Get To Know Me

I have quite a few new followers since I started this blog almost three years ago. I figured I’d give a little info about myself and fill out this random survey I found in the depths of Tumblr.

First off, my name is Camille (or Millie or Milliebot), I work in finance, I’m getting close to 30, and when I’m not reading or adding to my book hoard, I can usually be found on the couch with one of my two cats (Lilu and Artemis) and my husband (commonly referred to as Sweetbeeps.) I have a hard time focusing on movies and TV (though I was very recently sucked in by both John Wick movies) but I have a weakness for cooking competitions, especially Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped, The Great British Baking Show and more recently, Cooks Vs. Cons.

I also enjoy arts and crafts, have been known to doodle (especially during meetings) and I write creatively (and if you couldn’t already tell, an addiction to asides via parentheses.) I have a slight purse addiction and a slightly larger necklace/pendant addiction. I’m a mild neat-freak and a firm believer that you look with your eyes, not with your hands. 😀

I like video games (Skyrim has been my obsession for a while now) though I’m terrible at them and don’t play often and if I could afford to eat sushi, or at least avocado maki, every day, I would. I’d like to travel outside the U.S. more (oh yeah, I live in New England) but I have been to France and Aruba.

I started this blog as a way to share my thoughts on the books I was reading and connect with other readers and I still think I’m finding my voice. I’d like to develop a review style that feels less formal, as well as add more unique features to my blog, like my Judging A Book By Its Cover posts.

That’s sort of me, in a nutshell. On to the survey:

What/who got you into reading?

I’m not really sure – I know it started when I was young. I assume much of my passion for reading comes from being read bedtime stories by my Mum and Nana. I do recall trying to steal library books from the school library in earlier grades – don’t worry, my Nana made me return the books. I’ve been book hoarding for so long now that I’m not even sure when that started. When I try to think back, it seems like I’ve always been drowning in books, though I know that’s not the case and I assume my hoarding truly picked up in late high school once I had a job.

Your first favorite book?

Harold and the Purple Crayon? Ollie Forgot? Or maybe, judging by how beat up my copy is, Goodnight Moon – though I don’t have concrete memories of being read this, apparently Mum read it to me often. One of the earliest books I remember wanting to re-read was Blood and Chocolate and it’s a book I still love to revisit.

Your current favorite book?

I could never pick just one book! But I often reread Pride and Prejudice and The Hobbit. Warbreaker, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and The City of Dreaming Books as well as almost anything by Tanith Lee are up there too. But I could go on for ages about my favorites.

Least favorite book of all time?

That’s an awfully big title to award a book – I will say I failed to finish Little Women in high school and at the time, truly detested all the characters. Since then I’ve read quite a few terrible YA books and I’m really not sure who would take the crown, though Lumiere comes to mind.

What book/s can you not live without?

All my books! Seriously, don’t friggen take away any of my books! I would certainly not be the same person without books.

Any authors that you hate?

I kind of hate Helen Fielding for what she did to the characters of Bridget Jones’s Diary with her sequel (though I still love the original). I also heartily dislike Sarah J. Maas even though I’ve only read one of her books – it’s unlikely I’ll give her a second chance. But I don’t think I truly “hate” any author.

What popular book do you just hate?

See prior comment about Sarah J. Maas. 😀 I also disliked Uprooted and I seem to be very much in the minority on that one. A lot of YA books just don’t grab me the way they do for others, and generally leave me downright frustrated. I haven’t completely given up on the genre but it’s just not for me. Again, hate is too strong a word.

How many books to you read in a month?

Anywhere between about 6-12 depending on what’s going on in my life. It’s a vain attempt at keeping up with the amount of books I buy a year and my insurmountable TBR pile.

How many books to you read in a year?

In the past couple years, upwards of 110. But my TBR list literally consists of several hundred books (and those are just the ones I own!)

What do you do to get through a reading slump?

Buy a new book! Honestly, I don’t get slumpy too often, but if I do, I tend to just take a day off from reading and binge some crap on Netflix. That or I re-read a favorite.

Favorite genre?

Again, I can’t pick just one! My tops are sci-fi, fantasy and middle-grade (is that really a genre though? I feel like it’s more of a recommended reading age or something…I don’t know. Anyone else have thoughts on middle-grade and YA and NA being genres or some other type of cateogry?)

Least favorite genre?

Romance

How many bookshelves do you own?

Nine! And they’re not nearly enough.

How many books do you own?

Around 1,800.

Biggest book haul?

I was on vacation a few years ago and my friend took me to five bookstores (or maybe more, I can’t even remember.) I bought somewhere around 45 books (mostly used) and ended up mailing most of them home because even though I could actually fit most in my bags, they would have been too heavy for me to carry through the airport.

How many books do you get/buy in a year?

Not sure – I’m currently trying to track that this year and differentiate between what books I buy versus receive as gifts or trades. I have a feeling the number is higher than the number of books I read in a year though. –insert heavy sigh here–

Favorite series?

Like with many questions on this list, I don’t think I can pick just one answer. But I especially love the Claidi Journals, The Abhorsen Trilogy, Artemis Fowl, Enola Holmes, The Deverry Series (despite still only being about halfway through with that) and Lady Trent’s Memoirs. I’m sure I’ve left out a zillion other favorites, but I can’t sit here all day!

Least favorite series?

Nothing immediately comes to mind – at least not a completed series. If I don’t enjoy the first book or two of a series, I don’t waste my time reading the rest. I read half of the Twilight books…does that count?

Longest series you own?

Probably my Deverry series by Katharine Kerr, weighing in at 15 books. I think Sweetbeeps has a series that’s longer, but at the time I read it there were only 13 books.

Pick the 23rd book on your bookshelf, open it to page 86 and find the 13th line. Type it out.

I happen to be nearest to my largest bookshelf and I just went along the top row and landed on The Absence of Nectar (which I’ve read multiple times, though not in quite some time) by Kathy Hepinstall.

“Boone,” I shouted, “get the tweezers!”

Do you read:

Classics? I do, though I haven’t read many. Sadly, many don’t interest me and my focus has mainly been on Jane Austen. But I do have some Dickens I’d like to get to, as well as a handful of classics on my Nook that I might give a shot someday. I am currently reading (and enjoying!) Gone With The Wind. Is that a classic yet?

Fanfiction? Not nearly as often as I did back in high school, but I’ve been known to browse for Skryim, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Once Upon A Time fics in recent years.

Smut? Typically only when I’m reading fanfiction! Every now and then I’ll pick up a “steamy” romance but usually the cheesiness leaves me groaning and I find them hard to get through.

Poetry? Not usually, no. I do own a book of haikus by Wang Wei that I enjoy, but that’s about it.

Any other readers in your family or circle of friends?

In more recent years, yes! My mum is often too busy to ready though she enjoys it. Sweetbeeps is a fairly frequent reader (though better at starting books than finishing them) and I’ve managed to get a couple of my close friends into hoarding recently. I’ve got a good handful of people I know that read and sometimes we even read the same stuff.

Does your family support your reading habits?

Yes, though they don’t fully support my buying habits – at this point I hope they’ve realized there’s no stopping my hoarding.

Favorite book turned movie?

Sadly, I’m too much of a critic to enjoy most movies based on books. But I do think Howl’s Moving Castle, Memoirs of a Geisha and Austenland are great movies, even where they differ from their sources.

Least favorite book turned movie?

One of the recent ones that comes to mind is The Martian. I think the movie really sucked all the tension and drama out of the story. I also despise The Hobbit movies and actually dozed off a little during the first one. Ok, so I didn’t watch the other two and you can rag on me for hating them without having seen them, but why would I support movies that are (unnecessary) sequels to one I didn’t enjoy?!

Do you like e-books?

Not particularly. I mainly read them when I receive them for review or, more rarely, if there’s a book I really want that’s on crazy sale for $1.99 or something. I appreciate their convenience, but the reading experience is lost for me when a book goes digital and I often have a hard time focusing on the story, even with authors that I love.

Paperback or Hardback?

I love them both! When I’m looking to own a nice edition, I make sure to buy the hardback. In fact, if I had more money to spend on books, I’d buy more hardbacks as they’re also sturdier. It’s really budget that has me buying paperbacks more often than not. Paperbacks are typically more portable too.

Do you use a library?

I do! The real reason I don’t visit my library as often as I’d like is because I borrow too many books and I need to focus on the books I already own. But I’ve been visiting mine more regularly in the past year and I hope to go there more just to read or write – it’s a lovely little place.

Do you want to be an author or are you content to just be a reader?

I would love to be published someday! I write here and there, but I don’t work at it as often as I should yet.

Book/s that made you cry?

There have been many over the years, including the work of the great George R.R. Martin. But memorable a pair of books that got my waterworks going are The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and its companion, The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy. Both made me cry, but I was basically ugly sobbing at the end of Queenie. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend – and please, read Harold first, to maximize the pain and heartbreak of Queenie’s story. 😀

Book/s that made you scared?

I don’t read many books from the horror or thriller categories, but one book that shot my anxiety through the roof and had me almost jumping out of my skin was Into the Darkest Corner. I think my reaction was a mix of the excellent writing and the fact that it was one of the first thrillers I’d actually read.

Won any writing competitions?

I have actually, in high school. I think it was my sophomore year (or maybe freshman…) and I submitted a short story and won first place and a bit of a cash prize too! I hope that wasn’t my peak. 😄

A book/writing related job that you would love to do?

I bet there are many I would like, if given the chance to try them out! I might make a fair agent or editor. If I’d kept up with graphic design, book design would be fun as well.

Do you have book buying bans for yourself?

I tried once and after a month of not buying books, I went nutso the second the ban was up and bought way too many. I’ve been doing better at budgeting and setting spending goals instead (eg: spending less than a certain amount each month). Especially this year I’ve been working on being more discerning in regards to the books I’m buying and how badly I want to read them. But I’ll always buy books and it’s not something I ever want to stop doing!

What do you use for a bookmark, if any?

I typically use bookjigs for hardcover books (they’re metal clips that you can slide on the cover of the book and have a lovely picture and a ribbon to use as your actual page marker) and magnetic bookmarks for my softcover ones. I have several of each style and find they work best because there’s really no risk of them falling out and losing my place.

Congrats if you’ve made it to the end! Thanks for sticking around!

Movie Reviews: Austen Month

To round out my celebration of Jane Austen’s work, I watched a few movie adaptations she inspired. I started with my favorite:

Austenland
2013, PG-13, 1h 37 m
Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenplay: Shannon Hale, Jerusha Hess

If you haven’t heard (read) me say this before, this film is based off the book by Shannon Hale. Back in 2015 my Mum and sister recommended this movie to me and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Last year I got my hands on the novel and loved that too. This movie is a solid adaptation with only minor changes to the original story and it has become one of my favorite films and certainly my most watched over the last year or so.

Keri Russell as Jane Hayes is a charming Austenite trying to get over her Darcy obsession. She takes a trip to Austenland, an estate in England offering an immersive stay in Jane Austen’s world. She finds because she’s paid for the Copper Package that her experience will differ from those of the more wealthy residents, but she’s determined to make the best of it and put her Darcy fantasies in the past where they belong.

my current desktop background

                                my current desktop background

This movie is all sorts of cute and even if you’ve never read Austen’s work, if you like romantic comedies and the Regency era, I highly recommend this. Also, JJ Field 😀

Clueless
1995, PG-13, 1h 40 m
Director & Screenplay: Amy Heckerling

I’m not sure when I first saw this movie, but it was long before I started reading Austen’s work, so I was unaware it was a modern adaptation of Emma.

Cher, typical popular, rich valley girl, sees herself as a matchmaker and when she meets scruffy, but kind-hearted Tai, she decides to give her a makeover and set her up with one of the local hotties. Tai rises to the occasion and soon becomes more popular than Cher, throwing her life into perspective. Cher suddenly begins to see how selfish she can be and works to remedy that, while also taking a shot at love.

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought. Though I recalled the main plot, the little details of the movie made me smile and I now enjoy the parallels to Emma. The entire cast is great and young Paul Rudd is a super cutie. I assume everyone has seen this, but if for some reason you haven’t, give it a chance.

Becoming Jane
2007, PG-13, 2 hours
Director: Julian Jarrold, Writing Credit: Kevin Hood & Sarah Williams

There is actually a book with the same title and though I haven’t read it yet, I’m not sure the movie follows it very closely. I’d seen parts of this movie before, but never sat through the whole thing.

The film depicts young Jane, around age 20, as a young writer who dreams of marrying for love. Her parents would rather she marry for money (the mother feeling a lot like Mrs. Bennet) and are eyeing up rich, young, rather boring Mr. Wisley. Jane instead falls for Tom Lefroy, but if the two marry he would lose his chance at any inheritance and both would fall from polite society.

This movie threw me for a loop by opening with a scene hinting at oral sex between Jane’s parents and frankly I thought it unnecessary. Overall the movie gave off very Pride and Prejudice vibes, but without likable characters. Anne Hathaway is lovely (and McAvoy is a cutie) but she didn’t win me over. There’s three men courting Jane and while I know Lefroy was real and not much is known about what might have been the start of a relationship with him, I think the movie felt the need to jazz up Jane’s life and add a heavy amount of drama. Halfway through I stopped paying attention and it didn’t really matter. Can’t say I’d recommend.

Death Comes to Pemberley
2013, 3 episodes, about 1h each
Director: Daniel Percival, Writing Credit: Juliette Towhidi

I’ve just reviewed the book this mini-series is based on, so this follows the same story of a murder mystery unfolding at Pemberley several years after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.

Overall, I think the series did a fairly faithful job in adapting the novel by P.D. James. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet take the place of Jane and Bingley as guests at Pemberley and this added some unnecessary extra drama thanks to Mrs. Bennet’s personality. Mr. Bennet does slap Lydia at one point though, which is super gratifying. The series also amps up how much of a prick Wickham is (which really isn’t needed) and created drama between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana, as well as Elizabeth and Darcy. The added drama felt cheesy to me, but if you watch the series before reading the book it likely won’t bother you.

They did include a paraphrasing of the de Bourgh line about death that I liked, so that made me laugh again. There’s also some Regency sex, which wasn’t necessary and of course didn’t fit with the story being told because heaven forbid anyone even kiss in those novels! I don’t think I’d ever watch it again, but it’s worth a viewing if you have a spare three hours.

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There were a few more movies I would have liked to watch (though I can’t recall most of them because they were saved on my Netflix list but now they’ve all been dumped from the site) and I did try to find The Jane Austen Book Club, but I didn’t want to pay to rent it so I gave up.

Have you watched any of these or any other Jane Austen-related films you’d recommend?

5 Reasons Why I love Jane Austen’s Work

I’ve been reading Austen for years now and she’s on my list any time I’m asked who my favorite authors are. I’m even planning a tribute to her in one of my future tattoos. It struck me recently that I’ve never bothered to share what it is about her work that makes me love it so much.

-Her Wit

Despite Austen’s work being over 200 years old, I still find it funny. There’s a subtle humor to many of the conversations she writes between her characters and I find myself picking up on new details with every re-read. I’ve mentioned before I’m not terribly well-read when it comes to the classics – sometimes I connect with older work, sometimes I don’t. So I still find it pleasantly surprising when Austen’s work makes me chuckle.

The first example that comes to mind is from Pride and Prejudice, when Mr. Collins makes a clumsy (and eventually insulting) proposal to Elizabeth. Before even hearing whether she’ll accept him, he’s going on about how he doesn’t expect a dowry from her father considering how little money the family has.

Elizabeth thanks him for his offer, but politely declines and Mr. Collins, thinking he’s on the up-and-up comments on how he knows ladies often reject a proposal when they truly mean to accept it:

“I am not now to learn,” replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, “that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.”

Every time I read the book, this scene makes me laugh. Mr. Collins is so ridiculously out of touch with the woman he aims to marry that he can’t detect her sincere rejection of him. Despite her telling him no several times, he goes on to state why he feels there’s no reason she wouldn’t accept him:

“You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course. My reasons for believing it are briefly these: — It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable. My situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in its favor; and you should take it into farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.”

He is so dense that he can’t understand how insulting his proposal is and that if he had any hopes of actually winning over Lizzy, they’d be dashed after that monologue.

-She’s Inspirational

Jane’s works have inspired countless literary and film adaptations, as well as fanart, clothing and household décor items!

Books and films based on her work run the gamut from faithful adaptations to modern remakes to paranormal parodies, sequels and murder mysteries. I think I speak for many of us when I saw that Colin Firth is the best Darcy-I especially love that they threw in that wet shirt and bathtub scene! There’s even a statue to commemorate the scene!

Wet shirts aside, I’ve found some fabulous films and books inspired by Austen:  Lost in Austen, Austenland, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Bride and Prejudice, Clueless, Longbourn, Bridget Jones’s Diary. There are also adaptations that make me groan: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Jane and the Damned, the 1999 Mansfield Park film.

Whether I find these adaptations good or bad, it makes me happy to see when creators are still inspired by Jane’s content and I hope she’d be happy too!

-Her Female Characters

To someone who isn’t really a fan of Austen’s work, her books may appear to have the same theme – a somewhat poor girl who is down on her luck ends up finding love and marrying up the social ladder. But her stories are more complex than they appear and her main characters are flawed and exhibit depth and growth beyond simply finding a rich husband (though many of them actually do that.) She has a varied cast of heroines, many of whom are striving to find their place in the world where their options are so limited.

My favorite is of course Lizzy Bennet, as I’ve read Pride and Prejudice most often. She’s smart, quick-witted and not afraid to say what she thinks. But she’s also arrogant and rude at times, unable to see her own harsh judgements because she’s so caught up in those of others (ahem, Darcy.)

Marianne Dashwood is a total diva that acts solely based on her feelings at any given moment and thinks later (or not at all). But her passion for life and emotions is heartwarming, even if she needs a good slap.

Elinor Dashwood bottles up her feelings in order to put her family first, to the point where many assume she’s actually cold and incapable of romantic love. Yet it’s the fact that she’s so willing to strive to make her loved ones happy that draws me to her (though sometimes she’s such a pushover that I want to shake her and tell her to stand up for her damn self.)

I love Catherine Morland’s wild imagination and love of novels, though it gets her into a lot of trouble and almost ruins her shot at love. I actually misunderstood her when I first read the novel because she’s felt so unlike any other character I’d read that I couldn’t take her seriously.

Emma Woodhouse is the spoiled know-it-all who does her best to control those around her with the belief that she’s improving their lives. She is possibly the harshest of the heroines because of her privilege and her complete inability to walk in anyone else’s shoes. But I still find her charming and I do think she comes a long way in her efforts to improve herself (once she’s thoroughly scolded by Knightley anyway.)

Despite their flaws, I root for them all – well except Fanny Price because she was insipid and I couldn’t stand her (but maybe a re-read of Mansfield Park will fix that someday) – and I don’t really have much in common with these characters and their situations.

-Her Perseverance

While four of her six finished novels were published before her death, Jane Austen received little fame from her writing career. Having read up on Austen’s life (though not extensively) I’ve learned that while she did experience a modicum of success considering the time in which she lived and the fact that she was female. However, she died without knowing the true effect she would have on readers for generations beyond her own. Not knowing what her work would become, Jane worked hard on her novels and even after a lapse of many years where she did not write, and dealing with the struggles of publication (like how Northanger Abbey was sold to a publisher, but then never actually published), she never gave up and I’m thankful for that.

-The Atmosphere

Jane’s work truly transports me to another time, both in landscape and culture. Her stories depict a time in England that is so far away from my modern American life, yet I don’t feel isolated as a reader. I’ve always been immediately sucked into the settings of her novels, and like the heroine of Austenland, I can understand wanting to experience a little taste of that society (though I don’t envy the lack of women’s rights and general hygiene).

If you’re an Austen fan, what is it about her work that you love?

Austen Month

It’s February once again, so that means it’s Austen Month. Why? Because I started focusing on Jane Austen’s work in February two years ago and now I’m just going to keep doing it…until I stop! This year I’ve picked six books (though Austenland is really just an optional re-read, so it’ll be last on my list) that include modern retellings, a paranormal reimagining, and non-fiction.

Netflix has decided to pull almost everything Austen related (grrr!) so my movie options are limited but I’ll probably rewatch Austenland and Clueless (it’s Emma!) and Becoming Jane. I might watch Death Comes to Pemberly, but I’d like to read the book first, so we’ll see.

As usual, I’ll be using #AustenMonth on Instagram and Twitter. Feel free to join me!

I’m also participating in a read-along of Gone with the Wind with some lovely ladies on Instagram, so you might see some posts about that as well.

Worst 13 of 2016

Welcome back! My “worst books” list is a bit of a guilty pleasure – someone in the book world (I believe it was Richard’s Book Nook?) said they don’t do Worst lists because they don’t want to give more attention to books they didn’t enjoy. Totally valid point. However, I do get a small amount of pleasure from shitting on books I didn’t enjoy – as rude as that is. I read 120 books last year and I want to call out the 13 that really displeased me! Warning – I’ll most likely come across as a jerk in my mini summaries. I’m honestly not trying to upset you if books you love are on this list, but I’m not going to sugarcoat my feelings! I do have more coherent reviews of all these books either on my blog or Goodreads. So here we go:

The Dying Earth & The Eyes of the Overworld – Jack Vance
These are the first two books in the Tales of the Dying Earth collection and I thought the protagonist was a straight up asshole. I couldn’t keep reading about him.

The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath – Ishbelle Bee
Ugh! This book is some garbage YA calling itself adult fiction and the only part about it that isn’t terrible is the cover.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre – Amanda George
This is the most uninventive vampire novel I’ve ever read and her ending was a total cop-out.

Graft – Matt Hill
The gorgeous cover and sci-fi plot drew me in, but I was utterly lost the second half of the book. I think there was some trans-dimensional stuff going on?

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
I refer to this book as Throne of Ass sooooo….

His Monkey Wife – John Collier
I’m 100% sure I missed the tone and meaning of this book. Was it supposed to be funny? Critical? I’ve no clue, but it was boring and bizarre.

Marrow Island – Alexis M. Smith
This book peaked my interest then pushed it off a cliff to its death. The ending really cemented my dislike of the overall story.

Timekeeper – Tara Sim
The fantasy elements were underdeveloped and the LGBT characters felt like cliched cardboard cutouts rather than real people.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding
I hate this book so much I not only filmed myself throwing it out the front door, but I threw it off the back porch as well!

The Wangs vs. The World – Jade Chang
Another book that had me until the halfway point, at which I lost all interest and began to hate the characters.

After Alice – Gregory Maguire
The aforementioned tome was unbearably verbose, to the point where I required a thesaurus in order to decipher the myriad of counterproductive word vomit I continually encountered in my literary experience. My gourd.

The Sunlight Pilgrims – Jenni Fagan
Bored bored bored. I was expecting a post-apocalyptic adventure and received a character driven drama.

Lick – Kylie Scott
If all new adult is rife with as much body shaming, low self-esteem and idolization of jerk boyfriends, you can count me out of the genre.

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Alright, you know the drill. Do you agree? Disagree? I’m totally up for a debate and I promise I won’t be as foul as I was in this post!

Top 13 of 2016

Hi friends! I had an excellent reading year and of course want to point out my favorite (and later my least favorite) reads. I picked 13 books because that’s how many I really wanted to highlight and it turns out that’s how many I highlighted last year, so this will be my thing now. These are in no order other than when I read them throughout the year.

Austenland – Shannon Hale
The book and the movie are friggen adorable and I can’t get enough. Plus, as an Austen fan, I’d love to visit a place like that!

The Oversight – Charlie Fletcher
I was drawn in by the fabulous cover and kept hooked by the refreshing gaslight fantasy plot. Eagerly awaiting the third book!

Beastkeeper – Cat Hellisen
Everything I could ever want in a dark middle-grade/fairy tale retelling.

Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
A fun, snarky, beautifully illustrated comic about villains – my favorite!

The Wild Robot – Peter Brown
A book after my own metallic heart! So many feels and illustrations by the author!

Alias Hook – Lisa Jensen
Oh my gourd, talk about a dark retelling. Plus sexiness. Plus villains! I want this Hook so bad.

Wolf Road – Beth Lewis
This book had some unexpected twists and a wonderfully depressing tone.

Pax – Sarah Pennypacker
More heavily emotional middle-grade! Just drown me in it, please. Not to mention an incredibly well-done animal POV.

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
Another book that pleasantly surprised me. I love sci-fi that gets me thinking “what if?”

Cold-Forged Flame – Marie Brennan
Yes, a novella of only 100 pages made my top list.  In such a short time I was thoroughly engrossed in this world and desperate for more!

The Haunted House Project – Tricia Clasen
Middle-grade was slaying me this year. Emotionally powerful and contemporary, for once.

Ship of Fools – Richard Paul Russo
More sci-fi that had me thinking and totally creeped out.

Liesl & Po – Lauren Oliver
The fifth middle-grade on this list. Magical, emotional, dark and illustrated. Need I say more!?

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So tell me, do you agree with me on any of my favorites? Or disagree, even? Let’s discuss!

2017 Reading Goals

 

Well, bibliofriends, a new year is fast approaching and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t set myself some goals once more!

Currently, I’ve got two weeks left in December (this post will go up later than that, however) and I’ve read 106 goals. I’m super happy that I passed my 100 book minimum, which is basically what I have to read each year to keep up with my insane buying and borrowing. I think it’s pretty likely I’ll meet my goal of 112 or at least get close. But I’ll do a 2016 stats post in January so y’all can see how nerdy I am.

So what am I trying to achieve in 2017? Well, I’m going to stick with a loose goal of 100-112. I don’t honestly think I can keep reading a higher number of books each year because I do have to adult on a regular basis and sometimes I like to play video games or watch Netflix or nap. There’s no use setting a number I can’t achieve.

Within this goal, I still want to focus on books that have been sitting on my shelf for far too long. This year I only about 20-something of the books I read met the criteria and I was hoping for a number closer to half of my overall books read. So I’m still going to aim for about 40% of the books I read to be ‘dusty books,’ as I’ve been referring to them on Goodreads.

I still have quite a few series’ (serieses? How the hell do you write that…) I’d like to finish…but as that was one of my goals last year and I failed hard, I’m not going to write it out again. I know what ones they are and hopefully I’ll tackle them this year!

I’m also giving myself a little mini-challenge. I have tried one of those 50 book challenges to try to diversify my reading – but rather than pick books that met the criteria, I just matched whatever book I felt like reading to one of the challenges. So I came up with a small genre switch-up goal for myself.

If you’ve been around here or my IG even a little while it’s clear I love fantasy, sci-fi, middle grade and historical fiction. I’d like to branch out a little (though not too much because I love what I love and why change?!) so I picked six genres I don’t usually go for and found a book for each. I’m going to keep this low pressure, so I’ll just read them whenever, no deadlines.

If this sounds like a neat idea to you, feel free to participate and let me know what genres/books you’ve picked.

Romance: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (and possibly Master by Colette Gale because I found it for free and even though I know it’ll be a total dumpster fire, it’s the type of book I think of when I think of romance)

Memoir: Yes Please by Amy Pohler

Humor: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

YA Contemporary: Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Non-Fiction: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Crime/Thriller: Stranger by Harlen Coben (a favorite author of Sweetbeeps)

Shout out to Chelsea for recommending Attachments and Serpent King and Melissa for Hyperbole and a Half when I told them I needed challenge ideas – here’s hoping I enjoy them! I mean, I hope I enjoy all the books, but I especially like when someone recommends a book that ends up being a hit for me.

Here’s hoping I can cut down my TBR a little and have another fantastic year of reading. If you set yourself goals or have any opinions on mine, let me know!

My First Read-A-Thon

These past few days, 12/2-12/5 to be exact, I’ve been participating in my first read-a-thon and I wanted to document my thoughts.

I have a few reasons for never having participated in a read-a-thon before. Typically, I don’t hear about them until they’re over. I don’t often see them mentioned on IG (at least, not among those I follow) and I only follow two book accounts on YouTube (I kind of hate the term Booktube, sorry) and only one of those actively participates in read-a-thons. That account belongs to my friend Chelsea and even though she’s always on the up-and-up about these things, I’m always at least a week behind in my videos and so by the time I hear about them, it’s in her wrap-up videos.

I’ve also mentioned in the past that I’m horrible at setting a TBR. I’ve come to terms with this. For the most part, when reading a book, I have no idea what I’ll pick up next. Sometimes review novels take precedence, sometimes a new addition to my shelves catches my eye, and other times I’ll dive into a re-read or something that’s been moping on my shelves for years. I won’t really know what I’m going to pick up until I’m done with my current read and asking myself what I feel like going for next.

Picking a stack of books based on several prompts – depending on the timeline of the read-a-thon, this could be anywhere from 3-8 books – forces me to at least pretend to commit to a set list of books and frankly, that intimidates and pressures me. Not to mention, telling myself I’ll read x-number of books in x-number of days. Yes, I set a yearly goal for myself, but I never set a weekly or weekend goal! It feels like a lot of pressure – like I would specifically be setting myself up to fail.

Then my friend Chelsea decided to co-host her own read-a-thon and I decided if I was ever going to try one out, now’s the time!

Chelsea and her friend April have put together the Harry Potter Weekendathon (#hpweekendathon) which lasted four days and had 5 prompts to pick books for. I was hoping to combine the prompts into 3 books (thus putting less pressure on myself), but I didn’t actually commit myself to this until Friday morning when I woke up, so without a lot of thought I found 4 books. I wanted to meet the requirements, but in a way that at least felt somewhat completable for me. Yes, going with completable.

Prompts:
-Harry: read a book that Booktube has hyped
-Hermione: a book with badass female characters
-Ron: a book with red/orange on the cover
-Dumbledore: A book featuring LGBT characters
-Hagrid: A comfort read/favorite author

I had a book going when this started and fortunately, it had a badass female character, so I chose Good Behavior by Blake Crouch as my Hermione. I picked what I knew I was going to read soon, which was Bernard Cornwell’s The Empty Throne (because I’m still going strong with this series, dammit, and I’m almost done!) as my Hagrid. While he’s not a favorite author, Cornwell’s world has certainly become very familiar to me, as I’ve now been working through his Viking series since about July/August. I managed to combine Harry and Ron into one with Illuminae by Jay Kristoff, despite being suuuuper late to that hypetrain. Lastly, I picked The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss as my Dumbledore because I’ve wanted to read it for over a year.

I did my best to keep notes on my progress and thoughts throughout:

Day One (Friday): I was lucky enough to have today off and had already planned to take myself to a local café that I wanted to try out and so naturally, I was going to bring a book. I about 75% finished with Good Behavior on Thursday night, and with it being a novella, I finished it easily during my stint at the café. I also thoroughly enjoyed my morning and my coffee and hope to make a solo café trip a somewhat regular treat for myself.

By this evening, after I’d finished some adulting, I was on to my next read, The Empty Throne. I figured this was where I would get hung up, as these books can be a bit of a slow read at times (though not in a bad way!) However, I put a good dent in the book before bed.

Day Two (Saturday): I was able to get some reading in this morning, before once more being forced to adult. I spent a big part of the day getting shit done, but gave myself little pockets of reading when possible. It’s now about 7:30 and I’m already two-thirds of the way through the book, with plans to read before I sleep!

Yesterday, I was figuring I’d finish two books and perhaps start the third. Today, now that I’m farther along than I thought I would be, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to complete three books and start the fourth. I want to read Vesuvius Club next because it’s relatively short, so I think I have a better shot at finishing that than Illuminae, which I know is somewhat complicated, at least design-wise, and pretty chunky.

I have to wonder, am I doing more reading this weekend in an effort to achieve my read-a-thon goal, or because I have relatively few plans? Would I have read this much anyway? I’ll never know!

Day Three (Sunday): I woke up and finished the last bit of The Empty Throne and dove right into Vesuvius Club. By the end of the day I was finished with Vesuvius (just checked, this book has been on my shelves for two years! Ugh. Glad I finally read it.), which was a relatively short book. I did perhaps skimp on some adulting, but managed to get the necessities done. By the end of the day I was curled up in bed and just starting Illuminae.

Day Four (Monday): Stayed up past midnight digging into Illuminae, which I found more interesting than I thought. Despite work today and a snafu in my personal life, I’m now halfway through this beast. Would likely have to suffer some serious sleep deprivation if I wanted to finish this today (though at that point would probably be past midnight, so then wouldn’t count) so I don’t think that will happen. But I can at least push for the halfway mark!

Well, I wrapped up my Monday evening by shockingly finishing Illuminae. I went for the sleep-deprivation and plowed through the book before going to bed much later than I wanted. But the book was incredibly engrossing and as much as I wanted to finish my mini-challenge, I wanted to finish a great book even more.

I’m pleased with the insane amount of reading I pulled off this weekend and I don’t know if I managed it because of the read-a-thon or because of my schedule, or maybe a combination of both. I can’t say I’ll rush right out to find another read-a-thon, but maybe I’ll give another one a shot someday.

Have you ever done a read-a-thon? If not, would you? Thoughts?

Book Box Subscriptions

It seems like I can’t go a day without seeing someone post about their latest book box subscription (mostly on Instagram and YouTube) and their excitement over the unboxing process gives me mixed feelings.

I love surprises just as much as the next person, but no matter how much I’d love to receive a box of book-related goodies in the mail, I can’t bring myself to try out any of the subscriptions I’ve seen. I have a few reasons for this.

Primarily it’s the cost. I don’t want to spend $30+ on a box of assorted items I might not like and a book I may already own (or not enjoy). I would rather just buy myself a few books with that movie and if the mood hits, I’m happy to buy myself some bookish jewelry as well (though, really, I have too many necklaces.) Many of the boxes I see happen to focus on YA books as well and I’ve learned I no longer enjoy the genre the way I used to.

I know there are subscription boxes out there that are more customizable and focus on genres other than YA, but they still aren’t enough to draw me in because of the price.

The other issue, which I’ve already started to touch upon, is the book itself. I buy books for myself pretty much whenever I feel like it, so there’s always a chance that whatever book arrives at my doorstep already has a twin on my shelves. Not to mention, I’m already burying myself in unread books and I don’t need a monthly service to help me.

But I will admit that constantly seeing these unboxing videos and posts about how excited everyone is for their latest box of goodies does bring out a childish feeling of jealousy. So many in the community seem to be part of what feels like a new type of club and I’m left out. But I remind myself that I don’t need the little things that come in the box and I’m happy with the books that I supply myself with.

I did try a subscription service once, though, but it’s not a box, just a book – Odd Voyage. It was quite a while ago now, but what drew me to their service was the price. The subscription is affordable because they’re literally just sending you a book, no other little goodies, and the books are used. I have no problem with adding used books to my library so I did a one-month subscription for a sci-fi book. Naturally I haven’t read it yet, but it turned up in pretty good condition and they promise not to send anything but the first book in a series, if your book happens to be in a series. Looking at their website again it looks like they now offer manga which is cool.

Not sure when I’ll give Odd Voyage ago again, because I do still run the risk of receiving a book I already own, but I would like to try them out again.

So, what are your thoughts on book subscriptions? A waste of money? A fun way to support small businesses? Or just not on your radar?

What Makes You Take A Book Home?

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of random browsing at the library, waiting for interesting covers or familiar author names to jump out at me. This had me thinking, what gets you to read a specific book?

I know we all have favorite authors or series that we follow, but aside from that, what makes you bring home a book from the library or bookstore? You can usually find me in the fantasy/sci-fi section of any given bookstore, scanning the shelves for eye-catching covers or intriguing titles. If I don’t have anything specific in mind, I just see what manages to grab my attention.

However, I also have a folder on my phone with screenshots of books I’ve saved from Instagram and many times I’ll look for these. Sometimes someone will post a gorgeous cover or a little blurb and that will pique my interest. Or someone might make a personal recommendation, so I’ll make a note. Some of these, I’m a bit unsure of so rather than look to buy them, I’ll add them to my Library list. But lately, I’ve been distracted from my list by the new arrivals section at my library – much like browsing in a bookstore, I let the books jump out at me.

Naturally, I have an Amazon wish list a mile long, but somehow I never seem to reference this when I’m out shopping or trolling library shelves. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?

Funnily enough, despite running a blog where I primarily review books, I don’t often read book reviews or let them influence my buying/borrowing. The only times I really read reviews are for books I’m unsure whether I’ll like or not – I’ll browse a few to see if I can sway myself one way or another. Or, if I really hated a book and I seem to be in the minority, I’ll slog through countless glowing reviews to find the few souls who shared my opinions so we can talk shit together.

Anyway, I’m wondering what you do! Do you cover-buy or rely heavily on reviews and recommendations from the online book community?