Monday, December 26, 2016

My Most Favorite Reads of 2016

I know, I know, 2016 is not exactly over just yet but I feel pretty confident that the short story collection I'm reading right now will hold me until the 1st. 2016 was a terrible year in many respects, but it was pretty great for reading.

In 2016 I discovered the Awkward Yeti, Sarah Anderson, and Bitch Planet. I also found a ton of Booktubers I just love to follow. My TBR list has grown to astronomical levels. I also read 101 books. I made it about 80% on the PopSugar Challenge and about 90% on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I will try harder next year on those.

I am also going to read a lot more nonfiction....more on this later on my planning for 2017 post.

If you would like to see what I read this year, follow me on Goodreads! Or check this out.
When choosing my top 10, I hold them up to a harsh criteria. I had to rate them really high right after reading them, they had to make the world disappear while I was reading them, and I still have to remember them months later. It's tough! It's possible for me to love something when I'm reading it and then not remember a damn thing about it a couple of weeks later. It happens.

My Favorite Reads of 2016!

Honorable Mention:
Labyrinth Lost

I don't know why more people aren't talking about this book. It thought it was kickass, and I can't wait to see where the series goes. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz.This book needs more readers.

10. The Revenant

This was the first book I read in 2016 and one of the best. I think I fell in love with Hugh Glass, and let's face it....who could possibly compare? Months later I saw the movie and wanted to throw up. Good God, if ever there was a case for a book being better than the movie....

9. The Fifth Season

I remember counting the minutes to lunch break just so I could get back to reading this story. It's not a story, it's a whole world. I was completely taken in and lived this for a week. Why is it not in first place? Keep reading!
8. The Fireman
I loved this story and I found myself defending this book to everyone I read. Screw that! I don't judge Hill on anything but his own skills and I think he's amazing and writes excellent female characters. I love almost everything he writes. The Fireman is an awesome, thrilling read. I could not put it down. 

7. Spontaneous
Here is another one people are not talking about enough. I devoured this on the train ride home from BEA and I waited and waited for people to throw flowers at Starmer's feet as a true hero in YA fiction, but no. I will throw flowers at you, Mr. Starmer. You rock. You are right up there with AS King and Laura Ruby in my book-writers who are actually writing excellent mind-blowing YA in a world were it seems like YA fiction is just one copycat of the last one. This book was amazing. 

6. Hex
This book managed to do something no book has done to me in years: it scared the shit out of me. Hex is freaking scary. It has a slow build, but it gets there. In my review, I compared Heuvelt to John Saul, and I stand by that. 

5. The Long Way to Small Angry Planet
I loved this book so much I am terrified to read the second one. What if I don't like it?  This book holds such a special place in my heart, I truly loved reading it. I loved the way the book made me feel when I read it and I love that it opened my eyes up to all kinds of new experiences without making me feel like I was being lectured. Part of me would rather just reread this on a continual loop than dip my foot into the second one....but it's top of the 2017 books to read list. I will be brave. 

4. Three Dark Crowns
Just when I thought it was over for me and YA-it's possible, I finished very little YA this year. It's all starting to sound the SAME, when BAM! 3 Dark Crowns landed in my hands like the piece of genius it is. This must be what the first wave of readers to read A Game of Thrones must have felt like. This series has the potential to be EPIC. The first book was off the charts amazing. I'm talking, race home from work and don't eat because you can't wait to get back to the story amazing. Oh, Universe, please let the rest of the series be as awesome. I wish now I had waited until they were all published. The wait sucks. 

3. Obelisk Gate
Ah, do you see now why The Fifth Season placed 9th? Because book 2 was even better. I thought we might be in for it after the big reveal of The Fifth Season, but The Obelisk Gate ups the awesome ante to new levels. The 3rd one is on it's way and I cannot freaking wait. This is a series I would reread just to see what I missed the first time. So wonderful. 

2. A Head Full of Ghosts
Once upon a time, last February, I laid down on my bed to start this book. Hours later, I finished it and returned to the real world a changed person. My boss also read this and it lead to hours of conversations about this book. I also took to reading other people's reviews and ideas about this book. A Head Full of Ghosts surprised me in a way I did not know I could be surprised. It was with such excitement that I waited for Tremblay's 2016 book to be released- and it didn't live up to Ghosts at all. I still can't shake images from this book from my head. 

1. Under the Skin
This was not a 2016 release, in fact Goodreads has it as having been published in the US in the year 2000 and I am not sure how it escaped my attention so very long. I heard about it on a list of horror books and it's not horror. Not really. It is impossible to put down and there are deaths, and the main character is someone who has has horrible things done to her. I can't say more. Just read it. It's short, powerful, and will stick with you for all time. I have, btw, seen some of the film. Right away it was different than the book and ....I just didn't care about someone else's version of the story. I wanted to keep my version of the story that I will carry with me. Forever. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October Challenges and the TBR list

I'm not what you would call a structured reader. I had complete freedom to read whatever I wanted as a child and to read whenever I wanted. No one had to force me to read or to build time into my day just for reading. Maybe this is why I have such a hard time completing challenges. I just can't read something if I feel like "they" are making me read it. Screw the man!

So, to build up my muscle, I'm going to try a couple of the bookstagram mini-challenges. I love Halloween most of all, so it makes sense to start in October.

Day One of #hauntedbooktober (instagram) was easy- ghost stories, but Day Two required a shot of my TBR list and well, grr.....
So, here is a pic of what is on my radar to read in October. I just want to point out that I did absolutely want to read some scary stories this fall, so some of those have come in and they are pictured. There are more that I am considering reading.

Also, I have to mention that I am working on creating a Tween Space in my library and I have to really play around with "what IS a tween read?"   I can't think of a better way then to actually read what tweens are reading. So, I grabbed some lists, found some blogs, and most importantly talked to some tweens and started calling in titles. I will call these books Tween Project books. I plan to do 2 a week.

October Tween Project:

Pax by Pennypacker

Shadow House- The Gathering by Poblocki

The Last Boy at St. Edith's by Malone

Echo by Ryan

Every Single Second by Springstubb

Wolf Hollow by Wolk

Everything Else:

I have Nutshell (McEwan) and Shrill (West) almost finished so they are Sept books that will accidentally be October books. Unless I forget to pick Nutshell back up. Honestly, it's not rocking my world.

Ghostly Echoes by Ritter (Jackaby series!)
The Haunting of Hill House by Jackson (as a buddy read with my daughter)
The Maltese Falcon by Hammett (for work, we won a grant)
How to Hang a Witch by Mather (YASSSSSS)
A Tree or a Person or a Wall by Bell
The Night Strangers by Bohjalian
Come Closer by Gran (a single sitting thriller I hope)
Public Library and Other Stories by Smith
Someone at the Door by Cusick (retro read!)
Under the Skin by Faber

So do not be surprised if titles appear or disappear,

Let me know what October book challenges you are doing!

Still to come, I have to do an update on my year long challenges. I may be in crunch time with both of them again this year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My New Obsession- Book Vloggers and Booktube

I don't know what it is lately, but I am just filled with the urge to READ ALL THE BOOKS!

I suspect it is because I have stumbled upon the world of  Booktube and all of the magical creatures that live there. Add in the fact that I have found it IS possible to be on the treadmill and not listen to music but watch videos instead opens up this whole world of watching people talk about what they are reading and why.

The hardest part was finding readers who have similar reading interests as me and who live in my country (although, that is not super important). So far I have only gone crazy trying to find a book that isn't yet published in the US once. But I've been burned and am now wiser.

So, who to watch? Well, like choosing underwear, that's deeply personal for all viewers/readers but I will share a few of my favorites and the number one type of book vlogger I avoid. Several blog posts just like this one introduced me to the world of booktube, so I am happy to give back.

Without further ado here are 3 awesome book vloggers I subscribe to:
Jen Campbell's channel is full of new and current videos. She is an author and poet and that's awesome. I love her because she is also a reader. All of her reviews are from the heart, she picks books that readers may have missed, and she's totally honest. Warning, I have grabbed some titles from her that are not out in the US yet, so I must wait. Sigh.

Booksandlala is fun, my friends. I only wish I could drag her into my library to do reader's advisory. She is so passionate about what she reads. We do not always read the same things, but I have grabbed several titles from her videos that are now a part of my TBR list. Thanks, Lala!

Erika's Epilogues is my book reading soulmate. Honestly, this woman and I have the same exact taste, so when she mentions a book I have not yet read, I write it down. Erika does not seem to have too many newer videos, but I did go back and watch all of her older ones and found myself nodding along with all of her reviews. She has excellent taste!

So, there are 3 that I follow and love very much. I have others, but I haven't seen enough of their videos to comment on them as a whole or they are still just to new to me.
I am very quickly getting obsessed with the idea of filming some reviews myself and also book challenges (minis). I have a blog post coming up about where I am for the year with my main book challenges, but these mini-ones and tags  such as the "read the first chapter" tag on social media are super cute too.

Not all vloggers are gold, however and I have found some of them can be a little squealy about whatever the latest YA hyped book is.

"But the cover is SOOO pretty! You have to read it. Look at the pretty......."


Leave me some love below and let me know who you love to follow on booktube!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet

I had originally planned to make September all about women who write SciFi and Fantasy, or a blending of both a la N.K. Jemisin, who I believe is a goddess. Except, you know, life happened.

I did manage to read this and I have to tell you, it's frakking awesome with a capital A. It helps that I was in the middle of a big life change and needed something light and engaging.

The crew of the Wayfarer are basically the construction workers of the universe. They create wormholes that will be used as shortcuts on the highways of space travel. We begin with the addition of Rosemary, a human, to the crew in the position of clerk. The crew is an stew of different species, all of whom have interesting back stories and multilayered personalities.
The plot moves along really quickly, even the overarching plot of traveling across the universe to a newly recognized alien government to create a wormhole happens in a timely manner. Nothing is drug out here, and while I normally do not mind a bit of introspection, I appreciated the pace. It's just a fun, fun novel.

I think it put me in mind of Farscape, before Farscape went insane with shoving Chiana down our throats. What the frell? That show was awesome until her. So, if Farscape and a distant cousin of Firefly had a baby, it might resemble The Long Way.

I am still new to this genre but I have to mention something I have noticed. Reading Scifi is good for my feminist soul. In scifi, it's not uncommon to run into female captains, pilots, world leaders, etc. Their authority is never in question because of their sex. Never. It's almost as if the future is this place where we have gotten beyond all of the bullshit and are worried about real problems, such as what is the role of the human species in the bigger picture? The Long Way tackles that. It also tackles species coexisting despite finding each others' customs...well...gross. And food source! It lays out the food source.

I was on page 68 when I put the book down to look up the release date of the sequel. It's that good.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Great Reblogging!

After taking quite a bit of time off, I have decided I miss blogging terribly and shall return with:


I am also toying around with the idea of starting a book vlog. Do you have a favorite one I should check out?

Monday, April 6, 2015

April- Poetry Month display

I've been slacking in the old decorating department (never my strong suit). I think I had my Historical Reads display up for 
*hides face in shame* a few months. 
So, in honor of National Poetry Month, my BFF came up with this great idea, which I promptly "stole with permission".

The banner reads "April is National Poetry Month" and it was a pain to make. I used the Ellison to cut letters and Publisher to create patterned triangles. Unfortunately, the backs of the triangles are book pages ripped from a book that happened to feature at least one curse work per page. Not that I think anyone is going to read the back of my banner-but just in case, I sat with a pencil and scribbled out the dirty words like a boss.

The books on display are flagged with charming bookmarks I whipped up.

The Insta-Poem is a pizza pan (the only magnetic sheet we had at home), some magnetic poetry printed on magnetic paper and cut out, and the bottom of an oatmeal canister painted black and filled with glass marbles to create weight for pan support and to discourage moving the display.  I also had a pink plastic tablecloth laying around that had a few holes in it, so I cut some circles from the undamaged parts and used them to break up all of the wood on the counter.

I made a hasty bibliography featuring novels written in verse. Hopefully some patrons will check 'em out. In the meantime, I'm reading a bunch of them myself.
Here are a few I really liked, so far:
My review   
My review


Thursday, April 2, 2015

We All Looked Up- Review

We All Looked Up
By Tommy Wallach
3 out of 5 stars

This one has been on the To-read list for a long time, and it finally came into the library and I was the first to check it out. I wanted to love it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It could be that I am just so OVER end of the world stuff, but read this anyway. I have this classification system in my mind for dystopian books: before the event, during the event, immediately after the event (up to two generations), and way after the event (three generations and more removed). Sometime a book straddles the line, like The Stand. We All Looked Up is in the "before the event" category.

The first half of the book had me really interested. I was invested in the characters, I was on board with the coming event (although I would have liked to have seen more about how the government was handling it), and I liked the set time frame. Peter and Eliza, especially, were well drawn characters. I really enjoyed the theme of being a good person-even when there is little time left for all of mankind, it is still important to be a good person. But what makes a good person? Interesting.

Then, something happens and things kind of fall apart both in the book and with the story. A whole bunch of nothing happens to the main characters after a protest, while characters we are not witnessing are out becoming more- more in the way that it will become super important to the plot more. We, the reader, are left in limbo. This happens AGAIN. The last two weeks before impact fly by in a paragraph.

I'm going to avoid spoilers here. I was not phased by the ending,it was fine. What bothered me happened just before the ending- I found it unclear and had to go back and read it again and again and still don't like the way it was handled. I also removed a star because with three (3!) author photos on the cover and in the back pages, I started to feel like this book was less about a story that a writer needed to tell and more about a vehicle for promoting a talented guy who happens to sing, but who also wrote this book. Meh. I'd rather more attention had gone into telling this story-because it was a good one, for awhile.