September 30, 2013

September Reads

September was another great month!

I started doing collection development for the library's adult nonfiction section, which is one of my favorite job duties. I love placing orders every week and seeing the shiny new books arrive. Getting paid to buy books...basically living the dream. ;)

I performed with the library's book cart drill team during a local festival parade. We won first place!

Reading-wise, I started out with a bit of a slump in early September, but I picked up the pace and managed to finish 18 books. I read 3,217 pages and listened to 44.3 hours of audio.

This puts me at 148 books read so far in 2013 toward my goal of 200. According to Goodreads, I'm 1% behind pacing-wise, but I'm sure I'll catch up soon.

I didn't read anything that would count for the genre challenge, but I did participate in a read-a-long of a classic book I've had on my list for ages (Agnes Grey). It motivated me to read some other classics I've owned for a while, too.

6 books owned
5 books borrowed
7 books received as review copies

5 Star Reads
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (re-read)
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

4 Star Reads
Sold by Patricia McCormick
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Fallout by Todd Strasser
Boundless by Cynthia Hand
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield by John Bemelmans Marciano
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
The F-It List by Julie Halpern

3 Star Reads
Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover
Aesop's Fables by Aesop
I Could Chew On This: And Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Marciuliano
The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

What did you read in September?

September 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

Borrowed from the library: 

NetGalley and Edelweiss (November review copies): 

What did you add to your shelves this week? 

September 26, 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (audiobook)

Narrated by Rebecca Gibel
Published by AudioGO (2013)
Length: 11 hours, 33 minutes (Unabridged)
I received a review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox. 

Description: Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’d written when she was a na├»ve girl of fourteen. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision—her childhood dreams don’t resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

My Review: I was intrigued the premise of this novel--the description sounded a little similar to the story in P.S. I Love You, a book and movie adaptation that I really enjoyed. (Side note--I think The Life List would make a great movie, too!) While I enjoyed the plot, I found it to be pretty predictable. Plus some of the goals were accomplished by convenient coincidences, so it wasn't totally believable to me that everything would fall in to place so easily by the end. But if you are looking for a comforting, inspiring read, this one will do the trick. It will make you think about your childhood dreams that you've abandoned and remind you never to settle.

The audiobook narrator does a great job of portraying Brett's emotional journey, and I felt a deeper connection to the character while listening than I would have if I was reading the print book. She does distinguish between characters' voices as well, which is helpful. The production was crisp and clear, and it made for an enjoyable commute while I listened to this story.

Give The Life List a try if you like stories about family relationships, love, and going after your dreams.

September 24, 2013

The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

I received a review copy from the publisher. 

Description: Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse—until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.

My Review: It's always exciting when a new Meg Cabot book comes out! I was looking forward to this one, and I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy!

I enjoyed the previous Heather Wells mysteries, and The Bride Wore Size 12 was no exception. While it could be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the previous books so you can truly appreciate Heather's character growth throughout the series. In this book, I could really tell she had matured and grown more confident in herself and her abilities. 

There were several subplots going on at once--the dead RA, the trouble-making VIR (Very Important Resident)living in the residence hall, Heather's wedding, her family issues, her friends' big life changes, etc. But despite what could have been dark and depressing subject matter, the story is told in a lighthearted, entertaining way. 

I loved the ending of The Bride Wore Size 12. I'm not sure if this is the end of the series...but if so, it ended on a great note. Definitely check out this book and the rest of the series if you like light, fun mysteries with a bit of romance. 

September 21, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

Here are some October releases I've received as eARCs from NetGalley and Edelweiss.
What should I read first?

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Blackout by Robison Wells

Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

No Angel by Helen Keeble

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Hostage Three by Nick Lake

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Reality Boy by A.S. King

Parasite by Mira Grant

Beatles vs. Stones by Jon McMillian

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years by Mark Lewisohn

Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage

What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs by Cat Warren

September 17, 2013

Top Ten Books on My Fall 2013 TBR List

These books are all waiting for me on my Kindle thanks to NetGalley and Edelweiss. I'm trying to resist the temptation to read them all right now since I have other review books to get through first. But here's a look at my most anticipated fall reads!
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill 
I've been hearing great things about this one!

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
I just finished the amazing Code Name Verity and can't wait to read this companion novel.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I recently finished The Raven Boys and was blown away. Looking forward to continuing the series!

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
This one has an interesting premise and bloggers whose opinion I trust have enjoyed it!

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone
Looking forward to revisiting the characters I loved in Time Between Us.

Just One Year by Gayle Forman
I mean, do I even need to explain why I'm excited for this? It's Gayle Forman!

Reality Boy by A.S. King
I love the idea of this book, and I trust that A.S. King will deliver a fabulous read.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Ah, that cover! And my fellow bloggers love Trish Doller, so I'm excited for this one.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Maegan Spooner
It has a blurb from Beth Revis, so that caught my attention!

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
A book set during freshman year of college - I want more of these! And it's Sara Zarr, so I trust it will be awesome.

What's on your list? 

September 14, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (4)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

I haven't done one of these posts in a while! I'm just going to highlight the print books I've received lately (and maybe next time I'll focus on eBooks).  

Here's what I've checked out from the library or received in the mail:

Boys Wanted  by Flynn Meaney
The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
What a Mother Knows by Leslie Lehr
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Boundless by Cynthia Hand

I've already started Boundless, and I can't wait to read the others! 

September 13, 2013

September 10, 2013

This Is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker (audiobook)

Narrated by Amanda Dolan
Published by AudioGO (2013)
Length: 6 hours and 16 minutes (unabridged)
I received a review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox. 

Description: This is not a story of forgiveness...The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family. Emily Thorne would be proud. Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent. And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone. No one believes that Willa’s drowning was an accident. After all, she held the Club record for the 1500 meter freestyle. And the Gregory family has a history of making troublesome girls disappear. They all know James Gregory killed her. But none of them will say a word. Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives to avenge Willa’s death, and only one rule: Destroy the Gregory family at any cost. Innocence is lost, battles are won, and the pursuit of the truth ultimately threatens to destroy them all.

My Review: As soon as I read the book description, I was intrigued. I’m a fan of the television show Revenge as well as Pretty Little Liars, and I thought that this book sounded like something I would enjoy. In the end, I didn’t love it, but I did have fun listening to the audiobook. I can definitely see the teen appeal in this dark and intense mystery.

While reading a story from four different points of view was cool, I never really connected with any of the characters, probably because this novel is more plot-driven than character-driven. Nevertheless, it was entertaining to put the pieces together as more and more plot details were revealed about what really happened the night of Willa’s drowning.

I have no complaints about the audiobook production. The sound was clear and the narrator had a pleasant voice. I was impressed with her ability to differentiate between the four main characters’ voices as well as many secondary characters. I always knew who was speaking. Plus, I loved that it was a really quick listen—sometimes I have a short attention span when it comes to audiobooks, and this one was the perfect length!  I’d recommend this to teen readers who enjoy fast-paced mysteries.

September 8, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. 

Description: In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Review: In my recent review of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls, I discussed my personal history with fandoms, starting with 'N Sync (words cannot describe how excited I was when they briefly reunited at the VMAs!). Well, I am proud to say that I am definitely a Rainbow Rowell fangirl! I've read all of her published books so far and plan to read everything else she writes.

It was fun to read excerpts from the Simon Snow stories and Cath's fanfiction. It helped me imagine the books as having a following on the level of Harry Potter.

One thing I really love about Rowell's book is the characters. They are flawed and realistic, but you can't help identifying with them and rooting for them. I really identified with Cath's introvertedness and awkwardness. (I probably would have avoided the dining hall, too, if it weren't for the fact that I roomed with a high school friend so I had a built-in security blanket.) I also love how the characters grow in her stories. Cath had to find her own way in college and also deal with her family issues, neither of which came easy to her.

The following paragraph is slightly spoilerish, so you may want to skip it!
Another thing Rowell is great at is making me develop crushes on the boys in her books. (In my notes for this review, I have a line that just says "LEVI!!!") There is no insta-love in her books. It's more of a slow burn romance, which is the best kind. The scene where Cath is reading to Levi...swoon! And that first kiss scene. WOW. That's all I can say about that.

Can we get more well-written books set during the college years, please? I'd love to read them! And can we get another Rainbow Rowell novel ASAP? I think I've gushed long enough...time to close by saying that you should definitely purchase a copy of this book or request that your local library purchase it. It was the top pick for the September 2013 Library Reads list!

September 4, 2013

August Reads

August was a pretty good reading month for me! I participated in ARC August and Bout of Books 8.0. Both events really helped me stay motivated to read as much as possible.

I finished 24 books (5,527 pages and 43.87 hours of audio). I counted regular length novels, novellas (if they were a decent length), novels in verse, graphic novels, and audiobooks.

This puts me at 131 books read toward my goal of 200 this year. I'm just a little bit behind, but I'm sure I'll catch up!

4 books owned
5 library books
11 from NetGalley
2 from Edelweiss
2 from Audiobook Jukebox.

5 Star Reads
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

4 Star Reads
Surrender to Sultry by Macy Beckett
The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster
Open Mic edited by Mitali Perkins
Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Radiant by Cynthia Hand
Break These Rules edited by Luke Reynolds
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
Honeymoon in Paris by JoJo Moyes

3 Star Reads
A Summer of Sundays by Lindsay Eland
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Foiled by Jane Yolen
Yummy by G. Neri
Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
This Is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones

September 3, 2013

ARC August Final Update

During the final week of ARC August, I finished a few books, but only 1 was an ARC.

Overall, I did pretty well with this challenge. I finished 16 ARCs, which was more than my goal of 10.

Here's what I read, week by week: 


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