The force of July

***spoilers possible

How is it possible that July has come and gone already? In the blink of an eye isn’t even accurate anymore. My reading quota has definitely slowed down in the past few months, and July had an additional “hiccup”. I bought a spinning wheel! Thus, in addition, to being distracted with new knitting projects, now I am also busy learning how to spin. And anyone who knows me would attest to that, that I just get pretty much obsessed when it comes to aquiring a new skill. Anyhow, I did make it through several really good books this month, and to top it off, ended it with one of my all-time favorite retro re-reads.


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Cheryl Strayed) ♠♠♠♠♠

57 I enjoyed this adventure very much. I loved how honest and vulnerable the author approached the retelling of her journey and how relatable her problems were. She was an average girl, deciding to begin a trip of healing on a whim, without really knowing what to expect, without really being prepared, and without asking for help or guidance (specifically from family and friends). Her reasoning that “selbst ist die Frau” really struck home with me. I feared with her, I laughed with her, I dreamt with her, and I healed with her. What more can you ask off a book? I’d read this again. And you should read it too!


Flirting with Felicity (Gerri Russell) ♠♠

58 This ain’t no Nora Roberts story. Unfortunately! She would’ve catapulted the premise of this book to amazing heights. Aside from the fact that this love story was unrealistic and the courtship way too perfect, I had several issues with Russell’s interpretation of what going green means. The author’s uneducated and naive view on sustainability was so blatantly apparent that I am thinking it was only used because it gives the novel a contemporary edge as being environmentally-friendly can be seen as somewhat of a fad right now. I was disappointed with this book, and doubt I will read any other of this author. Nora Roberts just needs to write her books quicker for me to be able to indulge in my guilty pleasure of romance literature 🙂


My Sister Rosa (Justine Larbalesier) ♠

59Pseudoscience babble meets horror YA novel. Terrible execution – is all I have to say about this. And please, young readers, do not believe anything this book puts forth as (neuro)science. In fact, I am going to shamelessly suggest here for everyone who is interested in science and research to check out my friend’s blog in hopes she can shed some light on what research findings really mean and how they’re misrepresented in mainstream media. Also, I gotta be honest, I had real-high hopes for this book and I am seriously sad that it let me down this much – the premise was so damn cool and it being a YA made it even better.


Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather) ♠♠♠♠


What a beautiful piece of work. The descriptions of New Mexico and the character development are outstanding. Despite it being a slow story, I was engaged the entire time. Willa Cather is one wizard with words. I will definitely check out any of her other books. I am a huge fan of language over plot.


Come Sundown (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠



Nora Roberts does her thing. Fun and quick just as I had expected.



Knit The Season (Kate Jacobs) ♠♠♠

62Oh, how I adored the first two books in this trilogy. This one, unfortunately, fell flat. Everything seemed rushed. Plots weren’t flushed out. Too many different scenarios and character subplots made the entire story feel crowded – not every character needs their journey neatly wrapped up. Nevertheless, this novel is still filled with wonderful knitting anecdotes, fun yarn descriptions, and cozy knitting club evenings. It’s worth a read only if you feel compelled to complete this trilogy. Also, although this is a minor point, the cover art is just plain terrible.


The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Art Spiegelman) ♠♠♠♠♠

63Honestly! This was a very raw and emotional read for me – I’ve only recently begun to read more WWII stories as I have been inundated with such during high school and in general growing up in Germany. I think a graphic novel was the perfect medium for this story. Art Spiegelman created an honest and unadorned view on surviving the holocaust, building a new life in a foreign country, and dealing with mental illness. His own estranged relationship with his father and his efforts in understanding his father’s life story only added to the complexity of this piece of work but really elevated its humanness. This is for sure a book that I would love to own and display on my book shelf.


Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (Heinrich Böll) ♠♠♠♠♠♠

64I cannot begin to describe the literary genius that is Heinrich Böll – he is a modern marvel of language, a complete Wunderkind of the Schachtelsatz, an ideal of taking the mundane and making it special. He uses words like a chef uses spices, flavoring scenes and plots with just the right amount of sadness, laughter, intellect, or wit. His eye for current events and their essence is legendary and I wish I had just a smidgen of his talent in distilling complex concepts into simple and understandable portions, which he then takes and remixes into unique, yet recognizable stories. I don’t know how well his works translate into other languages, but even if only one tenth of it comes across, you will still be witness to one of the most relevant authors of the 20th century. Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum was my introduction to Heinrich Böll. Mandatory reading in early high school, I remember I could not put this book down (once I actually picked it up to read – yes I was that teenager who never wanted to do any homework). Within the first sentences, I knew I had come across what is now one of my all-time favorite books and authors. Reading it, I became so angry with the press and specifically gossip newspapers that at times I had to pause. I related to almost every character in the story and truly felt I was part of the ongoing events. The same thing happened during this month’s re-read. I got angry. But I also fell in love again with Böll’s language and his forever long sentences, complicated further by the use of a millions adjectives, adverbs, and clarifiers. I am still salty thinking about how media messed with the young protagonist’s life but yet I am so darn glad that I, on a whim, decided to make this book my retro re-read for my girls book club. Oh how I just love Heinrich Böll.

Junebug readings

***spoilers possible

Another slow month for me but it contained some really, really good books!


Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami) ♠♠♠♠♠

49 What a read – it was confusing, magical, airy, deep, surreal, and utterly accurate at the same time. Kafka on the Shore swept me off my feet. I am a huge Franz Kafka fan and this book came highly recommended by both my dad and my sister (who are also Kafka fans), and it truly did not disappoint. It reminded of Kafka’s metamorphosis in the way that the reader was just as acceptant of the weird and supernatural happenings in this book as when Gregor Samsa awoke to be a bug. Nothing in this book is by coincidence. Murakami is smart, worldly, intellectual, and purposeful. There were so many twists and turns and I was just along for the ride. Some things remained hidden and were never explained, others let to total aha moments. This book was so jam-packed with things that I am sure I missed lots of them – and this just calls for a reread! The only advice I can give is to read this book slowly, to really think about the words you just read, to savor each moment, and to just immerse yourself completely into this strange Japan that Murakami spins.


Vassa in the Night (Sarah Porter) ♠♠♠♠

50 This is another very, very strange read. This novel was so bizarre that I am not certain I actually have an opinion about it per se. I recommend it because it leaves you feeling awkward and confused. I loved getting lost in the Sarah Porter’s fantastical world filled with old Russian folk tales, odd creatures, and many, many creepy themes. The only thing I did not enjoy was the writing itself at times. The author did too much telling and not enough showing. Overall though, this is definitely a book made for me as I just adore weird and creepy things.


Commonwealth (Ann Patchett) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

51 I love Ann Patchett as much as the next basic bitch (just joking) but this was not my cup of tea. Generally, Ann is a genius when it comes to family sagas, character development, and haunting descriptions of our world, but this one missed the mark a bit for me. The story itself was engaging enough and the characters, of course, were relatable and complex, yet somehow I found myself very bored at times and even easily distracted. I can’t really put my finger on what was missing but I’ll be sure to update this post when I think of it.


Red Queen (Christina Henry) ♠♠♠♠♠

52 Let’s just take a moment to indulge in my love for Alice in Wonderland and creepy/weird/odd/fantastical things …. and then let’s swoon over how Christina Henry combines these things in her Chronicles of Alice series. The second book, Red Queen, is just as dark, fantastical, and brilliant as the first one. I am so stoked about this series, and I really hope Henry continues on. Alice grew up in this book, she became independent and found her own. I love how Henry made her flawed, yet fiercely perfect; a victim, yet a hero; and not a girl and not yet a woman (Thanks Britney!). I found tons of feminist symbolism in her writing and really hope it was intentional. Gah, I just love a dark Alice universe so much.


A Midsummer Night’s Scream (R.L. Stine) ♠

53 How is it possible that you can pen our beloved Goosebumps stories, and then this, Mr. Stine?????? I don’t even know where to begin, this was so bad. First off, this was nothing, NOOOOOTHING, like Midsummer Night’s Dream. I deeply apologize to my good sir William. Secondly, if taken as truthful, the depiction of teenagers in this novel could have terrible consequences. Given that this is geared toward young adults I really, really hope they do not take on the main characters as role models. Please, Mr. Stine, do not ever again use such cliches and stereotypes as the basis for the development of your characters. We are looking for real and complex individuals whom we can and WANT TO identify with.


The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield) ♠♠♠♠♠

54 Are you a book lover? A person who needs literature in their life? Someone with the desire to live at times in fantasy worlds? Do you admire writers and poets? Do you adore the written word? Have you enjoyed Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Wilkie Collins as much as any New York Times Bestseller author right now? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you! I was hooked from the first sentence in the book. I knew I needed to never stop reading until it reached its conclusion. The fact that this novel read like classic English lit, but contained as many twists and turns as a contemporary piece of work, was just the icing on the cake. Do yourself a favor, read it asap!


One (Sarah Crossan) ♠♠♠♠♠


This was very new to me. I have never read a novel comprised of poems before. This was lovely, and the format worked great for the story. It gave it the right amount of punch as it took you along the lives of two teenage sisters and their trial and tribulations of growing up. While most of us can identify with this, we don’t really know anything about what that means in the context of your life depending on your sister’s life as this is the story of conjoined twins. This novel was eye-opening and roller-coaster of emotions for me, and I can only urge you to read it too.



Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling) ♠♠♠♠♠



I am re-reading HP. What else is new? I loved this book as much as I loved it the first time. It is still as amazing as ever. I adore everything Sirius Black and I have a total soft spot for werewolves. I also really love how this is the first book in the series where the HP universe gets dark!


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) ♠♠♠♠♠


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) ♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠♠


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) ♠♠♠♠♠


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) ♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠♠


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) ♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠♠♠



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) ♠♠♠



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


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.


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?

28 23 30 29

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.

24 25 26 27

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.


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!


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


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!


Decisions! Decisions! Ugh.

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