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.