January 2018 reading round-up

  • # of books read: 11
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Leigh Bardugo books read: 3
  • total page count: 3,517 pages
  • year total page count: 3,517 pages

Last year I read a total of 174 books!  My goal was only 100, so I don’t feel like I’m rushing to complete my Goodreads challenge.  This month was a little slower going but still not bad (the audiobooks I listened to were really long…)

I received my OwlCrate edition of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue back in July 2017, and as much as I wanted to read it, I didn’t quite get around to it until this month.  I even brought this book to the Boston Teen Author Festival in October to get my copy signed.  And when I finally got around to reading it… I LOVED IT!  It was a funny book because Monty is such a flawed character, sort of spoiled and selfish and a hot mess, basically.  But he grows on you – or he grew on me, at least.  I also loved his sister Felicity and I’m happy to hear that she has her own book coming out next year!  Aside from being a rare LGBTQ historical romance, this was also a fun adventure.

Bonfire was one I’d been hearing about as a readalike to Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, and The Lying Game – all books that I enjoyed.  While I can’t say this one was super memorable, it was a good thriller and kept me guessing.

I have had a signed copy of Shadow and Bone in my possession for over two years, and it was one of those books/series that I kept hearing about and wanted to read, but never got around to reading.  I finally picked it up and MAN!  I was instantly hooked!

I picked up the second book from the library almost immediately after I finished the first – I mean, come on, Cruel Prince came in for me at the library and I HAD to read Cruel Prince first (it was amazing, BTW, more on that later…).  I’d been struggling through The House Next Door and listening to The Kiss of Deception, both of which were sort of dragging, so having two awesome books in a row (Shadow and Bone and The Cruel Prince) felt like a breath of fresh air.  I hurried through the end of House Next Door just so I could keep on reading the Grishaverse series!

As soon as I finished Siege and Storm, I checked out Ruin and Rising.  I have to say that I am now a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo, since I already picked up The Language of Thorns while in Vermont.  Hopefully I’ll be able to start reading it next month!

So, I read the library’s copy of The Cruel Prince shortly after it was released… but then I got my own copy to keep from OwlCrate!  It’s signed AND an exclusive cover.  I have to say, I love the original cover.  I absolutely LOVED this story.  I’ve slowly been becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Holly Black with each book she releases.  Given how much I loved this story, I’m sure it won’t be long before I go back and read the Tithe series.  This story had so much intrigue and adventure and I could never predict how the characters would act.  Also the romance didn’t overshadow the plot.

  • Best Overall: The Cruel Prince
  • Least Favorite: The House Next Door
  • Best Romance: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
  • Best Ending: The House Next Door
  • Best Audiobook: Fallen
  • Fastest Read: Erased v. 2 (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: The Fourth Protector (7+ weeks)

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

    1. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
    2. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
    3. Fallen by Lauren Kate (audiobook)
    4. Shadow and Bone (Grishaverse #1) by Leigh Bardugo
    5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
    6. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (audiobook)
    7. The House Next Door by Ann Rivers Siddons
    8. Siege and Storm (Grishaverse #2) by Leigh Bardugo
    9. Erased Omnibus v. 2 by Kei Sanbe (graphic novel)
    10. The Fourth Protector by Bri Baker (Wattpad)
    11. Ruin and Rising (Grishaverse #3) by Leigh Bardugo
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3 on a theme: you’re my reincarnated love (and my name is probably Daniel)

collage

Usually my 3 on a theme posts involve books read close together or even concurrently.  In this case, however, it was more a feeling, much like the heroines of these stories, that I had read this before.

In Fallen by Lauren Kate, the main character Luce finds herself drawn to Daniel, a broody type who is sometimes outright mean to her.  After all, he’s fallen in love with her over and over again – every 17 years in fact – and when he kisses her, she usually dies.

Where had I read this before?  Almost three years ago, I read two books with the theme of reincarnation.  In My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares, the main character’s recurring lover is also named Daniel.  And, strangely enough, even though Daniel has known her as Sophia in other lives, her name in this life is Lucy!

No wonder I had déjà vu.  But wait, there’s more!  I had déjà vu about My Name Is Memory shortly after reading it, when I picked up I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell.  This time, instead of a girl named Luce/Lucy, there was a guy named Lucas.  Again, it’s the dude who remembers falling in love with the girl before.  Or after.  Lucas remembers things that have yet to happen.

To further confuse matters, I listened to all three of these on audiobooks.  And look at the similarities of the covers!  All in shades of blue and green, with white centered text and silhouetted profiles.

December reading round-up

  • # of books read: 13
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • graphic novels read: 3
  • total page count: 3,954
  • year total page count: 44,234

Lots more reading this month!  Especially since I hardly wrote anything!  Did some editing and wrote a couple of chapters, but otherwise I’ve been busy reading…

I’m not sure how my coworker heard about Paperbacks from Hell before I did, but I was quite excited for a book about horror paperbacks from the author of Horrorstor and My Best Friend’s Exorcism.  Turns out I had read a bunch of these and had a couple sitting on my TBR pile.  Gotta love a book about books 🙂

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a classic that’s been on a TBR list in the back of my brain for a long time, and this year’s Nanowrimo novel drove me to pick it up.  It takes place during the French Revolution, and while it didn’t help much with my novel, it was a good adventure story.

I saw this one on Dawn Kurtagich’s Instagram and decided that I needed to read it.  Thornhill is a ghost story that is told in two parts: the novel part, that of a girl’s diary years ago; and the graphic part, of a girl who has just moved in near the abandoned Thornhill orphanage, which is told only in images.  The effect is haunting and won’t be soon forgotten.

I was so, so excited for The Becoming of Noah Shaw!  I loved the Mara Dyer series so much that I think it would be impossible for this to live up to that.  It was strange seeing Mara from an outside perspective, and I had forgotten what a jerk Noah was.  But I do love this world, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book!

Nevernight keeps popping up on the book sites I follow.  I hadn’t actually read a review or summary of the book, however… yet the title made me curious enough to download it.  I can’t say I would recommend reading via ebook, because there are footnotes, and it took me a long time to get used to the author’s style.  The world is quite rich, and I ended up really enjoying it.  Hopefully I’ll be reading book #2, Godsgrave, next month!

A friend from college had recommended Lamb and Christopher Moore in general way back when, and I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for literally years.  I brought it along to read while on vacation in the Azores, because it was almost Christmas and I couldn’t find The Twelve Frights of Christmas (I’m afraid I got rid of it!).  It was definitely amusing and somehow actually taught me more about the Bible…

Winter days = cozy reading #erased #currentlyreading #bookstagram

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The artwork on the cover of Erased convinced me to pick up this manga.  As you know, I don’t read a whole lot of manga, but this was a cool story.  Man occasionally relives seconds of his life until he changes something that saves lives, but when his mother is murdered he forces himself to go back to his childhood to prevent the murder of one of his classmates.  When I checked this out of the library, I thought this was a 2-book series that was complete, but turns out there are five volumes and counting…

#rupikaur #milkandhoney #currentlyreading #poetry #bookstagram

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Another book I just kept seeing, Milk and Honey is the only poetry collection I read this year.  Some of the poems really blew me away with their truth.  Others not so much…

I thought I would never win a Goodreads giveaway again, and I’m so happy it was this book.  Josh Malerman’s first book, Bird Box, is one that has stayed with me.  Unbury Carol (out in April 2018) was another unique thriller, taking place in the Wild West.

  • Best Overall: Unbury Carol
  • Best Audiobook: Feed
  • Goriest: Nevernight
  • Fastest Read: Louis Undercover (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: Born at Midnight (13 days)

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  2. Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix
  3. Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant (audiobook)
  4. Thornhill by Pam Smy (graphic novel)
  5. The Becoming of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions #1) by Michelle Hodkin
  6. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  7. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  8. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
  9. Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt (graphic novel)
  10. Erased, Volume 1 by Kei Sanbe (graphic novel)
  11. Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman (ARC)
  12. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  13. Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter (audiobook)

November reading round-up

  • # of books read: 10
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • total page count: 1,782
  • year total page count: 38,498 / 40,280

I didn’t get as much reading in as I would have liked this month, because I was busy Nanowrimo’ing.

At the beginning of the month I was still working my way through this stack of horror novels I had vowed to read in October.  The Bargaining was kind of meh for me, while The Ravenous and Midnight Movie were full of gory thrills.  By the end, however, I was ready to read some non-horror.

The Good Girl was a paperback someone donated to the library, which I knew I had put on my TBR list a little while ago.  It’s similar to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, one of those twisty thrillers with not-especially-likable protagonists, and the word “girl” in the title.  A fast read that’s a bit unpredictable, although the ending and twist stretched believability.

I saw The Life She Was Given come across the library desk, and put it on hold for myself (but staggered out, so it wouldn’t interfere with my October horror binge). The story felt like a strange mash-up of Water for Elephants and Flowers in the Attic, if you can imagine such a thing. Of course I loved it.

Hopefully next month I’ll get more reading done – even if only because I’m going on vacation!

  • Best Overall: All the Crooked Saints
  • Best Audiobook: Eat the Dark
  • Goriest: Midnight Movie
  • Fastest Read: Forbidden Secrets (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: Boy Meets Boy (8 days)

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. The Bargaining by Carly Ann West
  2. The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics
  3. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (audiobook)
  4. Midnight Movie by Tobe Hooper
  5. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (audiobook)
  6. Forbidden Secrets (Fear Street Sagas #3) by R.L. Stine
  7. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  8. The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
  9. Eat the Dark by Joe Schreiber (audiobook)
  10. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

October reading round-up

  • # of books read: 11
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • horror novels read: 7
  • total page count: 3,149
  • year total page count: 38,498

The first book read this month was from the batch I got signed at the Boston Teen Author Festival.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was just such a lovely book that I gave a rare 5 stars! The writing was poetic and the story was just beautiful.  I don’t have the words.

I’ll be looking for more of this author’s books, but I had to put that aside, because this month I had vowed to read all the horror!

It was a daunting stack.  But I currently have only 2.5 books left to go!  Which is great, considering some of these have been languishing on my TBR shelf for years.

My absolute favorite horror novel I read this month was Diary of a Haunting.  I loved how the mystery of the house unfolded and how the format of blog posts was affected by the haunting as well.  There were some great creepy moments.  The Women in the Walls was a close second.  Amy Lukavics really knows how to pull you into a story without fleshing out the setting, somehow.

Many of these seemed to be more thriller than horror (Blind Spot and The Creeping).  And sadly, I was a bit disappointed in There’s Someone Inside Your House.  I read so much horror that I was waiting for some new twist and did not find it.

Of course, I vowed to read all horror novels in October, but then this one came out, and I had to read it.  I’ve only been waiting years since his last book!  Luckily it was a fast one and had everything I’ve come to expect from a John Green novel: quirky characters, philosophical discussions, and endings that are not tied up in a neat little bow.

  • Best Overall: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Best Horror: Diary of a Haunting
  • Weirdest Overall: Fiendish
  • Fastest Read: Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror
  • Slowest Read: The Copper Gauntlet
  • Best Audio: Highly Illogical Behavior

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  2. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
  3. The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
  4. Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano
  5. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (audiobook)
  6. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  7. The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
  8. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
  9. Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
  10. Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
  11. The Copper Gauntlet (Magisterium #2) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare (audiobook)

 

September reading round-up

  • # of books read: 13
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • graphic novels read: 3
  • total page count: 3,786
  • year total page count: 35,349

I read a review of The Art of Starving and had to buy it for the library.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a boy with an eating disorder, and yet I know it’s more common than we’d think.  It had a cool element of magical realism in there, which reminded me a lot of A.S. King’s books.

Such a Pretty Girl came from my haul from the Book Barn.  I hadn’t planned on reading it just yet, but I needed a paperback skinny enough to fit in my purse to bring with me to an outdoor concert, because lying in the sun reading and listening to music is my idea of the perfect afternoon.  This story was a super quick read – published by the same imprint that did The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Brave New Girl, both of which I also enjoyed (perhaps odd to note that all three of these titles I mentioned have sexual molestation as a theme…).

I attended the Boston Teen Author Festival on September 23, where I got to meet a bunch of great authors.  I was super excited to meet Adam Silvera after I had binge-read two of his books this month – History Is All You Left Me, and They Both Die at the End.  While neither of them made the top of my list below, I really loved the ideas behind them and the relationships between the characters.

Stalking Jack the Ripper was one I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and I started it on the train getting into the city and continued reading while I waited in line.  While this is part of the Jimmy Patterson imprint, I thought this was far better written than anything I’ve read of Patterson’s.  I loved the historical aspect and had just the right amount of gore, in my opinion.

I read a lot of really great books this month – I gave 7 of them four stars on Goodreads!  So in my overalls below, I have a tie for best.  I haven’t talked about Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  My mother recommended this book to me and I really enjoyed it.  It had a quietness about it but still made me race through the pages despite not being a thriller.

  • Best Overall: Stalking Jack the Ripper / Ask Him Why
  • Weirdest Overall: The Library at Mount Char
  • Fastest Read: Smooth, Volume 1 (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: Theft by Finding (technically, since I had to wait 3 months in the hold queue rotation, but only took me a little over 2 weeks) / The Witches (actually, took me over a month)
  • Best Audio: Theft by Finding

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (ebook)
  2. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  3. Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977 – 2002) by David Sedaris (audiobook)
  4. The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of a Serial Killer by Jason Moss
  5. Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick (graphic novel)
  6. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  7. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (graphic novel)
  8. The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller
  9. Such a Pretty Girl by Lauren Wiess
  10. Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  11. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff (audiobook)
  12. Smooth, Volume 1: Birth (graphic novel)
  13. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

school required reading: books I hated, books I loved

booksm-collection-2578237_640School is back in session, and as a librarian trying to run both a teen book club and a teen writers club, I get a lot of teens who don’t have time to read or write for fun because of school reading.  I’ve always been a big reader, but even I hated quite a few of the books I was required to read.

Of course I have loved quite a few of those books.  Catcher in the Rye, The Bell Jar, and The Stranger (I read this first in French, then on my own in English) are just a few that I’ve read and re-read.  Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Sylvia Plath’s Ariel are two poetry collections I really enjoyed, despite maintaining for years that “I hate poetry.”

But the bad ones were just so bad.  Freshman year I had to read Great Expectations, and hated every moment of it.  Never mind that my English teacher spoiled the ending of the first chapter for us all, it was 52 chapters of snooze.  And is any teen at a point in their life when they might enjoy Siddhartha, the story of a man’s spiritual journey to Buddhism?  The Jungle was another that I could barely get through.  The only thing I remember from that book was when one of the factory workers

There is something about a book being “required” that sucks all enjoyment from it.  I might have enjoyed The Once and Future King if it hadn’t been required summer reading (and over 1000 pages…).  The Sound and the Fury was by far my worst summer reading assignment – the only book I’ve ever needed CliffsNotes to comprehend.

And don’t get me started on Shakespeare.  I read three of his plays during high school – The Merchant of Venice, Romeo & Juliet, and The Taming of the Shrew – and hated every single one.  Especially Taming of the Shrew, which raised my feminist hackles.

When I got to college, however, I took a Shakespeare class and discovered that I actually really liked Shakespeare!  All it took was having a great professor.  (I still wasn’t a fan of Dubliners, which I had to read in both high school and college).  The Great Gatsby, which I disliked in high school, wasn’t quite so bad as an adult.

It’s unfortunate that schools have to require reading, because so many books would have been better if I hadn’t been required to read them.  Then again, would I have read them if they hadn’t been required?  Probably not.  Which is why I’m glad I’m not still a student and can read whatever the hell I want (sorry, students!).