Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from my little Frankenstein!

Yes, I know Frankenstein monster costumes are
inaccurate literature-wise.
No, I don't care. Isn't he cute? :)

Fascinated by all the other kids at our library's
Halloween parade

A few of the costumes might have been a little scary...

We carved a pumpkin last night and today we'll be greeting trick-or-treaters, watching Hocus Pocus, and hanging out with our little monster. Have a great day everyone!

Monday, October 26, 2015

So this happened yesterday...

I've been reading to my son practically since he was born. He has no idea what I'm talking about yet, but I still love doing it and I think it's important. Over these past six months, he started grabbing for the pages and little by little he seems to (maybe?) be actually looking at them -- or at least the colors and the motion as I flip them.

When he was a teeny tiny newborn I used to hold him while reading, but he's been so wiggly the past few months, we started lying on the floor so I could hold the book above us and let him move around. Last night was the first time he really sat with me in my comfy reading chair and the pictures my husband snapped make this bookish mom's heart happy, so I had to share :)

We've (OK, I've...) been on a Halloween book kick, so here we are reading The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree he got from his Godmom. I must admit I feel like a kid again myself rediscovering picture books. I know they are not every adult's cup of tea, but I just love these stories, even though they are aimed at audiences 25+ years my junior. Maybe I'll change my tune when my son gets old enough to ask me to read the same book for the thousandth time, but for now I'm exploring a whole world of stories I've barely touched in a few decades and it's just plain fun! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Shelf Control #5

Shelf Control is a weekly meme hosted by Lisa of Bookshelf Fantasies where we each share a book from our shelves we'd like to read soon. I need a break from the new releases, so this is just perfect for me! Come on and join in :)

* * * * *

My pick for this week is:

The Night Sister, by Jennifer McMahon

How I got it:

When I got it: August 2015

Why I want to read it: OK, so this one is still a pretty new release since it just came out this past summer. But, considering that Jennifer McMahon is an auto-buy author of mine and I ordered this book the week it came out, I'm overdue! After re-reading the description though, I've decided it just might be the perfect spooky book to read next week. Every year I mean to choose a scary/creepy/gothic-y type Halloween read, but I never quite manage it -- this will be the year I finally do it!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately: Comics & Graphic Novels

Some time between first giving comics and graphic novels a try last year and now, I have officially become addicted. I love the artwork. I love the stories. I love that even with a young baby, I can actually finish a graphic novel or comic collection without it taking me a week (or more.) So it's about time I shared some of my favorites:

Completed Series

Locke & Key written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
Three siblings discover keys they give them special abilities as an evil entity seeks the power of the keys. SO GOOD.

Y: The Last Man written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Pia Guerra & José Marzán Jr.
A man and his monkey are the only males left after a mysterious plague hits.

 Explorer edited by Kazu Kibuishi (illustrator of the Harry Potter special edition paperbacks!)
Various writers/illustrators each tell a story based on a theme -- Mystery Boxes, The Lost Islands, and Hidden Doors -- an awesome concept that showcases great creativity.

Ongoing Series

Saga written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
Star-crossed love story meets sci-fi adventure.

Wytches written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, color by Matt Hollingsworth, & lettering by Clem Robins
Explores some of our darkest fears -- these are NOT your average witches.

Cursed Pirate Girl written & illustrated by Jeremy A. Bastian
Fiesty pirate girl on a quest to find her pirate captain father.

Lumberjanes written by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis, illustrated by Brooke A. Allen
Kinda like the Girl Scouts, but with supernatural creatures and magic.

Unshelved by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum
The adventures, amusements, and frustrations of being a public librarian.

Graphic Novel

Nimona written & illustrated by Noelle Stevenson
Sidekick plus super-villian seek to prove the heroes aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Graphic Memoir

El Deafo written & illustrated by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky
Cece navigates a new school and growing up with a hearing aid.

* * * * *

I never thought I'd like comics or graphic novels, but I really surprised myself. So if you're still hesitant, I encourage you to give them a try. And if you have any recommendations for me, please share in the comments!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shelf Control #4

Shelf Control is a weekly meme hosted by Lisa of Bookshelf Fantasies where we each share a book from our shelves we'd like to read soon. I need a break from the new releases, so this is just perfect for me! Come on and join in :)

* * * * *

My pick for this week is:

Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

How I got it: my local indie bookstore

When I got it: sometime last year

Why I want to read itAs you can tell by the bookmark, I have actually started this one! I read my first Shelf Control selection, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret last week and loved it, so I jumped right into my next Judy Blume. This is another classic YA book with a gorgeous new cover. I am so glad to finally be focusing on something other than new releases -- here's to more "oldies but goodies!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shelf Control #3

Shelf Control is a weekly meme hosted by Lisa of Bookshelf Fantasies where we each share a book from our shelves we'd like to read soon. I need a break from the new releases, so this is just perfect for me! Come on and join in :)

* * * * *

My pick for this week is:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily M. Danforth

How I got it:

When I got it: August 2014

Why I want to read it: This is yet another title I found out about through my interest in banned and challenged books. Last year, it made the news when a Delaware school district removed it from a summer reading list for incoming college prep and honors freshmen students. Supposedly the objection was for inappropriate language, but many people think the objections were really about the lesbian main character. The district ended up removing the list altogether (which seems a bit ridiculous since it was a list of award-winning books!), but the story was enough to put the book on a lot of people's radar -- including mine. I promptly bought the book and still it sits on my shelf -- time to read it soon!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge: September Update + The Perils of Book Hoarding

OK, I'm starting right off the bat and admitting I have gotten completely off track with this challenge. I took a blogging break after my son was born in the spring and while I was gone (and unaccountable without my usual monthly update posts!), I ended up on a bit of a book-buying binge. They were mostly bargain books, so my wallet isn't hurting too badly, but my shelves most certainly are! I cannot even bring myself to count up the number of new additions since my last update. Honestly, I don't think I even really want to know.

But instead of throwing the towel in altogether, I'm going to hit the metaphorical restart button and aim to finish out the year recommitted to showing my shelves some love! I'm not going to limit myself to books already on my shelves before this challenge started in January, but will choose from any of the books I currently own. I plan to severely curtail any new purchases going forward and will still use my library, but not quite as much as I have been. I recently decided to return to my blogging roots and have put my TBR number on my sidebar as a continued reminder to read what I already have. 

Unfortunately, I think this update perfectly illustrates this month's discussion topic -- the perils of book hoarding. Book shopping often has a snowball effect for me. So if I give in and buy one or two, before you know it the stack of new books has multiplied beyond reason. And while learning about and acquiring new books is a fun part of being a book lover, it takes away from time I could actually be reading which is just a crying shame! Read more, buy less -- I think that needs to be my mantra from here on out!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kicking off Banned Books Week 2015

This year, Banned Books Week runs from September 27th to October 3rd. As many of you may already know, banned books are a major bookish interest of mine. I am lucky to live in a country where books are not banned or censored by the government, but that doesn't stop books from being challenged in libraries or schools -- often unsuccessfully, but not always. I am a big believer in the freedom to read. I also firmly believe it is every parent's right to decide what books their own kids can or cannot read -- or at what age they feel their kids can read a particular book. I don't think one parent should get to decide what an entire class or school reads, and I definitely don't think the objections of a few should get a book pulled from library shelves.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

I'd like to think when my son gets old enough that I will allow him to read freely and use books about tough subject as opportunities for discussion. A bit idealistic for a brand new mom of a 5 month old perhaps, but I don't think books are something to be afraid of. Books often portray ideas, situations, decisions, etc. that we don't like or agree with, but I don't think I will do my kid any favors by pretending these things don't exist out there in the real world.

If you are so inclined, celebrate Banned Books Week by reading a title from one of the ALA's frequently challenged lists. I'm planning to read at least one myself and hopefully more!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Shelf Control #2

Shelf Control is a weekly meme hosted by Lisa of Bookshelf Fantasies where we each share a book from our shelves we'd like to read soon. I need a break from the new releases, so this is just perfect for me! Come on and join in :)

* * * * *

My pick for this week is:

What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones

How I got it: my local indie bookstore

When I got it: last year?

Why I want to read it: Banned Books Week is starting September 27th, so I'm picking another frequently challenged title from my shelves this week. Banned Books are a major bookish interest of mine and I can't believe how many of these titles I've picked up over the years and then neglected to actually read! Also, it's a novel in verse, a type of book I've never tried before.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Back To My Blogging Roots & Tracking my TBR

A couple of weeks ago, Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies wrote a post Counting Up the Books that really struck a chord with me. She basically did a culling and inventory of her collection, followed by tallying up a master Book Count of what she still wants to read. This reminded me so much of my early days of blogging -- you know, back when I chose to call this little corner of the internet Buckling Bookshelves because my shelves were literally overflowing. I wanted to read more and buy less and in my very first post, I fessed up to my number of unread books. Back then, I thought 230 was a lot (excuse me while I have a good laugh at my former self.)

I had a hard time committing to less book buying though and eventually deleted the page I used to keep track of my number because it kept increasing instead of decreasing. Even as I did read some of the titles on my shelves, I just couldn't keep up! Getting more involved in the book blogging community was wonderful, but it didn't help this *problem* one bit -- I just kept hearing about new books! I even fell into the ARC trap for a while and things got way out of hand.

If I am perfectly honest, things are still out of hand. For the first few months of 2015, I did really well on the Show Your Shelves Some Love (A No Book Buying Challenge) I joined. I was also focused on my son's upcoming arrival and during the early days of new motherhood, I had no interest in learning about or acquiring new books. But as I came out of the fog a little bit (and was stuck in the house a lot) I discovered and went on quite a binge. And since I'd already "cheated" on my goals, I started checking my other usual book sites and stores again and was back to my old habits in no time -- buying more than I could possibly read and neglecting the books I already have.

The majority of my collection

Lisa's final Book Count ended up being 478. I'm pretty diligent about inventorying my collection on Goodreads, so a quick glance shows that my own TBR** number stands at 580 (give or take a few errors or accidental omissions). I've tried to not let it bother me, but it is time to admit that it does. I spent time and money acquiring my collection and I haven't been enjoying it as much as I could be. I am so extremely fortunate to be able to own books and I feel like I am taking them for granted. I am the last person to tell anyone else how they should feel about their unread books, but I don't feel great about my ballooning number. I want to appreciate what I already have and I'm ready to hold myself accountable again.

So, I'm following Lisa's lead and putting my TBR number on my sidebar (beneath my "currently reading" widget) instead of hiding it on a separate page like I used to. Right here, right now, I'm admitting to a starting number of 580. I will be trying my best to keep that number going in the right direction (down!) I'm officially returning to my blogging roots and refocusing on what I already have. I can't say I won't ever buy new books, but I don't want them to be my main focus. I want any new books I do buy to really earn their spot on my shelves. I will still borrow library books (print & audio), but I want to make a conscious effort to stop neglecting what I already have.


** TBR is different for everyone, but for me they are the books I have in my home (any format) that I still want to read. I don't include books I want to read, but don't have a copy of. I do count any of my husband's or kid's books I plan to read -- the kid books on my TBR mostly include some larger treasuries and holiday books that we haven't gotten to yet.