Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bye Bye Google Reader

follow us in feedly

As we all know, Google Reader will shortly be defunct and I would be oh so appreciative if my lovely readers would follow me on another platform. I know a lot of people seem to be gravitating toward Bloglovin' or Feedly so I wanted to do a quick post with links to both those services.

I still find it a bit hard to believe people other than my best friend read this thing (hi!), but I am oh so grateful to all of you who stop by and comment :)
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P.S. If you have a blog of your own and are looking for a "Follow on Feedly" button, there are several different options here to quickly & easily generate code for one.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

SpineSpeak (#2): Happiness Is...

Bookmark To Blog

I went a little overboard this month and used 11 books to create my spine poem (you only need to use 5!) I'm happy to say I used books from my own collection again; however, I am a bit ashamed to admit I haven't read a single one of them! Of course I now want to drop everything to read this lovely pile. I suppose that's not exactly the most realistic plan, but a girl can dream right?
* * * * *

Some girls want
more durable goods --
those pretty, shiny things.
Not me.
I am summer's child:

inhaling the sweet salt air
at the beach house

swimming at night 
in the dark tide
to hear the mermaids singing

I would trade all other nights
for a hundred summers --
that is this side of paradise,
for me.

This month's books:
Some Girls, by Jillian Lauren
Durable Goods, by Elizabeth Berg
Summer's Child, by Diane Chamberlain
Sweet Salt Air, by Barbara Delinsky
The Beach House, by Jane Green
Swimming at Night, by Lucy Clarke
Dark Tide, by Elizabeth Haynes
The Mermaids Singing, by Lisa Carey
All Other Nights, by Dara Horn
A Hundred Summers, by Beatriz Williams
This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Next month's theme: Around the world

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#24): Perfect Ruin

Lauren DeStefano's new book has a cover! A lot of people had issues with Sever, but I'm still a fan of her writing, so I'm quite excited for this new utopian series. I actually don't think I've ever read a utopian book, so I think this will be a nice change of pace for me.

Expected Publication: October 1, 2013

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

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Bookman's Tale

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett
Series: no
Publisher: Viking Adult
Date: May 28, 2013
How did I get this book? free Advance Reader's Copy from the publisher via ShelfAwareness for an honest review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

When a review copy of this book arrived on my doorstop, I nearly shrieked in excitement. Bypassing many other books, I placed it on the very top of my To-Read pile and I am happy to say it most definitely earned that coveted spot.

Part literary mystery, part tragic love story, and part ode to the written word, this book was everything I hoped it would be and more. A still grieving Peter Byerly finds a Victorian portrait that looks strikingly like his late wife Amanda and sets off to a find out more about it's origins. Along the way, he ends up on the trail of an even bigger mystery -- the question of whether or not Shakespeare's plays were actually written by Shakespeare of Stratford, or if they were written by another writer under that name.

One of the things I really liked was how the narrative switched between different points in time. A lot of the book is told from the present as Peter is trying to solve the mystery, but other parts go all the way back to Shakespeare's time and trace through the centuries following the historical aspects of the story. Yet another thread of the narrative follows Peter's relationship with Amanda from when they first met. It was heartbreaking to know she would inevitably die, but their relationship was really something special. Peter has social anxiety, but Amanda brings out the best in him and they are truly a perfect match. The bond they share is so touching and beautifully written, I will not soon forget this pair.

In addition to the actual love story, this book is suffused with the love of books. If you are a book lover (as so many of us are), Peter will feel like a kindred spirit. I know this book has found a special place in my heart and I'm sure it will resonate with other lovers of the written word as well. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski
Series: no
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Date: Feb. 26, 2013
How did I get this book? free from ARCycling for an honest review - thank you!
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

I really struggled with giving this book a rating because I was left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I found it rather slow and it took me a very long time to finish. The story was interesting, but not as compelling as I had hoped it would be. On the other hand, the writing is beautiful and the characters are quite endearing. Bonaventure Arrow is a special little boy I won't soon forget.

Essentially this book is about moving on, letting go, and healing the wounds of tragedy. There is a lot of grief, sorrow, and guilt being experienced by the adults in Bonaventure's life and these characters are essentially "stuck." Bonaventure brings joy to their lives and helps them find peace in his own unique way. The big "family secret" was fairly easy to figure out, but that doesn't detract from the power of that secret or how it shaped the story. There are a lot of religious undertones, but I don't feel this book is "preachy" in any way. Religion plays different roles for the various characters and it's interesting to see how it affects each of them. I found the interplay of religion and guilt particularly interesting since I was raised Catholic. Let's just say it's a subject I find intriguing.

I would certainly recommend this book, but it's probably not for everyone. If you are a fan of magical realism or are looking for something a little bit unique, give this one a try. I may not have been flying through the pages, but this book really made me think and I'm glad I read it.

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Testing

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing trilogy #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Date: June 4, 2013
How did I get this book? free Advance Reader's Copy from the publisher via Shelf Awareness for my honest review
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

***Warning this post contains spoilers***

I had sworn off NetGalley completely when I got an email telling me I (and everyone else apparently!) was pre-approved for this new book. I wanted to stick to my guns, but from the sounds of it, this was going to be the next Big Thing in YA, so I went ahead and accepted. I had entered a Shelf Awareness giveaway for a print ARC, but didn't really know if I would win a copy and I didn't want to miss out. Since I hate reading on e-devices (hence the swearing off of NetGalley), it seems I procrastinated just long enough to find out that I did win a print copy from Shelf Awareness (::cue happy dance::). I picked this one up toward the end of my recent week away and my happiness quickly turned to disappointment. Going in, I knew it was getting billed as something "fans of The Hunger Games would enjoy," but no one mentioned just how similar the two books are. Just because I liked (loved!) a particular book, doesn't mean I want to read another one almost exactly like it. If you've already read the book or don't mind spoilers, you'll see what I mean... 

  • Instead of the Capital, there is Tosu City.

  • Instead of districts, there are colonies.

  • It is considered an honor to be chosen for Testing, but it is actually very dangerous and a lot of participants will die. (I suppose in The Hunger Games, it is not considered an honor in every district, but still.)

  • The Five Lakes Colony the main character is from is small, and no one believes their testing candidates pose a real threat, just like no one thinks anyone from District 12 could win the Hunger Games.

  • Instead of the reaping there is Graduation Day. It is a social event in each colony and there is even a female character who gets up on stage and starts by saying, "Happy Graduation Day." I could not help but hear an echo of Effie Trinket saying, "Happy Hunger Games" when I read that one. Seriously.

  • The chosen characters must travel to Tosu City to begin and they have not previously seen the world outside their colony. 

  • Although other colonies don't think of Five Lakes as much of a threat, they are actually better prepared for the challenges of Testing. Since they come from a smaller and more remote colony, they have better knowledge of survival skills just like Katniss. Cia has deadly aim with a bow & arrow shotgun.

  • Before part four of the testing, the candidates have to carefully choose 3 items to bring with them. Everything seems essential, but they have to prioritize and strategize. They didn't have to do battle at the cornucopia for them, but it still sounds awful similar to me.

  • Some testing candidates kill to better their chances, some form alliances. It's hard to know who to trust.

  • One night when Cia is alone, she camps up in a tree.

  • When a testing candidate from another colony is killed, Cia wants to stop and bury her because it is the right thing to do. (This one kind of killed me because the scene with Rue in The Hunger Games pretty much slayed me. This one did not have nearly the same impact.)

  • One of the other testing candidates from Five Lakes Colony is a boy who Cia hadn't paid much mind to, but who clearly has noticed her and liked her for quite some time. His name is Peeta Tomas.

  • Tomas gets injured and Cia refuses to leave him behind and nurses him back to health.

  • There is speculation that the testing officials are rigging the surroundings as part of the test. I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like the gamemakers to me.

And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head since I didn't take notes as I was reading...

I know that the message/moral/point/lesson of The Testing is different than the message/moral/point/lesson of The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is all about fighting against a corrupt government (though I can see this might be a direction the story might go in the future) and at least so far, The Testing seems to be making a commentary on the rigors of today's standardized testing. These differences aside, I was starting to feel like this concept about testing was just superimposed over the plot of The Hunger Games!

Given all that, a part of me wants to give it 0 stars because these similarities are just insane. On the other hand, I did enjoy reading it even though I found myself shaking my head A LOT and wondering if the author/editor/publisher realized just how similar these books are. Despite my reservations, at no point did I want to stop reading and that does say something in and of itself. I was also really glad there was no love triangle and hopefully it will stay that way throughout the series. I also bumped up my rating because I do feel this book could be setting up for much better sequels. I think there is a lot of promise and this story could take off in its own direction. I am interested enough to know I definitely want to read the sequel and if this were truly a 0 or 1 star book, I would not be inclined to do so. 

I know there are a lot of people who agree with me, but there are also a lot of others who loved this book (like my bookish buddy Kay from It's a Book Life -- read her 5 star review for a much more positive perspective.) I don't mean to bash this book, I just want to let people know what they are getting themselves into. If I did not have The Hunger Games to compare it to, I'm certain I would have loved it. It boils down to having the shadow of another story hovering over me which knocked this one down quite a few points in my esteem.
This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 ARC Reading Challenge
2013 Series Catch-Up Challenge

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
Series: Not per se, but there is a 2nd volume out in the UK
Publisher: Overlook
Date: Sept. 13, 2012
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

WARNING: This book will cause uncontrollable laughter. Do not read in public if cracking up in front of strangers is something that embarrasses you. If you are supposed to be doing something else, but want to surreptitiously read a book instead, don't choose this one because you will totally get busted. Don't hide this one inside War & Peace and expect to get away with it. Seriously. You've been warned.
* * * * *
Words can hardly express my love for this book! I first heard about it when Kay of It's a Book Life shared a link to an excerpt featuring 10 different snippets in one of her bookish news posts. I knew right away I had to read it and immediately put in a request at my library. Two days later I picked it up and had to force myself to not read it in one sitting because I wanted the enjoyment to last just a bit longer. I had been plodding though a bit of a slow book and this was just the break I needed. I brought it with me to my grandmother's house Mother's Day weekend and some of my more bookish relatives were laughing along with me as I read out some of my favorite passages. My aunt took it up to bed with her and finished it that night!

It's a slim volume and anyone who loves books and bookstores will get a kick out of it. If you've ever worked in a bookstore, other retail establishment, or any job that deals with the public, you will get a kick out of it. If you're amazed by the foolishness that comes out of people's mouths sometimes, you will most definitely get a kick out of it. A few of the anecdotes in the chapter 'Customers Behaving Badly' were more appalling than funny, but all of them will leave you have shaking your head and asking yourself, "How could someone really say that?!" You will appreciate your neighborhood booksellers all the more after reading this one, that's for sure. Read. This. Book. Just do it, because I can't imagine you would possibly regret it. :)

Oh, and the author also has a Tumblr that will make your day if you're a book lover.
This book counts toward my reading goals for:
2013 Books About Books Challenge

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 ARC Clean Sweep Challenge Wrap-Up Post

Well, I can confidently say I did much better with this challenge than I did with the Take Control of your TBR Pile one back in March. I had listed 6 books to read for this new challenge, but ended up reading three (only one was on my original list -- the other two just snuck in there somehow!) And I did start a fourth, I just didn't finish it in time. Considering the craziness of my life lately, this was actually a fairly good reading month for me (going away helped a LOT). For the purposes of this challenge, I'm linking to abbreviated reviews on GoodReads, but full reviews are definitely on their way. Once the full reviews are up, I will update this post with the new links.

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession
My rating: 5 out of 5