April Reading Wrap-Up

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April was a very weird reading month for me. Almost all of the books I read were from the library, and the majority were YA and graphic novels. The main reason for this was Dewey’s; I got into the spirit of the Readathon early and sort of jumped on the idea of reading a bunch of shorter books quickly instead of the longer, slower reads I’m typically drawn to.

The fact that I failed hard at reading my own books in April just emphasizes the necessity of the #SmashYourStack challenge for me in May. I’m excited to make up lost ground during that and Bout of Books. So here are my stats for April:

Total books read: 12 (although one was technically a short story, but I had it in my Kindle as a standalone ebook)

Library books: 8

Graphic novels: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 2 (embarassingly low)

Audiobooks: 1

Ebooks: 2

Read Harder challenge tasks completed: 4

βœ“ 11. Read a book under 100 pages
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

βœ“ 17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

βœ“ 22. Read a food memoir
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

βœ“ 24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

And here are all the books! A bunch aren’t in the picture I took because I had to return them to the library, plus there were the audio/eboks.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah MoskowitzYes, Chef by Marcus SamuelssonThrough the Woods by Emily CarrollKindred Spirits by Rainbow RowellFables, Vol. 1 by Bill WillinghamEverything, Everything by Nicola YoonReflections by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireWide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysNimona by Noelle StevensonMarked in Flesh by Anne BishopThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Here’s what I read in April, ranked from best to worst:

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – 5 stars: Gorgeous, lush prose and a crucial re-interpretation of a classic.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – 4.25 stars: Unique and intriguing concept that I’d love to read a lot more about.

A History of Glitter and Blood – 4 stars: Unconventional YA that I’m excited to post a longer review about soon.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – 4 stars: Adorable, hilarious, and absorbing take on fantasy and superhero tropes.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars: Cute and wonderfully nerdy short story centered around Star Wars hype.

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop – 3 stars: Latest installment in a series whose concept I love, even if the books themselves tend to leave me a bit underwhelmed since the great debut.

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson – 3 stars: In-depth memoir of a fascinating chef, although the writing could get a bit repetitive.

Indexing: Reflections by Seanan McGuire – 3 stars: Sequel to an entertaining modern take on fairy tales that delved into the main characters’ backstory more but lost some of the action.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – 3 stars: Beautifully illustrated graphic novel that lacked a bit in actual story.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – 3 stars: Classic and disturbing short story that I wanted to like more than I did.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – 2.5 stars: Fun writing style and a fast read, but the characters just didn’t act in believable ways.

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham – 2 stars: Despite my love of fairy tale characters, this was just not very interesting.

And here are all the books I bought in April, because I have a sickness:

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Yet another reason the #SmashYourStack challenge couldn’t come at a better time.

 

What did everyone read this month?

 

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April Library Book Sale Haul, Part 1

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There were book sales at three of the main libraries in my city this month, which made my April book buying absolutely out of control. I’m lucky to live in a city with this many libraries and this many sales (my favorite 2 libraries have sales every 4-6 months, and occasionally I’ll hit another library sale if I’m in that area). Usually the sales don’t all fall together like this, and usually all the library sales aren’t this good! Sometimes I’ll walk out of a sale with nothing, or only find one or two tempting titles. But this time…this time I struck gold at not one, not two, but three sales!

Here’s what I picked up at Book Sale #1:

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins: I was totally shocked to find this at a used book sale, since it just came out last September. I added it to my TBR pretty much instantly after hearing about it, and feel like this is the book I’ll end up picking up first. It’s a near-future scifi set in Southern California, and it’s an ARC, and I’ve never read an ARC before. If anyone has, how much do they tend to differ from the final book?

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward: this won the National Book Award in 2011, and centers on a pregnant teenager and her family in Mississippi; it sounds like it will be heartbreaking.

Neuromancer by William Gibson: this is sort of a sci-fi classic (although it was published in the 80’s) and I’ve heard it referenced so much that I need to experience it for myself.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende: Generational saga with magical realism that sounds like it’ll be completely absorbing.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: I got really into Marquez senior year of high school when I read both One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, and then somehow have not picked up one of his books since then.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll: total impulse purchase, but for $1 it’s hard not to give in! It was sitting next to Gold, Fame, Citrus and then suddenly it was in my hand. It’s gotten Gone Girl comparisons and that’s enough of a temptation for me to try it. Has anyone read this? Would you recommend it?

And I’ve already read these two, but I like to buy books that I loved if I see them at library book sales so that I can reread them or refer back to the stories:

Euphoria by Lily King: highly recommended short novel about anthropologists in New Guinea

Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson: mystery surrounding a murder that delves into racism against Japanese-Americans in the WWII era

 

 

Parts 2 and 3 of my library book sale buying binge to come! Try not to judge me too hard for my excessive book purchases πŸ˜‰

 

May #SmashYourStack Challenge!

One of my bookish goals for 2016 was to read more of the books sitting on my TBR shelves, since I physically cannot stop myself from buying more books. April was not a great month for this–almost every book I read this month was from the library. Not that this is a bad thing–I love libraries and I think supporting them is vital–but my TBR stacks could really use some love. A lot of this was due to Dewey’s Readathon; having lots of shorter book options is helpful for me during Readathons, and I tend not to buy shorter books because of how quickly I finish them. I tend not to buy YA for the same reason, but sometimes I get into YA moods and am forced to hit the library repeatedly. Another issue is that April was apparently some kind of library book sale bonanza–three local libraries close to me held book sales, and the selection was just too good at all of them for me to pass up adding some great books to my collection.

So, in May, I’m looking to switch things up and focus on those TBR shelves by joining #smashyourstack, a month-long challenge hosted by Estella’s Revenge (http://estellasrevenge.blogspot.com/2016/04/smashyourstack-read-your-own-books-in.html). I heard about this from Janani @ The Shrinkette’s blog post (https://theshrinkette.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/smashyourstack-read-your-own-books-in-may-2016/comment-page-1/#comment-147) and was inspired to join!

Here is my goal for the month: I’d like to read 7 books from my TBR shelves. It’s a little ambitious for me since the majority of the books I buy tend to be really long, but I’ve picked up some enticing-looking shorter books recently that would be perfect to incorporate into this kind of challenge. I’m not going to avoid the library completely, because that is my only source of audiobooks, and I’ll go further and say that I can read one print book from the library if I’m hitting a reading slump, or something like that. But otherwise, it’s going to be a TBR party for me in May. It also helps that Bout of Books is May 9-15, which will help me kickstart this challenge!

Can’t Wait for the Bout of Books Readathon!

Bout of Books

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, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th 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.Β For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit theΒ Bout of BooksΒ blog.Β – From the Bout of Books team

Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon has just ended, and although it was fantastic, I can’t help but wish that it was longer…and then I remembered that Bout of Books starts in 2 weeks!

I participated in Bout of Books for the first time in January (Here’s my wrap-up post: https://beachesandbooks.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/bout-of-books-wrap-up/) and loved it! The week-long challenge gave me plenty of time to read, but still left flexibility for reading on a busy schedule. The extra time also gave me more of an opportunity to participate in mini-challenges, something I never seem to have the time or inclination for during Dewey’s. Last time during Bout of Books, I finished 5 books and started 2, and, most importantly, felt completely immersed in my reading each night as a fantastic break.

I’ve already started brainstorming my TBR list, and plan to try to beat my previous record by reading 6 books this time. If possible, I’d like to read as much as possible from my physical TBR, although I always end up too tempted by the library during reading challenges. I can always dream!

Is anyone else participating in Bout of Books??

Dewey’s Readathon Wrap-Up!

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The Readathon is over! I had an amazing time while I was Readathoning, even though work got in the way a lot more than I had wanted it to 😦

The good: I felt so relaxed settling down to read and focusing on a few short books that I’ve been eyeing for awhile now. I alternated reading with exploring different blogs and checking out gorgeous Instagram posts, and it was the perfect combination. I also treated myself to some Thai food and hot chocolate (not at the same time). I posted a lot on Instagram and managed to put up a few progress updates on this blog as well. It’s hard to describe how peaceful the Readathon made me feel; it gives me a solid excuse to totally abandon the rest of the world for books for a little while.

The bad: I had to work the morning of the Readathon, which I knew about (and attempted to escape from) ahead of time, and I was also on call all weekend. What I didn’t expect was to field several calls during the day and to get called back into work around midnight, which took up a good two hours of reading time and totally threw me off my game. I was going strong with a great book when I got the call, and when I got back home I was too distracted to fully commit to Readathoning the way I had been doing earlier. I was also really exhausted because I only got about 2 hours of sleep before. I was having a harder time focusing on books than I anticipated because I was so sleepy and read a lot less than I thought I would. So although the Readathon in general was awesome, it was bad timing for me this year.

Here’s my post-Readathon survey!

Which hour was most daunting for you?

1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. I ended up getting called into work late last night, and when I got back I had totally lost my reading focus–I was in the middle of A History of Glitter and Blood when I left and had trouble getting back into the zone when I got back. I ended up needing to switch to my audiobook.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I think faster-paced, absorbing books are best for the Readathon. Short books work well too. Here are some that I didn’t use for the Readathon but wish that I had:

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, anything by Ilona Andrews, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg (this would be literally perfect, maybe I’ll reread it for next Readathon! It’s a short read and hilarious)

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

No! I thought it was fantastic. Everyone was so engaged with reading and talking books.

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

All of it?

How many books did you read?

I finished 3 short books/graphic novels, read a decent chunk of a YA novel, and listened to about 3 hours of my audiobook.

What were the names of the books you read?

Finished:

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

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Through the Woods by Emily Caroll

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Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Read part of:

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

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Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

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Which book did you enjoy most?

I loved Kindred Spirits–it was a perfect Readathon read. Quick, very cute, and nerdy in a great way. I also am getting really drawn into the world of A History of Glitter and Blood. It’s YA but definitely skews older–it deals heavily with teen prostitution and dismemberment is another key theme. It’s a very dark story about fairies told in an atypical way.

Which did you enjoy least?

Fables. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work that well for me. I love anything fairytale-related, but it just didn’t feel original enough to me. I’m not in love with detective-type formats in general; it’s just not my genre.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I’m already getting excited for the next Readathon on October 22nd!!! For next time, I’m planning on taking off work for sure instead of trying to switch shifts so that I don’t run into the issues I had this time around. I might try to incorporate a spooky/horror theme for the season.

So, another awesome Readathon ends! Now I’m getting pumped for Bout of Books, a week-long reading challenge that lasts from May 9-15. If you’re in the middle of a Readathon hangover, you might want to check it out (http://boutofbooks.blogspot.com/).

 

How did everyone else’s Readathons go? I can’t wait to check out all of your blog posts!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Halfway Update

DEWEYs

Halfway through the Readathon! Although it doesn’t really feel that way, since I started so late. I feel like Dewey’s came at a great time this year, and I love the feeling of letting everything fall away for a certain number of hours and just focusing on bookishness.

Here are my responses to the mid-readathon survey!

1. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz, which is turning out to be a very dark, fairy-focused YA novel set before/during/after a violent conflict between fairies, gnomes, and another group of beings called “tightropers.” It’s written in an interesting way–the “author” keeps jumping in and commenting on how badly they’re telling the story in between the third person narration, and there are excerpts from other books made to look like they’ve been taped in. I really like the style and dark tone. Don’t let the sparkles fool you on this one.

A History of Glitter and Blood
2. How many books have you read so far?

I’ve finished 3 so far! All were shorter books, which I think I needed due to how sleepy I am. But I’ve also listened to about 1.5 hours of my audiobook and read the first few chapters of A History of Glitter and Blood. Here’s what I’ve read:

Kindred Spirits

Through the Woods

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I’m looking forward to getting deeper into A History of Glitter and Blood, which I’d ideally like to finish during the Readathon. I’m also planning on reading some of Mr. Splitfoot, which I’m about 50 pages into but haven’t read any of during the Readathon so far. I may also pick up Volume 2 of Fables to switch it up. And definitely more audiobooking with Yes, Chef.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I went into the Readathon knowing that I’d be missing out on the first 5-6 hours due to work and that I would probably get interruptions since I’m on call tonight, so I guess I dealt with them by being prepared and planning on just enjoying the time that I do have to participate! It’s still been a huge chunk of uninterrupted reading time for me and it’s been awesome.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I was planning on devoting most of my time to full-length books, but it’s turned out that I’ve read one short novella and 2 graphic novels. But I also feel like that’s helped me keep my momentum going. Also, I haven’t eaten any of my Readathon snacks! (Instead I ate lots of Thai food. No regrets there).

 

How has everyone’s Readathon been going???

Dewey’s Readathon Update #1: Hour 8

DEWEYs

Hour: 8

Books finished: 2

Time spent reading: 3 hours (I was at work for 5 of the hours!)

So far, the Readathon is off to a great start, despite some setbacks! Namely, my insomniac tendencies decided to go crazy last night, and I only got a few hours’ sleep before I had to go to work this morning. However, I got a full hour of audiobook time in during my commute (Yes, Chef is heating up–it’s now the early ’90’s and Marcus Samuelsson is in New York City for the first time), grabbed some Thai food on the way home, and started hardcore Readathoning pretty much immediately. Now my main fear is falling asleep. I don’t want to waste valuable Readathon time napping!

 

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The first book I finished for the Readathon was Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (pictured here with the tiniest, cutest plant in the world that I found at Trader Joe’s). It was sweet and Rainbow Rowell-ish, and made me want to watch the new Star Wars movie for the third time. Not today, though! Today is devoted to the Readathon.

Through the Woods

And I just finished my second book of the Readathon, a graphic novel called Through the Woods by Emily Caroll. I went in with low expectations but ended up extremely impressed by the gorgeous artwork and old-fashioned vibe of the five horror stories. I would not, however, call this a scary book. Just a very pretty and interesting one.

 

How is everyone’s Readathon going so far???