Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#15): Where the Stars Still Shine

I am so incredibly excited for Trish Doller's new book, Where the Stars Still Shine. The cover was just revealed at noon today over on Making the Grade and it's so pretty!

Expected Publication Date: Sept. 24, 2013

I read Trish's debut novel, Something Like Normal, last summer and enjoyed it immensely. Contemporary YA isn't my go-to genre, but I fell in love with Trish's characters and her writing. In a nutshell, this new book is about a girl who was kidnapped by her own mother as a child and was then on the run with her for over a decade. She's now returning to a regular life, trying to put the past behind her, and quite possibly falling in love. I would read anything Trish wrote next, but this story just sounds so good! For more info, click on the badge to check it out on GoodReads or the link above for the original cover reveal post.

For more information, check it out on GoodReads.
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#16): My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I am forever trying to curb my book buying, but more often than not I just can't help myself! Whether it's Amazon,, my local used bookstore, Marshalls (yes, they sell books!), or random book displays and bargain bins I stumble upon, I just love getting new books. I love new-to-me older books almost as much as brand-spanking-new releases, but I'll admit there's something special about the anticipation of a favorite author publishing a new title. No matter how hard I try to reduce my book buying, there is no kidding myself here -- I will always buy anything these these writers come out with.

Adult Authors
1. Kate Morton
2. Sara Gruen
3. Dan Brown
4. Diana Gabaldon
5. Ami McKay

The Forgotten Garden   Water for Elephants
Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)   Outlander (Outlander, #1)   The Birth House

Young Adult Authors
6. J.K. Rowling
7. Jenny Downham
8. Lauren DeStefano
9. Lauren Oliver
10. Trish Doller

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)  Before I Die
Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)   Delirium (Delirium, #1)   Something Like Normal

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This Week's Bookish Finds

It's that time of week when I share some fun things from around the net. It's all about photos this week, but please do click through to check them out on their original sites -- I'm not into swiping other people's work!
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1. Flavorwire has a round-up of awesome book-related murals from around the globe that's definitely worth checking out. This is my kind of street art!

2. Shelf-Awareness shared one of Grant Snider's Incidental Comics on Facebook and it was love at first sight. Do you too have a book problem? Check out his "Confessions of a Book Fiend" comic. And I LOVE his "Ban This Book" comic. There are so many other great ones covering all different topics, you could seriously browse for hours. I immediately subscribed to the blog so I can check out all his new stuff as it gets published. Apparently you can also purchase a poster of your favorite comic, so one of these is definitely going on the decorating wish-list for our new house!

3. Lori from Pure Imagination recently put up a new post in her "Cover Changes" series where she rounds up titles that were given different cover art for later editions of the book and writes about which one she likes better. Of course, Harry Potter made this latest list, but it's really fun to click through to her earlier posts and see for yourself which covers you prefer. I had no idea some of these had been given a makeover!

Have a good week everyone :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#14): 15th Anniversary Edition Harry Potter Books

I already mentioned how excited I am about the upcoming re-release of the Harry Potter books with brand-new cover art in my weekly round-up this past Sunday, but I just can't help highlighting it here too.

Image from Shelf-Awareness
Expected Publication: September 2013

I wanted to be upset about messing with the original, but I really love this first cover and can't wait to see what the artist, Kazu Kibuishi, has done with the other six books. The news is all over the internet, but I first read it from Shelf Awareness. And according to Publisher's Weekly, the boxed set will retail for $100 and the individual books will be priced between $12.99 and $16.99. My best friend and I are already planning to swap boxed sets for our birthday gifts this year -- who needs a surprise when you can have Harry? :)

For more information, check it out on GoodReads.
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Monday, February 18, 2013

No Longer a DNF Virgin

You guys, I did it. I just abandoned a book several chapters in, returned it to the library, and declared myself done with it. I gave it three separate chances before committing to my decision to not finish it and I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about it. I'll admit I probably couldn't have done it if I hadn't skimmed ahead a bit and read the ending so I wouldn't be left totally in the dark. I'm glad I didn't force myself to slog through a book I just wasn't feeling, but I really do hope this doesn't happen often. It gives me an icky feeling I can't quite put my finger on.

You see, this is very unlike me. To be perfectly honest, I usually like the books I choose to read. Of course I don't love them all, but it's really rare for me to pick out a book of my own free will and then end up so disappointed I'm tempted to just stop reading. The closest I've ever come to doing this was last year's Gillespie and I, but like other books I've been meh about, I was still committed enough to stick it out. Until now, apparently.

Echo (Soul Seekers, #2)If you're wondering which book I Did Not Finish, it's Alyson Noel's second Soul Seeker novel Echo. I thoroughly enjoyed Fated and even used Echo for a Waiting on Wednesday post. I was genuinely looking forward to this one and I don't mean for this post to serve as a condemnation of the book itself. After all, I didn't actually read most of it, so I can only talk about it from that perspective. If you liked Fated, definitely give this one a try and decide for yourself. But for me, I think my issue was the fact that the first book served as more of an introduction to the characters and this particular "world" and I found that infinitely more engaging than the action that awaited me in the second installment.

Once the book moved further into the grand battle between good and evil, I just didn't care anymore. I couldn't stay invested. Maybe I'm burnt out on YA books with this particular theme? I'm very careful to pay attention to what kind of reading mood I'm in when I pick up a book, so I don't think that's the problem. The last thing I want to do is give a book an unfair shot because I wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time.

So, does anyone else have thoughts on DNF books? I never gave this issue much thought before, but I'm really curious now. I'd love to hear what other readers and bloggers do when they find themselves wanting to quit.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This Week's Bookish Finds

Once again, thanks to Kay of It's a Book Life for inspiring me to put one of these weekly posts together!

1. And I'll start off with a Teaser Tuesday from Kay's blog. I'll be honest, I don't usually read posts from this particular meme and I've never had any interest in participating myself, but the second teaser quote she used had me laughing uncontrollably. If you've ever had the pleasure of being the sober one around a bunch of drunk people, you'll appreciate it too.

photo credit: angelsk via photopin cc
2. Audio Books: Do They Count? -- Apparently there are people who don't think they do. This post from A Bookworm Belle totally outraged me. Read it and you'll be outraged too. The things that come out of some people's mouths. Honestly.

3. Did you know that Louisa May Alcott preferred to write smut and violence? Or that Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings on dare? I didn't either. Check out some other interesting literary tidbits (and more information on these two) over on BookRiot in this post: Ten Things You Didn't Know About Books and Authors You Had to Read in High School.

Falling Under (Falling Under, #1)4. This one isn't new, but if anyone else happens to have read Gwen Hayes' Falling Under which I reviewed recently, I spotted this exclusive scene told from Hayden's point of view that was posted over on Dark Faerie Tales last summer.

5. This one isn't book related, but it's a really sweet essay over on The Yellow House posted just in time for Valentine's Day. The writer reflects on her family and the legacy of her grandparents who had 17 children. Yes, you read that correctly.

6. But if Valentine's Day isn't your thing and you're totally sick of all the lovey dovey crap you've been seeing all week, check out this Valentines Schmalentines post from Nightmare on Bookstreet. It's a little bit serious, but mostly funny and features some rather interesting artwork.

photo from Shelf-Awareness

7. And last, but not least, we have A Brief History of the 'Sorcerer's Stone' Covers over on Hypable that takes us back through the years and across the continents, showing us many of the different visual reincarnations of this beloved series. I was surprised to find a US cover I had never seen before -- a pretty rare Scholastic School Market edition (for more about my childhood love of Scholastic, check out this post.) This, of course, comes on the heels of the announcement about the upcoming release of the new 15th anniversary paperback editions of the books with amazing new cover artwork (eeee!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dreaming Awake

Dreaming Awake, by Gwen Hayes
Source: Borrowed from the library
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
View on GoodReads

First off, my apologies if this review seems rather vague, but it's really hard not to get spoiler-y when I'm talking about the second book in a series. But I'd rather tread on the safe side than risk giving too much away for someone who hasn't read it yet!

All that being said, I really did enjoy this sequel to Falling Under. The Twilight parallels have quieted themselves down and the story really can stand on its own two feet, so to speak. The similarities have nothing to do with the actual plot and everything to do with the characteristics of Hayden as a supernatural "being" and the way he interacts with Theia. (I'm not going to tell you what exactly Hayden is because it isn't revealed on the book jackets -- you'll have to read to find out!)

All the things I loved about the first book can also be found in this one, particularly the friendships and the quirky minor characters. There were definitely a lot of unexpected developments and crazy twists & turns that kept me turning the pages, but everything gets resolved by the end. I don't feel like the ending left me hanging and I haven't heard anything about this being a longer series, though I imagine it easily could be. It comes to a natural stopping point, but it would be interesting to see what happens to Hayden and Theia in their "next chapter." But even if this is truly the end, I'm satisfied with the way things turned out. It isn't too neat or perfect or unrealistic either since there were a lot of sacrifices made, but I do feel this book did the story justice.

Overall, I'd say these books were good one-time reads. I wouldn't add them to my list of favorites, but both books were enjoyable nonetheless.

This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 Series Catch-Up Challenge

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#15): Favorite Romances

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's theme is just in time for Valentine's Day. I read a lot of books that have romance in them, but not a lot of true romance novels, so I'm going to stick with just my top five today.

Outlander (Outlander, #1)1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon -- I seriously could fill this list up with the other books in this series, but I'm going to restrain myself. Jamie & Claire are one of my favorite book couples of all time. Sorry YA leading men (and all other leading men everywhere) -- you ain't got nothin' on Jamie Fraser.

Water for Elephants2. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen -- This is one of my favorite stand-alone novels. It's much more than just a romance, but the romance is so darn good. Jacob & Marlena are probably my second favorite book couple of all time. And yes, I know they get together while Marlena is married, but I really don't care. Come to think of it, Claire is technically married in Outlander when she meets Jamie, too. Oh what the hell, they're BOOKS people, not real life.

Before I Die3. Before I Die, by Jenny Downham -- This is another one that is much, much more than just a romance -- it's a truly heart-wrenching, beautifully written novel. Don't think this book won't make you cry buckets, 'cause it most certainly will. Tessa's first and only relationship is tender and sweet and as unforgettable as it is heartbreaking.

Alphabet Weekends4. Alphabet Weekends, by Elizabeth Noble -- Girl wants to marry guy she's in a so-so relationship with. Guy breaks it off and girl is devastated. Girl's best friend who's secretly in love with her proposes they go on a date for each letter of the alphabet to prove they belong together. It might seem a little silly, but it's such a lovely, light romantic novel. I really must remember to read the rest of this author's books.

Twilight (Twilight, #1)5. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer -- I honestly don't care how messed up or lame or terrible people think this book is, I like it. I like it a lot and that's just the way it is. I also like a lot of other "better" books, so I can have this guilty pleasure if I want to! (I also think the movies were a big contributor to the escalating Twilight-hate, but that's a whole other discussion.)

What books make your heart go pitter patter?

Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 Books About Books Challenge

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
It has occurred to me that I am very bad at keeping promises. Not promises to other people, promises to myself. Take for example, my promise not to join any more reading challenges in 2013. I am clearly breaking that promise, but there are so many different kinds of books I want to read that when I find a challenge for a genre I'm excited about, I. Just. Can't. Help. Myself. I would promise this is really and truly my last one, but you are currently reading the evidence of how well that has turned out in the past! 

Anyway, my latest (and hopefully last) is the 2013 Books About Books Challenge hosted by Justice over on Mint Condition. I found Justice's lovely blog when she signed up for my own Banned Books Challenge (a girl after my own heart!) It just so happens that several months ago I won a giftcard that I used to buy three awesome books that qualify for this challenge, but I never did get around to reading them. Combine that with a few others I've been wanting to read for a long time and the fact that I just reviewed a qualifying book last week and here I am writing a sign-up post! I'm aiming for the low end of level "Short Story" which is 6-10 books, because Lord knows I have enough other reading commitments already! This list may change, but here are the most likely candidates:

My Ideal Bookshelf
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up   My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop   The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit   
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared   The Book Thief   The Reading Group

Click on the cover images for more information over on GoodReads.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This Week's Bookish Finds

Lord knows I spend too much time on the internet, so I figured I might as well share some of my favorite book news I've seen around the web this week. Thanks to Kay of It's a Book Life for inspiring me to finally put something like this together!
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1. This is probably old news by now, but Lauren DeStefano announced her new Utopian series, The Internment Chronicles (!!!). I would read anything that girl writes, but I'm extra excited that she's going in this particular direction. With the flood of dystopian books coming out lately, this stands out from the crowd.

Requiem (Delirium, #3)2. I've also read in various places that if you pre-order a copy of Lauren Oliver's Requiem from the first printing, it includes an exclusive bonus story about Alex :) :)

3. I keep seeing this new site Bookish that launched this week getting promoted all over the place. I'm not sure how much I'd use it since I already use GoodReads, but their book recommendation feature is pretty cool.

4. A prescription for reading books from you doctor? I kinda like this concept.

Beloved5. A parent in Fairfax, VA is trying to get Toni Morrison's Beloved banned. (Thanks to Soon Remembered Tales for sharing this one on Twitter!)

6. Just in case you thought all those books you were assigned in school were a waste of time, check out The 10 Most Important Life Lessons from Required High School Reading from The Huffington Post. (Lots of banned books on this list. Just saying.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Falling Under

Falling Under, by Gwen Hayes
Source: free Advance Reader's Copy from ARCycling for my honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
View on GoodReads

Considering what I'm about to say next this might be a little hard to believe, but I did actually enjoy this book. I probably shouldn't have, but I did. The problem? The first half of the book is riddled with glaring similarities to Twilight. Even though I managed to see past this, I'm not sure other people would, so I only think it's fair to point them out. I like Twilight (don't judge), which is probably why I stuck it out, but I still wasn't thrilled with all the parallels. In my defense, there were a lot of other good things going on -- I loved the main characters, the paranormal world of Under, the "evil Queen" who was oh-so-deliciously evil, the friendships, the loveable, quirky minor characters, and an intriguing plot are what really kept my attention. I just want you to know what you're getting yourself into. Replace Hayden with "Edward" and Theia with "Bella" and tell me you don't see it!

Hayden... actually a lot older than he looks.
     ...finds Theia irresistible & delectable.
     ...craves her and thirsts for her.
     ...pushes Theia away because he's dangerous and no good for her.
     ...says he should stay away from her, but he can't.
     ...fears losing control around her.
     ...refers to Theia as his lamb.
     ...thinks he's a monster.
     ...fears for Theia's soul.
     ...uses his "lure" to draw human prey closer to him.

Theia... insecure because she doesn't know what Hayden sees in her.
     ...wants things to get physical, but he pushes her away.
     ...sees the good in him instead of the monster.

Soooo, I'll let you judge for yourself. It is what it is. If you think the similarities will bug you, you probably don't want to read this book. But if you're thinking of giving this book a chance, know that I found it worthwhile in the end. If I didn't, I wouldn't be halfway through the sequel!

This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 ARC Reading Challenge
Embarrassment of Riches TBR Reading Challenge 2013
2013 Series Catch-Up Challenge

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Classics Club

My list of Bookish Goals for 2013 included joining The Classics Club and I'm excited to finally have my list together! I'm seriously starting to think I have some sort of addiction to lists though (do you think there's a support group for this kind of thing? No? Well, I suppose there's no true harm in it!) Anyway, this awesome club is (obviously) a community committed to reading and blogging more about the classics. Considering I've only posted about one lonely classic on this blog (that I didn't even like very much!) and yet I keep adding new ones to my collection, I'm way overdue for something like this. The goal is pretty straight-forward: read 50 classics over a 5 year period, so my end date is February 8, 2018. That's quite a lot of time, so don't worry, I will still be reading and reviewing other types of books as well! 

This is something I've been wanting to do for some time now, but a few excellent reviews like this one about Rebecca from the Insatiable Booksluts has really reminded me just how much I've been missing out on. At first, I was worried this would feel too much like "homework," but unlike in high school, I get to pick the books, so I don't think that will be a problem.


The Club's guidelines state this can be a "living list" and it's allowed to change over time, so now that it is already 2016 and I have only made a small dent in my goal, it's time to reevaluate and reboot. Over the past three years, I kept adding SO MANY titles to my list while reading hardly any of them. I've finally come to the realization that I can read any classic that strikes my fancy and count it for the Club (assuming I want to blog about it!) But having an unwieldy list of 125+ titles is not helping me prioritize or figure out what to read next. Since I've been on a major children's lit kick, I thought I'd give my list a makeover that realistically reflects the types of classics I most want to read at this point in my life. After all, I can always join again in the future with a new list! A lot of these are in 1001 Childrens Books to Read Before You Grow Up which I've been paging through again lately and I'm feeling inspired :)

(Updated: 1/3/2016)

Club Progress:
32/50 Classics read

1.  A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (re-read)
2.   Great Classic Humor, by Mark Twain, et al
3. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan (re-read)
4. Beowulf (re-read)
5. Oedipus Rex (re-read)
6. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller (re-read)
7. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
8. Selected Shorts, by Edith Wharton & Edgar Allen Poe
9-12. Winnie-the-Pooh books, by A.A. Milne
         The House at Pooh Corner
         When We Were Very Young
         Now We Are Six
13-14.  A Bear Called Paddington + More About Paddington, by Michael Bond
15-18. More Paddington sequels, by Michael Bond
            Paddington Helps Out
            Paddington Abroad
            Paddington at Large
            Paddington Marches On
19. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
20. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
21. A Celebration of the Short Story: Timeless Classics
22. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
23. The Complete Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
24. A Literary Christmas: An Anthology
25. A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle
26. The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
27. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald
28. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic, by Betty MacDonald
29-30. Gone-Away Lake + Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright
31. A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen
32. Turn of the Screw, by Henry James

The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit
The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit
My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Aesop's Fables, by Aesop
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
The Caravan Family, by Enid Blyton
The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie (re-read)
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales (selected edition)
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm (selected edition)
Betsy Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (+ more in the series?)
Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery (+ rest of series?)
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (+ rest of series?)
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle (+ rest of series?)
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander
Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Matilda, by Roald Dahl
The Phantom Tolbooth, by Norton Juster
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
Bedknob and Broomstick, by Mary Norton

Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Poetry Speaks, edited by Elise Paschen & Rebekah Presson Mosby

(Updated 10/23/2017)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#14): Bookish Memories

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week we're taking a trip down memory lane. I don't have any "I met my all-time favorite author & now were BFFs" kind of stories, so I'm going all nostalgic on you guys today. I hope you have some warm and fuzzy bookish memories too :)

(Update: I cannot believe I forgot about #9, so I just had to squeeze it in after the fact. When I first started writing this, I didn't think I could come up with 10, but apparently I was wrong!)

Image from Amazon.
1. Reading A Story a Day 'Til Christmas with my parents and brother as a kid. This wasn't a long standing tradition since we were probably only both at "let's read bedtime stories together" ages for a few years, but it's still a very happy memory. (Note to self: I really need to look for this book the next time I visit my parents. I actually think we had two different volumes. I hope we didn't get rid of them...)

2. Reading by nightlight because I didn't want to get caught staying up past my bedtime. Yup, I was one of those kids. Forget all the other sneaky things I could have gotten myself into, I just desperately wanted to read one more chapter. OK, maybe two.

3. The Scholastic Book Fair. Please tell me you had these at your school as a kid. I looked forward to them so much it was kind of ridiculous. This was obviously the beginning of my book buying obsession. Of course at the age of 10, I had quite limited funds (and room in my backpack), which was probably a good thing.

Kristy's Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club, #1)4. Speaking of Scholastic, I have to include the Scholastic Book Club flyers. Do you guys remember those?! In the days before this thing called the internet enabled you to click a few buttons and have books magically appear on your doorstep, this was pretty much a third grade bookworm's dream. I filled out a form, gave my teacher some money, and then I got the latest Baby Sitters Club book delivered to me at school. So. Awesome.

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1)5. One thing I really miss now that I'm an adult is reading a book cover-to-cover. As a kid, I remember settling in with a Nancy Drew mystery on a weekend or a rainy summer day and just reading the whole thing straight through. And on a really good day, I'd read another!

6. In high school, I was always the first one up in the morning, so I would make myself something for breakfast and curl up on the playroom couch with my latest non-school-related book. I went to Catholic school and wore a uniform, so getting ready didn't take much time and I always thought I had time for a few more pages, even when I really didn't.

7. Now I know a lot of teenage girls like to go shopping at the mall and my best friend and I were no exception. What I'm not so sure about is if all the other teenage girls always made a stop at the bookstore. We were both readers, so we often swapped books and recommendations and it was always fun to browse the shelves. The day we realized the B. Dalton at our local mall was closing for good was a very sad day. How can a mall not have a bookstore?!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)8. It was a little bittersweet, but I'll never forget lining up to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at midnight with my husband (he was my boyfriend then -- can you see why I married him?), one of his friends, and my best friend. It's what all the cool kids were doing. Seriously. Well, my kind of cool kids anyway.

9. Speaking of the cool kids, you want to know what this cool kid did on her 21st birthday? She went to An Evening with Harry, Carrie & Garp with said husband and best friend. Judging by the crowd, the excitement, and the general atmosphere, you would have thought it was a rock concert, but it was actually a series of readings and Q&A sessions with JK Rowling, Stephen King, and John Irving at Radio City Music Hall. My husband bought us the tickets and took the two of us since our birthdays are only 2 days apart. Forget going to a bar and getting legally wasted, that was one of my best birthdays ever.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)10. And all this Harry Potter talk brings me back to the day my little brother came home from school and was practically jumping out of his skin and begging me to read the first book. "Christine you have to read this book. It's sooo good. And it's not just for little kids. I swear you're gonna like it." He must have been 10 which means I would have been 14 and not all that likely to believe him, but luckily I did. Best. Book Recommendation. Ever.

Fast forward a few years to when my brother was 14 and Order of the Phoenix was published. He started it, but didn't like it as much as the earlier books, so he stopped after a few chapters and pretty much abandoned reading altogether. I was so mad because he got me started on the series and I wanted to talk to him about the ending so badly! Which leads me to my final bookish memory...

11. It's almost 10 years later and I never was able to convince my brother to read the rest of Harry Potter (or anything else, for that matter). Every year our family takes a beach vacation on the Jersey shore (not THAT Jersey Shore. Ew.) which is perfect for some relaxing summer reading, but nothing I tried ever worked. I'd ask him what books he wanted me to pack for him and he'd just make the "I know you're my sister and we're related, but you really are crazy" face at me. But recently he told me his latest job (which involves a lot of sitting around and monitoring a sign-in book) is so boring he might have to take up reading again. I was hopeful we'd talk about books again one day, but I wasn't holding my breath. Then I got a text from him: "Finished my 3rd book. The parents are reading frauds there are no books in the house." I couldn't help but smile and reminded him they go to this place called the library. It only happened yesterday, but I don't think it's something I'll forget anytime soon :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, by Julia Eccleshare
Source: Borrowed from the library
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK I know I'm already "grown-up" and anyone reading this blog probably is too, but hear me out before you skip over this post. I was looking for some inspiration for my Classics Club list, so I went to the library to borrow 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. While I was there, I spotted this children's version I didn't even know existed. I decided to check them both out, figuring it would also be fun to flip through and revisit my childhood a bit. Little did I know just how much of a gem it would turn out to be!

There are people all over the place blogging about the adult version and I was so eager to check it out. But as I started browsing through it, I just wasn't feeling most of the selections. To me, there seemed to be a bias toward certain authors whose books earned multiple spots at the expense of others I expected to see, but weren't listed at all. There were plenty of well-known, excellent books, but overall it wasn't what I was hoping for. I guess I wanted to be excited or inspired by (nearly) every book, and I just wasn't. I'd still be curious to see how many I read over time, but I have zero interest in actually trying to read them all.

But then I cracked open this kids' version and was delighted to find such a wide-ranging and truly fantastic selection. THIS is the book I'd really like to read may way through. Forget the grown-up list, they're letting the kids have all the fun! It's split up by age group, so anything in the 0-3, 3+, and 5+ categories I'm more likely to read with my (as yet non-existent) kids someday, but the 8+ and 12+ sections are filled with really great books that my "grown-up" self would love to read. I do think some of them are a little above the age range they're listed for, but if you're using this as a book guide for an actual child, use your best judgement of their maturity and reading level.

The other interesting thing I discovered was almost every book I was already considering for the Classics Club is listed in this volume! I was well aware several of them fell into the genre of "children's literature," but there are many others I wouldn't necessarily have categorized that way. No matter what your age, the books on this list will make you a more well-rounded reader. You'll find a lot of "typical" classics in addition to more "modern classics" that have already proven they themselves worthy, despite the fact they haven't been around for decades (or centuries). I'll be interested to see if this volume gets updated and reprinted over the years like the adult book has and what new titles might earn a spot in the future.

So, what to do with all this information? I'm going to post the list and keep track of what I've read, of course! (You can find it here, or on the tab up top.) I highly recommend getting your hands on the actual book though, since browsing through the list is way more fun when you can look at the book covers and have additional information at your fingertips. But be warned, there do seem to be spoilers in some of the reviews/blurbs -- they're not giving everything away, but the descriptions are pretty detailed. So if you don't want to know anything about a certain story beforehand, you may want to proceed with caution!
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Coming soon: my Classics Club sign-up post and list -- can you tell I like lists?!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (#1)

I've resisted memes such as this one before now because I've really been trying to curb my book buying habit and adding to my overflowing collection isn't something I'm 100% proud of. But I recently won some really cool stuff, so I wanted to give some well-deserved acknowledgements. :) I'll probably only do this (at most) once a month, so today I'm sharing new books since the beginning of the year.

I didn't actually buy most of these books and I honestly don't know where all this luck is coming from (maybe it's good karma for posting my first ARCycling review and then donating the book back to the program? Honestly, I just don't know.) The books I did spend actual money on are ones that, let's face it, I was going to buy no matter what. Plus two $1 books, but does that even count as spending money? I'm going to say no.

(If you want to participate, click on the logo above for more information. And to learn more about any of the books, click on it's cover to go to it's GoodReads page.)

First off, I won this book from the totally awesome ARCycling. After missing out on my first request, I did a little more research and realized just how great this debut author's book sounds. I'm super excited to read & review it!
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, by Rita Leganski
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Then, I won Krisha of InkkReviews' awesome birthday giveaway which included these two books plus a $10 Amazon giftcard and lots of other cool stuff. If you don't already read their blog, go check it out :)
Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, # 1)   The Time Traveler's Wife
Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
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I also scored an ARC of this book from Shelf Awareness. According to GoodReads it's "...a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost letters of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries." Super excited to read & review this one too!
Seduction: A Novel of Suspense
Seduction: A Novel of Suspense, by M.J. Rose
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Then, I won these 4 ARCs from a Chronicle Books Facebook contest (seriously I don't know where all this luck is coming from!) I entered the contest on a whim and I'll probably never read the middle grades title, but the first three look quite promising. 
Under Shifting Glass   Nobody's Secret   Absent   Seagulls Don't Eat Pickles: Fish Finelli Book 1
Under Shifting Glass, by Nicky Singer
Nobody's Secret, by Michaela MacColl
Absent, by Katie Williams
Fish Finelli, by Erica Farber
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A B&N coupon that arrived in my email tempted me to buy/pre-order these new releases of series I'm already in the middle of:
Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)   Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen, #2)   The Essence (The Pledge, #2)
Sever, by Lauren DeStefano (squeeee!)
Stolen Nights, by Rebecca Maizel
The Essence, by Kimberly Derting
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And these last two I got from my library's Book Sale for $1 each. I've had my eye on them since they were published, so for that price I really couldn't help myself. And I'm supporting my library, right? Yea well, that's what I keep telling myself anyway.
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared   The Weird Sisters
The Reading Promise, by Alice Ozma & Jim Brozina
The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown
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I'm so grateful for all the great books that have come my way, but I'm actually hoping my list won't be so long next month!