommendation on Literary Disco's podcast about Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (which I also picked up).  I have no idea what it is about apart from what I have read.

The Name of the Wind is a fantasy for beginners - did I mention that the writing is SO GOOD? That the fantastical elements and world building seamlessly fall into place.  As far as I can tell this is a trilogy and the third book isn't out with no rumored publishing date, so I want to read quickly to find out what happens but not too quickly because if I don't want to extend the wait for the third book.

"He called himself Kote.  He had chosen the name carefully when he came to this place.  He had taken a new name for most of the usual reasons, and for a few unusual ones as well, not least of which was the fact that names were important to him. (The Name of the Wind, page 10)"

March Wrap Up

While enjoying the gloomy weekend weather from my couch, I read Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor and gave it give stars. This novella took about 45 minutes to read and was a great escape back into the world that she created in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy.  It described the first date/love story beginning for Mik and Zuzana from their perspectives, a perfect blend of romance, mystery, and magic - I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and already preordered the third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters - 8 days until it arrives on my Kindle.

Earlier in the month I read The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter #1) by Oliver Potzsch.  I am going to write a full review for the book this week.  Overall, I enjoyed it but there were a few flaws that detracted from the story for me.  Unfortunately, just 2 stars.

I also read my first comic book/graphic novel (ever) - Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman.  It was incredible! I will definitely be purchasing the second volume The Doll's House.  What a scary ride into the Dreamworld (figuratively and literally!).  I love everything I have read by Gaiman so far and will continue with his comics and novels.  4 stars.

Image Source: Amazon

The last book I kind of read this month was Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers by Lauren Leto. I kind of read this book because I only got to page 126 before I gave up, handed it 1 star, and put it down. I did not intentionally purchase this book, it came in my Quarterly Co box from Book Riot.  Leto created the website Texts from Last Night, which I loved when I was in college, so I had high hopes that this would be a humorous light read to reflect on readers everywhere.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a list of pretentiousness and is headed straight to my "donate" pile.

My reading this year has definitely slowed down - I read 7 books in March last month compared to the 3.5 I read this month.  I was bummed at first - why couldn't I make time for reading? But with limited time came greater selectiveness on what I am willing to read.  If it's not good, or well written, or intersteding, I put it down and focus on someting else.  So while my quantity of reading is less, the quality is greatly increased. Overall I think it's a good thing.

That's all for now - what have you read this month? Tell me in the comments or find me on Twitter!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

October 2013 Wrap Up - Late!

So- I realize it is not longer October and that this happened quite a few months ago. I found this post in my backlog of drafts that I didn't get to publish before my blogging sebbatical but it's good stuff so I wanted to share anyway! It's fun to look back at what I was thinking almost six months ago.

Enter the Stacks and Shelves time wrap back to 10/2013:

 I can't believe October is already winding down and my favorite time of the year is in full swing.  I experienced a slump in my normal reading habits in September (mostly because of my wedding!) but I bounced back in October and had a wonderful reading month.

I read a total of nine (!!!) books and I wrote posts for almost every book.    I also participated in The Historian readalong, the Doctor Sleep readalong and Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon.  (Click on the book title's name to link back to the original post).

Unfortunately, There will not be a review for Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.  This is a young adult high fantasy series that is definitely out of my comfort zone, and I am not completely comfortable with writing my thoughts about a book I don't fully understand.  Plus, it has been a long time since I read the first book in the series so it would be an unfair assessment on the progression of the story line.  With that being said, it is still an enjoyable series to read and I will definitely be buying the third book that comes out next year (March 2013 update: this book comes out in 2 weeks!).

In August I wrote out my Fall 2013 TBR and I am surprised to say that I actually read books from that list.  Four of the books I talked about were read (one in September, the other three this month) and I am still interested in the remaining books so I might actually read all of them!

Overall, I have read 73 books towards my goal of 80 books on Goodreads (bumped up from my original goal of 60) and I am considering bumping my goal up just a bit because I am going to start reading a lot of middle grade fiction for Middle Grade Mondays and those books take significantly less time to get through.

I also managed to acquire an obscene amount of new books throughout September and October so I am going to try my best and not buy anything new throughout the end of the year.  I recently discovered this new e-lending program at my library which will make my "buying ban" easier to manage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Bucket List

Hello? Is this thing on? Hi! 

It's been a while - just about FIVE (!!) months since I last posted anything on this site. I've had some pretty good reasons for being MIA (work is crazy, new family members, holiday reading slump) but I am back! Even if that means I can only write posts on the Blogger app while on break at work, like I'm doing now. 

I've got a couple of posts rolling around my brain- some of the standard ones like my 2013 reading wrap up and 2014 reading goals. I've also got a few books to review that I read this year so far.

To jump back into blog mode I'm doing Top Ten Tuesday (hosted at the Broke and the Bookish)! I only have five things on my bucket list so far plus one thing I've already accomplished. Hopefully this list will grow and change as I cross things off.

My Bookish Bucket List
1. Read all of the books that I own/buy in my lifetime 

2. Meet an Author or attend a book signing. Ideally this would be JK Rowling, Betty Smith, Neil Gaiman, John Green, or Cat Valente, just to name a few.

3. Attend a literary conference like BEA

4. Visit the real neighborhood of Francie from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (located on the Flatbush/Greenpoint area)

5. Be an "author expert" by reading all of the works they've written. I'm currently trying to do this with Neil Gaiman.

1. Visit Hogwarts - at least the Hogwarts in Universal Studios which I did on my honeymoon in September 2013.