Friday, January 1, 2016
My first blog post of 2016 is also the last of the 24 Book Reading Challenge - and no, I didn't finished every single book by the new year, like my goal. I did, however, make a dent that I'm very happy with. I finished 11 out of 24 in about three months, while I was working at my full time job and dealing with all the other things in my life during that time, so I'm calling that a good accomplishment. So even though this challenge is coming to a close technically incomplete, I'm happy!
In the new year, my goal is to read at least 2 books a month, and boy do i already have such a wish list, including the books I own but haven't read yet. I also want to continue writing book reviews here. It's a fun way to talk about a book once I've finished with it and maybe give anyone reading these a recommendation.
So, onto the last five books I read from this challenge!
3. A book about someone you admire
Binge by Tyler Oakley
I was lucky enough to go to Tyler's book signing/meet and greet when he was in Arizona in October, which was so amazing. I had a wonderful time with my friends and Tyler was hilarious (and so short!)
His book was everything you've probably heard about - very shocking and very scandalous! I liked Tyler's writing voice. It was similar in many ways to his YouTube videos, but different as well. I think he really found his own tone while writing. One day I want to listen to the audiobook - hearing his stories with his own actual voice would be great!
Also bonus: my photo with Tyler (he called me queen when he saw the boas).
4. Any novel NOT by James Patterson
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
This one was a little weird. By weird, I mean the sense of time and setting was really all over place near the beginning. I'd say the first third at least. It's told in first person and the main character is retelling her life story to a third party and in the way stories are told, it sort of goes from anecdote to anecdote jumping over several decades. As it goes on, it begins to settle more into one time period - the present - and makes a lot more sense. In the end I did like it. It was entertaining at the very least and had some solid characters.
9. A book inspired by a true story
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Very detailed and factual, but an amazing story. Some details are so awful to read about and hard to believe that people went through this during the war. I always enjoy reading up on history, especially this time period. WWII is such a fascinating time and there are so many points of view to look at it. This one is from the perspective, in a way, of an Olympic runner turned solider. Now I can't wait to watch the film that was made based on the book!
13. Read a Mystery
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This was my first Christie novel and I really enjoyed it. It was a bit to settle into the older way of storytelling, but it really hooked me from the start. My mind kept going over the whole thing, trying to figure out the mystery and "who done it." I wasn't disappointed at the surprising twist ending. Most mysteries or plot twists you can sort of see coming or guess, but not with this. I really want to read it again and see if I can pull out the clues now that I know the end. It was also spooky, which was the vibe I was hoping for!
16. Read a Scary Novel
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Now instead of going with my original plan and reading my first Stephen King novel, I came across this book at work and checked it out because the YouTuber Frannerd had mentioned it before. It's a graphic novel and filled with a handful of short horror stories that are completely illustrated. And god, is it creepy. I never actually read this at home at night - only at work during my lunch break!
Every story has chilling moments where you feel the need to look over your shoulder because you get that feeling, if you know what I mean. It was beautifully detailed and the illustrations were just fantastic. The stories, as I said, were chilling and I don't know how people can come up with these sort of ideas. I'm definitely not ever going to be a horror writer - I value my sleep too much.
If you can, get a hold of this. I might actually want to purchase it so I can keep looking at the illustrations. You get so much from the drawings. Sometimes there aren't any words on a page or two and the picture tells you the whole story.
And there we are - the end! If you were following along with this challenge, I hope you read a lot of amazing books that you might have never picked up otherwise. I can tell you I would have never thought to read a western or an Agatha Christie novel without this prompt. It was exciting and I hope to do something like this again one day!
Happy new year!
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Are you at a loss for what to buy people for the upcoming holiday? For me, I love to search for the perfect gift. There is nothing better than thinking about a friend or family member and racking your brain for what they might like and then suddenly stumble across the perfect gift. I've been seeing a lot of websites and magazines have "gift guides" for the holiday and wanted to create my own as well.
Most of these are inexpensive items though there are a few that are over $20 just because they were so cute I couldn't help but include them. A lot of these are just suggestions and might lead you to a gift that you hadn't yet thought about for someone in your life. I've included all the links under the photos so if you find something you just have to have - either for yourself or as a gift for someone - you can easily buy it!
I've separated the gifts in four different categories that I hope you like! This doesn't cover every person on your list, but it might give you some ideas!
By trendy, I sort of mean those, well, trends you see a lot of. Right now I feel like those are copper and gold accents and marble. I know I can't walk five steps in say a TJ Maxx without seeing something copper or a marble finish. Then there are all the other big things you see in every beauty guru's home for example, like delicate ring holders, ornate picture frames and candles.
Jewel Photo Frame
Tea light holder
Everyone can appreciate a good funny, slightly useless, gift. Rue21 has a lot of that type of thing, especially if you know someone who loves emojis. Seriously, there are stickers and magnets as well as this pillow I found, which would be great for stocking stuffers. The following are things that made me laugh and could really be given to anyone if you just want something light.
For the coffee lover
Self explanatory. If you know someone who loves coffee - or tea - to an extreme, a sort of lazy gift is a new coffee mug. At the same time, you can turn this "lazy" gift into something special by finding a fun coffee mug to fit their personality. There are a ton of coffee themed PJ's and shirts - especially from Forever21 - if you're looking for more things like this.
For the book lover
My suggestion is to never try to actually buy a book for someone unless they have specifically told you what they want, or unless you know their personal book collection well. You don't want to give them something they already have with no way to return it, so there are a few other choices for the book lover in your life. You could get them a gift card, but sometimes that's a little impersonal, so you could always throw in a few extras. Book lovers often love journals and writing, so that's a safe bet. Book ends are cute, fun and useful that add style to a room. Wall art is fun too, with a nice quote to go near their bookshelf.
Sticky note planner
Quote wall art
Books I haven't Read bookend
Kate Spade notebook
I hope you got some ideas and are getting excited for the holidays! I bought a few of the things above for myself and some family members and hope it inspired you as well.
Until next time,
Sunday, October 25, 2015
I'd say this was an interesting trio to read one after another for my 24 book reading challenge (and yes I know I'm definitely slacking!).
The first one I read was the Western for my challenge. It was "Stagecoach Station 37: Shawnee" by Hank Mitchum. I was discarding all our western series at work because, well, look at them. Some of them have been there since I was in diapers.
But I did see this one and it caught my eye, for whatever reason. I knew I needed a western to read and even though this was part of a series, it seemed to be more stand alone than anything.
Then I read the book for my "E-Book" slot on Overdrive (that's an app through your library where you can check out books - for free! I'd recommend seeing if your library has it). This one I had seen around a lot when I worked at Barnes & Noble and had always been interested in, so I decided to dive right into it. It's "The Selection" by Kiera Cass.
Finally I read "Girl Online" by Zoe Sugg for my romance slot, which is definitely really late to the game since the second novel was just released.
Let's get into the reviews!
23. Read a Western: Stagecoach Station 37: Shawnee by Hank Mitchum
I was surprised how I actually enjoyed this novel. I, perhaps stupidly, thought that the western I picked up would be sexist and probably racist toward Native Americans. The book itself is older than me and a lot has changed in that time. And maybe it wasn't perfect, but not nearly as bad as I imagined.
It's about moving west. Elizabeth, a widow and her young son, move to Shawnee to be a house maid of sorts to a rancher, also a widow, and his twin girls.
The women of the novel seem pretty well rounded, despite of the time period. There are many and though some of them are quite fixated on being "good wives," they challenge the men in their lives as well. Such as a young wife in the novel that has recently married a young rancher in the town insists that she pull her weight on the ranch, etcs.
However there are some lines that are just...off. Such as Elizabeth wishing Tim (the rancher she's working for and her love interest) to grow up more feminine. But to be honest, I expected things like that. Elizabeth might be a slight more developed woman than most, with her own thoughts on many subjects, but I feel she is limited as a character because of the time period of the book and the time period and sex of the author writing her.
Overall I did enjoy it. It read quickly and had a good amount of adventure to it as well.
6. Read an eBook: The Selection by Kiera Cass
This is one of your very typical YA dystopian novels. It's about America, or Illéa, many years after another world war that made it shift from the America we know to a more structured class system with a monarchy. The main character is America - which is a cringe worthy name at best when you factor in the things I just wrote - who is in the class system of five and in love with a six (the lowest of which being an eight). However she's taken away from her love Aspen because of a competition (sort of like the Hunger Games, but much less killing) to become the Prince's bride and the Princess of Illéa.
I admit, the whole thing is very cliche and predicable at the beginning, and reads like a lot of other YA romance novels with a love triangle.
I was however pretty much hooked on the story.
I know for sure that there are more things that will come into the series later, which are hinted at throughout the later half of this novel. I'm very interested to keep reading on to dig deeper into the world, because I feel like Cass is definitely setting things up in the first novel that will pay off in later ones. I even don't mind the love triangle, mostly because I don't really care for Aspen at all even though I'm sure a lot of people probably want her to be with him and not Prince Maxon.
Again, I really did like this one and because it was an e-book, I didn't even realize I was on the last chapter of the book until it ended. The first thing I wanted to do was read the next one, but I'll have to wait until I'm done with this challenge for that!
24. Read a Romance: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg
I bought this during my Christmas employee appreciation at Barnes & Noble last year I believe and like so many of the books I buy, it sat on my shelf for months and months as I read other things before it. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to finally read it!
This is a novel by the popular YouTuber Zoë Sugg aka Zoella. I really adore her videos and her personality in general, so I had been excited - and nervous - to read this. Nervous because well, I didn't want it to suck. And it didn't! It definitely read like a first novel, however. I feel like it might have been rushed in some areas, maybe due to deadlines. Some parts that felt off, I think could be contributed to someone who hasn't written a whole lot and hasn't practiced the craft (though I know Zoë has said she's written in her childhood).
There are one or two cringy habits that I personally don't like when I'm reading something. They are more style or tone preferences, such as using an exclamation point outside of a blog post or when a character is speaking. I just don't like it when used in the character's internal monologue at all; it never rings true to me for some reason.
Things like that are very nit picky, though. The story itself was cute and I think well established. It continued to build on itself throughout and get stronger, so I am thinking that means "Girl Online: On Tour" will be even better. I think Zoë will know her characters even more and know how to write them even more effectively.
All this being said, I know if I was a teen right now, this novel would be my everything. As a 24 year old, it was a nice, light read and I think that comes from not being fully in the perspective of a teen anymore. Sometimes YA novels aren't as relatable, but the reliability in this does come from being online a lot, throughout my teen years and early twenties. (And wow I feel old for being able to say 'early twenties').
Overall: I liked it! Easy, fun read and I can't wait to see how Zoë grows in her life as a writer.
I hope you enjoyed this review check in for my 24 book challenge! Six down and 18 to go and just a bit over two months to do it. I really need to kick it up into high gear. If any one of you are following along with this challenge, I'd love to hear about your progress!
If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out my original post for more details.
Until next time,
Monday, September 14, 2015
|Above are some of the books I've read already or I'll soon be tackling.|
Have you been keeping up to date on my 24 Book Reading Challenge?
I'm still working through my list for this personal challenge of mine. For those who don't know about this, I'm reading 24 books by the end of the year that might be in genres I wouldn't normal read. Some of the categories are Westerns, Political Book from the "Other Side," and a Forgotten Classic.
I'm posting reviews and reactions on each book I finish, discussing how it was to read a book outside of my usual sphere of interests, etc.
This is a great way to step outside your own comfort zone when it comes to books, especially if you feel like you're in a rut with what you usually read. In the same way it would be a nice challenge to give yourself if you aren't reading as much as you would like to (or like me, read a bit too much fanfiction and not enough books - I know there are many who are guilty of this!)
If you are also going to participate in this challenge and are also blogging about it, I'd love to read your progress! Leave your blog in a comment or message me.
Find my original blog post about this challenge here.
Read my first batch of book reviews here (some of the authors even read it and responded to me on Twitter!)
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Here's my first book review round up for my 24 Book Reading Challenge. I finished all of these a while ago but have been dragging my feet on writing up this blog post - surprise surprise.
The funniest part of this is that the first three books I read for my challenge have very similar titles: Insert Name & Insert Name. Despite this trend, all three books are quite different and all have very poignant themes that you wouldn't necessarily gleam from their titles. When you look at them you think, oh a boy and a girl's name, must be a YA romance.
And yes, they are YA romances, but once you turn past the title page, you find there is much more than that.
17. A book set in another Country: Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts
If you're like me at all, you'll look at the description of this book and think, "Oh, another The Fault in Our Stars," but set in Australia.
It's really not. Not that it would be bad if it was. That book was amazing, obviously, but despite the fact that both Green and Betts told a story about two cancer patients finding love, their books have different vibes.
The story telling is different. We get varying POVs between Zac and Mia and I think this gives both characters more understanding. I got to know both of them through their own voice, as well as from the opposite individual and piece together their personalities that way. Sometimes I feel that, when a book is told in one person's POV, the other main character of the book becomes more mysterious, like with Augustus in TFOS.
When it begins, the majority of the first part of the book is from Zac's POV. He sees Mia and she's mysterious; much too cool to have cancer and be in this ward to be treated. Mia is anything but this, however. We see the cracks in her cool exterior when we are put in her head to see her perspective. She's fragile and shaken to point of breaking from the cancer that's rocked her world.
We also see from her POV that she thinks Zac is the strong one. Zac is the fighter and the one that will get out of all this alive. Both characters think the other one is strong and unbreakable, when in reality, they are both broken.
And yeah, this is a romance, but their romance doesn't take up a huge role as you would think. It's chapters and chapters in that the author says, "Yes, it's here but it's not the point." I like those sort of subtle takes on romance in YA novels, rather than the all in for life loves that start three pages in. It gives the author more time to talk about these kids and how unfair it is that they have to go through these life-threatening illnesses.
And okay, I'll be honest. I totally picked this up because I have a friend named Mia. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the book was. (I also listened to in audiobook form and the readers were fantastic, though weirdly, American and not Australian. A little weird.)
19. Any Book Published in the Last Year: Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway
Okay next up. Once again, I have a friend named Emmy and this caught my eye. It was only released in the late summer, which qualifies it for number 19. This summary really caught my eye. In essence, it is about two childhood friends - you guessed it, Emmy and Oliver - that live next door to each other and when they're young, Oliver is kidnapped by his father to get sole custody.
He's found nearly a decade later when they're both nearing 18.
I wasn't sure if it was going to be like Criminal Minds or not, but don't worry, it's not so extreme.
It's another love story and the build up is well done for the pay off of these two friends primarily getting to know each other again after so many years apart. The line into romance was crossed in a way that you don't usually expect for a YA novel, I feel, and it was definitely rewarding.
That was early enough in the book to leave you wonder: what else is left?
Well, it's a lot of character building and especially building these characters up to see how they interact with each other as well as apart. Oliver is dealing with being back home with his mother, a stranger now, and a new step-father and half siblings. Emmy has been dealing with over protective parents for years, due to her friend's disappearance and wants to break free from that.
My favorite thing about this book was the dialogue. Benway has a real gift for comedic timing. Emmy and her friend group have the best dialogue together and are a bunch of witty, sarcastic assholes, like my friends. They quickly become favorites.
21. Read a Book of your Choice: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
I've been so excited to read this book since I read Fangirl by the same author. I bought it in my last week working at Barnes & Noble for employee appreciation and finally have time to read things I want in the down time from my new job at the library. It definitely did not disappoint.
Rowell is really, really good at characters. She's good at creating characters that are unique and yet, people can relate to them.
(And yes, I think I did just hear my college writing teacher groan at using the word "unique" to describe a character. That was a no-no in discussions.)
At the same time, I think the opposite is true. Sometimes the characters - especially Eleanor - will do something that just doesn't make sense. I kept thinking, "what the heck are you doing?" But I was a third party, completely removed from Eleanor's difficult situation that only became more clear as the book went on, which in turn sort of justified Eleanor's actions later on.
I feel like the reader is in Park's mindset a lot of the times. He'll view Eleanor and think, why is she dressing like that? Why is she making people make fun of her? But we know, through Eleanor, she doesn't have any other clothes to wear.
Rowell peels back the layers on each character, exposes them, then pulls back another layer that explains the ones before, if that makes sense.
The end was...okay, I admit, I wanted more. I read that last line and was like....is that it?
But then I re-read it. The end was, from the point of view of an English major reading a book and examining it on a structural scale, perfect. Poetic. It was perfect for these characters to come to this conclusion.
Did the absolute fangirl in me want there to be more after that last page? Absolutely. Like, running into each other's arms and making out for like a solid page. Then sitting down and having a lot talk.
The thing is, Eleanor and Park don't need that. All they needed were those three words from Eleanor. The words that Eleanor didn't say the entire book and then, when she had come to know herself for who she is and removed herself from her awful situation, finally could allow herself to feel and say.
I still have a lot of questions, like what happened with her family, but that wouldn't be fair to this novel. This novel was all about how much shit happens to Eleanor and her family. They really struggle and to wipe it all away in a few pages and wrap the end up in a nice tidy bow would insult what they went through.
The books was amazing. Again it has shifting POVs and was seamlessly done. What can I say? I'm all heart eyes over these three books.
Next up: I'm currently reading my western from my challenge. It's....interesting, having never read one before. But more on that in my next round up for this challenge!
I'm so touched that I've gotten messages from other people saying that they are doing this challenge as well. If you are, please let me know and if you're doing reviews like this, I'd love to read them!