Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays (#19): Words & Phrases That Suck Me in Every Time...

I loved Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer's recent post Are You a Cover Whore? (my answer is an undoubted yes, by the way), but the more I think about it, I get sucked in by book descriptions almost as often. A swoon-worthy cover is a major plus, but slap any of these words or phrases on a book jacket or in a review and you've got my attention!

Books with plots described as:
1. a rollicking ride
2. a spellbinding fantasy
3. a madcap adventure
4. an epic love story
5. a gothic tale

Books containing:
6. buried family secrets
7. haunting memories
8. historical + paranormal elements
9. unexplained tragedies

Reviews by trusted sources describing a book as:
10+ inventive, enchanting, imaginative, mesmerizing, enthralling, vivid, dazzling, absorbing, seductive, lyrical, devastating, heartbreakingly beautiful, or compulsively-readable

So now you know why my TBR list is so out of control!

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

Friday, April 19, 2013

Most Challenged Books in 2012

As part of the State of America's Libraries Report 2013, under the section for Intellectual Freedom, I found the updated list of frequently challenged books for last year. This list is compiled each year by the ALA and I wanted to share it as an update for my Banned Books Challenge (which I am admittedly very far behind on -- I hope you guys are doing better than I am!) Some of these books have been on previous years' lists, but others are gaining this distinction for the very first time. So for anyone who is participating in the challenge, I present these as some additional reading inspiration. And if you happen to have read one of them already this year, link up your review!

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
Beloved, by Toni Morrison

P.S. I'm was quite surprised to see Thirteen Reasons Why and Looking for Alaska on this list -- though judging by their popularity, I suppose I shouldn't have been!

photo credit: Love Of Books by George Hodan

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#20): Written in My Own Heart's Blood

About two weeks ago, Diana Gabaldon posted on her blog about the cover of Written in My Own Heart's Blood, the 8th installment in the Outlander series. It's not specifically the cover that has me excited, but the fact that a cover reveal means that publication is nearing! These books are major chunksters and there is always a very long time gap in between releases, so I'm beyond excited to know the wait is now significantly less than a year.
 Expected Publication: December 10, 2013

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

Friday, April 12, 2013

The City of Dark Magic

City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte
Source: free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
View on GoodReads

When I first started playing around on NetGalley, I requested this book not realizing it was actually already published. Shortly after I got approved for it, I spotted it at my library and quickly switched to the print edition -- I just can't help myself, I'm a true paper-book girl at heart! And if I'm perfectly honest, after I finish the titles I was approved for during the initial excitement of my husband's new iPad, I don't think I'm going to use NetGalley much for this very reason. I love the access to new and exciting titles for review, but I just don't like reading on an electronic device. I still love to browse the newly added books just to see what's coming out soon, but these days I have to be dying to read a particular title to be tempted to request it. Nothing against the site or anyone who uses it because it's a truly awesome service, I'm just a little more old-school than I would have thought!

Anyway, back to the book! I absolutely loved this book. I adored every single minute spent reading it. I stayed up late into the night just to read a few more chapters (before I moved) and it killed me that it took me so long to finish the rest of it (after I moved!). This was not the book's fault in any way -- life just gets in the way sometimes, as I'm sure you all know. 

The City of Dark Magic has been described as imaginative, entertaining, and magical and I definitely agree with all those descriptions. It was also laugh out loud funny in many places and I LOVE  when that happens, especially in a book that is not specifically billed as "humor." I thought the writing was sharp and witty and the main character Sarah had quite a bit of spunk for a Beethoven scholar. She's a bit risque, but it was a refreshing change from all the inexperienced good girls that seem to be so common in novels. Her decisions and actions aren't going to sit well with everyone, but I give her credit because this chick owns it. Some might call her a slut, but I'm certainly not going to. I also thought it was interesting that her attraction to men is largely based on scent. Again, this was a refreshing change from the endless descriptions of how gorgeous/hot/sexy the male characters are.

For me, this book was just the right blend of adventure, mystery, intrigue, and romance. Throw in a great cast of characters and I think it's an all-around winner. I've already ordered a print copy to add to my collection because I know I'll want to revisit this story again someday!

This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 ARC Reading Challenge
2013 Chunkster Challenge (464 pages)
2013 Series Catch-Up Challenge

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#19): Someday, Someday, Maybe

Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame is coming out with a book! She'll always be Lorelai to me, but I'm excited for this next step in her career.

Expected Publication: April 30, 2013

The main character in Someday, Someday, Maybe is a struggling NYC actress and while reading the book's synopsis, I couldn't help but picture Penny from The Big Bang Theory (I know her character is in LA, not NY, but you get the gist -- navigating relationships, worrying she was no real-world skills, only getting acting gigs for random commercials, etc., etc.).  I imagine this story will be as charming and funny as the description claims it to be.

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#18): Favorite Pre-Blog Books

I've been out of the Top Ten Tuesday loop for a few weeks now, but I couldn't resist jumping back in for this week's topic: Favorite Books I Read Before I Was a Blogger. So without further ado, some books especially near and dear to my heart:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)   Twilight (Twilight, #1)   Tomorrow, When the War Began (The Tomorrow Series, #1)
Both Sides of Time   Wait Till Helen Comes

1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling -- Before I was a blogger, while I'm a blogger, after I'm a blogger...this will be a forever favorite.

2. The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer -- A favorite guilty pleasure for sure. 

3. The Tomorrow series, by John Marsden -- My first truly YA series that I read when I actually was a teenager -- what a fabulous introduction to the genre!

4. Both Sides of Time, by Caroline B. Cooney -- I loved the first three books in this series and while I didn't really care for the conclusion in book four, it was still a very memorable read. This was another YA series from before the genre got so crazy popular.

5. Wait Till Helen Comes, by Mary Downing Hahn -- I devoured books by this author as a kid and literally read this one dozens of times. It is one of the first chapter books I remember reading and one of very few books I still have from childhood -- torn and tattered as it may be!

The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, #2)   The Birth House   World of Pies: A Novel
Outlander (Outlander, #1)   Water for Elephants

6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown -- I went to Catholic school my entire life and reading this one in high school felt delightfully rebellious.

7. The Birth House, by Ami McKay -- I love this woman's writing and I am most definitely overdue to read her second book!

8. World of Pies, by Karen Stolz -- I am way overdue for a re-read of this one. It was a firm favorite for several years, even though I don't actually remember a whole lot of the plot!

9. The Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon -- Time travel, adventure, romance, Jamie Fraser...this is another forever favorite.

10. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen -- One of the best stand-alone novels I have ever read -- a truly magical book. (I actually did review this one as an "oldie but goodie.")

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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Month of Bookish Finds

I haven't had much time for reading or blogging while in the midst of moving, but when I did have a few free moments, I still tried to keep up with my blog reading. I may have skipped over a few more posts than usual, but I didn't want to feel totally cut-off from the book blogosphere even though I wasn't contributing anything myself. I've collected some of my favorite articles and posts from the past month and am sharing what I feel are the best of the best. Hopefully the list won't get so long if I get back in the habit of weekly posts!
* * * * *

Love in the Time of Cholera1. Lauren Oliver shared her list of favorite love stories over on Bookish.

2. Given my lack of reading time recently, I can especially relate to The Perpetual Page Turner's post Look At Them All! They're Mocking Me! -- Too many books and too little time is a common dilemma for many of us readers and bloggers, but there are certainly worse problems to have! The clip Jamie posted from Two & a Half Men is just awesome.

3. Those of us with bookshelves full of unread books can also appreciate this post from The Paris Review featuring an exhibit titled "The Library of Unborrowed Books" at Manhattan's Art in General gallery. Truly fascinating!

4. Poorly done love triangles are a common gripe among readers, but Clear Eyes, Full Shelves dedicated a post to Tangled Like/Love/Lust That Doesn't Suck. I most definitely need to check some of these out!

5. On a related note, Christina Reads YA wrote a great post on How to End a Love Triangle that I think many of us would appreciate.

Something Like Normal6. If you're a fan of Trish Doller's Something Like Normal, you have to check out Real Men Read YA's review and subsequent rap battle with the author in the post's comments. It was epic. It was truly Something Like Freaking Awesome.

7. And I already shared my excitement for the cover reveal and upcoming publication of Trish Doller's sophmore novel Where the Stars Still Shine, but I was caught off guard (in the best way possible!) that she has another book in the works, Acadia Falls that will be published in the fall of 2014. Now I'm even more excited!

8. Flavorwire complied a gallery of 20 Embarrassingly Bad Book Covers for Classic Novels. These are just truly awful. Why? Why? WHY would they do this to these poor books?!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)9. One of Cuddlebuggery's latest In 10 Lines posts was dedicated to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. There are definitely spoilers, but if you've read the book, it's a pretty great feature. I also enjoyed their Hunger Games post.

10. The girls of Makeshift Bookmark are taking a step back from blogging, but continuing to post on their new tumblr. They reblogged (I think that is the appropriate term -- tumblr still confuses me, I must admit) this incredibly awesome Harry Potter April Fool's prank. So. Awesome.

11. I was very intrigued by the cover reveal for David Levithan's upcoming book, Two Boys Kissing. I haven't read any of his previous books, but have heard such good things about most of them. You don't see a cover like this everyday and I'm happy to see some boundaries being broken. This shouldn't be controversial, but unfortunately it is in some circles. Kudos to the author and publisher for sticking with this cover though, I think it was a smart move and will have a lot of support in the reading community.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#18): The Golem and the Jinni

I hate ads. I really, really do. I mute or fast-forward through commercials (DVR = awesomest invention ever) and I turn a blind eye to nearly all ads online. I certainly never click on them, EXCEPT for ones I see on GoodReads or ShelfAwareness. These are honestly the only two sites where I pay any attention because they are the only places I have ever encountered truly relevant advertising. The whole point of this little story is that I discovered this book through an ad on one of those sites (can't remember which exactly!) that totally sucked me in. I had never heard a single thing about it previously, so job well done book marketers, well done indeed.
Expected Publication: April 23, 2013

Other than a gorgeous and mysterious-looking cover, this book has a lot of other things going for it. According to the description on GoodReads, it is "A marvelous and absorbing debut novel, an enchanting combination of vivid historical fiction and magical fable about two supernatural creatures in turn-of-the-century immigrant New York." Annnnnd I'm sold. I'm totally intrigued and I can't wait to check out such a unique story.

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Release Day Review: Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed

Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed, by Jeremy Greenberg
Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is not my usual type of book, but much to my own surprise, I've developed quite a soft spot for kitties, so when I saw this one available for review on NetGalley, I just had to check it out.

So you can better understand where I'm coming from, allow me to share a short background story first:

My introduction to my husband's family cat ended with claw marks on my face. I was neither pleased, nor impressed with the idea of a cat as a pet at that point, to say the very least. My mother-in-law frequently recommended we take the cat back to our apartment and I was vehemently opposed to this idea. That tiny little creature scared the bejesus out of me and I wanted to keep both of my eyes in their sockets, thank you very much. When circumstances changed and we had to live with his parents while preparing to buy our first house, I could hardly believe it, but that darn cat really did grow on me. It certainly helped that once she realized she was temporarily stuck with me, she stopped thinking of me as a terrifying "stranger" and finally quit her hissing and scratching. I fed her and I let her sit on my lap and suddenly we were BFFs. Apparently, it doesn't take much to make a cat happy. She's no longer with us, but that little furrball really did weasel her way into my heart.

The reason I tell you this story is to show I'm a recent convert to the world of cat-lovers and as a member of that particular "club," I found this little book quite amusing. It would be a perfect gift for the (crazy?) cat person in your life. Some of the photos are more creepy than cute, but the accompanying letters they "write" to their owners will be appreciated by anyone who has ever shared space with a feline. I wasn't rolling on the floor laughing, but the book did elicit quite a few chuckles. It's a short and entertaining read I would definitely recommend for the right person (i.e. not your dog-loving sister or you animal-phobic grandmother, but I'm sure you can figure that out for yourself!)

This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 ARC Reading Challenge

Monday, April 1, 2013

Is it really April already?!

I hate not having time to blog, but I really, really hate not having time to read. Unfortunately both of those things have gone by the wayside since my husband and I moved into our first house three weeks ago. I read one single, solitary book in the month of March (at least it was a really awesome book though...review coming soon...I hope...). I knew I'd be busy, but busy just doesn't cover it! I don't normally write posts about my personal life, but I can't resist sharing some of my adventures as a new homeowner (and there is a bookcase!).

First of all, I don't want you to think I'm complaining, because I'm really not. I've been looking forward to buying a house for years and I'm truly grateful we were able to reach that goal. I have no regrets, but the one thing I've learned these past three weeks is that being a homeowner means learning to live with the unexpected. And boy has there been some unexpected! So we're just rolling with the punches.

But first, the fun stuff! -- With the help of quite a few awesome relatives and friends, we've gotten 5 rooms painted and the majority of dust, dirt, grime, & animal hair cleared away. Honestly, I don't even want to think about how long it would take us to work on this place if it were just the two of us alone. The house needs a bit more TLC than we had anticipated, so I can't even put into words how lucky and thankful we are to have such amazing people in our lives who are so willing to help.

But clearly the most important thing when writing about a move on a book blog is bookcases and I'm happy to report I have my first one up and filled! Trust me, I need a LOT more of these, but at least it's a start. This one is in the eat-in kitchen area and is the new home for most of my cookbooks. There are two more boxes that didn't fit on the shelves, plus two boxes of food magazines and recipe binders I need to find a place for. My brother declared my collection "absurd," but he did so while hauling said collection from my in-laws' basement so I can't really argue too much with that! And as ridiculous as he thinks his sister is, he still carried every last box I asked him to. We haven't even started on the "regular" book collection, so I can't wait to hear what he thinks of those boxes!

And then there's been the not so fun stuff -- In three short weeks we:

1. Woke up one morning to water EVERYWHERE in the basement. (unfinished slab, so no real damage thankfully). Dry basement my ass.

2. Had a major plumbing/sewer problem and had to get the pipes cleared not just once, but twice!

3. The old but "in good working condition" furnace started leaking and wasn't worth fixing so we had to replace it. My husband was really bummed about this whole situation until he realized the new thermostat connects to WIFI and he can control it with an app on his phone. So forget the whole "way to a man's heart is through his stomach" thing, cool technology is definitely the way to my hubby's heart.

4. A squirrel (?) was trapped inside one of the walls and scratching desperately to get out. He had way too much energy/desperation to have just dropped dead so we are hoping he did find an escape route. (Note: don't leave the attic entrance uncovered, especially if it's in the garage and the previous homeowners left a giant pile of firewood underneath it. The squirrels just might think you built them a special staircase.)

5. Realized the hot water going to the washing machine didn't work. Once we got the valve fixed, we found out there is a leak somewhere that isn't visible even after cutting into the walls, so our next project will be tearing the laundry room apart, getting a new hot water line, and fixing up all the water damage the prior owner was ignoring. Fuuun.

6. One day the cold water pipe to the (brand new) washing machine started shaking so badly the whole house was vibrating and it sounded like a helicopter was landing in my house. A friend of the family who is a plumber declared he'd never seen anything like that in his life (greeeattt). So he took the brand new hoses off and started investigating only to discover the idiot installation guys hooked them up backwards. Turns out the side that says "this end water supply" really should get hooked up to the water supply and not to the back of the machine. Go figure. Here I am thinking this is something I couldn't do myself, but since I can READ, I really do think I would have done a better job if I had tried.

7. Took down an ugly ceiling fan to discover it wasn't installed properly and was about to fall on someone's head at any moment. Thankfully we dodged that one because with our luck it would have hurt one of the many people here helping us!

So if you've been wondering where I wandered off to, now you know! I have a few posts for this week and a pretty massive Bookish Finds post in the works that I'm really excited about. I still may not post as often as I normally do, but it feels good to be back!