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
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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!).

August reading round-up

  • # of books read: 11
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • OwlCrate books read: 2
  • total page count: 2,689
  • year total page count: 31,563

This month I dedicated myself to making a dent in my Owlcrate books as well as the haul from the Book Barn.  It was a busy month, and I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked.

First up was The Upside of Unrequited, which as you can see I unboxed back in April.  I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out, because I really loved Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda.  This was more of a typical teen romance – the main couple was straight, but almost all of the minor characters were not.  There was a lot more sister drama and the pain of losing best friends to boyfriends/girlfriends.  Overall it was enjoyable and fun, perfect for summer.  (Plus it takes place in the summer, so there’s that!).

Eliza and Her Monsters was, apparently, the one OwlCrate I haven’t Instagrammed, but I really enjoyed it.  I think, partially, because it reminded me so much of Fangirl, which I loved – and because I’m in a bit of a fanfiction-writing phase again (*sigh*) I totally understood where Eliza was at.

I’m amazed that I’ve read 5 of the 9 pictured in this stack!  A Curious Tale of the In-Between was one I put on my Goodreads TBR list a while back and ended up buying on Thriftbooks.  I wanted to read it to give away this summer as a prize (I had some swag from BEA given to me that ties in) but that didn’t happen… The book was a bit darker than I expected but still managed to stay fairly light.

Book haul from my trip to the Book Barn #tbr #bookstagram #bookhaul #vintageya #usedbooks

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Well, I read The Lie and the Forbidden Game trilogy last month.  This month I continued to pare down this stack by reading Season of Ponies and Saving Max.  Saving Max was a decent, if slightly implausible, thriller.  But Season of Ponies!  Let me tell you, I have been looking for this book since fifth grade.  It’s out of print, and I’ve never been a member of a library that owned it, and used copies online are usually unavailable or cost far too much.  I suppose I could have requested it through interlibrary loan but what a hassle, when I found it at the Book Barn for $1!  This book brought me straight back to my childhood.  It’s such a simple story, but I loved it.  I was such a Zilpha Keatley Snyder fangirl back in the day (and clearly, a little bit now).

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this in my library’s Wowbrary newletter.  A new book by Michael Crichton?  Hasn’t he been dead for ten years?  And it looks just like Jurassic Park??  Dragon Teeth was much different, sort of a Wild West dino hunter vibe (Jurassic Park meets Westworld?), and it felt a bit like a bare bones first draft, but hey, it’s summer and fun, fast reads are what I like!

  • Best Overall: Eliza and Her Monsters
  • Worst Overall: Saving Max
  • Fastest Read: Season of Ponies (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: The Wood (25 days)
  • Best Audio: You

 

The full list:

  1. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
  2. A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
  3. The Last Star (5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey (audiobook)
  4. Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
  5. Season of Ponies by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  6. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  7. Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
  8. You by Caroline Kepnes (audiobook)
  9. Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5) by Morgan Rhodes
  10. The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski
  11. The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders by Anthony Flacco with Jerry Clark

July reading round-up

  • # of books read: 15
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • graphic novels read: 2
  • total page count: 4,402
  • year total page count: 28,874

This was a crazy month, and despite having a week of vacation, it wasn’t exactly *restful* vacation.  Plus with all the running around for the summer reading program at my library, and planning for the trip, I didn’t get as much reading in as I would have liked.

Chapter one… #empireofstorms #sarahjmaas #currentlyreading #bookstagram

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After waiting for what seemed like forever for the ebook of Empire of Storms to come in, I broke down and checked out the physical book.  I hadn’t realized how small the font is in these books – it made me feel old!  The book design, however, is quite nice (as you can see from the chapter headings, above).  But I still read it in under 2 weeks.  I felt a bit like this world is becoming too unwieldy and I enjoyed many of the side characters’ stories more than Aelin’s, but I’m still looking forward to the next book in the series.  Maybe now I can move on and read A Court of Thorns and Roses

I ❤️vintage YA #bookstagram #ninetieskids #ilovethenineties

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I read a bunch of vintage YA this month, largely thanks to a visit to the infamous Book Barn in Niantic, CT.  First up was After the First Death by Robert Cormier, which was just as dark as any of his others I’ve read.  The plot sounded similiar to Ransom (aka Five Were Missing) by Lois Duncan – children on a school bus held captive.  In this case, however, the ransomers were Middle Eastern terrorists who were ready to kill all the children to make a political statement if their demands were not met.

In a stroke of luck I found the entire Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith.  Look at those amazing neon covers!  The fast pace of the books brought me right back to my teen years.  I read a few reviews of Caraval that compared it to The Forbidden Game, but so far I’m not seeing too much by way of similarities aside from a character named Julian and the fact that they are playing a game.

Book haul from my trip to the Book Barn #tbr #bookstagram #bookhaul #vintageya #usedbooks

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One book I managed to read during one flight was The Lie by C.L. Taylor.  The description on the back was vague enough – four friends go on what promises to be an amazing trip and turns into a nightmare – that I had no idea what was in store.  Didn’t expect any of it!  This is a great thriller for anyone who liked Girl on the Train or In a Dark, Dark Wood (in other words, you kinda wanted to slap the narrator, but also you wanted to race to the end).

In bookish news, I visited the Trinity College Library on my trip to Ireland and it was just as amazing as I dreamed it would be.

I listened to a bunch of audiobooks this month.  One was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and it was amazing, highly recommended! (I’ve been waiting months for the audio of this!).  The other two were duds I downloaded via AudiobookSYNC.  Beast by Donna Jo Napoli was another Beauty and the Beast remix and it was strange, to say the least (do I need to imagine the Beast as a lion, sniffing after the female lions?  Not really).  The other was Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer, a Wattpad fanfiction novel.  The premise was interesting but overall it was a bit boring.

I thought maybe I’d add a little superlatives list for my round-ups, so here goes…

  • Best Overall: The Hate U Give
  • Worst Overall: The Beast
  • Fastest Read: The Lie (under 6 hours)
  • Slowest Read: Empire of Storms (12 days)
  • Best Audio: The Hate U Give
  • Best Illustrations: Olympos

The full list:

  1. I Am a Hero book 1 by Kengo Hanazawa (graphic novel)
  2. Beast by Donna Jo Napoli (audiobook)
  3. After the First Death by Robert Cormier
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (audiobook)
  5. Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
  6. Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer (audiobook)
  7. Olympos by Aki (graphic novel)
  8. Sextrap Dungeon by Kurt Knox
  9. The Hunter (The Forbidden Game #1) by L.J. Smith
  10. The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker
  11. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  12. The Lie by C.L. Taylor
  13. The Chase (The Forbidden Game #2) by L.J. Smith
  14. The Kill (The Forbidden Game #3) by L.J. Smith
  15. An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters and Denizens of Downworld by Cassandra Clare, illustrated by Cassandra Jean

June reading round-up

  • # of books read: 16
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • graphic novels read: 8
  • total page count: 4,395
  • year total page count: 24,472

A large portion of my month was spent reading 2 books by Cassandra Clare.

The first was Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which I picked up mainly because I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and because I found out I wasn’t first on hold for Lord of Shadows…  I wasn’t expecting this to be, essentially, a book about Simon.  It was sort of like The Bane Chronicles, a series of short stories, written by Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman, that focused on Simon’s time spent learning Shadowhunter skills, trying to recover his memories, and dealing with not being a vampire anymore.  There were a few lovely Malec moments, and a very sad moment at the end that for me, overshadowed the death at the end of Lord of Shadows.

I’m glad I read Tales before I read Lord of Shadows, simply because of some of the background, a reminder that Alec and Magnus now have children and to meet some of the Shadowhunters who appear as part of the Centurions.  There are many romances going on in Lord of Shadows, but my favorite relationship was between Kit and Ty.  I feel like in my review of Lady Midnight I didn’t even mention Kit, even though he was one of my favorite characters, because he wasn’t essential to the complex plot.  But here he was featured more, and I can’t wait to see what happens.  Two more years till the next book…

After these two tomes, I was ready for a huge graphic novel binge.

A few blog posts helped me discover a load of new graphic novels.  This one recommended the memoir Imagine Wanting Only This, and this one introduced me to Giant Days.  I swear there was a blog post that recommended Ten Count and The Angel of Elhamburg by Aki but unfortunately I can’t find it.  Ten Count has been highly enjoyable, so much so that I bought v. 2 and couldn’t wait for volume 3 to arrive and starting reading online.  My library director got an ARC of Lighter Than My Shadow, an intense memoir of a young woman with an eating disorder.

This month I also finished two books from Wattpad that have been published.  The first was a horse-related story called Born to Run which I enjoyed because it felt like a mash-up between Thoroughbred and Wildfire.  The second was The Casquette Girls, which I started reading on Wattpad and ending up buying, as Wattpad isn’t the easiest way to read and the book is over 500 pages.  I really loved Casquette Girls – if you’re looking for something with amazing world-building and some paranormal romance, this is it.

Sarah Dessen’s new book came out this month, which I was thrilled about.  While it followed the Sarah Dessen formula, it’s still a great summer read.

Into the Water was another new release I’ve been looking forward to, since I loved The Girl on the Train.  Unfortunately I found the issues I had with Hawkins’ first book (confusing multiple narrators) were even worse in this book, while this was also less of a thriller.  The mystery was interesting, and the story got better as it went along, but still a little disappointing.

With my trip to Ireland coming up next month, I’ll either read way more because I’m traveling, or read way less (sometimes vacations are too busy for reading!).  But I do have another stack of graphic novels to read, and about 4 OwlCrate books I need to get to, plus I’m going on a pilgrimage to the Book Barn in Niantic, CT tomorrow, so I’ll be sure to have a haul from that 🙂  The TBR list never stops growing!

The complete list of all the books I read this month (links take you to my Goodreads reviews)

  1. Born to Run (North Oak #1) by Ann Hunter (via Wattpad)
  2. The Voices by F.R. Tallis (audiobook)
  3. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare et al.
  4. Torso by Brian Michael Bendis (graphic novel)
  5. Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green (graphic novel)
  6. Torso by Brian Michael Bendis (graphic novel)
  7. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (audiobook)
  8. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare 
  9. Ten Count v. 2 by Rihito Takarai (graphic novel)
  10. Giant Days v. 1 by John Allison (graphic novel)
  11. Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke (graphic novel)
  12. Ten Count v. 3 by Rihito Takarai (graphic novel)
  13. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  14. The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden
  15. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  16. The Angel of Elhamburg by Aki (graphic novel)

May reading round-up

  • # of books read: 21
  • audiobooks listened to: 5
  • ARCs read: 1
  • total page count: 4,538
  • year total page count: 20,077
I managed to get tons of reading done this month!  My favorite reads of the month were Bang by Barry Lyga (about a boy who shot and killed his younger sister when he was a toddler), Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (a murder mystery set in space and involving clones), and Ten Count v. 1 (a manga that warmed my little yaoi heart).

I got through the top four books in this stack.  I enjoyed House quite a bit, though it was somehow completely different than I imagined.  Dissected was also pretty good!  I thought I would like The Last Final Girl and Tape better than I did, but hey – you can’t like everything.   All of these were super quick reads.  I got House and Tape via Thriftbooks (along with most of the others in this stack!) and the others I got at the library book sale.  Last year I only found one book at the book sale, so I was quite pleased with the selection this year.

The Revenge of Analog was an interesting look at how people, after several decades of movement toward a digital world, are gravitating toward the analog.  Whether it’s music on vinyl, film cameras, or simply handmade goods, I have seen this trend emerging both for myself (I own a typewriter again!) and among others of my generation.  Sure, it’s convenient to be able to load up my Nook for a trip, but sometimes it’s easier (simpler, and easier on the eyes!) to read a physical book.  I was thinking this was more of a hipster trend, but honestly I’m seeing this everywhere.

A nice day for beach reading #beachreads #sixwakes #bookstagram #murlafferty

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I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, but the horror elements of Six Wakes (“Six crew. One ship. One killer.”) intrigued me when this appeared at the library.  I also really liked the cover, because sometimes that’s how I judge books!  I had the opportunity to read One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus as an ARC, and I enjoyed that murder mystery just as much.  Maybe I like murder mysteries now?

Because the weather has been far cooler than usual for May, I’ve been listening to audiobooks like mad (normally, I’d have my car window rolled down, which makes it hard to listen to an audiobook while driving).  My favorite audio of the month was definitely The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  It was a quirky kind of love story that takes place over the course of a day.  The alternating voices reminded me a little of Eleanor and Park – also the focus on music as a thing that brings the two together.  I also enjoyed Anna Kendrick’s memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody.

Three nonfiction books this month, WHAT?  I’ve had this on request for a while and it came in for me just as I was heading up to Acadia, Maine for the weekend.  It could not have been more perfect timing.  The Stranger in the Woods is the story of a man who lived alone and unnoticed in the Maine wilderness for TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS.  As the author of the book pointed out, most people don’t go more than a few hours without speaking to another human being.  Even me.  I enjoy my time alone, but I also have the outlet of talking to people via the internet, even if I don’t leave the house at all, which is rare.  Usually I at least go to the gym or grocery shopping.  So while it sounds lovely to be alone for so long, I’m sure not even I could do it.

The complete list!  (links take you to my Goodreads reviews)

  1. The House by Christina Lauren
  2. Day 21 (The 100 #2) by Kass Morgan (audiobook)
  3. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (ebook)
  4. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  5. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax
  6. Dissected by Megan Bostic
  7. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (audiobook)
  8. Tape by Steve Camden
  9. The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones
  10. One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus (ARC)
  11. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  12. Bang by Barry Lyga
  13. Insanity by Susan Vaught
  14. The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey (audiobook)
  15. The Gathering (Shadow House #1) by Dan Poblocki (audiobook)
  16. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
  17. Ten Count, Volume 1 by Rihito Takarai
  18. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  19. Blood on My Hands by Todd Strasser
  20. Deadly Attraction (Nightmare Hall #3) by Diane Hoh
  21. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (audiobook)

3 on a theme: living houses

I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

It’s a common trope, the haunted house.  But not so common when the house becomes its own character…

livinghouses

All read between October 2016 – May 2017

And the Trees Crept In reminded me a lot of House of Leaves, and both books could be on this list.  Even more so than House of Leaves, And the Trees Crept In treated the house like a character.  It also treated the trees like their own character, so it felt everything around the main character was creeping in on her in some threatening way, and feels very much alive.

The Woman in the Wall is about a young girl who feels invisible and disappears into the walls of her house.  She builds intricate tunnels so that she can move about unnoticed, walls off rooms for herself and spirits away food and sewing supplies to make clothing for her family.  The whole novel had a sense of magical realism, and it was clear that members of her family had forgotten about her and thought of the house as being alive.

The final book on this list was the one that got me remembering just how many other stories I had read about houses that felt alive.  In this case, the house in The House IS alive, brought to life by a misplaced spell, and it has raised a child up to be a boy… and it isn’t very happy when a girl comes along and tries to steal him away.

Have you read a book that fits this theme?  Tell me about it in the comments!