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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Talk | My TBR Shame

Lately, I've been seeing some booktube videos where people show what books they have on their book shelves that are unread. I have seen a variety of 50 up to 250. I also recently read a blog post from Book Riot, in which Rachel had over 850 unread books (check out her post here).

This got me thinking about how many unread books I have on my shelves. I knew I had quite a few and when I got to 100 I stopped counting. But I knew I needed a reality check and therefore sat down and made myself count ALL of my unread books. After counting every single book, I was all
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Do you know how many I had? The number has since changed...keep reading to see how. I had 310 unread books on my shelves. In which I was more like
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I'm so embarrassed. And ashamed. And overwhelmed.  And sorry to my books. 
How did this happen?!

Here are some reasons I think grows my tbr/hinders me from reading books on my shelves:
  • I am constantly checking out books from the library and those books get priority reading-time because I have to return them within a certain amount of time, therefore I'm reading more books from the library than my own shelves. 
  • There are SO many good books to read. I already limit myself on the books that I buy, making sure to only buy the ones that I know I will love.
  • I am a sucker for coupons and good book deals. Most of my books were bought at discount prices and library sales. 
  • My own personal goal is to have a little library of my own someday. Why not start building it up now with good deals and good books?
  • I've had review books that have taken a priority over the books that I already own on my shelves.
So what did I do about it. I went through a major culling of my shelves. I cleared out 113 books. These are books that I was iffy about reading and knew I could get them from the library if I still wanted to read them. I had to seriously buckle myself down and say are you going to read this within the next year? Would you read this right now if you could? If you read it, do you think you would love it? Would you be okay with getting it from the library? After drilling myself through, and spending the whole day in anxiety, I pulled out 113 books to get rid of. I let my sisters pick through them (I can always borrow them if I want to read them:) ) The rest will be donated or sold. 

So how many books do I have on my shelves to-be-read now: 

This number is still way higher than I want it to be. I would ideally like my shelved TBR to be under 50. By the end of this year, I would like it to be 100-150. I have a long way to go, but I'm hopeful and as long as I'm reading, the number will keep shrinking. I am going to start by reading at least 50 books before buying another one. UPDATE: Just after I posted this, I found out about Project 50. Basically the same idea I just mentioned, you read 50 books you own before buying a new book. This was started on Youtube by Girlygirlbookworm and Alyssa from ACReads started the hashtag #BookTubeProject50. I'm joining in and I hope you will too!

Let's Talk: How many books do you have on your shelves that are TBR? How many would you like to have? Do you have a system for keeping control of your TBR pile? (Please share, advice and companionship of book hoarding is welcome!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Divergent Movie Review

I went and saw Divergent this weekend and thought I'd share my thoughts on the movie and also hear your thoughts too! WARNING: This review contains HIDDEN Divergent spoilers.  You won't see the spoilers if you do not click the "Show/Hide" button below. 

Thoughts before going into the movie
I heard mixed reviews so I was a bit nervous. I reminded myself to keep an open mind as well as keep some low expectations for the movie. While I had heard negative reviews, I didn't want it to affect the way I viewed the movie. So I sat down with excitement and an open mind.
Side story: While waiting for the movie to start, a group of girls seated themselves behind me and started talking about the movie Gravity. Girl 1 asked Girl 2 to tell her exactly what happened in Gravity including spoilers. I intend on seeing this movie and of course, I didn't want to hear any spoilers. Since I was the one holding the seats, I couldn't get up and walk away. I was dying! She got about a quarter of the way through when some welcomed commercials started playing the theater. I have never been happier to hear commercials! With the commercials, I was able to tune out most of what she was saying. Have you ever overheard spoilers in a public place before?

Thoughts during the movie

Such great acting! I thought Shailene Woodley (Tris), Theo James (Four), Ansel Elgort (Caleb), Maggie Q (Tori) and Kate Winslet (Jeanine) were all brilliant and fit the characters just as I pictured them. There were a few characters that were good, but different than what I pictured them in my head. Christina, Will and Eric were all characters that I pictured differently. However, after seeing Eric played out, he was fantastic as Eric. I'm on the fence about Christina, but I wasn't disappointed.

The chemistry between Tris and Four was played out so well on screen. There was a strong chemistry connection between the two actors that was pretty steamy. Was I the only one that thought, based on the movie, that Will and Christina weren't even a couple? As I was watching, I didn't see any indications that Will and Christina were more than just friends with Tris.

I thought there was a little too much cinematography at moments. It was great world building, but I felt it was a little bit too much that it was taking away from the story for me. I felt certain moments took away from the seriousness of what was going on. Like when Tris goes in to take the test, what was with all the mirrors?

There were a few plot lines left out that I felt could have added to the story. There were also additional plot lines added that I was confused about. To avoid sharing spoilers with those that don't want to see them, I've hidden them. DO NOT click the button below if you don't want to see any Divergent spoilers.

Final Thoughts on the movie
I really enjoyed it! While it wasn't the best book to movie adaptation that I've seen, I still really liked the movie. The acting was fantastic. The world building was well done. I had a good time watching it and I will definitely buy it when it comes on blu ray. 

Do you plan to see Divergent? If you've seen it already, what did you think of it?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review | Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Title: Vicious 
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publication: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Tor
Source: Bought it

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

Synopsis: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates - brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find - aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch nemeses have set a course for revenge - but who will be left alive at the end?

Review: Vicious is crazy amazing. The characters are messed up in the best way. I feel bad saying that I enjoyed a book where the characters were messed up, but I came to care for some of the characters. 

V.E. (Victoria) Schwab does an amazing job of building her characters and her world in this book. I didn't want it to end... in fact I took my time reading this book so I could spend as much time as possible in this world and with the characters. The whole concept of ExtraOrdinaries is brilliant and original. I had that "Could this really happen?" feeling while reading the book and that always makes a story more intriguing to me. 

Victor and Eli were interesting to say the least. Throw in some rawness, brilliance, arrogance and darkness and you have Victor and Eli. While they are so much alike, they are both different and I found myself bouncing back and forth between liking them. I feel that in the beginning I liked Eli more but as I read more, the more I started to like Victor. They were so real to me and it was a lovely experience reading their story.

While this book flips back and forth between Victor and Eli's college years to their present, I was never confused. It helps that the writing was so beautiful that I was hanging on every word. I was torn between wanting to read and read and read vs. taking my time because I didn't want the book to end. 

I can't really rave enough about this book. Please if you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. I think everyone can get something out of this book and will enjoy it. I've heard some news that it may be turned into a movie...YES. I am crossing my fingers that this is true. 

Have you read this one and if so, what did you think of it? What did you think of the concept of ExtraOrdinaries? What about Victor and Eli? Have you read any adult books lately that you've enjoyed?  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review | Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Title: Ketchup Clouds 
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publication: November 12th, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Book for Young Readers
Source: Borrowed from the library

Rating: 4.5 out 5 stars

Synopsis: Dear Mr. S. Harris,

Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's not jam, not blood, though I don't think I need you to tell the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe....

I know what it's like.

Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him exactly three months ago.

Zoe has an unconventional pen pal--Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.

Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story--somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Review: First off, some cover love. This cover is beautiful! 

After I read the premise of this book, I had to check it out. I was intrigued to find out what was going on, did she actually kill someone and get away with it? I didn't know what to expect going into this one and the lack of expectations made all the difference to me. I was surprised by what I found.

This book is written in all letter form. Zoe is writing letters to Mr. S. Harris in prison about her life, her story and why she thinks that they have some things in common. Zoe believes that Mr. Harris will understand her and possibly relate to why she did what she did. I think it was her way of dealing with the guilt of the loss she suffered. Even though this story is told through letters, I had a strong sense of who Zoe was and felt that I knew her myself. 

It's hard to talk about exactly how this book surprised me without giving away spoilers so please bear with me as I give some potentially confusing points, but hopefully it will intrigue you enough to pick up this book and read it (pretty please?) As mentioned in the synopsis, there is a death of a boy that Zoe knew and was fond of. I thought this death was someone that she had killed, maybe it was accidental or maybe it was on purpose, I was reading to find out. I was completely surprised and blindsided by what actually happened. Through finding out a grew a deeper feel for Zoe and what had happened to her. 

This book took me on a roller coaster through a dark tunnel. Zoe's tale made me feel so many different emotions, that were bouncing back and forth just as hers were throughout the story. You feel for Zoe. You care for Zoe. This is a wonderful contemporary fantastically written that any contemporary fan would enjoy.

Have you read this one and if so, what did you think of it? Are there any stories that have surprised you lately? Do you like to go into books not knowing much about them or having low expectations? 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Let's Talk Books | Appreciating Books Before & While Blogging

I've been thinking lately about the different ways that I've come to appreciate the books I read. I feel the appreciation for a book's story has changed after I became a blogger. Maybe a part of this new appreciation comes from being an English Major as well. I'm not sure, but I know that I've come to appreciate books more in the past year of blogging than I ever have in the past. Before I go into the details of my appreciation, I wanted to talk a bit about how I used to read books before I was a blogger.

I've always been an avid reader, but not as much as I am now. I would read books for fun and base my ratings on if the book kept me entertained. I wasn't looking to learn things from books and I didn't appreciate many classics because I felt most of them were drawn out and boring. I was open to reading anything and everything as long as the synopsis intrigued me. I placed so much emphasis on the synopsis of books that I didn't read anything that didn't catch my attention. 

Before blogging, I never sought books out. I didn't search out books to read, I read books that I came across in bookstores or the library. I picked out what was in front of me. I didn't pay much attention to hype. I didn't know about the blogging community and therefore didn't have this amazing resource I do now. If I heard about buzz about a book, it was mostly because it was being made into a movie. A few books I discovered through bookstore popularity. 

I resisted books that were too much like other books. I appreciated the unique aspects of books and stayed away from books that were too much alike. I remember, years ago, when I first read the Hunger Games trilogy and loved it. After I had read and loved it, I kept seeing Divergent popping up and had read that it was just like Hunger Games. From this recommendation, I got the impression that  this new series was trying to blast Hunger Games out of the water and I wanted Hunger Games to stay important to me at that time. I resisted Divergent because I didn't want anything to one-up the Hunger Games. Needless to say, I was a bit naive and lame and have since then read and loved Divergent. The Hunger Games and Divergent each have their special place in my heart.  

I read books not only for if they sound interesting to me, but also pay close attention to what other readers and bloggers have been loving. I use a combination of personal interest, recommendations, ratings and other reader's interest to decide whether I should read a book or not. There are still books that I read based on pure personal interest, but I give more books a chance now than I did back then. 

I am constantly seeking out new books to read. Not just so that I can keep up to date in the blogging/bookish world, but also because I love buzzing about new books. I love discovering and sharing books. With this comes the fact that I don't really come across new books in the bookstore anymore. I know ahead of time what's coming out and often know what's come out within the last year. It doesn't take too much out of the bookstore experience because with the constant and wonderful book buzz, I have a never-ending wish list. 

I can recognize the difference between books, there are rarely books that sound the same to be. I'm more knowledgable about the elements of books that make all the difference from one book to another. While two books may be dystopians, they're different entire worlds with different characters and are told with different writing styles. I still resist when bookstores or people say "This is the next...." but I still give the book a chance if it's something I think I'll like. 

I've discovered whole new ways of appreciating books. I appreciate not just a good synopsis, but good characters, good writing and unique plots and unique worlds, too, when they're part of the story. There are books that I have read within the past year that I know I wouldn't have liked had I read them in the past. I appreciate more classics today for the more appreciative elements that I wouldn't have thought of or acknowledged before. 

What about you? How do you appreciate books? Have you found your appreciation changing after becoming a blogger or a more avid reader?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Monthly Wrap Up | February 2014

Last month was a busy and special one for me. My son turned 1 year old! I can't believe that he's a year old already. I had a decent reading month, reading 6 books and 1 novella for a total of 7 books last month. So let's get on to what I read.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab) - Rated this one 5 out of 5 stars. When I picked this book up, I was craving something different than what I typically read. This book was just what I wanted and more. Filled with action, plot twists, ExtraOrdinaries and some truly unique concepts made this book fantastic in so many ways.

Fracture Me (Shatter Me, #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi - Rated this one 4 out of 5 stars. I read this one right before I dived into Ignite Me. I was team Adam in the first book, but everything started to shift once I read Destroy Me (#1.5). This book pushed me further away from Adam. Learning about his feelings for her as well as his priorities sometimes made me want to tell Adam to shut up grow up.

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3) by Tahereh Mafi - Rated this one 5 out of 5 stars. This final book in this series was everything I wanted and more. I don't want to give too much away. But I was happy to see Juliette finally start to come into herself and be with the person that was helping her and lifting her up to do so. If you haven't read this series yet, please do, I don't think you'll regret it.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio - Rated this one 5 out of 5 stars. The feels this book gave me were all over the place. I loved this book so much. I was constantly wanting to reach in and give Auggie a hug throughout the whole novel. Such a beautiful story I think everyone should read.

Rule (Marked Men, #1) by Jay Crownover - Rated this one 4 out of 5 stars. I haven't read too many New Adult books, but this one of my favorites so far. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. I felt that they were real characters, and the story kept moving forward without a lull in it.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinback - Rated 4 out of 5 stars. I had to read this book for my Keystone Lit course and I'm glad because I've been wanting to read this one for a while and I don't know if I would have picked it up on my own or not. This novel was filled with so many different messages and truth that it was almost overwhelming at times, and not necessarily in a bad way. I really enjoyed this novel and the issues of America that it addresses.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - Rated this one 5 out of 5 stars. There's so many amazing factors of this book. It's just so damn good. Check out my review for a bigger description of why its so awesome.

Reviews I Posted In February

Other Posts on the Blog 

How was your February reading month?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book Review | The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse 
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan)
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks Macmillan!)

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startle to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin's eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him - with unexpected consequences. It's not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Review: There are so many things to love about this book. I want to start by showing some cover love. The cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. I love the way she grabs onto the letter R (there also happens to be an R in Arin's name ;)) as well as the dagger that she has in her hand (which, no spoiler, becomes significant in the novel). I don't know where to begin talking about how amazing this book is, please excuse my blubbering throughout this review - perhaps we can blubber together :)

Rutkoski does an amazing job of world building in this book. I loved the elements of a fictional historical and fantasy setting. There is so much to learn about this world, it felt like a real place to me. I loved reading about the world and its history just as much as I loved reading about the characters and their history. The unique story behind how the world is run is interesting as well as how this world is currently running. Truly outstanding and unique aspects to this new series lie in the choice to become part of the military or get married when a teen comes of age, the hierarchy of the novel and the relationships between the characters. 

I really appreciated the attention that Rutkoski paid to women in the military. Kestrel's father knows that she is good with military strategy and tries to get her to join him in the military. I really enjoyed seeing women as equals (for the most part) in this novel. 

Kestrel was a strong female character and a bad ass MF. She was smart, clever, witty and has a strong head and heart. I was rooting for her even when she had me frustrated. The only time I grew frustrated with her (and Arin at times) was when they weren't doing what I wanted them to - sorry for the vagueness, I don't want to unintentionally spoil anything. However, I know that when I was frustrated with them, it wasn't because they were being stupid, they were simply being themselves, I wouldn't have expected them to do anything else but what they had done in the moment. That is something that I loved about Kestrel and Arin; while they are both combating different things going on around them, they stay true to the things that matter most to them and that is a likable and honorable quality. 

The relationships in this book were wonderfully developed. Kestrel's relationship with her dad is one of my favorite parent/teen relationships that I've read before. The amount of respect that they have for each other is fantastic and watching the way they interact and challenge each other while still supporting each other's choices was a great aspect of their relationship. The love story in this book is one that I found myself wanting more of by the end of this novel. I felt that the love was just starting to bud throughout this novel and was slow-progressing. That's not a bad thing, that's how a normal love relationship is, especially how it should be between two people in Kestrel and Arin's positions. I think that Kestrel and Arin are my favorite star-crossed lovers. I can't wait to find out what happens between them in the next book. 

This book is filled with action. It was constantly surprising me in the direction it took and the different ways things played out. There is so much that happens, but I was never confused. Nor was I ever bored. This book is filled with so many fantastical elements, like sword-fighting, love, military strategies, cleverness, and war. 

I hope that you all will pick this book up soon, read it an enjoy it. I highly recommend this one and I don't think you'll regret reading it, it was just so dang gooooooood. 

Have you read this one and if so, what did you think of it? What do you think about the respect this book pays to women in the military? Are there any books lately that you've read that have been action-packed? What are your favorite star-crossed love stories?