Slow May has been slow

***spoilers possible

May has been a fairly slow reading month for me. I had a lot of work commitments and a few knitting projects kept me occupied during my time off.

 

A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab) ♠♠♠♠♠

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This was an engaging and gripping sequel. I truly enjoy how dark and twisted this tale is. Schwab really brings the characters to life, flaws and all. They’re relatable despite the fact that this is a fantastical novel centering around magic and different realms. Lila and Kell’s love story (dare I say it?) is still mysterious and difficult. The villains are evil but yet human in a way making it hard at times to truly despise them. And what is going to happen with Holland? I cannot wait to read the third installment.

 

 

 

Lumberjanes (Noelle Stevenson) ♠♠♠♠

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I didn’t like this one quite as much as the previous ones but Noelle Stevenson is definitely still on my favorite fun graphic novels list.

 

 

 

 

Behemoth ♠♠♠♠♠ and Goliath ♠♠♠♠ (Scott Westerfeld)

I really adore this series. It’s really nerdy. I love the sciency aspects of the context – the Clunkers and Darwinists! – and the historical background of WWI is a really neat backstory to it. This series is full of imagination, beautiful descriptions of locations (i.e. Istanbul), and interesting plots including a few twists and turns. The only issue I have with the series is that the inevitable love story between the two protagonists (hey, it is YA after all) took up the entire final chapter. Why? That really wasn’t necessary. Also, to be honest, I am not a fan of the cover art.

 

 

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler (E.L. Konigsburg) ♠♠♠♠♠

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I read this book because one of the ladies from my knitting circle recommended it as one of her favorite childhood books. Ever since moving to the US, I have made it a point to read people’s favorite books from their past. Moreover, my book club just so happened to have A Newberry Award Winner is its category for May …. so bam! I loved, loved, loved everything about this story. I know I would’ve devoured this book as a youngster in middle grade. The author also wrote an afterword for its anniversary edition (which I just happened to get from my local library) and she seems like the most adorable human being. The way she writes and thinks and her humor just make me want to beg her to be my friend.

 

 

Nimona (Noelle Stevenson) ♠♠♠♠♠

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Young and old. Good and evil. Hero and Villain. Friend and Foe. We can all be all of these at various times of our lives. Noelle Stevenson perfectly captures this dichotomy in her webcomic and now this graphic novel, which I could not put down. This very unique, human, and complicated relationship between Nimona and Lord Ballister Blackheart is all of us. The idea of an Institue of Law Enforcement and Heroics is interesting and seemed actually a bit too real – especially once it becomes clear how much the administrators meddle in day-to-day things. This is a graphic novel I would definitely read again. The illustrations were beautiful and the characters were well-development.

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney) ♠♠♠♠

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This book came recommended by my 11 year old friend – a kid I tutor. I love reading his or his brother’s book suggestions. This is definitely a fun series – playing up all the things kids at that age find funny like boogers and farting and teasing each other. The protagonist’s interpretations of the world are cute and his diary entries are hilarious. I am going to read the next book asap.

April is for reading fools

***spoilers possible

As you can see, I read a lot of books this month – Dewey’s readathon took place and that always makes me read several graphic novels in between other fiction books in order to stay awake. 24 hours are long!

 

The Underground Railroad (Colston White) ♠♠

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Ugh! The more I think about this book the less I like it. I just cannot fathom why one would bother to re-imagine the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad and then not make it the main focus or at least an extensive focus of the story.

 

 

Jane Eyre (Stacie King) ♠♠♠♠

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This was my first manga story and I loved it. The drawings were really fun and I think the author brought the essence of the story across without loosing too much of the important details.

 

 

The Woman in Cabin 10 (Ruth Ware) ♠♠♠♠

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This read like a total ‘laying poolside’ book to me.  It was suspenseful and had fun characters without too much depth to bog you down with details unnecessary for that guilty-pleasure read.  The ending was a bit of a let-down but I didn’t even care. I just loved the yacht and the main character.

 

 

Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance) ♠♠♠♠♠

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Andrew Luck recommended this book for his April book club read and it was well worth my time. The author made his experiences personable yet educating. I found myself wrapped up into his family and started to care for them to do well. He is witty with a keen eye for detail, and this book lives off of detail.

 

 

Good Omens (Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett) ♠♠♠♠♠

17Neil Gaiman for the win! This was my first Terry Pratchett experience and the two authors worked great together. I felt like they had fun writing this book and that made it even more enjoyable. The characters were relatable, flawed, good-natured, and intelligent. They tried their best within their abilities – I always like reading about people like that. And the premise of the book was just plainly hysterical and so damn smart.

 

Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld) ♠♠♠♠

18I read this for my Popsugar Reading Challenge. I needed a Steampunk novel and this one was mentioned multiple times in the Goodreads group. I am glad I chose it as it really entertained me a lot. I loved all the descriptions of the machines and creatures – the contrast between the Darwinists and the Clunkers was smartly done and I appreciated each group’s worldview to a certain extent. I also really enjoyed reading about the conflict between various nations in a way that was re-imagining World War I. The book is listed as YA, but I’d say it would be suitable for middle-grade readers as well. I think this trilogy is fun and I am already reading the second book in the series.

 

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) ♠♠♠♠♠

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I loved this book. It was interesting and mind-opening, novel but also familiar, at times crass and at others lovely. It read like the author’s memoir rather than fiction. I wonder how much personal experience actually made it into the story. I highly recommend this author and I think this would be a great introductory novel into her writing and ideas. As an immigrant, I found myself relating to several of the overarching themes. Nevertheless, I often was confronted with interpretations and situations that I had not thought about.

 

It Ends With Us (Colleen Hoover) ♠♠♠

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This was meh. One of my favorite book reviewers rated this one highly and I generally agree with her but for some reason, this one just didn’t click with me. The theme is very important and I think you should read it but it is not as eye-opening as I had expected.

 

 

Lumberjanes (Noelle Stevenson) ♠♠♠♠♠

I love, love, love this series. I had downloaded three issues to my Kindle to help break up some of my Dewey’s readathon readings and promptly fell in love with the writing, the characters, and the illustrations. I went ahead and downloaded two more and read them the next day. I now really would like to buy the actual print issues to marvel over whenever I want to.

 

Grave Suspense (Charlaine Harris) ♠♠

23I was disappointed in this one. I loved all the Sookie Stackhouse stories and had somewhat high expectations. Charlaine Harris normally keeps me entertained and the topic didn’t seem something that would not get better with illustrations. I don’t know exactly what it was. The drawings were fine, the story was suspenseful, but it just wasn’t entertaining or even interesting enough. This could be because this is already the second book in the series and I obviously didn’t read the first or it could just be that I don’t care for the story and its characters. I don’t think I am going to seek out any of the sequels.

 

The Impossible Fortress (Jason Rekulak) ♠♠♠♠

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This was one of my readathon books. I received it a few week ago as part of my Book of the Month subscription and figured it would be the perfect readathon read – and it was! The story was endearing and the characters well-developed. As a coming-of-age novel, this hit all the major points without being cheesy or too formulaic. Read it. Plus you can actually play the game they develop in the book!

 

 

A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab) ♠♠♠♠♠

26Um, yasssssss! I also read this one during the readathon. I tried it before as an eBook and couldn’t get into it at all and was worried it was the book and not that it was on Kindle. BUT, thank goodness, that didn’t hold true. I reserved it through the library and flew through the hardcopy. Sometimes, real books just win over eBooks – sorry Kindle! Schwab has a knack for sucking you in – within the first few (actual!) pages I was invested into the characters and the story – an arena-style competition between different magical nations with several surprises. Of course, there was a little romance, but it didn’t overpower the progress of the story and mostly just added depth to the characters. I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

 

Sandman (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠♠

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I can’t even! I waited so long to start this graphic novel series! Why? I haven’t the faintest clue. It is so, so, very good! The drawings are beautiful and Neil Gaiman just does his usual magic with words. I am going to savor this series, buying one issue at a time!

 

 

 

Bad Arguments (Ali Almossawi) ♠♠♠

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Short and sweet. I mostly enjoyed the old-timey feel and illustrations. It’s a coffee-table-book.

Aufwiedersehen

Thoughts and musings

Aaaaand this concludes another successful 24hr-readathon! I made it 22 hours but unfortunately could not push myself any further BUT this is the first time, I did not nap but read continuously (minus a few traveling breaks to go to the coffee shop for example). I am actually quite happy with my accomplishments this year, though I sacrificed social media participation for reading time. I did not do any mini-challenges and only infrequently checked the official Facebook and Goodreads groups. I did post a little on Instagram and Twitter, and of course, I had a few blog updates here.  I have to say that focusing more on the reading and its purpose for the day (to raise funds for a charity) made this readathon very special to me. I do regret not cheering people on as much. Next time, I am going to find a bit better balance!

My food and snack situation was on point this time! I had lots of choices and didn’t feel like that I just completely pigged out this Saturday. I also really enjoyed journaling my experience on actual paper rather than on my laptop – I will definitely continue that next time.

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Official closing survey! 

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 23. I really wanted to make it the whole 24 hours, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open around 5:15 pm.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?

I have jumped on the hype bandwagon of Lumberjanes. Around hour 17, I needed a good pick-me-up. I had downloaded the first issue to my Kindle and devoured it. I loved it so much, I immediately went to my library website to see if sequential issues were available, and downloaded two more.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

I don’t know if I just missed that, but I really liked how one year we had the official twitter cheerleaders and we were assigned fun little groups. I really liked those and would’ve liked to be part of one again.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

This was my first time hosting anything and I loved facilitating the discussion on the Goodreads group. I would definitely do that again. It made me more engaged with the group in general – I, for example, did all pre-readathons – and I’d say those were wonderful and should be repeated in the fall.

5. How many books did you read?

I finished 2 fiction books and 4 graphic novels/comics. I read a little bit of two additional novels.

6. What were the names of the books you read?

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I finished The Impossible Fortress and A Gathering of Shadows (I had started that one already though). I read a few pages of Kafka on the Shore, but quickly realized that book is not made for a readathon. That book needs time. It needs to be read slowly. I also started Diary of a Wimpy Kid with the hopes that this would push me to the 24 hours as it is an easy read, but my brain did not cooperate.

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I loved, loved, loved the Lumberjanes comics. I will probably go ahead and purchase these. I didn’t quite like Grave Surprise. It just wasn’t special enough.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

A Gathering of Shadows

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Grave Surprise

9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Yes, for damn sure I will be participating again. I definitely want to obviously read, but I also loved hosting an hour on social media.

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Data and such

  • I read a total of 944 pages in 22 hours.
  • I finished 6 books/graphic novels but none fit into my Popsugar Reading Challenge categories :/
  • I had only 1! cup of coffee but lots of tea.
  • I ate way too much chocolate but otherwise fairly healthy things like fruit and cheese.
  • 3 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 friends gave me company at various times.
  • 20170430_105208I had 1 buddy read across the country.
  • 11 additional people will be donating to my charity of choice because of this readathon.
  • I’ve slept 3 hours and now I am updating this blog.
  • And I loved my planner set up for the day!

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This is it, for now, lovelies. I’ll see everyone on October 21, 2017, for the Dewey’s Fall Readathon!

About to turn the last corner

HOUR 19 GOODREADS MADNESS 🙂

Well, well, well …. my bookish Goodreads hour has just ended, so I figured I give a quick update. I have to say that was really fun and I think I will definitely do that again. I got several amazing book recommendations and I was surprised how many people actually participated. I figured most people would be either too tired to be social or really deep into a book at this time. So, guys, good job – this was great!

20170430_021104In my last post, I was trying to decide what I should read next and I ended up choosing A Gathering of Shadows. The lovely Heather over on Instagram at @hturningpages and I decided to buddy-read that book and that has actually been extremely motivating and enjoyable.  I also somehow picked up a second 20170430_021118wind and think I will finish this novel soon. I am thinking after that I am going to take a shower and put fresh PJs on and continue this readathon in bed surrounded by my pups. They’re currently all 20170430_021209asleep in the living room but I bet they’d love to snuggle up with me. The cat is being her usual grump and has taken to be very active at this hour just to mess with me a little 😉 AKA there won’t be a picture of her at this moment.

I hope everything is still hanging in there! We are on the last stretch!

Just past the halfway mark

I think I am at a good stopping point to do do a little blog update. 🙂

My morning started off kinda slow. I went to a local coffee shop with a friend and ended up chatting quite a bit (which I really enjoyed and not regret at all) and thus didn’t get as much reading done as I had planned on. 20170429_075324I first tried to continue reading Kafka on the Shore (started it a few days ago) but that book requires a sort of slow and savory reading not very conducive to pushing my page count up. It just didn’t feel right. So, I switched to a Charlaine Harris graphic novel Grave Surprise, which I just so happened to stumble across at the campus library. It was decent enough to keep me engaged. The story was suspenseful and I was itching to find out who was the murderer but generally speaking, this graphic novel wasn’t my cup of tea (and maybe I am missing something because as it turns out this is the second book in a series and I obviously didn’t read the first). I didn’t think the illustrations were that great and the dialogues were too descriptive and boring. I am of the opinion that the illustrations provide the context in a graphic novel and words are really there to push the dialogue. Harris’ book failed to do that. Her actual words were essentially giving as much context as the illustrations did, something I found completely unnecessary.

20170429_190209After that, I read The Impossible Fortress – a coming of age story in the late 80s during the first big rise of computer programming, video games, and the internet. I really loved this novel and flew through it. Part of the ending was a tad unbelievable but that really would be my only complaint. I think this book was a great choice for the readathon – thanks, Book of the Month Club!

I also managed to stop by one of my favorite local bookstores to support Indie Bookstore Day, and of course, I purchased a book. I am really looking forward to reading this sequel to Alice, 20170429_191334which totally fed into my Alice in Wonderland obsession. Which brings me to my current dilemma – what book should I read next?! My choices are Behemoth (I devoured the first book in this series, and I expect this to be an easy read), A Gathering of Shadows (I also enjoyed the first book a lot, but I had tried to read this one on Kindle about a month ago, and couldn’t get into it, which I think is because I wasn’t really into reading anything on Kindle at that point, but who knows?!), and Red Queen (the aforementioned sequel to Alice, which I expect to be dark and probably a bit more difficult to read). The only thing I am certain about is that chocolate is my next snack!

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Decisions! Decisions! Ugh.

Are you participating in the readathon? How is it going for you?

Readathon snack addendum

20170428_152156So, after a quick Aldi run, I now have snacks for tomorrow! I was trying to find a good balance between healthy and pretty-not-so-healthy items. A good thing is I am a huge fan of fruit, so I will probably house all these kiwis, mangoes, and apples. Bananas are less my thing but I figured they are a good snack to have around.

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I also splurged a bit on some almonds and dried fruit as well as chocolate and sweet potato chips. Not pictured are a variety of cheeses and meats for sandwiches or to eat with crackers. I have not really thought about a warm meal, but worst case I am going to order PIZZA! And of course, I will need lots of coffee. I haven’t had this one yet, so fingers crossed – but Fair Trade sounds promising.

I have already made plans for a breakfast date with a friend who is writing a paper. She will be working on that and I will be reading and consuming liters of lattes. I am actually quite looking forward to this. And on the way back from that I’ll probably stop at a local bookstore – indie bookstore day for the win! I bet I’ll be buying something – thinking of adding to my Gaiman Sandman collection.

I also have looked over my TBR pile and naturally added more. I went to my library web page and my Amazon Prime and decided I needed more Kindle books, preferably some easy reads, just in case I am starting to fade and need a pick-me-up. Thus in addition to my physical TBR, I now have the following eBooks (some I rented and some I already owned and had forgotten about):

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)

Behemoth (Scott Westerfeld)

Lumberjanes, issue 1 (Noelle Stevenson)

What If (Randall Munroe)

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments (Ali Almosawi)

1984 (George Orwell)

Not Just Voodoo (Rebecca Hamilton)

Hidden Figures (Margot Lee Shetterly)

The Night Bird (Brian Freeman)

As you can see, I got a few more graphic novels, children or teen books, and other easy reads. I am seriously getting so excited for tomorrow! Is it time yet??????

Dewey’s 24 hr readathon is upon us

I am so excited for this weekend!

I will be participating again in Dewey’s readathon this Saturday. I am super stoked as I really cherish this event. This time, I thought I would give it a purpose other than bringing awareness to reading and hanging with some awesome virtual and in-person friends. I decided to support East Nashville Hope Exchange, a group that serves at-risk kids to develop or improve their reading skills. I am going to donate 5 cents for every page I read. Fingers crossed I am going to read a lot of pages (graphic novels should be really helpful here ;)).

My TBR pile is humungous. Being a Book of the Month member really isn’t helping. But the good thing is that I have tons of different genres to choose from. So, I can truly be a mood reader 🙂

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Realistically, I will probably read The Sandman and Grave Surprise (both graphic novels), A Gathering of Shadows, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and maybe some of the Poe stories. I have started reading Kafka on the Shore already, and am hoping I’ll be done with this prior to Saturday. Graphic novels, children books, and short stories are my favorite palate cleansers. Once in a while, I also enjoy a non-fiction book, so Stiff and The Stranger in the Woods are my go to options for this readathon. Some of the other books are long-term residents of my bookshelf (and not all of them are actually pictured here) and I keep hoping that the mood will strike for them 🙂 …. maybe this readathon?!

I have not tackled the issue of snacks …. my thinking is to go a splurge on Friday and buy all the things. I will most likely go hungry as that will best represent my Saturday state :p. That seems like the correct idea, right?!

I am also doing another new and fun thing this year: I am co-hosting one of the reading hours on the Goodreads group. Hour 19 will hopefully be extra special now. Of course, I will be journaling my experience on here, probably post some pictures on Instagram, and be really active on the Facebook group.

So, here is to an excellent Saturday!