Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap Up

It's been a crazy year. I kept most of my resolutions! I traveled, I read. I applied to grad school and then I actually went! People came in and out of my life and that's okay.
But this is a book blog, and another major resolution I had for 2014 was to revive it or let it go.
I found that I really love writing here on Loving Books. It helps me organize my thoughts about books and all things literary. It's shaped the person I've become. I was pretty good about updating this year, at least until I went back to school.
The only thing I didn't really live up to were my goals of leading classics and authors of color. I'm at three for each, so next year hopefully I'll do better. 
So even though in most peoples eyes my 2014 probably looks like a shit show I'm looking at it as the year I kept promises to myself. Here's hoping I can do the same in 2015.

Now, since it is the end of the year, I present you with the list of books I've finished in 2014:
1. The Dinner - Koch
2. Divergent - Roth
3. Insurgent - Roth
4. Allegiant - Roth
5. Hyperbole & a Half - Brosh
6. Paris My Sweet - Thomas

7. No One Belongs Here More Than You - July
8. Eleanor and Park - Rowell
9. One More Thing - Novak
10. Northanger Abbey - Austen
11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - Rowling
12. A Replacement Life -Fishman
13. Detroit: An American Autopsy - LeDuff
14. Fangirl - Rowell
15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Rowling
16. Anna and the French Kiss - Perkins
17. Attachments - Rowell
18. Lola and the Boy Next Door - Perkins
19. Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban - Rowling
20. Daughter of Smoke and Bones - Taylor
21. The Other Language - Francesca Marciano
22. Days of Blood and Starlight - Taylor
23. Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Taylor
24. To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Han
25. Can't and Won't - Daivs
26. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Rowling
27. Just One Day - Forman
28. Landline -Rowell
29. 1Q84 - Murakami
30. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling
31. Gone Girl - Flynn
32. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Rowling
33. Shadow and Bone - Bardugo
34. Cat's Cradle - Vonnegut
35. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling
36. Because - Riippi
37. Friendship - Gould
38. Isla and the Happily Ever After - Perkins
39. Cinder - Meyer
40. Scarlet - Meyer
41. The Vacationers - Straub
42. Cress - Meyer
43. The Maze Runner - Dashner
44. This is Where I Leave You - Tropper
45. Mood Indigo - Vian
46. The Anatomy of Dreams - Benjamin
47. My True Love Gave Yo Me - Perkins and others 

48. Bad Feminist - Gay
49. Room - Donoghue
50. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Smith
51. Just One Year - Forman
52. Just One Night - Forman
53. Texts from Jane Eyre - Ortberg 

See y'all next year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

2014 was a big year. I lost my grandmother and went back to school. I lived my life around trips that would take me far from Michigan. I started to think that there's a future where the words hourly pay don't always apply.
I like to think it's because of all these changes that I chanced upon so many good books this year. There were times when I needed a long challenge and others where the only thing I could handle were fluff and decadence. I found a book about dealing with loss some six months after I needed it. I discovered Roxane Gay and started to love nonfiction in a new capacity.  YA demanded a bigger shelf in my library and reminded me never to overlook a genre just because of the average age of it's readers.
I'm closing in on 50 books this year. My goal was 35. 2014 could have been a bad year, but I'm counting these 10 books as the silver lining.

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins
Sometimes a book comes around when you need it most. I was in a slump when I picked up Anna and immediately I fell in love with her, Paris and a British boy. I loved Anna and the French Kiss so much I recommended it to anyone who would listen. I bought it's sequels immediately. I squeed (is that a real word? oh well, is to me) and cooed over passages and themes.
Really, AatFK is a book that 16 year old me needed, but would have refused to read. I'm glad I'm more open now.

2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Every summer I like to pick a huge book and make it my project. This year I grabbed 1Q84 and dedicated the most of June lugging it from work to home and back again. I liked to whine about it's lenght and it's slowness but really I loved what I read. 1Q84 made me think. It gave me people living like, well, people - only in a slightly altered universe. It gave me a mystery that I'm still irritated about. It kept me captivated for all of its 1100 pages.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
If Anna and the French Kiss is a book 16 year old me needed. Fangirl is one that 19 year old Sarah would have clung on to for dear life. Fangirl managed to make the more nerdy/fandom parts of my life seem relevant, like they didn't need to be kept in the shadows until someone else mentioned Hogsmead or a Sonic Screwdriver. I loved the chapters of FanFiction and Cath's general attitude. She was for a bad year in college. It was good to see that my second year hellish experience wasn't something that only happened to me.

4. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist is everything I needed it to be. It gave me permission, at least as much permission as a book can, to be imperfect while still wanting equality. It's full of Essays on sexism, the media, race, and politics and I loved every single one of them. I want to give a copy to every important lady in my life. It's a great book. Go pick it up.

5. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Family Drama - Check
Infidelity - Check
A Distant Family Sitting Shiva - Check Check Check
Okay I'm a few years behind here, but This is Where I Leave You is a fantastic book.  It's funny and emotional and just great. Gah.

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth
January was cold. I was snowed in more often than not. Since I couldn't do much else I read. The Divergent series made winter bearable for me. I didn't love Tris, and Four went from interesting to boyfriend worthy to irritating too many times to count, but i loved Roth's dystopian Chicago and the factions.

7. One More Thing by B.J. Novak
This was my favorite short story collections of the year. It's full of fast reads. They're funny and culturally relevant. Plus Novak was always my favorite part of the Office and I just love him in general.

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor
Hands down the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series was my favorite set of books this year. Karou was interesting, Akiva was sulky, but cool. The worlds, Angels, Chimera, everything was fantastic.  I did like the first book the best, but they were all fantastic. I have a review of the series coming up later this week with more fangirling, so stick around.

9. Room by Emma Donoghue
I'm going to ask you to be patient with me. I actually finished Room today. I'd put off reading it for years but bought it on a trip to Canada in the spring and needed to read something on hand instead of buying a new book for my kindle. I was immediately sucked into Jack and Ma's world. It didn't matter that it was small and horrifying. I tried to pace myself because sometimes Donoghues proses made me anxious. In the end i finished in about three days and now I'm sitting here, typing this and generally be upset over a book.

10. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
I'm ending my list with a perfectly pleasant book about an outwardly pleasant family who just happens to be crumbling. Dirty laundry is aired during a summer trip to Spain. It's a great, quick read and one of my favorite new releases of 2014.

The Curse of the Short Story

I'm drawn to short story collections. A few years back I made a deal with myself that I couldn't continue to read them back to back. I'd lose details. I wouldn't be able to keep up with who wrote what, or what stories went together.
What I was really trying to save myself from was mediocrity.
I really do love short stories. I think they are art and do not get nearly the praise they deserve. That is until certain collections get too much praise.
As I write this I have read five collections in 2014 and have left two more unfinished. I guess that is one of the blessings of this medium. You can stop anywhere and still get a mostly full narative. But I come across the same issue every time I pick up a new group of stories, and it's a problem that stems from running this blog.
How do I write about them?
This year alone I've forced out "reviews" for No One Belongs Here More Than You and One More Thing. One collection I a loved and another abhorred. Even with strong feelings I had a difficult time articulating them. 
For instance in the summer I read The Other Language and Can't and Won't very close to each other. The Other Language reminded me why I invest in $20 hardbacks, but Can't and Won't made me regret buying an ebook. I never got around to reviewing either collection. In the end I was tired of trying. Do I talk about every story or just the ones that really made me think? Is it wrong to focus on a piece that may not represent the collection as a whole? 15 good pages doesn't make up for 300 bad ones and vice versa.
I've seen other reviews handle books like this with grace. There are bloggers who seem to just know how to talk about short story collections, even when they're not part of their regular reading experience.
I wish I had a solution. I'm several stories into Hilary Mantel's The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher right now and to be honest I'm not a fan. I could talk about the writing style or the themes that just aren't capturing my attention, but nothing feels trailered enough to address my issues with each story.
So this is me saying I'm sorry for messy reviews of story collections, and warning you that there may be more coming. I finished My True Love Gave To Me a month ago and it is one collection that definitively deserves to be highlighted on this blog. I promise I'll try to get over my review issues soon.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephine Perkins

Lola Nolan is anything but normal. She lives her life in costumes - the crazier the better. Bright wigs and combat boots are a staple in her wardrobe, as is her wanna be rockstar boyfriend.  So what happens when the one person she never wants to see again returns to her neighborhood?

After finishing Anna and the French Kiss I was smitten. I needed more of Perkins' writing. Her characters jump off the page and wrap readers in a warm hug while dragging them through the mess of their teenage years. Lola could have easily become a cardboard cut out of the 'weird girl' stereotype but instead she feels real, and it's exciting to take this journey with her.  However this personal feeling makes it difficult to separate a book like Lola from it's predecessor, especially as it is part of a loose series.
Even in terms of setting this feels like a Perkins' novel. Anna and the French Kiss took Paris and brought it to life. I spent days dreaming about crepes and Truffaut movies after finishing it. Lola and the Boy Next Door makes San Fransisco sing. It has it's own air. It's bright and exciting and full of interesting places. It's colorful, effervescent, San Fransisco becomes the only place where Lola could have grown up. Anywhere else wouldn't have done her justice.
And for those of you missing Anna and Eitenne, don't worry. They show up too!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Life and School and Books

I finished my first semester of grad school!
That means I'm well on my way to become a librarian, or something like that.
What it means for all of you is that I'm on break and want to queue up enough reviews and posts so that the of this past semester
Until my brain fully recovers from final projects and discussion board posts I'll leave you with some thoughts.
I had an interview yesterday and it was one of the first times I had to actually articulate my reasons for going back to school, for wanting to work with books and people. It's a first because everybody who knows me, as soon as they hear about me being back in school, goes OH MY GOD YOU WOULD BE SUCH A GOOD LIBRARIAN. I mean a lot of them also tell me it's a dead profession and I'll never work, but I'm focusing on the positive.

Anyway, I had to articulate my reasons for wanting to be a librarian and besides the fact that I love to help people, and helping people locate information really feels a bit like a calling at this point.
But the books aren't to be overlooked. There are few consistence in life. People move, circumstances change. Books have always been there when life gets too big. They're there when I'm pensive and in need of mental stimulation or when I need something light and fluffy to take my worries away. They have the words I can't express and idea's that keep me up at night.
Books and reading are the reason I started this blog, a main part of why I took so many screenwriting courses in undergrad and the way I was able to develop my own love of writing.

I promise I was less wordy at my interview. I'm not a complete idiot.

Reviews and real posts coming soon! Happy December loves!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Life Update

Where to start?
I'm sorry seems as good a place as any.
I've neglected this blog. School got heavy and my free time got light. I took naps when I could have been reading. I watched every episode of How to Get Away with Murder four times over (guys are you watching? It's SO good!) I haven't finished a book in a month. 
This is the first time that I actually haven't had time for blogging here and it feels strange. I did many huge, time eating projects for my undergrad and somehow had the most productive reading years of my life. Now I'm straining to focus on a few pages of a novel as I wait for class or opt for checking twitter during breaks at work instead of sneaking in 15 minutes of book time.

In short:

I've been busy and obsessed with technology. Please forgive me.

Historically I read more in the winter. It's cold and I don't like driving in the snow - which is already on the ground here. Send help! So I'm hoping to get back into my old groove soon.

So look at this as a thank you for sticking around during an unplanned hiatus. I promise when I'm a full fledged librarian there will be posts all the time. It's just getting there that's proving problematic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Literary Souvenirs

I love to travel. As much as I'll whine about trains and planes and car rides it probably doesn't seem that way. This year in particular I found that I needed to be constantly on the mood. Well, i guess constantly isn't a great word. I needed to be on the move as often as my budget and my job would allow. I discovered that if I was home for more than four months at a time I got antsy.
This year I've been to Chicago, Toronto, DC, Baltimore, and Milwaukee.

Now I'm sure you're wondering how this has anything to do with this blog.

To keep my visits cheaper I gave myself one rule.

The only souvenirs I can buy are books.
Reminders of my trips to Toronto, DC, and Milwaukee. *

More specifically: Books by authors from the place I'm visiting.

Honestly I wish I'd come up with this sooner. Last year I was in Texas and all I have is a plastic cup to commemorate the trip. Even my trip to Toronto left me browsing the Canadian Literature section rather than going in with a plan. By the time I got to DC I was more prepared. I now have a Michael Chabon novel that I'd never heard of. I researched Wisconsin authors for days trying to find someone I'd heard of and didn't already own. Now I have a used copy of plays by Thornton Wilder.

What makes this better is I am now forced to find bookshops on my travels. When I was in Milwaukee my best friend and I found ourselves in this amazing used bookstore that was packed from ceiling to flour. It had rooms and rooms. There were cats that followed us everywhere. It is a great memory to add to a great trip.

What do you all do for souvenirs? Do you go the keychains and commemorative mugs route or do you look for something specific from each location?

*Baltimore was part of the same vacation as DC and I was frantic to come up with an author from Maryland that wasn't Poe. In the end I didn't find a list before I left the city but I did get to browse a really stellar bookshop.  Also, for those of you who don't know I used to live in Chicago so my visits there are no longer about tourism, instead I'm visiting with my best friend. However I do own a couple Hemingway books from my time spent in Illionis. Also a Joe Meno book I did buy on a trip there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Readathon Wrap Up

 Well I didn't make it. I tried but in the end my cold won over and I fell asleep around one thirty. So I missed out on six and a half hours and probably finishing another few books. In my defense I did attempt to listen to Emma on audiobook when my eyes got tired but that just made me more sleepy. Anyway I  had fun, I read a couple of good books and I got a day to just relax and do what I love without having to worry about school or work or calories.

So here's a slightly late End of Event post. Thanks to everyone who stopped by or read these posts.

End of Event Meme:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
    I fell asleep during hour seventeen so that should probably be my answer, right?
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    This year I read The Anatomy of Dreams and it was really good and I was really compelled to find out what was going to happen next! Past years celebrity memoirs (like Bossypants) and old favorites (Harry Potter, that year I read most of Order and all of HBP) are really fun for events like this
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope. You guys know what you're doing!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    I liked all of the platforms that I could go to to post my readathon thoughts and progress. Here, tumblr, twitter, instagram, goodreads. I happen to have all of those accounts but that's not true of everyone and it makes this feel like a very inclusive event.
  5. How many books did you read?
    Just 2. Had I been able to fight through sleepy eyes I should have been able to fight through another.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?
    My True Love Gave to Me and The Anatomy of Dreams
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?
    They were very different but looking back The Anatomy of Dreams probably wins out.
  8. Which did you enjoy least?
    I mean I only read two and I still really liked My True Love Gave to Me...
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    I was not. I should volunteer in April.
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    It really all depends on my schedule. With that said I'd love to be a reader again.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Half Way There

Cue the Bon Jovi!
No wait, that's an awful idea. Don't do that at all. Unless you're at karaoke, then you'll be forced to listen to me wail along to Living on a Prayer. But I digress.
I'm halfway through the Dewey Readathon!
You know what that means?

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
I'm working on The Anatomy of Dreams. I've also read a few stories from The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

2. How many books have you read so far?
Just one, My True Love Gave To Me, which is the short story collection Stephenie Perkins released with all of the the best YA authors to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I'm not sure. Maybe Just One Year? I realized The Kings Curse is too long for me to feasibly finish for the Readathon so I may have to adjust some expectations.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
A few. I have a dog who likes attention. And to play. And to go on walks. I also realized I needed to give my shower a quick clean before I used it (my brother's been ill. I don't want to get sick!) and I just got back form getting Mediterranean carry out. Oh, and my computer randomly forced me to install Windows 8.1, which caused some panic in the early hours of this morning.

I've been cold all day. Combating the chill with my favorite Out of Print fleece.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I'd originally thought it would be a really great idea to break up longer books by reading short stories when i needed a change of pace. This really ended up being too much of an excuse to get up, walk around, check the internet, really anything besides read. Plus now i'm sixty pages into a short story collection and about halfway done with a novel when I could be very close to finishing either. In hindsight I should have seen this coming.

Dewey 24 Hour Readathon Opening Meme

Opening Meme:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Southeast Michigan, where the sun isn't really up and it's very chilly

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
The Assasination of Margaret Thatcher by Hillary Mantel. I'm on a short story kick right now.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
There is pumpkin spice puppy chow in my fridge. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Oh I hate these! I'm 25 and recently went back to school to get my masters in Library and Information Science. 

This is me up way too early on a Saturday. Let the reading begin!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my third time attempting a full readathon, though I've come in and out of others in the past. I guess this time I'm not putting as much pressure on myself. At the end of the day this is supposed to be enjoyable so there's no point stressing over if I can actually read every minute of the next twenty four hours.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Readathon Prep

In case you've missed it tomorrow is the biannual Dewey Readathon, or as I like to think of it, that thing I try to do at least once a year and somehow always manage to make plans/turn into a lazy sleep monster and never actually finish.

This year is different.

Okay, that's setting the bar pretty high. Let's try this. I'm going to attempt to make this year different. I'm not working. I have zero plans. I have informed my family and friends that I will be locked away with my books all day.
Now all I have to do is stay motivated. To help with that i've been cultivating my TBR pile for sevearl days.

My most successful readathons in the past were back when I was in college. Strange, right? Back then I'd mix up my reading. Screenplays, short story collections and all genres were within my grasp.

Tomorrow I'm taking a hint from past me.
I have two short story collections that I'm itching to get my hands on. I think they'll prove really helpful when I'm getting bogged down or bored by another book or just want a change of pace to maybe go with a change of location.

So wish me luck, and good luck to you if you're doing the readathon tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Attachments - Rainbow Rowell


Rainbow Rowell

Lincoln didn't mean to be living with his mother. He didn't intend to have to take a midnight IT job to get by and he certainly didn't picture still being single as the clock counted down to the new millennium. Unfortunately this is his life, and the only thing that could make it worse is that part of his job description is to read private emails sent over his works server. So what happens when I starts to fall in love with a girl he's never met, who frequently ignores work to chat with her friend and sends emails that end up in his flagged folder?

Attachments is very obviously a first novel. That isn't always a bad thing. There are millions of debut novels that stun. Only this one doesn't.  The story is interesting enough. Boy is heartbroken forever. Boy gets job invading peoples privacy. Boy then falls in love with one of the people who's privacy he has invaded.

The real problem is that Lincoln isn't as interesting as this premise would like. He struggles with the morality of what he's doing and feeling but that isn't enough to make him a good person. Being inside his head is like being forced to talk to go on a week long vacation with that friend you have that whines all the time.

The email conversations between Beth and Jennifer are the real highlight of Attachments. They're lively and funny and really show that Rowell will excel when embracing creative ways to tell a story. The seeing was also perfect. Like in Eleanor and Park Rowell was able to take a time frame that is both within recent memory yet completely different from today.

Overall if you're a fan of Rainbow Rowells other work than you should give Attachments a read. It's not her best work but it's far from the worst that's out there.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

Top Ten places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit
1. Prague
Admittedly I've wanted to go to Prauge since before I can remember. I did recently read the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series though and it reminded me how desperately I wanted to see this city for myself. Even the Prauge of Unbearable Lightness of Being  has me itching to by a plane ticket.

Where to start. It's Paris! Anna and the French Kiss, Paris, My Sweet, and Just One Day are only a few of the books I've read that have left me dying to return to the city of lights.

Another city you can thank the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series for. I think you could also probably include the events of Cress here. I'd always pictured their Northern Africa adventure happening in Morocco.

It's hard to pin London down to a book, or even several books. I feel like I've been reading about the city for my entire life. I've spent summers bent over books about Tudor England and long winter nights huddled up with mysteries set in London's modern streets.  It's a place that is always changing in my mind. I want to visit just so I can pin it down.

5. Hogwarts
Have you visited my blog before? Of course this is on my list. 

6.San Fransisco
Lola and the Boy Next Door reminded me that there were parts of California that weren't LA. I hadn't really thought about San Fransisco as a real place until then. Now I see SF everywhere. I want to see the bay and the streetcars. It's the only reason I want to go to the west coast.

7. New York
Like London it's near impossible for me to pick even a handful of books that have made me want to go there. It's nearly impossible to pick up a novel without New York being mentioned. So it doesn't matter to me if it's the hipsteresq vibe found in Friendship or the Love Affairs of Nathaniel P or if it's gritty like A Replacement Life New York will always be near the top of my Wanderlust list.

8.  Tokyo in 1Q84
Admittedly I've never been particularly interested in a long fight to Japan. However the way Tokyo was presented in 1Q84 piqued my interests. Okay, maybe I just want to know more about the Little People. Still, let's go to Tokyo!

9. Penumbra's Bookstore
I read Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore at a time when my life was a mess. It reminded me what I love about books, and more importantly, how much I love strange books. I'd love to visit this fictional bookstore if just for the opportunity to thank someone for setting me back on track.

10. Pemberley
A girl can dream, right?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

September in Review

Hi! Remember me? I haven't been swallowed by a blogging blackhole, I swear. Setepember was just crazy busy for me.

As I mentioned in my August post I just went back to school, and things really did pick up come Labor Day. On top of that I somehow managed to do homework, go to Washington DC, Chicago and Milwaukee and also still do my day job. As you may expect that left little time for books or blogging.

My life is going to settle down soon, I swear.  Or at least I'm going to be staying in one place for the foreseeable future. With that I hope to get in some more reviews and bookish posts. I miss writing here and reading all of you guys lovely posts.

With all of that said my September in Review numbers shouldn't be a surprise.

Books Read:
41. The Vacationers - Straub

42.  Cress - Meyer

American Authors: 2
African: 0
South American: 0

Male:0  Female:2

New Releases:1

Like I said, given how busy my life was these numbers aren't exactly surprising. I'm happy I got to my goal of 35 books  for 2014 early in the year so I don't have to stress about slacking on personal goals as well as everything else.
I guess the only good thing is that It's barely the second week in October (PS: Sorry I'm posting this in the second week of October) and I've read just as many books as I had in all of September.


Alright, back to school and work and being way busier than I signed up for!

Monday, September 8, 2014

August in Review

I'm going to ask you guys a favor. Can we pretend that it hasn't been a full week since August ended? September has been CRAZY so far. I knew you all would understand.

But this blog is about books, and how I spent the last month of summer reading so much it's a wonder I didn't strain my eyes.

As a month I've never been a fan of August. Here in Michigan it's hot and humid. Everyone tries to fit in every single summer activity possible in those last 31 days. However this year the weather was mild. I read outside a ton because it was rarely above 80. Of course I did other things too. There were family get togethers and friends birthdays.

Oh, and for the first time since I was back in middle school I started classes in August. That's right, I started my masters in Library Science this month! That's kind of why September has been so crazy. I'm balancing work and school and trying to still find time to read and occasionally write.

So if blog posts are few and far between in the next couple of months don't fret, I'm still around, just trying to find the right balance between book blogger and library student.

Books Read:
34. Cat's Cradle - Vonnegut
35. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling
36. Because (b/c) - Riippi
37. Friendship - Gould
38.Isla and the Happily Ever After - Perkins
39. Cinder - Meyer
40. Scarlet - Meyer

American Authors: 5
African: 0
South American: 0

Male:2  Female:4

New Releases:1

Jar Books: 0  (I need a better system for picking TBR Jar books. I've been in the middle of a Diaz book for two months.)

Seven books in a month isn't too shabby, especially since I basically read Isla twice because I loved it so much and couldn't get it out of my head. August was a great month for reading, though. I absolutely loved ISla and the Happily Ever After and despite some mixed feelings on Cinder, i tore through Scarlet right after and am working my way through Cress now.

I'm still reading a ton of female authors but another month has pasted without me reading anything outside of my national comfort zone. That is something I really should work on with the rest of this year.

So goodbye summer, hello sweaters and pumpkins and cider!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
Stephenie Perkins

Things were going great for Anna Oliphant. She has her best friend, a job and a crush that very well may turn into something more. Then her parents decide to ship her off to the School of America in Paris for her senior year and her whole life is sent into chaos. Now she has to find a way to survive in her own personal city of stress, but when she finds a group of friends, complete with the strangely perfect Etienne St. Clair, things might finally start looking up.

Reading Anna and the French Kiss is like biting into a fresh macaroon on a perfect spring day. Everything about it is sweet, emotional and full of life. It's like eating ice cream in bet while watching an old Audrey Hepburn movie (I'm thinking Sabrina.) It's easily the sweetest thing I've read all year.

I loved the world Perkins created. It was boarding school for the teens of the twenty teens. Anna's feelings and actions are believable and relateable. She's a girl on the verge of adulthood who is ripped away from everything she knows. The way she flounders around Paris is charming.  Most importantly, though, is that Anna isn't perfect. neither is Etienne, who so many girls have since swooned over.  In a book that is so perfectly fluffy it would be easy to write cardboard cut out characters with superficial feelings and unmotivated actions. I'm grateful that that we're given two fleshed out who feel like they could be real.

Honestly I have nothing bad to say about Anna and the French Kiss. I picked it up when I was in a reading slump and managed to get a serious sunburn because I forgot what it was like to be that engrossed by a story (and I wasn't wearing sun screen.) There are still a few weeks of summer. Go read this book, and then pick up Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After (which comes out today!)
You won't regret it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read

Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read*
*well maybe I want to read them, like someday, in the future, when I have more time and zero other books

1. This is Where I Leave You - Jonathan Tropper
Somehow I own this despite the fact that the premise sounds completely blah to me. Admittedly the trailer for the film looks good and since seeing it I've moved my mysterious hardback from it's place on my contemporary shelf to my actual TBR pile. However a trailer is what made me speed read Gone Girl and that was an experience I really don't want to relive. I know they won't be similar, but I think I still need more convincing than a possibly good upcoming movie.

2. Cinder - Marissa Meyer
I've seen a lot about the Lunar Chronicles and most of it has been positive. Only Cinder came out the year my obsession with fairytale retellings started to fade. I've never been into sci fi. Cyborgs don't interest me. Still I bought a paperback copy of Cinder last week and have been eying it suspiciously since. This year I've experimented with plenty of genres and themes that I never thought I'd enjoy. Out of everything on this list I think this is the one I'm most likely to read.

3. Emma - Jane Austen
At times this blog becomes a love letter to Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately I haven't had the same luck with Jane Austen's other novels. Sense and Sensibility gives me a headache and Northanger Abbey felt heavy handed. However two thinks happened in the last week that made me reevaluate my desire to read Emma. 1. I finished my Harry Potter audiobooks and in the process discovered that I have Emma on tape and 2. I started Emma Approved. Now Emma Approved makes me actually want to read Emma. The first chapter of the audiobook leaves much to be desired. You see my problem?  

4. The Maze Runner - James Dashner
 This is another case of "Everyone is talking about it and there's a movie coming." I've only heard good things but I just can't force myself to read it.

5. The Vacationer - Emma Straub
I put The Vacationers on my Summer TBR (and my birthday list) and now I can barely remember why. It still sounds good but it's subject is very much one I'd like to read by the pool in nice, 85 degree weather. That's weather we haven't seen in Michigan this summer. Actually it hasn't felt like summer at all. Without that summery feeling I'm not sure I want to read The Vacationers.

6.White Teeth - Zadie Smith
I can't get into Zadie Smith. I wish I could. I've heard her refereed to as Queen Z, the best of her generation and countless other amazing things. I bought book after book of hers thinking that I'd finally be able to get past the first hundred pages and see what everyone else saw. Only now I own most of her bibliography and have read the first third of a handful of her books. White Teeth is one of the few that I own and haven't tried. I'm actually a little worried to. It's by far her best known and most praised work.

7.The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith
I read Cookoo's Calling and enjoyed it, I guess. It was good as far as crime/mystery novels go. I just don't know how invested I want to be in this world of Privet Investigators. The Silkworm does sound interesting though. In the end this comes down to genre. I'm so rarely in the mood for a good mystery and right now, especially since Silkworm is only out in hardback (and I'm morally opposed to buying the ebook for my kindle) I won't be getting to this one any time soon, if ever.

8. The rest of John Green's catalog (TFIOS, Paper Towns, Will Grayson Will Grayson)
 I didn't hate Looking for Alaska. I didn't love it either. I enjoyed it about as much as I need to to read more Green. The I tried an Abundance of Katherines and whatever enjoyment I got from his writing withered away. It's not that I hink The Fault in Our Stars or any of his other books don't have the potential to be enjoyable, I just don't currently see a reason to read more by an author who has left me disappointed twice already.

9. Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
I appreciate epic fantasy from afar. While things like Lord of the Rings never interested me, Mists of Avalon seemed right up my ally. I love Authrian legend. Morgan le Fay is cool. I got way too into Merlin when it was on. Overall I should have read this five times over. Except it's long. That's a lame excuse, but for me anything over 800 pages becomes a commitment. This is one I'm just not ready to make.

10. Room - Emma Donoghue
I bought a copy of Room when I was in Toronto (it was in the Canadian lit section) and decide that this would be the year that I tackled Emma Donoghue's intense novel. It's sat on my TBR pile since April. I've moved it higher on the list but then bought more books to avoid reading it, which is stupid because my house is full of books I haven't read. It's the subject matter that worries me with Room. I'm sure when I pick it up it'll be a 'can't put it down' type of experience, but how upset will it make me? I guess I don't know when I'll be ready to subject myself to it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell
Cather and Wren (get it?) were inseparable, well they were, then they went to college. Then Wren cut her hair and started parting while Cath(er) was left to figure out social protocol. Things like finding the cafeteria intimidate her and she finds it easier to stay locked up in her dorm, and inside her own head, with nothing but the fanfiction she writes for company.  College is a time for new experiences though, and when she starts to make friends with Reagan and her ex boyfriend Levi things finally start to look up. Now it's up to Cath to have the courage to be brave and jump head on into life if she ever wants a chance at being happy.

Fangirl should be required reading for first year college students. Admittedly I was never as bad as Cath but I definitely remember the anxious about little things like the dorm cafeteria and new classes. That really is what is so great about Fangirl. It deals with real feelings and so rarely get seen in media. Introverts get the short straw when it comes to represenation. They're awkward or strange or just erriley quiet. Here we get to see inside Cath's head, and let me tell you Rainbow Rowell gives the reader a full, fleshed out character.

Characters are actually Rowell's strong suit. She understands them. Even secondary characters feel real. No one is one dimensional. It would have been easy to make Levi perfect or Reagan harsh but they're just shades of those things. Even Wren, who we don't see much in the first two thirds of the book, could be seen as just a party girl but Cath (and Rowell) makes sure we know she is so much more.

All in all I don't have anything bad to say about Fangirl. I finished it and was immediately sad because I'll never get to read it for the first time again. I actually thought about rereading it right then and there. When I read Eleanor and Park I thought Rainbow Rowell was good, but maybe over hyped. Now I can honestly say that I'm part of that hype wagon.

Oh, did I mention the fan fiction? Yeah. Cath writes fan fiction for Simon Snow series. That's where the fangirling comes from. She loves Simon like I love Harry Potter (actually Cath wins that fight hands down). But these snipets of Fic and real series intersect the chapters, and they're each  brilliant!

It's not often that I can't organize my thoughts about a book.  As you hopefully know I like to give real reason for why I liked, or in cases, didn't like a novel. This review was a struggle for me because all I could think of was the warm fuzzy feeling I got when I read it. That might say more than all my other paragraphs combined.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July in Review

July! July!
Okay now that I'm done with the Decemberist references, July was a long month. I've never known time to move so slow. It also happens to be Birthday month. Mine was last weekend, and three of my friends also have July birthdays. That means I ate lots of sweets and sang many refrains of "Happy Birthday." 

Other than that nothing exciting happened. I didn't go anywhere. No one visited me. I don't have anything major planned until the end of August when I start my masters in library science. I do have a tan. I guess that is something.
Next month I'll have more to report, but I am very happy to say goodbye to this seemingly eternal July.

Books Read:
28. Landline - Rowell
29. 1Q84 - Murakami
30.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling
31. Gone Girl - Flynn
32. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Rowling
33. Shadow and Bone -Bardugo

American Authors: 3
African: 0
South American: 0
Asian:  1

Male:1  Female:5

New Releases:1

Jar Books: 0

This month I took a step back from new releases, which is kind of remarkable since I was basically living for the release of Landline, which I obviously did read (in a day. I cried. it wasn't pretty. A review is forthcoming) and love. I also finally managed to finish 1Q84, and honestly if that had been the only thing I finished in July I would have been proud. I chipped away at it for well over a month. My friends got tired of hearing me talk about little people and two moons. 

Overall I'm really happy with all I read in the last 31 days. There are months where I substitute reading for my social life but July was the first time in a long time where I found a good balance. I swam and read and saw friends and genearly participated in summer activities. I look forward to what August will bring in both my reading life and my soon to be scholarly life. Hopefully they'll overlap in a fun way! After all I'm not studying library and information science for nothing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 Books To Read in Your Mid-Twenties

Saturday was my 25th Birthday. Even typing that feels like a milestone. Perhaps (read: most likely) I am making too big a deal of the whole quarter of a century thing. Regardless time moves forward and there is nothing you, I or Dumbledore can do to stop it. Since there's no changing this whole aging thing I might as well embrace it to the fullest, and for me that means with books!

I figure there are five types of books you should find in your early to mid twenties. They're the ones that are going to make you think, grab your heart and give you googley eyes. They'll be your friends when real life drama gets to be too much. They'll stay up for you when everyone else has an early alarm. More importantly, they are different for everyone. Instead of giving you all five books that I thought were essential to my twenties (so far) I wanted to give you all a chance to come up with some of your own.

Now here are the five kinds of books you have to read in your mid twenties!

A Book for All Ages
 The Little Prince
Antonie de Saint-Exupery
The Little Prince is, in it's essences, a children's book. Once you dive into it's pages, however, it becomes so much more. I got it for Christmas one year and read it in a single sitting. I couldn't figure out why I was sad the rest of the day. Really The Little Prince has more to say to adults than it does to children. It's about loss, and the nature of relationships and how we perceive ourselves and those around us.  
That's what makes it a book for all ages. I would have gotten something completely different out of The Little Prince had my parents read it to me when I was tiny. I would have felt different had I read it in high school.
Other Options : Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Ella Enchanted, 

A Look Into Someone Else's Life
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris
The ages between 20 and 25 are a mixed bag. There are new apartments, new friends, jobs that you hate, jobs that you maybe like but don't pay enough. Then there are all the bad decisions, the late nights and the petty arguments. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the small bubble that is your world. That's why you need a book like this, one that looks into someone else's existence and makes you realize "okay, maybe I can handle this whole life thing."
For me that book was When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sure sometimes life was hard, but David Sedaris reminded me that it could be ridiculous and funny too. It made me want to live like my time was worth writing about. 
Other Options: Just Kids, Sleepwalk with Me, I was Told There'd Be Cake

A Book for the Road 
American Gods
Neil Gaiman
There isn't a better time for a road trip. You have as few responsibilities as you're ever going to have. You're still young. Wanderlust is a real thing. But money....Yeah, that whole money thing can really ruin a lot of dreams. That's why these books like this are so important. I might not be able to drop everything and travel for months at a time, but I can read about people who have, and sometimes that's even better. 
That was my experience with American Gods. I read it over a summer where I did little traveling and my world seemed very small. It was like a breath of fresh air every time I got to join Shadow on his adventures. More than anything it reminded me that those adventures could be had here, in middle America, and not just in the Europe or California, as so much many stories would like you to believe. 
Other Options: On The Road, You Shall Know Our Velocity

A Book to get You Out of Your Comfort Zone  
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
One of the best things about your mid twenties is that you get to shape your own tastes. You've found a favorite wine, a go to meal, and probably a genre of book that you gravitate too. There's nothing wrong with comfort, or falling in love with historical fiction or fantasy or paranormal young adult fiction. It's just that now is the time to remember there is so much more out there!
For me I was all about contemporary literary fiction. I wanted to read to to about David Foster Wallace and Foer. I devoured Tartt. My shelves read like a whose who of the great minds of the last five years. Actually, they still do. Going to a liberal arts school had made me pretentiousl
For me, getting out of my comfort zone meant abandoning books that you'd find reviews for in The New Yorker. I picked up the Night Circus. It reminded me of the books I loved when I was younger. It broke away my prejudices against other worldy novels. More than anything it gave me reason to explore other genres. 
Other Options: Depends on your comfort zone really, Could be a Sartre novel or something like The Time Traveler's Wife. Try new things!
A Classic  
Pride and Prejudice 
Jane Austen
The classics you read in your mid twenties are special. No one is making you read them. You chose them because they sounded interesting. You don't have to write papers on them. There aren't professors lecturing about symbolism. Maybe it's a modern classic like Life of Pi, or you finally decide it's time to read the Odyssey? You finally get to feel like your in on some sort of secret. These novels aren't dry. At least not when you're enjoying them. They're still full of life and lessons, and to think that ten years ago you would never have learned them because of a deep relationship with sparknotes.
I didn't get to Pride in Prejudice until I was old enough to drink. I read it as much for pleasure as I did for class credit. It made me realize that Austen and Elliot didn't have to mean nap time. All of the classics I've read since are thanks to Elizabeth Bennett.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Detroit: An American Autopsy - Charlie LeDuff

Detroit: An American Autopsy
Charlie LeDuff

It's no secret that golden age of Henry Ford and Motown is past. No place knows that better than Detroit. It's a city that's fallen far, that's riddled with corruption and poverty, and is now in a state of bankruptcy. There's more to Detroit, though, it's got a pull, and that pull brought journalist Charlie LeDuff home.

I don't often read nonfiction. I'd love to be the kind of person that does, who finds subjects interesting and then picks up book after book on them. But since I'm not it took a book about Detroit, the major city nearest my hometown, to get me to give nonfiction a go.

Detroit the book, much like the city, isn't what one expects. Charlie LeDuff  has deep roots here, and he strives to tell a deep, full story. It's a goal that he mostly achieves. Autopsy is as gritty as it's title would suggest. There are tales of corrupt politicians and unsavory citizens. There are stories of people and entire neighborhoods that are down on their luck. LeDuff did the legwork and he has a lot of love for America's largest failing city. What this book really captures is a feeling of hope through decay, but it stops right there. As a reader you're left with the impression that everyone has resigned themselves to the way things are.

There is almost no talk of the goodness that's left in the city. The New York times did a piece on Detroit this past week and they came out far more even. Sure there is a lot of bad happening in America's auto capital, but there are a lot of people gunning for change, and with a little momentum things could really start looking up. My only complaint about this book is that this side of the city is missing. LeDuff presents Detroit just as his title suggests, like a corpse that has nothing left to say. That's just not the story I'm seeing from where I live.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

I love books. That was a pointless sentence. Have you seen this blog?  However they aren't the only thing in my life. I'd be a professional netflix watcher society would let me. I'd be good at it too! Which is why I was excited that this weeks Top Ten Tuesdays explored other mediums. Seeing as how I went to film school and am forever tired of the "favorite movie" question, here are my
Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

1. Orphan Black
I didn't start watching Orphan Black until season two had already started airing. That being said it's number one here for a reason. It's well written, well acted and fantastically paced. I'm not usually one for Science Fiction, and cloning had never really been of much interest to me but OB changes that. It's everything television is missing, it's women in all their glory. I'm just sad I have to wait another year for season three.
2. Community
I was one of the fans gunning for #sixseasonsandamovie. Community, to me, has always been the little show that could. It was smart, especially for a sitcom, with a diverse cast of hilarious actors. 
3.Doctor Who
You know how there are some books that come into your life at the right time? Doctor Who was that show for me. I didn't start watching until series 5 had just finished airing but I remember spending night after night crocheting hats and watching Nine, Ten, and finally Eleven saving the universe. Like I said before, Sci Fi isn't really my thing. Fantasy isn't either. It has to be done just right, it almost has to be bigger than the sum of it's parts. That's what Doctor Who is. It's bigger than a mad man in a blue box, clever companions and far away places and long over histories. Modern Who, which is all I've watched (classic is just such a commitment!) teaches compassion. I was a bit disappointed with the last season but I'll be in front of my TV come August for Twelve's first episode. 
4. How I Met Your Mother 
HIMYM had it's ups and downs but it was always there for me. Ted, Robin, Marshall, Barney and Lily felt like friends. I cared about their lives. I was furious over the finale in only the way a die hard fan could be. I even liked the finale season (save, again, the finale, don't talk to me about it. I've gone on so many rants. I have it down to a science) and thought I was ready to let go!
5. Brooklyn Nine Nine
Are you watching Brooklyn Nine Nine? Why not? It is the best new sitcom of the 13-14 season. It has a crazy talented and diverse cast. It's hilarious. It's everything I've ever wanted in a cop show. Please watch it. Please Please Please.
6. QI
QI, or Quite Interesting, is the Stephen Fry panel show where the panelists are rewarded for being interesting and punished for being obvious. It's education and funny, oh and so very British! You can find several full episodes on Youtube. It's a shame there isn't an American version.
7. 30 Rock
Before I started typing I sang the entire 30 Rock theme to my dog. For those of you who don't know, the 30 Rock theme has no words. Anyway, Tina Fey's magnum opus is one of the things that made me want to write. It was part of the NBC Thursday line up that I LIVED for. I'm glad I can go back and watch it on Netflix whenever I want.
8. New Girl
New Girl shouldn't work. There should be something about a group of 30 year olds failing in life and love that everyone is tired of. Except New Girl is really funny. Like laugh out loud till your sides hurt funny. As a show, New Girl does a great job of taking characters that should be inherently unpleasant and making them loveable. Even the Nick/Jess relationship last season worked.
9. Glee
There's an ongoing joke on Tumblr that nobody hates Glee like Glee fans hate Glee. Glee fans are aware that if there was ever a shark to jump it happened sometime around the end of season one where there was a bohemian rhapsody/ childbirth mash up . I still love it though. It can be crazy and weird and sometimes not very good but I've seen every episode more than once. That might have more to do with my best friend being obsessed with it, but it doesn't change the fact that I cried during Finn's send off episode and I'll be heartbroken when it ends next season.
10. Girls
I've had mixed feelings about Girls but I can't stop watching. I've never been so drawn to awful characters before. There is something inherently millennial about it. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June in Review

June, I liked you. You're good people month times? Early in the month my BFF came to visit. I hadn't seen her since February and a reunion was long overdue! Over just under four days we went to two concerts, countless restaurants and had a minor breakdown over Orphan Black.  

Unfortunately that was the last of my "planned" fun events for the summer. Now I have to wait till September to quell my wanderlust. The rest of June was fine, though. It's hot here in Michigan and the mosquitoes are no joke, but that also means lots of ice cream, sunshine and fireworks. 

Books Read:
23.Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor
24. To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han
25. Can't and Won't - Lydia  Davis 
26. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
27. Just One Day - Gayle Forman

American Authors: 4
African: 0
South American: 0
Asian:  0

Male:  Female:5

New Releases:3

Jar Books: 0

Challenge Books:0
June continued my trend of finishing books exclusively by female authors, again this happened without my realizing. Overall it was a pretty good month for reading. I had a minor slump after BFF visited but that's long since passed. I'm also working my way through 1Q84. I hadn't realized what kind of commitment a 1150 page novel would be this summer! I'm about halfway through now, so hopefully it makes an appearance in my July wrap up post. 

In July I am also doing the Book Photo Challange over on my bookish tumblr, in case any of you were interested in participating!