Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Smile

Title Smile
By Raina Telgemeier
Genre Graphic Novel, Middle grade
Pages 224
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Growing up is hard enough with grade school to junior high transitions, crushes on boys, dealing with snarky friends, breakouts and puberty. Throw in some serious dental issues and poor Raina might not survive.

First Sentence

  • Graphic novels really aren't my thing because I like more depth but I adore how quickly you can read them. This whole book took me about 20 minutes to read. 
  • This book is totally relateable. I never had to get braces but I had to go to the dentist so much I ended up with a irrational fear of dentists and dental work...luckily I grew out of it. But reading this story and seeing the great pics that went with it brought back some memories. 
  • I love that the story AND the art is by the author and that it's a memoir of sorts. 
  • I liked the style of art work. Except the pics of the bloody dental work and the gauze. *shudders*
  • A cute read that pre-teens will love. For me it wasn't a favorite but I liked it well enough. 

Should you read it?
It's a good clean read with fun pictures and a relatable MC. If graphic novels are your thing (or your kids) then yes, read it.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: Winter

Title Winter (Lunar Chronicles 4)
By Marissa Meyer
Genre YA Scifi/Fantasy
Pages 824
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The exciting conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles finds Cinder and and the gang traveling to Luna for a final showdown with the evil queen Levana.

First Sentence
Winter's Toes had become ice cubes.

  • Finally! I feel like it's been forever waiting for this one. I'm glad I finally got to read the exciting conclusion to this fun series. 
  • My new favorite couple in this series is Winter and Jacin. I adored watching their relationship grow and learning more about them and their past. 
  • Winter is an interesting girl. It's almost funny to read about her odd behavior but mostly sad. I was most excited to read her book and that excitement was amplified when we got a glimpse of her in Cress. I thoroughly enjoyed her character. She was sweet and caring and, yes, a bit naive but I loved her. 
  • I really wanted to love this series as a whole but this book did have it's issues. It wasn't perfect. I was frustrated with its length. It was way too long. Unnecessarily long. It's like the author kept dragging it on because she couldn't bear to part with her characters. I get it but it didn't need to be that long. 
  • I didn't like how easily the people of Luna joined Cinder. I found it a bit unbelievable. 
  • All in all I loved the series. It's easy to overlook some minor annoyances when you love the characters and world the author has created. 
Should you read it?
Obviously! I think whatever you like reading that this series will appeal to you. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

In My Thoughts This Fine Day #11

It's been a while since I did one of these posts. Since I'm still working my way through Winter (very good but long!) I don't have any book reviews to post. So hey, how about some random thoughts. Enjoy!

1. Book Shelves
So most of us book lovers just love organizing and reorganizing our book shelves. I know I do but lately I've been trying to decide something a little different. See, I was always taught that books are to be lined up with the front of the shelf. So that's how I do it. But I've noticed that others push their books to the back of the shelf and put little knick knacks in front of them. I think it's actually very cute and heaven knows I need more room for my knick knacks but...the dusting. Sigh! What to do? What to do? What do you do and like best?

2. This video explains how I feel about the cold and snow to a T.

I actually like winter better than summer but I'm so tired of being cold!

3.I'm SOOOO excited about my reading plans this year. Now before you ask what I'm going to read let me just cut you off and say, I don't know yet. I do know that I'm doing all adult books for the month of February and can't wait to go into my library and pick out what I'll be reading. And then...! I plan on getting some series finally read. Usually I read a book in a series and then read something else but not this year. This year I plan on finishing some series I'm in the middle of and starting AND finishing some others. Don't ask but this makes me so happy and excited! You can follow me on Instagram if you'd like. I'll be posting pics of my monthly TBR books each month!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: The Year of Magical Thinking

Title The Year of Magical Thinking
By Joan Didion
Genre Adult not fiction
Pages 227
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Joan Didion's recollections and thoughts as recorded the year after her husbands passing.

First Sentence
Life changes fast.

  • Obviously I read this one for book club. It's not a book I would normally pick up. I did vote to read this one, though, because, well, look at the title. It leads you to believe this will be a book of hope; a book full of stories of this woman's life and how it changes after her husband dies. Alas, it was not magical at all.
  • Random and sad are the best words to describe this book. And maybe repetitive. She kept telling us about the events of her husbands death over and over! 
  • I'm not heartless. I've never lost a spouse. I can only imagine the pain and despair that would bring me. I did lose my father when I was only 19 and while I grieved, mourned and despaired, it was not at all like this woman. Maybe because it was my father and not my spouse but still.
  • How do you flat out say you didn't like a book about a real person's feelings upon losing the love of their life? You can't. I will say, I couldn't connect. I felt no attachment or sympathy for the author and I wanted to. She sounded like she had this perfectly golden life traveling and writing with her husband. She made it sound so beautiful. It didn't match up with the woman we read about in this book...and maybe that's the point. 
Should you read it?
No I can't recommend this one. Only to those who love books like this. AKA, memoirs and random notes. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Persevere or Give Up?

When you're reading a book and it's just not doing it for you what do you do? Stick with it and hope for a nice ending to bring it all together or give up. Life's too short to waste reading a book you're not liking. Right?

I struggle with this decision. It used to be that I'd keep reading a book no matter what and force my way through it. Then, as I joined this blogging community and Goodreads and my TBR list got bigger than Mt Everest, I started to realize maybe, just maybe, it wasn't so bad to just give up on a book I'm not enjoying. The problem with this way of thinking is this: I've read quite a lot of books that I really was not enjoying and then, suddenly, BAM! It's has this awesome ending! What if I hadn't finished it? I would have missed out!  I call this Readers Regret. When I give up on a book I always wonder if I'd stuck with it, if I would have liked it.

Some people say there's a way around this. If you're not liking a book and want to give up, they say, just flip to the ending and see if it's worth finishing. Well, I have a problem with that. Reading the ending without context it like popping a delectable dessert in you mouth and swallowing with out really chewing it, savoring it, TASTING it. You know? So I can't do it. I'm either all in or all out. No flipping ahead for me.

On the other hand I've stuck with very long painful reads only to shut the book with rage building inside. I'm furious that I stuck with it, persevered and for what?! The crappiest book with the crappiest ending ever! Argh!

So what's the right decision? I don't know, I just don't know.


So what about you?  Do you ever have regrets about giving up on a book? Do you think it's worth sticking with a book till the end? And how do you know if you should stick with it or not?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: The Radleys

Title The Radleys
By Matt Halg
Genre Adult paranormal/supernatural
Pages 385
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Radleys appear like your typical suburban family. Peter is the doctor at the local clinic. His wife, Helen attends a neighborhood book club. Their son Rowan is quiet, into poetry and pining after the new girl at school and their daughter Clara has recently become a vegan. They even have the embarrassing black sheep of the family uncle they wish would stay away. But things aren't always as they seem. The Radleys have a secret. They are vampires. Not even their children know. They've been abstaining from blood for 17 years...that is until Clara is attacked by a boy and she accidentally drinks all his blood and kills him. Now with the police questioning them, and their uncle in town causing mischief, the Radleys secret might not be so secret anymore.

First Sentence
It is a quiet place, especially at night.

My Thoughts

  • This book was not at all what I thought it would be, The way Goodreads described it, I thought it was going to be from Clara's point of view. And it has been so long since I added this one to my TBR list that I'd forgotten what it was about...mostly.  

  • It's not from Clara's perspective. It's in third person and had a bazillion narrators. Mostly the family but others too. 

  • I almost completely gave up on this one when about 150 pages in I wasn't connecting to any of the characters except maybe Rowan and was so disgusted with Will (the uncle) I wanted to just stop. 

  • I'm SOOOOOO glad I kept reading. Speaking of Will, he's one of those characters you love to hate. Possibly the author wanted you to empathize with him but I loathed him. I thought malicious thoughts about him. I wanted him DEAD! 

  • The last 150 pages were so gripping I was snapping at my husband when he tried to interrupt and stayed up way past my bed time because I just. Had, To. Finish! 

  • There was a lot of symbolism in this one that was fun to see. I especially liked the quotes from The Abstainers Handbook. They amused me when looked at in a symbolic way. 

Should you read it?
To be honest, I think most of my blogging buddies might not like this one. It had too slow of a start and the dual narratives and content might bother a lot of people. However, if you like tongue in cheek humor and thrilling endings you might want to give it a read.  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Review: Roomies

Title Roomies
By Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Genre New Adult
Pages 279
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Elizabeth and Lauren correspond with each other during the summer before they start college and will be roommates. What starts as a casual pen pal situation deepens into these girls confiding in each other...maybe too much.

First Sentence
Sometimes there are signs

(Here we go with my new review format! Tell me what you think!)

  • I love Sara Zarr's books. I was a little worried going into this one because she co-wrote is so it wasn't one hundred percent hers. However, these two authors wrote similarly enough I had a hard time telling who wrote what! 

  • I like new adult books. It's fun to see this transitioning in characters who are young adults becoming adults. This book was particularly fun because it takes place the summer before college and has an array of issues and feelings from these characters about growing up. 

  • I liked Lauren better. I'm sorry, but Elizabeth was a bit of a spoiled little brat. She seemed to have no real connection to her mother or friends and did not handle things well. I get where she was coming from but, come on. Not that I minded reading about her.

  • Very fun unputdownable book! It wasn't perfect or anything, and I prefer some of Sara's other work better but it was very engaging and I kept turning pages. 

  • Now I might have to try some of Tara Altebrando's other books...see what I think.

Should you read it?
If this is your type of book then yes, read it. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to people who don't like contemporary. It's not going to convert you or anything. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Book Banter #7 Plot v Character

We're back! Did you miss us?! Sure you did. It's time for more Book Banter. This week Suey and I will be discussing plot vs character. You know what we mean. Are you a plot or character reader? Well, I'm a plot girl and Suey likes characters. Obviously we like both characters AND plot but if we had to choose...well here you go!

I remember at one point if someone were to ask me if I was a plot person or a character person, I’d fret and wring my hands and hum and ha and stress about the answer. That was years ago and since then I’ve learned that I lean much more toward the character side of things over the plot side of things. (Not say one is more important than the other… because as we all know, a story needs both.)

I’ve noticed that when others complain “but nothing is happening!” I’m like… “really? But stuff IS happening… the characters are talking, right?” So I guess my first reason is so what if nothing is happening as long as the characters are relating… meaning… they are bantering, talking, discussing, interacting, figuring stuff out, thinking, worrying, pondering. All those things ARE something. Which means… something IS happening! Was that a clear reason? Let me restate: Characters interacting is something happening!

Of course something is happening but it's like a day at the DMV. Sure, there's crazy people to see but it's not like you'd want to hang out there every day. See what I mean? There needs to be something going on. 

Characters make me happy. Sometimes plot goes over my head. Sometimes I miss the details and the ins and outs and the complicated nature of what’s going down… but I GET the characters! They fascinate me. They seem like real people. They are awesome, cool, vulnerable, crazy, swoony, and so many other things. They are the heart of the story and the part of the story that make me interested, much more so than the plot ever does.

Ah, but with out the brain the heart is just a lumpy red mass of muscle sitting there...doing....nothing. It even stops beating with out it's better parts! AKA plot. 

The questions that often arise in plot… where did that dead body come from and who killed it? Or who’s going to win the war and how? Or why is he going on this journey and will he get there? Etc etc. If those questions start being discussed in too much detail I get bored and start skimming to see if I can find where it “gets back to the story” which for me is when the people show up again!

Ha! All I have to say to this is when I'm reading and characters just start talking and carrying on, I flip ahead to see when things start happening again! 

Suey's Last Word
Of course, I enjoy a fast paced, moving, crazy good plot! Of course I do! BUT… the people are where it’s at! 

My Last Word
If the plot's racing you through the pages...who cares about some whiny character?

Hmmm, I think all we really proved today was that books need both plot AND great characters. Agreed? Don't forget to check out my more detailed feelings on plot on Suey's blog! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

It's time for another Top Ten Tuesday! OK, it's been awhile and I wasn't going to participate today but I was actually going to post about my New Years Resolutions anyway so why not link up, right? If you want to join head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and link up.

Top 5 Bookish Resolutions

1. I want to finish a bunch of series. Odd Thomas, The Lunar Chronicles, Vampire Academy...see the list goes on and on. I need to finish them!

2. Speaking of series...I want to START a bunch of series. Can you believe I haven't started Daughter of Smoke and Bone or The Grisha Series? Not to mention The Seven Realms and Starbound series. And that's just naming a few. I need to get going on some of these, right?

3. I want to read more adult books. I love YA but it's dominating my reads each year and I love adult books. With that in mind, I've already got an "adult books only" month planned. Remember last time? No? That's OK. There's not much to it. Just set aside a month where I read strictly read adult books. I'm planning on February if anyone wants to join me.

4. Read more! I used to read 75-125 books a year and in 2015 I barely manage 50. This is pathetic! I can read more than that! I set my Goodreads challenge at 65 for this year. Honestly, I hope to do better but I need to be honest with myself. It might not happen.

5. Plan each month ahead. I never plan on what I'm going to read each month but I think I'm going to try it this year. I think it will help motivate me to go into my personal library and pick out several books I want to read that month and then get excited about them! However, if it becomes a chore and makes reading work I'll abandon this goal with out a hint of guilt. I don't want reading to become a bother.

Top 5 Personal Goals

(I don't usually set New Year's Resolutions but I do ponder my life and habits at the end of each year and think about what I need to give up and what I need to gain)

1. I have officially named 2016  The Year of NO! What do I mean? I'm a horrible, pathetic people pleaser. I seriously can not say no! And if I do manage to squeak out a refusal to an outing or favor asked of me, I have this all consuming guilt that leads to anger and hate towards the invitee or favor asker. It's ridiculous! This has got to stop. So this year I plan on saying NO. If I say no to you, please don't get upset. Understand that I deal with anxiety and stress and depression and sometimes I just can't go out or do that favor. Sometimes I just need to say NO.

2 Cliche! I need to exercise again. I used to go running and haven't been for ages. I need to drop a few pounds before my poor joints can handle running again but I could at least go walking!

3. The whole house remodeling thing has sort of fallen to the wayside. Mostly it's just outside stuff now but there are some little things left inside that need done and my Library/Sitting room needs to get finished! I'm totally going to focus on it this year. I can't wait!

4. Go on Vacation. I know this sounds silly and vain but I NEED vacations. I need something to look forward to and I need that stress release a vacations offers. Now if I can just get my husband on board.

5. Blog more. My blogging is so sporadic. It's hard to work up the energy sometimes but I really miss it...even if it's not like it used to be. I still want to have somewhere to talk about books and movies and life!

There you have it! Think I'll manage any of these? I hope so.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year, New Review Format

I've been struggling with my book review format for a while now. I'm bored with it. I get bored easily. Sigh! Any way, I figured with it being a new year and all, I'd change my format. But to what? I couldn't decide. Sometimes I just have random thoughts about books and no over arching feeling. I love the way Kami and Kimberly do their reviews. They both just sort of bullet point some thoughts they had while reading the book.  I thought I'd steal their format, change it up a bit and try it out for the year. You'll have to tell me what you think. Have a Happy New Year!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

December Wrap Up

And another year is gone. I only managed 4 books in December but I reached my Goodreads goal of 50 book...barely! Phew! Here they are.

Ignite Me (Shatter me 3)
I'm glad I stuck with it. It was a satisfactory ending to the series.

Secrets & Lies
Total disappointment. Unnecessary.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass 1)
A little late on this bandwagon but I liked it and plan on reading more!

P.S. I Still Love You (To All The Boys I've Loved Before 2)
Fun continuation of Laura Jean's story. I hope there's another book, though!

Favorites of the month were P.S, I Still Love You and Throne of Glass. Least favorite was Secrets and Lies.