Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Wrap-Ups

By this time of year, I'm usually doing pretty poorly on my challenge goals, so I don't always care to write wrap-up posts to enumerate just how poorly. (Why do I join these, again?!?) But this year, even though I once again felt I didn't do so well, I thought I would do the tallies anyway since I only joined 5 challenges. And I must say, I didn't do as badly as I thought I had! I didn't review most of these books, but the actual reading of them is what I personally care most about. Now, I can really start planning for 2016!

Goal: 6 categories
Completed: 2 categories

1. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (a classic novella)
2. A whole slew of classic picture books (a classic children's book)

OK, I did the worst on this challenge, so let's get it out of the way first. I don't know if I will do this one again in 2016. Either way, I want to revisit my Classics Club list and recommit to it. I don't want the classics to get completely lost in the shuffle -- I own too many I really want to read!


Goal: Rabble-Rouser Level, 6-9 books
Completed: 10 books!

1. Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
2. Saga, Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
3. Saga, Vol. 3, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
4. Saga, Vol. 4, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
5. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
6. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
7. Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss
8. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
10. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

Surprised to see some of those picture books on my list? Yea, they may not be frequently challenged, but I've found them on a few banned/challenged childrens' books list. Crazy, right? Look out for a post in the new year about banned/challenged childrens' books.


Goal: 2nd Shelf Level, 7-12 books
Completed: 15 books!

1. What I Know for Sure, by Oprah Winfrey
2. The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami
3. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5. One Love, by Cedella Marley & Bob Marley
6. Flight Explorer, Vol 1, edited by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
7. Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
8. Explorer: The Hidden Doors, by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
9. Explorer: The Lost Islands, by Kazu Kibiushi (editor & contributor)
10. Every Little Thing, by Cedella Marley & Bob Marley
11. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
12. Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah
13. Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
14. Copper, by Kazu Kibiushi
15. Ghosts in the House, by Kazuno Kohara

Considering how many more books I ended up reading overall this year, I know I have a lot more work to do when it comes to diversifying my reading.


Goal: 8 books
Completed: 3 books

1. Outlander
2. Dragonfly in Amber
3. Voyager

Hmmmm. Yea. So, I took a head start on this challenge because I was already in the middle of a re-read before it began and Kay graciously said that was OK. But, I definitely didn't continue on as far as I would have liked! Doorstop chunksters and new babies apparently don't mix terribly well.


Goal: Purple Belt Level, 31-40 books
Completed: 20 books

1. Environments Envisioned: Building Fantastic Sets and Scouting Dramatic Locations, by Jody Revenson
2. Blackwood, by Gwenda Bond
3.The Creature Shop Compendium: Flora and Fauna from the Harry Potter Films, by Jody Revenson
4. A Guide to the Graphic Arts Department: Posters, Prints, and Publications from the Harry Potter Films, by Jody Revenson
5. Wizard Wear and Muggle Attire: Costuming the World of Harry Potter, by Jody Revenson
6. Ten Years Later: Life on Set with the Harry Potter Cast and Crew, by Jody Revenson
7. Movie Magic: Practical Props and Exciting Effects, by Jody Revenson
8. Fallen (Fallen, #1), by Lauren Kate
9. Torment (Fallen, #2), by Lauren Kate
10. Passion (Fallen, #3), by Lauren Kate
11. Rapture (Fallen, #4), by Lauren Kate
12. Fallen in Love (Fallen, #3.5), by Lauren Kate
13. Voyager (Outlander, #3), by Diana Gabaldon
14. Keep Quiet, by Lisa Scottoline
15. Paper Towns, by John Green
16. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
17. Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trish Doller
18. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
20. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

I took a break from blogging (and this challenge apparently) for a few months after my son was born in the spring. When I returned, I declared a reboot and said I would count any books already on my shelves at that point. But you know, that was kind of cheating! So I decided to stay true to the rules of this challenge and only count books I owned before January 1, 2015 to see (for real) how well or poorly I did. I'm not terribly disappointed with a count of 20, but I hope for this number to be much higher in 2016. If I finish the book I am in the middle of in the next two days, I can bump my count up to 21. #ShelfLove 2016 here I come -- I need this one again for sure!


Did you join any year-long challenges in 2015? Are you planning to join any for 2016?

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Classics Christmas

Since it is my son's first Christmas this year, I have been wanting more than ever to continue with some holiday traditions. Of course, he's not quite 8 months old yet and won't remember any of it, but still, there are certain things I like to do to get in the Christmas spirit. It's more challenging this year to actually do those things while also taking care of a baby, but I keep reminding myself that there is no such thing as "perfect" and that there is also no need for "perfect."

While I do believe that Christmas is really about the intangibles -- love and family and hope and joy -- it has been so much fun doing some of the other stuff too. And you're mostly here for the books, right? So while I don't read any specific Christmas story every year, I like to read something Christmas-related during December. This year, with the help of this list, I decided to dive into some classic Christmas stories. I mostly chose ones I had hidden in my home "library", but there are some other great suggestions on that list as well. A lot of these are in the public domain and available as free or inexpensive ebooks if you're looking for a last minute holiday read.

Charles Dickens

O. Henry
  • The Gift of the Magi

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • The Elves and the Shoemaker

Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales & Stories
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier
  • The Little Match Girl (This one is super sad.)
  • The Fir Tree (Also kind of sad -- it really is true that fairy tales are pretty dark!)
  • The Snow Queen

Picture Books

Of course, we have also read a lot of newer Christmas picture books, but I thought I'd stick to the "classics" for this list. Do you have any favorite holiday reads? Please share in the comments. And don't forget to enter my Christmas giveaway! (Ends midnight on Sunday)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review + Giveaway: The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge

The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge, by Charlie Lovett
Series? This is a sequel to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This review will contain spoilers of A Christmas Carol.
Publisher: Viking
Date: Oct. 20, 2015
Other Details: Hardcover; 128 pages
How did I get this book? free from the publisher for review
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

As I mentioned recently, A Christmas Carol is a favorite book I read for high school. Though it was a classic (and homework!) I truly enjoyed it at the age of 16 and it has remained a favorite of the season for me. I've seen movie and cartoon adaptations, I've re-read it on audiobook, and this year I was determined to re-read it in print. I read this illustrated edition, but how beautiful is the Penguin Christmas Classics edition? (It is pictured below for the giveaway and I even featured it in a post last year!)

As you probably already know, A Christmas Carol is the tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who hates Christmas and doesn't have a charitable or kind-hearted bone in his body. He is concerned with his business and his profits and resents having to give his employee Bob Cratchit even one day off to celebrate the holiday. He scoffs at the idea of giving anything to help the poor and destitute and has no desire to visit his own family on Christmas, though his nephew keeps inviting him in a gesture of goodwill and Christmas cheer. Of course, this would be a pretty sad Christmas tale if he didn't have a change of heart by the end!

So, where A Christmas Carol ends, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge picks up. After Scrooge has been visited by the three spirits and seen what his future holds if he does not change his ways, he promises, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." And keep it he does! Scrooge gives away all his earnings, makes time for family, and is kind to everyone he meets. All year long, he wishes friends and strangers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! But he wishes to do more good -- he wants to help the ghost of his friend and former partner Marley to free himself from his weighty chains. So they use the three spirits to inspire some more changes of heart in those around them.

This was a truly lovely book to read during the Christmas season. It has the style and feel of Dickens and is true to the spirit of the original. Some of the lines and phrasing are taken directly from A Christmas Carol and it was so interesting to see how those same words could be woven into a very different story. As Lovett details in his Afterword, some places and descriptions were also borrowed from other stories by Dickens. I imagine that someone who is more widely read in Dickens' work would appreciate those references more than I could!

My one disappointment was to see some of the same people who were held as good examples for Scrooge in A Christmas Carol were the ones being miserly in this sequel! It actually worked very well for the new story, but it was a little jarring to read at first. So I recommend going into this one with an open mind and an open heart. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was a wonderful tale I know I will read again in years to come.


Now for the giveaway!

Viking and Penguin Books are offering one reader a finished copy of both The Further Tales of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Christmas Classics edition of A Christmas Carol! Enter in the Rafflecopter  widget below from now until Monday, December 21, 2015 at 12 AM EST time. US mailing addresses only. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Banned Books Challenge 2016: Review Link-Up

For full information about this challenge and to sign-up, please see this post first.

Use this page to link-up your reviews for the 2016 Banned Books Challenge so that we can read them! Feel free to link to wherever you post reviews -- your blog, GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, etc., etc. Reviews are optional.

Please make sure to use the direct URL to your individual post/review, NOT the book's information page, your blog's homepage, or a profile page. If you do not write reviews, you can leave a comment telling us which books you've read.

If you choose to write a wrap-up post (whether or not you also link up reviews), you can link that here as well. The review linky will remain open for reviews and wrap-ups until January 31, 2017.

Note: Please only link up reviews for books read/reviewed in 2016 -- if you have an older review of a banned book you've read previously and would like to share with the group, please tell us about it in the comments instead.

To make it easier to find your reviews, please include the name of the book in addition to your blog name. For Example:

The Great Gatsby @Buckling Bookshelves
Perks of Being a Wallflower @Your Blog Name Here

Banned Books Challenge 2016: Sign-Ups

I can hardly believe this will be my fourth year hosting the Banned Books Challenge! I was completely blown away by the number of participants in 2015 and am excited to continue the challenge for another year.

The idea is to read some books this year that people have tried to keep off the shelves. Here in the US, we are fortunate that the government does not legally ban books, but that has not stopped the challenges to school and library materials. (Bear in mind, I am not advocating for any sort of illegal activity here -- read at your own risk!)

This is a very low pressure challenge, so I'm starting the levels low -- but if you're feeling daring, try for one of the higher levels!

DATES: January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016

RULES: Any book that has been banned or challenged counts. Books can be any format, any length, and can overlap with other challenges. Graphic novels, children's books, picture books are all fine -- any book that has been banned or challenged works for this challenge.

WHERE CAN I FIND BOOK SUGGESTIONS? There isn't one specific list to work from, but there are many different resources you can check out for ideas:
  • The ALA's lists of frequently challenged books. There are multiple lists split up by author, year, decade, and a separate list for classics, so there are a lot of options from all different genres.
  • GoodReads has several listopia lists on the subject -- this is particularly helpful for identifying books you already have on your shelves if you are a user of the site.
  • If you learn about a book getting challenged in the news, on a book blog, around the web, or wherever else you get your bookish news, it's fair game. One book that made headlines in 2014 was The Miseducation of Cameron Post -- it doesn't need to make any of the big lists to count. And if you learn about a new incident, I'd love to hear about it!

HOW TO SIGN-UP: Write a post identifying which level you are aiming to complete and linking to this sign-up post. If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment below stating what level you are trying for. Listing the books you'd like to read for the year is optional. If you do make a list, you are welcome to change it at any time.

  • Reviews are not required, but if you do choose to review your selections, you can link them up here, so we can read them! You can link to reviews on your blog, GoodReads, or any other similar site where you post reviews. Please link directly to your review, not to a homepage or profile page.
  • If you don't have a blog or don't wish to write reviews, you can share your thoughts and/or completed reading list in the comments of the Review Linky Page
  • Write a wrap-up post listing your completed books for the year. This can be done whether or not you post reviews throughout the year. If you choose to write a wrap-up post, you may link it up in the review linky as well.

LEVELSBelow are the levels you can choose from. Changing your mind is OK -- you can go up or down in level at any time. I said low-pressure, remember? I'm not the book police, I promise.

     Making Waves: 1-2 Challenged Books
     Trouble-Maker: 3-5 Challenged Books
     Rabble-Rouser: 6-9 Challenged Books
     Rebel: 10-14 Challenged Books
     Leader of a Revolution: 15+ Challenged Books

So link up below, grab a badge if you'd like, and get reading!

This Sign-Up Linky will remain open until Dec. 15, 2016.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Shelf Control #6

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:

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

How I got it: Amazon.com

When I got it: August 2010 -- Eek! While it's convenient to be able to look up when I purchased a book online, it also reminds me just how long I've been meaning to read some of these titles.

Why I want to read it: I first read A Christmas Carol for a high school English class and absolutely loved it. As I sat reading it in my parents' living room by the Christmas tree before winter break, I think I actually forgot it was both a classic and homework -- no mean feat! I've since re-read it on audio, but have been meaning for the last five Christmases to use this beautiful illustrated edition for a re-read. This will be the year! And then (hopefully!) onto the rest of the Sterling Illustrated Classics I've been collecting.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What I've Been Reading From My Shelves

This year I upped my Goodreads Challenge goal several times because I count all books including picture books I read to my son. While I wasn't paying attention, I apparently surpassed what I thought would be my final goal of the year -- 300 books. I still have a whole month left (and a giant stack of Christmas books!) but I think I'll just leave things as they are for 2015.

But as I was looking over my challenge list, I realized the vast majority were borrowed from the library. Don't get me wrong, I love my library and feel very strongly that libraries are invaluable resources for the communities they serve. But the more I think about my reading life and how fortunate I am to be able to buy books in the first place, I've been reminded of how many great books are waiting for me in my own home library. So I thought I'd highlight a few of my (relatively) recent reads that actually came from my own collection.

The Night Sister, by Jennifer McMahon

Last year's The Winter People is still my favorite of this author's books, but this one did not disappoint. A perfect creepy, spooky book I read around Halloween that had just the right mix of mystery, family secrets, and the supernatural. There are multiple story threads and sometimes I confused the various sisters, but the more I got into it, the better I could keep track of everyone.  

* * * * *

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

This was my first ever Judy Blume and I'm so glad I've finally started reading her even though I'm now much older than her target audience. Her characters are just so real and I love how they navigate the issues of growing up. This is a YA/middle grade classic and definitely deserves that designation.

* * * * *

Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

My second Judy Blume and another great read. This one is a bit longer and heavier in subject matter. A young girl and her family deal with the tragic death of her father. Blume really knows how to capture the voices and emotions of teenagers. Another classic and deservedly so.

* * * * *

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

I bought this one for my husband who is really into video games because I had heard so many good things about it. I didn't think I would read it myself, but it was chosen for my book club and I will admit I was very curious to see what all the fuss was about. I thought the beginning was rather slow, but overall it was a good read and we had a great discussion about it at our meeting. I am hopeless at popular culture and trivia, so I was afraid half the book would be lost on me, but I was happy to find a lot more of it was explained than I expected. If you're a gamer or into 1980s stuff, definitely check it out.

* * * * *

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness

This was another book club pick and I bought the whole trilogy because I had heard such good things about the author. It's a real chunkster and I should have given myself more time to read it before our meeting. (I still had about 30 pages left when people started arriving!) I didn't love it as much as I thought I would, but am curious to see how the rest of the series plays out. I just haven't been as compelled to continue as I thought I would be.

* * * * *

Several of these books I chose for Lisa's Shelf Control meme. If you are a blogger and you'd like to focus more on the books you already own, I highly recommend you join in! Making my selections has really helped me narrow down my choices when it comes to reading from my own shelves.

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: Amazon.com

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: Amazon.com

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 BookOutlet.com 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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shelf Control #1

Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies is introducing a brand new meme that is so darn perfect for me right now I could hardly believe the timing of it! Instead of focusing on new releases as a few long-standing Wednesday memes do, she's going to focus on sharing books she already owns but hasn't read yet.

For me, the hardest part about reading from my own shelves is choosing what to pick up next. I'm spoiled for choice really and it's time to show some appreciation for all the books I already have. This is one step toward returning to my blogging "roots" which I'm going to talk about a bit more in an upcoming post.

So without further ado, my first pick:

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

How I got it: Amazon.com

When I got it: June 2014

Why I want to read it: This is one of those classic YA books I had always heard about, but never read. Last year, I saw the gorgeous new cover redesigns and decided it was finally time to add some Judy Blume to my collection. AND this book is a frequently challenged title and banned books are kind of my thing. Banned Books Week starts September 27th this year, so it's time to finally read this one!

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So come on and join in! Breathe some life back into those books collecting dust on the shelves and rediscover a hidden gem waiting for you in your own TBR stacks :)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Baby Books to Make a New Mom Cry, Part 2

Back in May, I shared some of my favorite baby books -- the ones that were getting me all choked up as a brand new mom. I've found a few more since then that I absolutely adore, so thought I'd share this next batch. The waterworks don't turn on quite as easily these days, but I still love some of these more sentimental stories. I'm enjoying them while I can -- before my little guy is big enough to pick what I read to him, that is!

Baby Love, by Angela DiTerlizzi
Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
If I Could Keep You Little..., by Marianne Richmond

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What are your favorite books to read to the little ones in your life?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Bookish Decorating Project, #2

A while back, I shared my bookish decorating project for my son's nursery. Before I ever even started working on that one, I had another decorating project in the works for our living room, a.k.a. my "library room." My basic idea was a *collage* of favorite bookish quotes with some bookish artwork/prints mixed in. I already had a bunch of matching frames in different sizes, so I started filling them in one by one based on what fit in best where...

So what's in the collage?

1. Five of my favorite bookish quotes printed out on white cardstock in various fonts:

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you know, the more places you'll go" ― Dr. Seuss

“And every book, you find, has its own social group--friends of its own it wants to introduce you to, like a party in the library that need never, ever end.” ― How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran

“I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.”
― The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J.K. Rowling

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”― C.S. Lewis 

(Note: I have since read the book of essays by C.S. Lewis where I believe this last one is taken from. It seems wherever I first read it had the wording a bit off, but I'm leaving it for now. The message is the same regardless!)

2. Two illustrated quotes printed from Goodreads' monthly newsletter:

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." ― Jorge Luis Borges

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" ― J.K. Rowling

3. A copy of my UK Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone cover.

4. An illustrated postcard of The Elephant House, the cafe I visited in Edinburgh, Scotland where J.K. Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter.

5. A print that came with my collector's edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Here's what my reading corner looks like :)

As you can tell, it's a bit Harry Potter-heavy :)

Has anyone else ever tried any bookish decorating projects? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Wrap-Up Post

I was going to write this up yesterday, but it was finally nice enough outside to take the baby to the park without being afraid that it is too hot and humid for him. We definitely haven't gotten out as much as I would like this summer, so that took up my free time for the day and I'm not one bit sorry about it :) As much as I love summer, I'm definitely looking forward to the fall when I won't need to worry about a newborn in the sun and heat -- if only it could be fall weather year-round, I would be one happy camper.

Anyway, I am calling Bout of Books 14 a great success! Here's what I read:

8 graphic novels
1 audiobook re-read while walking
21 picture books with baby

Returned the rest to the library without taking a photo, oops!

This doesn't even include the picture books I read to my son that we've read before. I like to keep track of all books I read with him, but I only record them the first time. I must say, I feel like a kid again rediscovering all these wonderful stories -- at this point, I'm sure I am enjoying them more than he is!

I'm also thinking I'm overdue for a graphic novel post since I can't seem to get enough of them lately. They really are excellent reading when you have a baby to take care of. I'm sure I will read longer books again someday, but for now I am a total graphic novel addict.

Hope everyone had a great week -- Bout of Books or not!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Sign-Up Post

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

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It's Bout of Books time again! Since it's been exactly one month since my last post and I've really been wanting to get back into some semblance of blogging again, I thought it would be fun to jump back in with a read-a-thon. Also, I have a giant stack of graphic novels out from the library which are perfect for this kind of event. I actually read one already today since I started it at 430 AM while feeding my son -- it was pretty short, so I then finished it while eating my own breakfast.

My goal is simple -- I want to squeeze in more reading time than in a typical week -- this is, of course, after the necessities of childcare, work, and things like feeding myself and showering are taken care of. Ideally, I would like to read (or at least start!) one novel in addition to the graphic novels, but that might be a little overambitious -- we shall see how the week goes.

I don't plan on doing lots of updates or challenges since I really want to focus on the reading. But, I will make sure to check in at the end of the week to see how things went.

Good luck and happy reading to anyone else participating!